HTC Evo 3D

24th Aug 2011 | 17:40

HTC Evo 3D

Is 3D on a phone a killer feature or pointless gimmick?

TechRadar rating:

2.5 stars

A disappointing ever that seems oddly unsupported by HTC.

Like:


3D recording
; Large, responsive screen; 
Easy 2D-to-3D switch; 
Fast dual-core 1.2GHz processor; 
Snappy Sense UI;

Dislike:


Shoots 3D video in 2MP quality
; Screen not as colourful as competition; 
No 3D section in UI; 
Bulky chassis design; 
Heavy in the pocket;

Overview, design, and feel

UPDATE: We've now re-reviewed this phone for the UK market, so check out our findings below.

It seems like there are a bazillion Android phones on the market, which means any phone with a brand new feature seems like a colossal improvement.

The latest of these big steps forward was the 'glasses-free' 3D screen on the LG Optimus 3D. Now splashing down is HTC's Evo 3D, with 3D features intended to be less alarming those on the Optimus 3D.

We've got a cheeky little video of the HTC Evo 3D if you want to see the phone in action ahead of our full and in-depth review:

In fact, at first glance, you might mistake the Evo 3D for any other slightly chunkier Android phone with a bright screen and HTC's Sense user interface.

HTC evo 3d review

The problem is that the Android line-up has recently moved on to greener pastures, with the super-thin and light Samsung Galaxy S2 widely considered the best Android phone ever made, and our phone pick of the year thus far. That leaves the Evo 3D in a quandary.

HTC evo 3d review

The 3D features are remarkably entertaining, especially for a full-length Hollywood feature film in 3D, yet the overall design aesthetic is so early 2011.

HTC evo 3d review

As it stands, the phone definitely feels a little chunky – and outdated. It measures 126.1mm x 65.4mm x 11.3mm, which is just a hair thinner than the LG Optimus 3D (11.9mm), but not even in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S2's 8.5mm. The HTC Evo 3D also feels a bit hefty, with a weight of 170 grams – two grams heavier than the Optimus 3D.

HTC evo 3d review

In display terms, the Evo comes out on top, though, with a 4.3-inch screen running at 540x960, surpassing the Optimus 3D's 800x480.

With a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, the Evo 3D is also the faster of the two models. LG makes a big deal of the tri-dual technology on the Optimus 3D, since it uses RAM on the TI OMAP processor and Infineon chipset at the same time.

But, having run tests on both models, the Evo 3D proved to be faster for most activities – especially 3D gaming.

HTC evo 3d review

In terms of hardware design, the Evo 3D closely matches the HTC Sensation, except that the front layout is a bit different. Each has the same four buttons – Home, Menu, Back, and Search, but on closer inspection, you'll see the Evo 3D has a large switch on the lower right side for changing the display to work in 2D or 3D.

HTC evo 3d review

Essentially, the stereoscopic technology works the same as a home 3D TV in that, in a game or movie, there are actually two images being presented at the same time – one image being perceived by each of your eyes.

Both Samsung and Nokia had 3D phones in Europe several years ago, but they didn't use such sharp, vibrant and massive screens (for mobile phones).

Otherwise, the Evo 3D has standard ports for microUSB (on the left), a large shutter release button for the camera (on the right), and the power and 3.5mm headphone jack up top.

HTC evo 3d review

You remove the case to access the innards by creaking the slot on the bottom. On the back, there is a gold-rimmed camera staring at you: a blazing oval that protrudes slightly with two camera lenses for recording 3D photos and movies.

The overall impression here is that the extra 54g of weight compared to the Samsung Galaxy S2 could be a death knell. The main reason to carry this phone around is for the 3D features, so we'll make sure we take a good, hard look at that feature.

Interface

HTC evo 3d review


Oddly, the HTC Evo 3D does not make as much fanfare about the 3D features as the LG Optimus 3D. There is no dedicated 3D interface (on the Optimus it is called 3D Space) and the Evo 3D doesn't even group 3D apps together.

