3D seems to be one of the new fads (Okay, maybe not that new). It’s made its way into our movie theatres, handheld game consoles, and televisions; and it’s now trying to weasel its way into our phones.
Does 3D help in any way, or is it painful to look upon?
Internals and performance
The HTC Evo 3D is no slouch, and competes with the big boys.
It packs a Qualcomm MSM8660 system-on-chip (SoC) with a dual-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz paired with an Adreno 220 GPU, and 1GB of RAM.
It has 1GB of internal storage, which is a little disappointing, but it does allow for expansion of up to another 32GB via microSD.
It supports all the usual connectivity options, including HSPA, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth, and it has a microUSB connector.
In terms of performance, the Evo 3D did well, but not well enough.
AnTuTu Benchmarks gave it a score of 4839.4 – placing it 4th in our lineup behind the Samsung Galaxy Note (6394.2), Motorola Razr (6035.4), and Samsung Galaxy S2 (5334.3).
Design and build quality
There’s nothing particularly slim about the HTC Evo 3D. At 126 x 65 x 12.1 mm, it’s a full 5mm thicker than the Motorola Razr.
This is not necessarily a bad thing; the Evo 3D sits well in hand, though it may be slightly heavy for some at 170 grams.
On top is a 3.5mm jack and the power/sleep/wake button. The button isn’t the easiest to find in the dark.
The bottom of the Evo 3D is bare except for a little tab that you can fit a fingernail into to remove the back cover.
On the right side is the volume rocker, a switch to change between 2D and 3D camera capture modes, and a fairly sizable 2-phase shutter button.
On the left side is the microUSB port for charging and data transfer. It’s a slightly odd place to put it (they generally feature on the bottom of phones) and it would appear to upside-down in relation to other phones. Nevertheless, it’s not a big downer.
The 4.3-inch 3D LCD screen takes up most of the front. Some space is left below it for the home, menu, back and search buttons, which are encircled and backlit, making them easy to find in all types of lighting situations. Above the screen is an HTC logo, the camera, and earpiece.
The backplate is slightly odd. About a quarter of it (the quarter closest to the camera button) is smooth plastic, while the rest of it is textured. We’re not entirely sure why it’s like this, except to make it look slightly more distinctive. At the top-middle, almost smack in the centre, are two camera lenses. The top one is used for normal photos, while both are required to take 3D photos. Between them are 2 LED flashes.
The backplate itself is tricky to remove, partly because of the small fingerhold given from which to start prying it off, and partly because it seems to get stuck by the camera switch. This essentially means that you have to pry it loose along the opposite edge and work your way around. Hopefully, you won’t have to do this too often.
It’s an overall good design with some minor annoyances.
Screen and responsiveness
The 4.3-inch qHD (540×960) LCD display is good, but not great.
In terms of vibrancy, it doesn’t really come close to the sAMOLED Plus displays that Samsung has to offer, and it seems almost mediocre when put next to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note or the Galaxy Nexus.
Still, it’s not a bad display, and it has a trick up its sleeve. 3D photos can be viewed on the Evo 3D, though doing so isn’t particularly comfortable.
In terms of responsiveness, it performed well in day-to-day use (e-mails, texts, browsing) as well as with some games requiring fast fingers.
The rear 5MP camera takes good photos, but nothing particularly outstanding, and it does seem to struggle a little in low-light situations.
3D photos are also decent, even though they’re limited to 2 megapixels. As mentioned before though, they are difficult to view on the Evo 3D itself – not because of usability, but because of eye strain.
The front 1.3MP camera is also good, but not great as it tends to get quite grainy in low-light environments – video calling shouldn’t be a problem.
Sound and call quality
The bundled earphones offered excellent sound quality. Make no mistake, they won’t be replacing my regular headphones, but for bundled earphones they were top notch.
The rear speaker, on the other hand, did not do particularly well. Cranking up the volume made it sound like the noise was coming from within an aluminium-clad bathroom. On the bright side, ring- and message-tones sounded fine.
Call quality was good, with no problems to report on either end.
Battery life was quite good. The Evo 3D toughed out a day of e-mails, texts, browsing, tweeting and even a little gaming and had enough battery left to only need a charger by the time a (sane) person would go to bed.
When the device wasn’t in use, it drained very little battery and could make it through several days at a time.
The Evo 3D comes with Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) and of course, HTC’s own Sense skin (version 3.0).
Sense is still one of the better OEM skins (though I am personally a fan of unskinned Android), but the constant addition of options, toggles, tweaks, and features are starting to make it feel more than a little bloated.
The modifications to the lockscreen and notification shade are good, but the number of pre-installed HTC widgets is reaching ridiculous proportions (81).
The number of pre-installed apps is also fairly shocking. Without any user applications, there are 2-3 pages of apps (40+). This is partly due to redundancy – like with HTC’s News alongside the default News & Weather app, and HTC’s Peep with the default Twitter app – and partly because of silly apps like Mirror (which literally just enables the front camera so that you can look at yourself).
Animations are also great, but only if they’re actually meaningful. The carousel animation that runs when you unlock the phone is cute, but it can be triggered accidentally quite often when swiping between home screens (especially when you’re in a hurry and least want to see it).
I understand and respect that OEMs want to differentiate their products, but HTC Sense is in desperate need of a diet.
Overall, the HTC Evo 3D is good, but not great.
The design is strong, but bulky; the screen is above average, but not excellent; the 3D functionality is interesting, but at the end of the day, it feels more like a gimmick.
The HTC Evo 3D keeps pace with the current market, but in no way does it surpass it.
At a recommended retail price of R6,888, potential buyers will also want to check out the Motorola Razr and the Samsung Galaxy S2. My prediction is that buyers will most likely decide on either of those over the HTC Evo 3D.