Sprint has shown a tremendous amount of initiative over the past year when it comes to their products. A little over a year ago, they released their first 4G WiMax enabled Android smartphone, the HTC EVO 4G. That device proved to be quite popular, as it sold out time and time again over the course of 2010. Now, a year later, Sprint brings us more “firsts” with the HTC EVO 3D.
The latest Android-powered handset from Sprint, which also happens to sport a 1.2GHz dual-core processor by the way, is the only US smartphone to feature a glasses-free 3D display and dual-lens 3D camera. Yes, that’s right, 3D content can be created and viewed directly on the device – without the need of wearing any silly-looking glasses! It’s certainly a bold move, considering the technology is still very young, and we appreciate Sprint’s effort in being a key-contributor in the push to expand 3D, glasses-free or not, to varying types of consumer electronics. After all, developers and software-makers won’t create or aggressively improve 3D content unless we have plenty of 3D-enabled devices out there to run them, right?
All that being said, some demanding questions remain: is glasses-free 3D a gimmick and do we want it on our smartphones? With the EVO 3D having such high-end specs, does it even matter whether you fall in love with its 3D capabilities or not? We’re here to help answer those questions in our full HTC EVO 3D review. Continue on to find out more!
Near the top of the device, you will find the proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, notification light, ear-piece speaker, and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera. Below those, you can spot the usual HTC & Sprint branding.
The EVO 3D has a massive 4.3″ glasses-free 3D-enabled Super LCD display with qHD resolution (540×960). The screen produces vibrant colors and excellent clarity when viewed indoors or in a dimly lit environment. On the other hand, outdoor visibility, under direct sunlight and with the brightness setting turned up, can be categorized as average at best. That’s nothing new with smartphones, of course.
Like the original EVO 4G, the EVO 3D has four capacitive touch-sensitive buttons, rather than physical buttons. These include: Home, Menu, Back, and Search. The battery door latch and a microphone are also seen here.
When flipping the device over, you may be surprised to find a pair of eyes staring back at you. It may look like an old school cassette player, but it’s actually an innovative dual 5 megapixel camera setup, which is capable of taking standard 2D or 3D pictures and videos.
A closer look at the slightly protruding camera rig reveals a dual-LED flash to compliment the dual 5 megapixel cameras. We also get a clear shot of the perforated speaker grill, which sits just below the right lens. Outside the red ring, the battery door has unique texturing that gives the phone a good amount of grip and solid in-hand feel.
Back to the interesting little switch and the dedicated camera key. First, take a moment to admire that full-size shutter button. While it’s not uncommon for smartphones to house a hardware key for the camera, it’s rare to see one that’s nearly identical to that of a real point and shoot camera. Pressing it halfway down will focus and continuing all the way down will take the shot. You can also launch the camera app from any screen simply by holding the key down for a couple seconds. The neighboring switch conveniently allows users to flip between 2D and 3D modes while using the phone’s camera or camcorder. We should note that this switch does not serve any other purpose beyond this function. Other 3D features are either activated automatically or accessed through on-screen menus/buttons.
Removing the battery door exposes the preloaded 8GB class 4 microSD card and 1730mAh battery, which is larger in capacity than most stock smartphone batteries. With such high-end specs that demand quite a bit of power, we suspect the boost in capacity is more about maintaining battery life than it is about increasing life above normal levels (more below).
We’re not sure what to think when it comes to traditional 2D photos taken with the camera on this phone. At times, we were able to take some great snapshots, while other instances left us rather disappointed. This is mostly due to the fact that a strange green hue shows up on many images. It seems some environments are more contagious than others when it comes to the mysterious appearance of the unnatural hue. It’s almost like Slimer left some oozy tracks and the Ghost Busters need to come clean up the mess. We’re hoping this is fixable via a future software update, in which case we will update this review to reflect any changes. On the other hand, we were blown away with the 3D photos taken with the dual-cameras. The added depth helps images pop and the end-result looks amazing on the EVO 3D’s glasses-free 3D display. The 3D effect enables you to relive the captured moment, almost like you’re there again. The downside of this brilliant technology is that viewing angles are severely limited, so it’s nearly impossible to simultaneously view 3D images with others without invading their personal bubble.