This could be because HTC rushed the production a bit, and maybe there is a software update waiting in the wings. A more likely guess is that HTC wants the phone to stand on its own and made the 3D features a bit more secondary. It is not a 3D phone, it is a 2D phone that also does 3D.

That means the HTC Sense interface is intact. You can flip easily between the well-design widgets on the home screens, accessing weather and the social networking streams of friends and mild acquaintances, staring at their visage in 2D only.

HTC evo 3d review: home screen

Our test phone came equipped with Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, which is a maintenance upgrade for speed and fixes a few bugs in the last release. Android is a solid OS these days. We experienced precious few force close messages in daily use of the 2D features.

With 2.3, you do get a few new interface tweaks, though. You can select words and copy/paste faster in a paragraph of text, and the soft keyboard is spaced a bit differently with rounded characters.

Unlike the Optimus 3D, when you press the power button, there is no delay at all to see the home screen. Like most HTC phones, you drag a wheel up to access the phone. None of the home screen features are in 3D – which is unfortunate.

HTC evo 3d

The screen is bright and clear – in a side-by-side comparison to the LG Optimus 3D, it is obvious that the HTC Evo 3D has better resolution, but the screen is actually a touch more washed out and not as colourful.

Comparing the Evo 3D to the Samsung Galaxy S2 is not even advised: there is such a stark difference in brightness and colour that the Evo 3D looks outdated, even if that top smartphone can't do any of the 3D tricks. As with most HTC phones, you can move widgets around and drop icons onto the home screen with slick ease.

It's a bit jarring to realise that none of the widgets run in 3D, and most of the apps for 3D games and content are actually not even on the home screens. You can download 3D games from Gameloft, but there's not a hint of such an portal in the phone anywhere. Not a flicker of it.

HTC evo 3d review

And therein lies the rub: where is the 3D content?? If you didn't know this was a 3D phone, there's nothing to smash the third dimension into your eyeballs.

In fact only YouTube will give you any 3D solace, and that's only if you know the 'secret code' (which is to type in yt3D into the search bar, FYI). It's like HTC really doesn't care about the 3D element but has hiked up the price of a Sensation anyway.

One quick note at this point about the 3D switch: it is best to leave it off when you can. The switch actually enables 3D capability on the screen, which then drains the battery more. If you're not actually using 3D, it makes sense to keep the phone in 2D mode.

And it's not cheap - it'll start from £36 a month on a two year deal if you're after a contract, and well over £500 as a SIM free device. Something like this shouldn't be rivalling the iPhone 4 in price, but that's what happened and we can't see users stumping up that much cash for what is, essentially, a novelty feature.

Calling and contacts

HTC evo 3d review

There are no 3D features on the HTC Evo 3D that make the mugs of your friends pop off the screen when browsing through contacts, even though that would have been cool. There are no 3D phone icons, and no 3D video chats between Evo 3D models, which could probably have been expected.

Instead, the Evo 3D is a fairly typical HTC phone. Call quality sounded about the same as the LG Optimus 3D, without any distortion or other audio problems. We had one call where the person on the other line complained about not hearing us on the speakerphone, showing the microphone might be a little underperforming, but every other test call worked fine with the speakerphone.

HTC evo 3d review: contacts

To access contacts, you use the People app located on the main screen. The same contacts appear when you press the Phone button at the bottom of the touchscreen. If you add a Facebook account, those contacts are listed with their photo and phone number.

This approach is similar to other HTC phones, such as the Sensation and the Desire HD, and the social networking aggregation features of many Motorola models, such as the Atrix. It's straightforward and logical.

You can quickly search for a name by typing it into a search box at the top of the screen, or use the keypad as a smart dialler by pressing the numbers that correspond with the letters... you know, like on phone keypads of old.

HTC evo 3d review: contacts

As ever, this can mean multiple entries for people. We've always been impressed by HTC's ability to link together contacts, and that's present on the HTC Evo 3D- the auto-link icon comes up with a lot of suggestions.

