The HTC EVO 4G was Sprint’s best phone to launch last year, and perhaps the best Android phone of 2010. So when conversations started about its’ successor, the HTC EVO 3D, we all knew that a tall order had to be filled. Looking back over a year ago, the HTC EVO 4G launched with the distinction of being the first 4G smartphone. This year we’re greeted with another first – 3D capability. All in all, looking at the device on paper would make anyone get a little excited, but is that initial paper excitement enough? Head pass the break to see in our full review.
The HTC EVO had some impressive specs when it was launched last year. Fast forward to the HTC EVO 3D and you’ll be impressed as well. Deep within the EVO 3D lies a 1.2 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor, 4GB of internal memory, and 1GB of RAM. Additionally, there’s that 4.3 inch Super LCD display with 960 X 540 resolution, supporting three-dimensional viewing of photos and videos. To generate those 3D media outputs are dual 5-megapixels cameras on the rear of the device. A quick flip to the front and there’s the same level front-facing camera with 1.3-megapixels found in the HTC EVO 4G. All of this gets powered by a 1730 mAh battery, which is a slight improvement on the 1500 mAh found in the original EVO 4G.
When you get the EVO 3D powered up and going, you will immediately notice how fast and snappy the device operates. Undoubtedly, this is due to the dual-core 1.2 Ghz processor and the 1 gigabyte of RAM under the hood.
As one who always thought that smartphones should be 3.7” and smaller, I have to admit the EVO 3D at 4.3” is absolutely a pleasure to hold. The form factor and feel of the EVO 3D contours perfectly with how I interact with smartphones. On the right side of the device are: volume rockers (up/down), a camera shutter button, and a toggle switch for 2D and 3D camera modes. While all of these are placed well, depending on how you hold your phone, the shutter button could potentially be pressed accidentally. Fortunately, HTC designed the EVO 3D to not launch the camera application when the shutter button is pressed, but rather when it’s held for about a second. The other sides of the EVO 3D are pretty basic. The left side has your microUSB port, the top left has the 3.5mm audio jack, the top right is where the on/off power button is located, and lastly at the bottom is a hardly noticeable microphone.
The Super LCD qHD 3D screen has an aspect ratio of 16:9 and has a resolution of 960 X 540. Honestly, the screen looks pretty darn good. I was pleased with the amount of brightness and vivid colors coming off the device. However, in sunlight, glare can be a problem and some viewing angles aren’t optimal, but those issues are prevalent on most devices. Aside from 3D, there is nothing game changing here, but the screen does represent another substantial improvement on the HTC EVO 4G.
Rounding out the face of the EVO 3D is the proximity sensor, front facing camera, the earpiece (speaker), and the notification light at the top (Note: The proximity sensor and notification light are in the same protected area as the earpiece). At the bottom are the same four capacitive buttons found on the HTC EVO 4G. There’s the Home button, Menu button, Back Button, and Search Button, which all were very responsive, reliable, and visible when the screen was on or off.
Behind all of this hardware has to be a powerful battery. And while I will agree that the 1730 mAh battery does a much better job than the original HTC EVO 4G’s 1500 mAh battery, it still does a pretty lackluster job. With moderate to minimally heavy usage on calls, taking pictures and videos, browsing the web, applications, and a game here and there, we couldn’t get through an entire day, but we were close. That said, the direction with battery life in smartphones are on the right track, and even with the added 3D capabilities, the EVO 3D’s battery is still a big improvement to its’ predecessor.
Note: At the time of the review, my area was without 4G WiMAX coverage, but I’m sure that would not have helped the battery at all. Rather it would have made it worse. So be sure to have an extra battery around or have your home charger, car charger, and any other charger near.
Behind all the beastly appeal of the HTC EVO 3D lies the familiar HTC Sense and Android OS. Both have the latest updates pre-installed on the EVO 3D – HTC Sense 3.0 and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. If you’re the type that loves interfaces over Android, you’ll love HTC Sense on the EVO 3D. Honestly, Sense is the best overlay for Android, although the advancement of Android is limiting the need for manufacturers to have an additional interface of their own. If you’ve used HTC Sense before, you’ll feel like home has gotten an improvement, but it’s still just … home.
The EVO 3D has a pre-installed task manager, an option to make more space, and new functionality from the notification pull down. The task manager allows you to safely shut down an application, which should eliminate the need for a downloaded task killer. The “Make more space” function is found in settings under SD & phone storage and allows you to “Get more storage by clearing out app caches and moving or uninstalling apps.” That’s definitely a much needed addition to Android. Additionally, there is the added functionality from the notification pull down. When the notification bar is pulled down, you have two tabbed options – Notifications & Quick Settings. In the notifications tab, the only new feature is the ability to see your most recently used apps. It’s sort of a horizontal drawer that holds your last eight used apps. In the quick settings tab, you have the ability to turn Wi-Fi, the Sprint Hotspot, the Mobile Network, 4G, Bluetooth, and GPS on or off. Also, you can view all of the phones settings and check the total memory.
The EVO 3D, like pretty much all carrier phones, has apps pre-installed. Some can be uninstalled, others cannot. Swype, along with others that are worth mentioning are: Amazon MP3, 3D Games, Blockbuster, NASCAR, Qik Video, Spiderman 3D, a bunch of Sprint & HTC branded apps, and the Green Hornet 3D movie. Additionally, applications can be seen in three different ways – All Apps, Frequent, and Downloaded. Personally, I never had to use anything other than “All Apps”, though I like the options.
3D is where most of the marketing efforts will be centered. I guess that’s what you have to expect when the device is named the HTC EVO 3D. As you well know, viewing 3D photos and videos on the EVO 3D requires no glasses. Most importantly, capturing 3D images and videos are just as easy. This is achieved by simply switching the toggle switch from 2D to 3D, and pressing the shutter button.
While the 3D images that are loaded on the EVO 3D are nice to look at, the 3D photos and videos you take won’t be as good. Looking back at some of the pictures taken, the two biggest factors that affect the quality of these images are lighting and angles. If you don’t get those two right, you could possibly send your eyes and mind in a tunnel trying to look at them. The cameras can take 5 MP 3D photos, and shoot 3D videos in 720p.
All in all, 3D on this smartphone is a nice added feature. Every picture I took of people with 3D, received a positive response. The pictures aren’t the best, but they are good enough. For the casual user, you will find that the 3D functions are both fun and enjoyable as an added benefit.
Additionally, HTC has preloaded a 3D Spiderman game and The Green Hornet movie in 3D.
At the end of the day, a phone has to be a phone, and the HTC EVO 3D is that. Calls, while not perfect, are above average. This is an excellent device – solidly built, functional, and fast. If you want a 3D smartphone, this is for you. If you do not want a 3D smartphone, it’s still for you. The 3D is just there as an added perk. In every way imaginable, the EVO 3D is better than its’ predecessor. This is Sprint’s best phone at the moment, and it comes at a great price – $199.99 on a two year contract.