Standard 720p HD video recording quality seems to be improved over the EVO 4G in regards to smoothness, but contrast can suffer on a cloudy day. Also, videos have the same green hue issue that plagues pictures, but to a lesser degree. Again, we hope this is fixed in a future software patch. 3D videos can be as impressive, but a positive outcome relies heavily on controlled conditions, like a fixed viewpoint and proper lighting. Otherwise, the 3D effect tends to snap in and out at random moments, which makes the 3D viewing experience feel a bit disjointed. Since this is HTC’s first attempt at a 3D camera, we expect an update or two that could possibly improve its performance on the software side of the equation.
- CF-Bench: Native 9,017, Java 2,775, Overall 5,271
- Quadrant Standard: 2,292
- Quadrant Advanced: 2,383
- Fps2d: 57 frames per second
- Multitouch Test: display supports 4 simultaneous points of contact
- Neocore: 58 frames per second
- Vellamo Web Browser Test: 774
The HTC EVO 3D has great call quality. Callers on the other end sounded loud and clear, and they mirrored that same sentiment when asked how I sounded. Also, we always noticed a strong signal and no calls were dropped during the extended period of testing, but that assessment could differ depending on location.
The 1730mAh battery helps the EVO 3D maintain a respectable amount of battery life, despite the high resolution display, powerful processor, heavily animated interface and 3D capabilities. I was able to get through the day and night on a single charge with moderate use on average. If you’re a heavy user, you’ll still need a midday charge, which is likely the case with your current smartphone. Having previously owned the EVO 4G, I’m confident in saying that the newer EVO 3D delivers about the same or slightly more battery life than the original.
The Sprint HTC EVO 3D is available now through all channels (telesales, retail stores or online) for $199.99 with a new or renewing two year agreement. You can also purchase it outright for the large sum of $549.99.
We love it.
Viewing and interacting with 3D content on a smartphone without the need of special glasses is like witnessing the impossible – it’s like magic, and that’s a powerful concept when it comes to entertainment. We’ve actually heard from many EVO 3D owners, previously skeptics, that they were surprisingly impressed with how well it works, and we happen to agree with that.
That’s why we strongly dislike when 3D is referred to as a gimmick, since it works well enough to impress a large portion of consumers. Just like any other feature, there will be people who dislike or don’t care for it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it deserves such a negative connotation. It’s like calling the kickstand and front-facing camera on the EVO 4G gimmicks because you don’t use them. Ask anyone who actually puts that spring-loaded piece of metal to use and you’ll find out just how important it is to them. The same goes for 3D. If you’re high on entertainment on your smartphone, especially gaming and movies, then you’ll likely approve of the 3D. While 3D video recording can be a bit buggy at times, 3D photos always seem to stop mesmerized onlookers dead in their tracks.
Even if you’re not digging the 3D features, we think the HTC EVO 3D’s dual-core processor, qHD display, and full gig of RAM are enough to make it the most compelling package available on Sprint’s network. Performance-wise, it can handle any game or app you throw at it without skipping a beat. We’re also glad to see a resolution bump, from WVGA to qHD, since it has a large 4.3″ display. This keeps pixel density respectable rather than surrendering that sharpness for more surface area (256 PPI with qHD vs 217 PPI with WVGA). Furthermore, with the latest Android OS not even taking full advantage of the multi-core processor yet, we can effectively call the EVO 3D “future-proof.” We just hope Sprint will continue to roll out major updates like they’ve done for the original.
So to wrap-up, whether you’re a fan of 3D or not, it really doesn’t matter. Sprint has improved upon the original by bumping specs up to the latest high-end levels and we think this translates to having another winner on their hands. They packed in so many features with the EVO 3D that there’s just about something for everyone. If you’re overly concerned with adopting such early 3D technology, we highly recommend checking out the 3D capabilities at your local Sprint store first. Just remember, it’s optional. Everything on the device that’s available in 3D is also available in standard 2D. Heck, HTC even gives you the option to convert your 3D pictures to 2D in the event that you want to share with others.
- Powerful dual-core processor
- High resolution qHD display
- Full-size camera shutter key
- Ability to create and view 3D content
- 1GB of RAM
- Sense 3.0 enhancements
- Capable of playing graphically-rich games
- 3D games
- Ability to watch 3D movies
- Nice call quality
- 4G WiMax capable
- Battery life still as good as EVO predecessor
- Some bloatware is removable
- Front-facing camera (1.3MP)
- Runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, not Froyo
- Solid in-hand feel
- 3D is not for everyone, making the dual-camera design less attractive
- Loud speaker volume is quite small
- Camera produces mysterious green hue in some pictures and videos
- Still bulky (dimensions: 4.96″ x 2.57″ x 0.44″)
- No more kickstand (some will miss this feature)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.