HTC sensation review

Linking contacts manually isn't too arduous, though – there's a link button at the top of every contact, and it's then just a matter of searching for the other entry and hitting Save.

The People app is presented as a list, with social networking status updates appearing beneath someone's name. You can sort by forename or surname, and you can also choose to display contacts from only some of your linked accounts if you want (for example, you could have Twitter and Google, but not Facebook).

HTC sensation review

Going into someone's contact entry presents you with lots of useful quick options for getting in touch with them. The initial screen displays their phone and messaging details, and you can tap on them to get in touch using your preferred method.

However, if you slide to the next tab at the bottom, you'll be able to see your text history with that contact, presented in a threaded view. You can send a new message from here.

HTC sensation review

The next tab does the same for emails, and the next shows you their recent social network status updates. There's also one to see their galleries from linked social network sites, and buried right at the end is your call history with them.

Plus Android has the awesome feature of any time you see a contact's picture you can tap it to get a quick list of all the ways to talk to them - really nice, and makes the whole phone experience seem much more integrated.

Adding a new contact sees you presented with the option of choosing to save to your cloud accounts or to the phone memory or SIM. After that, you've got all the usual options, including phone numbers, email addresses, IM usernames, postal addresses, birthday and more.

Of course, the more simple method also works – just tap a number into the dialler and a 'Save to People' option appears. There's a camera icon you can use to snap a photo, too.

You can also add a photo from your gallery (say, one you shot earlier of the contact), and this photo can be in 3D, but the thumbnail is so small that you can't see the 3D effect, even if it were activated, which it's not.

Messaging


Messaging on the HTC Evo 3D also doesn't make use of any 3D features, which isn't that surprising. There are no 3D chat sessions where icons loom out of the screen.

The Messages app handles text messaging only. There is a dedicated Gmail app and one generic app called Mail that you can use for Microsoft Exchange and other accounts. Your Facebook messages aren't integrated into these apps, which is a shame as unified inboxes should be everywhere, in our opinion.

HTC evo 3d review: messaging

Adding email accounts works the same as with other HTC phones: press Menu and select Account List, then Add an account. With the Evo 3D and its dual-core 1.2GHz processor, many of these tasks works quickly.

HTC evo 3d review: messaging

There's a cool "conversations" button that shows you recent email threads. Select a thread, and you will see all of the messages in that conversation.

Typing on the Evo 3D is acceptable, but not great, and you must rely solely on the touchscreen keyboard since there is no slide-out or hard keys. With Android 2.3 there's a bit more roundedness to the soft on-screen keys, and the touchscreen is responsive enough.

The haptics – which provide a slight buzzing sensation when you type – are quite minimal compared to the more obvious buzz on the Samsung Galaxy S2.

HTC evo 3d review

The predictive text works famously - in several test emails, every time we started typing any word, a few suggestions appeared and we could select the one we wanted. This changes how you type, because you can just type the first few characters.

In landscape orientation, the phone works extremely well for typing. In portrait, not so well - the keys are a bit too narrow. The Google Talk app worked smoothly for instant messaging in several tests. There were never any slowdowns when you type a message because the phone "listens" on the other end, like you might find on slower phones.

There is also something to be said for the crisp, bright screen on the Galaxy S2, which makes soft keys stand out and easier to read.

As is often the case, you have the choice of a Gmail app or a more generic Email app. The Gmail one is just as easy to set up as ever; if you have your Google account details, it's automatically set up.

The Email app also proved easy, offering an Exchange option and a generic POP/IMAP option initially. To set your POP/IMAP, you generally just have to put in your email address and password and the phone will do all the configuring for you.

HTC sensation review

Both email apps are very good, though HTC's Mail app fits in with the aesthetics and UI of the Desire S's other app better. It offers several ways to view your messages, including options to view your email as a straight up inbox, or as conversations.

