The HTC Evo 3D is the first 3D smartphone from HTC; it has a stereoscopic camera set up that can pictures and video in 3D as well as 2D. Like LG's Optimus 3D before it, this is aimed at early adopters of 3D.
But there’s more than just a big 3D rig; the Evo 3D has a blazingly fast dual-core 1.2GHz chip burning away at its heart, a 4.3-inch qHD touchscreen and 1GB of RAM, meaning its a powerful multitasking machine as well. Let’s see what it has to offer those who think 3D is the next big thing and to those who, ah, don’t.
What we like
The HTC Evo 3D is a powerful beast. It's big and brash (126mm x 65mm 12.05mm) and the high-resolution screen (qHD 540 x 960) measures 4.3-inches across. Web pages look great on the large screen and apps like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and not to mention the Android Market, benefit from the bigger size as you can scroll through more emails, messages and app links with greater ease.
Google Maps looked particularly swish on the big screen, with those large 3D buildings rushing up to meet us when we zoomed in.
It's got a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU (Qualcomm MSM8260) and 1GB of RAM, so it just rips through Flash-heavy web pages, high-end Android games without any hugely crippling slowdown. It feels a hair faster than the HTC Sensation too, which would occasionally struggle with things like the rotating widgets of HTC Sense 3.0. The Evo 3D shows no signs of lag here.
Design-wise, the Evo 3D is pretty thick (12.05 mm thick) and is all bulky right angles. This is at odds with HTC's usual curved unibody stylings, giving the Evo 3D a boxy, chunky quality that makes it stand out from the pack.
This shape plus the positioning of the large silver shutter key on the side lends it the appearance of a point-and-shoot digital camera. The design style won’t score points with everyone, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder and all that. But we’ve got a soft spot for the weirdly retro feel that you get with the Evo 3D.
The battery cover is made of a flexible, rubbery material that's easy to peel off when you want to get at the microSD card. The textured cover gives the back of the phone a bit of extra grip as well. It's not properly ruggedised like the Motorola Defy, so don't go chucking your Evo 3D into swimming pools.
Now, on to those cameras. The top camera is the one that’s used when taking pictures in 2D mode and is a 5-megapixeler. You get plenty of settings to play round with, exposure, ISO, white balance as well as HTC's usual resume of fun effects. There's autofocus (natch) and you've got tap to focus too. Though there's no specific macro mode, we managed to get some pretty good close-ups all the same.
When taking 3D pictures, the top resolution falls to 'up to' 2-megapixels - a similar story to LG’s Optimus 3D. You get most of the image adjustments that you get with the 2D camera and most of the filter effects as well. So if you wish, you have the option of taking 3D pictures and video with a negative filter on, for full on psychedelic meltdown.
Top video resolution for 2D recording is 1280 x 720. There didn’t seem to be an option to adjust the resolution for when recording in 3D, which is strange. But with 3D technology being in its infancy, you can’t really fault it at this stage - beside the Nintendo 3DS and the LG Optimus 3D there’s little else to compare it to.
Nevertheless 3D videos shot on the Evo 3D play smoothly and look pretty good when uploaded to YouTube, despite them appearing a little fuzzy on the phone’s screen. If you’ve got a 3D monitor or some 3D specs to hand, check out the video below.
Your eyes adjusted to the 3D effect of videos played on the phone almost straight away. As with the Optimus 3D, there’s a 30cm or so ‘sweet spot’ your eyes need to be at in order for the Evo 3D to work its magic.
Sound quality of music played through the Evo 3D was ok, although nothing especially amazing. Likewise call quality, to both mobiles and landlines, we found to be good enough; not crystal clear but not muddy or overly muffled.
What we don't like
Much of what we said about the LG Optimus 3D could apply here; if you're not a fan of 3D, or aren't convinced that you can get proper immersion on a small screen, then much of the Evo 3D is going to be lost on you.
That said, there’s a pretty glaring problem with the Evo 3D’s ability to display 3D images in the gallery. Owing to the camera set up, you can only take proper 3D pictures by holding the Evo 3D in landscape. Makes sense, as this is how the cameras on the back are set up.
But when you come to view your 3D snaps in the gallery, they’re displayed in portrait. So what you get in the gallery is a thin strip of a tiny 3D image letterboxed between two big black bars, forcing you to squint at your 3D snaps. What’s even worse, when you pinch to zoom in, the 3D effect disappears.
This is really baffling; the Evo 3D can obviously display them landscape; you get a 3-5 second preview after you’ve taken a shot. We’ve no idea why it can’t display them in the gallery in landscape. We hope a firmware update arrives to nix this particular oddity.
HTC Watch is all present and correct, as it is on the Sensation and the Flyer. No sign of any 3D movies here, though HTC has told us that they’re in the the pipeline.
The bulky rubbery case may be a quirky design choice but the power button and volume rocker are a little difficult to operate as a result. The silver shutter key for the camera requires more effort than you’d like too, but then there’s always the virtual shutter key on the screen.
For 2D pictures, we found that the Evo 3D was great for close ups and shots where there’s plenty of detail. But for shots with large areas of plain colour, desk surfaces, walls, that kind of thing, we noticed speckling, noise and discoloration. It can’t touch the Sensation at all in the image taking department.
Surfing the web through the built-in browser, like most HTC Android phones, limits you to having only four windows open at any one time. Not the end of the world, but a little annoying if you’re used to playing with more. You could always install something like Opera Mini or Dolphin Browser HD from the Market after all.
All in all, there’s really not much to recommend this above the HTC Sensation besides the slightly faster speed at which web pages and the Sense widgets load.
The 3D imaging capabilities of the Evo 3D aren’t integrated as well as they should be for this to be a killer 3D phone. You can’t properly view 3D pictures you’ve taken and there’s no sign of the promised 3D movies to download yet from HTC Watch. If you really, really want a 3D phone, we’d suggest having a look at the LG Optimus 3D first.
Though the Evo 3D is an otherwise powerful and capable smartphone, there’s just not enough going on here to justify recommending this over the stellar HTC Sensation to those with a casual interest in 3D.