By September 5, 2011

HTC EVO 3D Review

evo-main_2The HTC EVO 3D is the slightly bigger, slightly uglier and slightly faster brother of the HTC Sensation but as the name would suggest, the EVO 3D has one trick up it’s sleeve: the ability to view and create 3D content. This handset is the second 3D capable phone to arrive in the United Kingdom and the first of the EVO line to come over from America under the same moniker.

It has all of the latest specs: dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, two 5 MP cameras, 540 x 960 qHD screen and Sense UI 3.0 but does it work like a charm? Should you choose this over the HTC Sensation? Should you delve into the three-dimensions with the EVO 3D or should you go with the Optimus 3D?

Well, you should read on to find out!

 

The 10 Second Review:

  • Device: HTC EVO 3D
  • Price: Around – Around £515 including VAT
  • Summary: A phone with a fantastic screen, fantastic hardware and fantastic software resulting in a fantastic phone that in my opinion, is the best phone that HTC has ever made. Oh and it has 3D as well as sort of the icing on the cake.
  • Best of: Screen, Sense UI 3.0, Performance, 3D
  • Worst of: Battery, difficult to remove MicroSD card
  • Buy it now from The Smartphone Centre
  • Also consider: HTC Sensation, LG Optimus 3D

 

What is in the Box?

  • HTC EVO 3D
  • UK 3-Pin Mains Plug
  • Battery
  • Earphones
  • USB to MicroUSB Sync/Charge cable

 

You should be aware, that the box I received was not retail packaging and you should be aware that there may be changes if you purchase the EVO 3D yourself.

Check out the unboxing/demo video by Matt below:

HTC Evo 3D video

 

EVO 3D Specification:

  • 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 900 / 1700 / 2100
  • Dimensions: 126 x 65 x 12.1 mm
  • Weight: 170 g
  • Display: 3D LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 540 x 960 pixels, 4.3 inches
  • Multi-touch input method
  • Touch-sensitive controls
  • Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
  • Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
  • Gyro sensor
  • HTC Sense UI
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Memory: 1 GB available storage, 1 GB RAM
  • microSD, up to 32GB
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth: v3.0 with A2DP, EDR
  • microUSB (MHL) v2.0
  • Camera: Two 5 MP, 2560?1920 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • Stereoscopic photos (2 MP only) & videos; geo-tagging
  • Video: [email protected] (2D), [email protected] (3D)
  • Secondary camera: 1.3 MP
  • OS: Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • CPU: 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8660 chipset
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • TV-out (via MHL A/V link)Digital compass
  • Battery
  • Standard battery, Li-Ion 1730 mAh

 

General:

The top of the handset houses the power/lock button and the 3.5 mm headphone jack whereas the bottom of the handset has just the microphone. The MicroUSB port is the only thing on the left hand side of the device and on the right hand side you have the volume rocker, 2D/3D switch and two-stage shutter button. On the back there is the two 5 MP cameras, dual LED flash and the HTC Logo. Last but not least, on the front you have the 4.3" qHD LCD screen, the 4 capacitive Android buttons and the ear speaker.

 

Review

The HTC EVO 3D is the second phone that I have been fortunate to have used with the new glasses-free 3D technology. The first was the LG Optimus 3D so I knew what to expect when I opened the box of the EVO 3D. Most notable I knew not to get my hopes up that everything would be in 3D and everything would just pop out at me where in fact 3D only works in landscape.

As is so associated with the Taiwanese manufacturer, the build quality on the HTC EVO 3D is fantastic. Everything fits perfectly, the buttons are great feeling and even though the back cover is made of plastic, it doesn’t moan or groan when pressed. Also the weight of the handset seems to be tuned perfectly to give an effect of superb quality: it isn’t too light to give an impression of cheapness and not too heavy to hurt when it is held in the hand.

htc-evo-3d

The design of the EVO 3D is much more industrial and square than it’s brother, the HTC Sensation which has a much curvier and fluid appearance. While the latter maybe better looking, the former is much better feeling and more secure when holding it in the hand because of the squarish design, however, do not get the impression that the EVO 3D is not a good looking handset when in fact it is; Just perhaps just not as good looking as it’s sibling.

When you flip it around to the front, you are instantly bombarded by the gigantic 4.3" 3D capable qHD screen – try saying that fast 10 times and what a great screen it is! Normally with 4.3" screens they are slightly wider and shorter (such as on the HTC Desire HD) but on the EVO 3D it has gone a diet and a growth spurt measuring at just 126 mm x 65 mm which results in a really well sized and appropriate form factor that actually doesn’t make it seem so large.