You can also view email just from your favourite contacts, and this tab also enables you to address an email to all of your favourites with one tap.

There's an unread-only view, and also a screen that enables you to view only emails with attachments.

Another small issue is that there are no new innovations here. On a phone that has a 3D screen, we wanted a bit more flash beyond the basic Android messaging functions.

There is an opportunity here for a third-party developer to create 3D apps (if HTC gives them access to the technology required) for messaging that shows 3D icons or text.

Internet

HTC evo 3d

Finally, after a so-so experience using the HTC Evo 3D that mimics that of most recent HTC models, the phone started to reveal some of its power when we jumped online.

As a 3G device, speeds run as high as 6Mbps for fast access to content, and this is first and foremost a content phone.

Wi-Fi worked smoothly with a Belkin N600 DB router using 802.11n, without any stalling or hiccups during a streaming test sending a video from a PC in another room. The Wi-Fi chip also worked well when we set the phone in hotspot mode to share the 3G connection.

HTC evo 3d review

An important note: these games are all so new that every one of them requires a fairly massive update before you can even play them. For example, HTC includes Spider-Man 3D with the handset, but there's a mandatory 200MB update which will kill the standard data plan over here.

In some cases, these downloads required that we connect to a Wi-Fi connection first. For YouTube 3D content, the 4G service meant smooth streaming for many 3D trailers, including older ones for Alice in Wonderland 3D and Avatar 3D.

HTC evo 3d review

The browser on the HTC Evo 3D is fairly standard for HTC's Android range, and does support Flash content, like most newer Android phones.

HTC evo 3d review

On TechRadar.com, graphics looked clear and colourful, but we didn't find any web pages that rendered all content in 3D. Pages looked colourful and clear when zoomed in tight.

Navigation follows the basic Android rules: press Menu, choose an icon to go forward and back. To bookmark, press Menu and then Add Bookmark. There are no brilliant 3D innovations here for browsing, so the main advantage on the Evo 3D is that you can expect fast browsing and fast downloads for media.

One think that Android (and HTC's Google portfolio especially) does well is text-wrapping; namely, zoom into whichever size you want on a column of text and the words will jumble around the screen and reformat to fill the display.

Sure, you can double tap to get closer to the text in the same vein as other smartphones, but the text wrapping puts you in control of the size... and you can go mightily close on the HTC range as no matter where you pinch and zoom to, the text stays all on screen.

HTC sensation review

Another winning feature from Android is the ability to share web pages to a variety of sources without having to break stride: if you're on a page that you think your buddies online will like then you can head into the 'Share Page' option and lob the link out via Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, SMS, Bluetooth - you name it, you can get it there via that method. Not carrier pigeon though. This is a mobile phone, you fool.

We've always been fans of the bookmarks, as when you enter this section you can either look at the ones you've saved (via thumbnail, nice) or see your most visited or history of pages you've been to - enabling you to choose bookmarks that you need without realising it.

With the Sense UI (this is a feature we've loved and is carried forward to Sense 3.0), users of the HTC Evo 3D can also subscribe to an RSS feed (if present on the page) by hitting the icon in the top left hand corner of the screen - it makes keeping up to date with the sites you love very easy.

Another plus we've always loved on the HTC Android range: the implementation of copy and paste. It's a little Apple-esque, as you long press on text and see a little magnification pane pop up.

HTC sensation review

From there you can drag two little pins to select the text you want - which bar the colour is almost precisely the same as Apple's offering.

Where the difference lies is in the pop up menu that appears after: you can copy the text, share it via the same options mentioned earlier or use it to search.

But not just search on Google, oh no. You can look for the phrase on Wikipedia, YouTube, Google Dictionary or even Google Translate - and that's an awesome option.

Web browsing on the HTC Evo 3D gets a big tick in our book - HTC on its game in this area as always,

Camera


HTC evo 3d

The HTC Evo 3D starts revealing its claim to fame once you start using the camera. In some ways, it is a bit of a finally realisation, especially compared to the Optimus 3D, which trumpets many of the 3D functions in a more obvious way.

HTC evo 3d

When you start the Camera app, you can flip the switch on the side of the phone from 2D to 3D. When you do, the screen flickers just a bit as the stereoscopic tech takes over. When holding the phone, you have to position the device at arm's length – about 12 inches or so from your eyes. Further away, and the 3D effect is not as obvious. Closer, and you go bug-eyed.

HTC evo 3d

At the right distance, you can use the camera in 3D mode for long stretches, but we found that after about 30 minutes the headache will start.

Part of the skill of 3D photography is knowing how to set up the shot. For example, in photographing a car, the best results came when we angled the phone to capture a foreground object like a rear-view mirror and made the rest of the car look as though it is farther in the background. For straight-on people shots, 2D mode is best.

Oddly, the 3D camera, which consists of two lenses on the back of the phone, captures footage at 2MP per camera, even though they snap at 5MP for 2D shots. Presumably, this is to save on processing time and disk space. However, the Optimus 3D shoots in full camera-spec resolution. That said, the final 3D photos and videos look convincing and clear.

We also had no trouble with fuzzy images resulting from the phone moving around too much, since the auto-focus tends to work quite well. 


HTC evo 3d

ANGLES: The best 3D shots came after clever angling

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htc evo 3d

CLEAR:Shots are clear and convincing in 2D

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htc evo 3d

LAYERS:3D images need to be considered for depth

Click here to see the full-size image

htc evo 3d

INDOORS:Colours are realisticin indoor shots

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htc evo 3d

LOW LIGHT: Colours are almost black-and-white in low light conditions

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In 2D mode, the Evo 3D offers many of the same features as any other HTC phone. You can apply digital effects such as a grayscale look or vintage. You can set manual white balance, use a timer, and add a geo-tag to any image. ISO speed runs from 100 up to 800.

Video


htc evo 3d

For video, the HTC Evo 3D becomes a powerful mobile 3D videocamera that shoots clean, clear movies. You can record 3D videos using up to 720p quality. Our test videos looked clear as a bell, but the 3D effect was more convincing when we tried to position a foreground object for greater visual perspective.

Interestingly, the 3D video feature seems to work best at setting foreground and background objects on their own plane. This is the mastery that James Cameron developed on Avatar, and it means fewer headaches.

HTC evo 3d review

When we tried throwing an object at the camera in 3D video mode, the Evo 3D recorded the movement in less convincing fashion. Presumably, this is because we're not talking about Hollywood-quality optics that can keep up with a ping-pong ball. The ball moves as a fuzz of motion and not realistically, despite what the US commercials suggest.

In 3D video capture mode, you have a few options available. You can use the MPO or JPS file format. A grid option helps you line up distant and near objects in the frame. You can adjust sharpness level, saturation, and other settings to improve the quality.

Media


Content is king on the Evo 3D. If you have a hard time making your own movies and still shots in 3D (in terms of making them look convincing and interesting), or get bored with that creative endeavour, there are quite a few options for viewing 3D content.

One of the best ways to view content is on YouTube. The service uses a 3D emblem to indicate that the video in in 3D. You can search for the term "YT3D" and see hundreds of 3D videos. The Optimus 3D does a better job here, though, by actually trying to tell you when 3D is available.

HTC evo 3d review

In the 3D Space interface section, you can select a link to YouTube 3D, which essentially performs the search for you. Still, the end result on both phones means the same bounty of trailers, home-made videos, and some longer 3D videos – but no complete feature films.

The 3D experience is only average - when it works it looks REALLY good, but so, so often we couldn't get the correct 3D range no matter where we shifted the phone. 3D has to dazzle to be a worthwhile feature, and here it merely flickered with disinterest.

The rest of the media experience is nigh-on identical to the original HTC Sensation, so we're going to borrow a chunk of analysis from that phone - if you looking to compare, we couldn't separate the two phones in terms of performance.

Music

Sonically, the Evo 3D is better than adequate - perfectly competent and works well within the phone, with no problems to our ears.

The same system as before is in place, namely that you can slide your finger along the bottom of the screen to search through your media to find the song you want, plus hit that little search key to find what you're after.

HTC sensation review

HTC has popped the same wireless streaming treat as in the Sensation, and looks set to continue in high end devices: find the new arrow at the top of the screen, tap it and you can instantly stream to another DLNA-enabled device with ease. It takes a little while for the song to load, but overall it's cool functionality that actually works.

The audio is acceptable without being mind-blowing on the HTC Evo 3D- you can use custom equaliser or have virtual SRS enhancement to make the songs sound bassier or less tinny, but the range of customisation doesn't actually afford too much control.

HTC sensation review

The other annoying element is that you can't control the music player from the notifications bar, only pause the music - although you can tap the album art to get straight back into the music application.

HTC sensation reviewHTC sensation review

One REALLY cool bit of functionality that shows HTC has design at the heart of the Sense UI: the lock screen music control widget lets you spin the album artwork around to let you choose between the picture or additional lock screen controls... and we love playing with things like that.

Video and HTC Watch

Given HTC is putting so much effort into movies with the Watch offering, it's surprising that the video offering on the Evo 3D, like its Sensation brethren, is STILL irritatingly poor.

STILL, there's a) no dedicated video application, and b) when you open the video section in the Gallery you get a list of thumbnails and no labels for each video, so you have to either look at the details or open the file to see what it is.

HTC sensation review

We're going to keep shouting this message until the HTC engineers listen - when it changes, we'll know we've won.

One slightly better feature - 3D footage has a 3D tag on the tile, meaning it's much easier to tell what's going to leap out of the screen out at you.

The thumbnails load much faster than before thanks to the dual-core processor, but not as lightning fast as the Galaxy S2 it has to be said, or even the single core Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.

Video performance is perfectly respectable, although certainly not market leading. This is an area where the Sensation is superior, with the screen shorn of a 3D layer looking brighter and less washed out.

SRS is still offered, although Dolby Mobile has sadly not made it on board - it wasn't really necessary to have two audio modes on there. We also love how NOBODY at HTC has noticed that it's not 'enchancement' after two iterations of phones since the Desire HD.

HTC sensation review

Take the HTC Evo 3D into the light (we don't mean kill it), not even direct sunlight, and you'll have to instantly turn up the brightness as high as it will go, which really washes out the picture - even more so outside with the 3D coating.

The HTC Watch service looks like a winning offer for those that are locked into a two year contract with the phone, as the DRM means you can only play the files in HTC Devices (although that includes the Flyer if you have one).

The quality is great, but £9.99 for a film seems a lot to pay for not the most up to date titles - and renting for £3.49 feels rubbish when it's not yours to keep.

HTC sensation review

The selection of four old series of TV shows is disappointing too - but we're sure the collection will grow quickly in the future, and hopefully the cost will come down.

Over Wi-Fi the download speeds were pretty good for movies, and the ability to pay directly with your credit card is good too - it feels less like you can accidentally spend loads on watching films, especially if you're renting (although remember it used to be cheaper to rent videos from Blockbuster).

More annoyingly is the total lack of 3D offering for the UK; no dedicated section, and from what we could see (and we looked for AGES) nothing to suggest any 3D films on the portal. The US has this element, why on earth does the UK not? Why is HTC even launching this phone?

HTC evo 3d review

Our test phone did have a digital radio app, and does support DLNA streaming to and from a device like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3D. The included app, called Connected Media, walks you through the setup process and, over an 802.11 router, streamed both music and movies smoothly to a large screen TV.

Gaming

Games look quality on the device. Spider-Man, NOVA 3D and Asphalt 6 3D all presented compelling game environments that looked realistic - although getting them on your phone is something more of a mission.

There is a toss-up between the Evo 3D and the LG Optimus 3D. The Evo 3D is faster, so some gameplay looks smoother. However, the Optimus has a brighter and more colourful display, so a game like NOVA 3D actually looks a bit more believable because of the colour contrast.



Controlling the games isn't a big issue. Spider-Man 3D doesn't enable you to tilt the phone for control, and you have to use an on-screen joystick, but the controls worked accurately and it would have been too headache-inducing to use tilt controls with a 3D game anyway. (Our brain can't handle that much virtual movement.)

However, holding the sweet spot for game play is pointlessly hard - we found that the correct area to se the full 'pop out of the screen effect' was just impossible to keep in shot, and gave us eye strain trying to keep up.

Battery life and connectivity


HTC evo 3d review

The Evo 3D is not going to set any records on battery life. One issue is that 3D playback tends to drain the 1730 mAh battery faster (although the extended power is a plus). And by faster, we mean in an amazingly short amount of time.

In our tests, watching only an hour of YouTube 3D clips (pausing to reset our eyes from time to time), then checking email and browsing a few Web sites, the phone only lasted about three hours. Importantly, we set the brightness level at a mid-point.

HTC evo 3d review

The battery life for most activities (ie not using 3D) is much greater – up to 14 hours for making a few calls, checking email, and occasionally playing a short video. Talk time on the phone is rated at about 8 hours with a stand-by time (non-use) of 355 hours, although we reckon 'real life' will see at least half that time.

Overall, if you make frequent use of the 3D features, the Evo 3D does not stand up to the 2D competition. In fact, after a day or testing, where we used the phone frequently to shoot 3D videos of a car, the Evo 3D drained down very quickly.

htc evo 3d

Worse, once the battery level starts getting low, you cannot use the 3D functions of the phone any more.

The news is not all bad, though. We also tested the phone for only 3D playback versus frequent 3D recording on two separate days. You might think the phone would drain the battery in equal measure, but 3D recording used up the battery faster. That means, if you stick with 3D viewing for YouTube videos and movies, the phone will last longer - but not by much.

Connectivity

The HTC Evo 3D is one of those phones that has a huge range of connectivity on board, from Wi-Fi b/g/n to Bluetooth 3.0.

The Wi-Fi is certainly a step up from the likes of the HTC Desire S, which had a very strange attenuation problem if you held the phone in a certain way. The Evo 3D is a lot better, and even a big improvement over the Samsung Galaxy S2, which is useless in mid-strength Wi-Fi signal zones - in fact, it's slightly better at holding a signal than the Sensation.

HTC sensation review

HSPDA is at an acceptable 14.4Mbps speed, with the upload speed bouncing in at 5.76 Mbps, both of which seem plausible in our tests - plus the lovely option of setting up your own Wi-Fi hotspot if you fancy chewing the battery in heartbeat.

HTC sensation review

HTC has chucked on quite a few options when it comes to connecting the phone up to the PC, with the main one being HTC Sync.

HTC sensation review

While this is more of an option to get your contacts and such backed up, it works well for keeping your calendar, document folder and even internet bookmarks safe should you lose your phone or transfer to a new one.

HTC sensation review

If you're after an easier way to get content across though, simply dragging and dropping media into the phone will work just as well - it zips across in no time at all, which is a blessing when you're getting movies ready for a long journey.

Maps and Apps


htc evo 3d

Our test phone included the standard Google Maps app, but disappointingly the mapping apps do not take advantage of the 3D screen tech in any way.

HTC evo 3d review

That means, there are no road signs jumping from the screen as you drive to help you check speed limits or upcoming intersections, and there are no 3D effects for buildings or other objects that could make the mapping features more interesting.

Thankfully, the dual-core 1.2GHz processor did make mapping speedy enough for most tasks. We zoomed in quickly to a city locale, even with the satellite mode enabled in Google Maps. There was none of the typical blocky fill-ins and wait periods.

The Evo 3D is bright and clear, but does not match the quality of the Samsung Galaxy S2 by any means, so maps tended to look a little washed out compared to that superior phone.

htc evo 3d

GPS locked quickly in a variety of settings, including driving in a car, walking around town, and standing next to an office window.

Apps

There's a Connected Media app for streaming content, an FM Radio app, Polaris Office for opening Word docs and spreadsheets (and editing documents with basic formatting options) and a Twitter client called Peep.

HTC evo 3d review

Many of these apps add functionality, but we'd prefer to see more 3D-related apps. There were no apps for finding a lost phone, either.

There's not a lot more than that on offer, to be honest; although we still love the Weather app, which has on-board temperature graphs, multiple city information and no need to connect to the mobile app to see any more information - it's all there on the phone for you in the morning, and has the adorable animation to tell you what's going on.

Hands-on gallery

HTC evo 3d review

HTC evo 3d review

HTC evo 3d review

HTC evo 3d review

HTC evo 3d review

HTC evo 3d review

HTC evo 3d review

Verdict


HTC evo 3d review

The HTC Evo 3D is a stand-out phone – and we mean that literally. The graphics jump off the screen in games, and you'll notice a sleek 3D effect for movies and still photos.

Some might complain about headaches and eye-strain, while others might question whether this is a vanilla smartphone with a 3D gimmick tacked on.

Sadly - it is. While not the case in the US, it's an afterthought in the UK, with nothing in the way of 3D content on offer, and a middling experience playing with the 3D screen.

We also think the LG Optimus 3D is the better device, mostly because the screen looks a bit more convincing and life-like. And, the Evo 3D tends to hide away the 3D features while the Optimus puts them into a 3D Space interface enhancement that makes the options much easier to find. Plus, the Optimus records better 3D video.

We liked


The HTC Evo 3D is a remarkable phone if you want to explore new technology. Shooting 3D video is a blast, and the 3D games are convincing enough, considering the screen size.

The rest of the positives are the same as on the likes of the HTC Sensation et al: a high-res screen and blisteringly quick web browser are nice touches, and will entice a lot of users.

Contact integration is clever as ever, meaning we could keep up with our buddies more easily than ever before - it's nothing new, but it's still a smart evolution forward.

We disliked

The headaches start after about 30 minutes, which means you need to use the 3D features in short spurts. For those expecting continual 3D usage for movies and games, that is just not possible on the HTC Evo 3D.

The phone shoots 3D pictures in only 2MP, which is a shame because the camera could do better - why not allow users to take pictures in a better resolution?

The LG Optimus 3D also does a better job of presenting the 3D features. On the HTC Evo 3D, there isn't a dedicated interface section for 3D apps and content, so you have to search around a bit more.

The 3D screen is uninspiring, there's not a jot of 3D content ready to go out of the box and the battery gets slaughtered in a few hours when using the screen for the third dimension.

This is a heavy and bulky phone compared to new models such as the Samsung Galaxy S2. That's somewhat acceptable given the faster processing and 3D cameras, but we've entered a new age of very thin and very light phones.

Verdict

It depends how you look at the HTC Evo 3G when deciding on a rating; in a vacuum it's a tremendous phone with a cool extra 3D element. It's pricey, sure, but it's only the same price as the iPhone 4, and on some contracts, a bit cheaper than that.

But then you notice the HTC Sensation, which in every way is its superior (except for maybe battery life) - thinner, lighter, more stylish, brighter screen... the list goes on.

With that in mind, and HTC's reticence to give us any indication of how to use the 3D for gaming or movies, plus the higher cost, we'll have to say we're hugely disappointed with the Evo 3D. If HTC decides to bless us with decent content via Watch or a download 3D games, we'll bump it up a star or so - but if that never happens, this phone will fall quickly into the 'cool, but not much point' category.

If you're desperate for a 3D phone, check out the LG Optimus 3D - and it's been a long time since we've recommended an LG over an HTC phone.

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