Truthfully, the screen on the EVO 3D is one of the best I have ever seen on a smartphone. The qHD resolution makes everything crisp and clean, the capacitive touchscreen makes it super responsive, and the colours while not as good as those on the Super AMOLED screens from Samsung, they appear rich, vibrant and true to life.

htc-evo-3d2

Just like the HTC Sensation, the EVO 3D has Qualcomm’s 1.2 GHz dual-core processor inside that while not a screamer, it powers the EVO 3D with complete ease. The quadrant scores may seem quite low but remember that quadrant scores are just a benchmark and do not accurately represent how a phone performs in day to day use because in day to day use, the EVO 3D is one of the fastest and smoothest running phones I’ve used to date.

quadrant2172

The EVO 3D is running HTC’s latest version of their Android skin, Sense UI 3.0 and in my opinion, one of the best Android skins around although it is one of the most intense of all of them. HTC has completely revamped the way that Android looks from everything from the dialer to the settings, from the notifications bar to the camera app.

And with this latest version of Sense UI, HTC have added some really cool features, most notably the new lock-screen or lock-ring. Usually you have to slid a bar up, down or across but HTC has changed it to a ring that unlocks the phone when you drag it upwards to around the middle of the screen.

Lockscreen

But that isn’t the main attraction with the new lock-screen, the main attraction is that you can add 4 applications to it and launch them directly from the lock-screen – without needing to locate the app after locking it already. Especially handy for commonly used apps such as the phone, email, messages and camera but you can change these to anything you want. To launch any of these, grab the app icon and pull it over the circle.

When you do unlock the EVO 3D, you are greeted by the 7 homescreens which are standard for HTC Sense devices. As with any Android handset, you can put any app, widget, shortcut or folder on to the any of the homescreens, but only as long as there is space. To add objects to the homescreens, you can either press the personalisation button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen or you can long press on a free space and get to the same menu.

homescreen1homescreen2homescreen3Homescreen4homescreen5homescreen6homescreen7

If you find navigating between the homescreens annoying or you feel that it just takes too long, help is at hand in the form of the helicopter view that HTC call Leap. To activate this mode, you can either pinch any of the homescreen pages or press the home button twice to be presented with a zoomed out overview of what’s happening on each page. This Leap view can be handy if you don’t know which screen you’ve put a widget on but overall I’d say that it’s more for show-off factor than practical use.

leap

Sense 3.0 is the most visual version yet and two examples of this are that the homescreens are arranged in some sort of 3D virtual cube and you can clearly see this when you set the homescreens spinning in the carousel animation by quickly swiping sidewards across the screen. Also, there are layers on the actual widgets themselves which add a 3D effect and you can clearly see this when you hold the transition between homescreens.

spinning

To access your notifications, you swipe your finger down from the bar at the top, just like almost every other Android handset. But what makes the notification bar different from every other Android handset is what it offers. Firstly it offers notifications (as you would expect) but above it, you have a section where all of your most recent apps and thirdly, there is a quick settings section where you can quickly turn on and off the Wi-Fi, GPS, Mobile Networks etc.

notifications

Just like with every Sense UI device, the EVO 3D comes with three buttons that stay with you as you swipe between homescreens. The first on the left is the app drawer and for those inexperienced with Android, this is the location where you can find and launch all of the installed apps. The Sense 3.0 app drawer, unlike most, is split into three sections: all, starred and downloaded. They are all pretty self explanatory but I do like the addition by HTC because it can get very difficult to wade through 100s of apps you may have installed.

appdrawerfavouriteappsdownloads

The second and largest button is the phone button which launches the phone app (well you’d expect that). This sounds a bit odd but the dialler that HTC has included in Sense 3.0 is the best I have ever used: the buttons are huge, there is the predictive dialling feature that when you start typing in a portion of a name or number, the matching suggestions appear in the list and the most recent people you have called are at the top. Very simple but very useful.

dialler

The last button is the personalisation button which is the hub where you can completely personalise your EVO 3D to your liking. You can change the skins, scenes, widgets, lockscreen, background and sounds here but I have always hated that there is a dedicated button on the homescreens to get to this menu. I’d much rather prefer it if you could just access it through the settings and replace the button on the homescreen with a browser. Anyway, HTC does offer a huge amount of customisation, way more than any other manufacturer, but for some this is a blessing and others this will be a curse. Some will love how they can completely change the device to how they want, while others will hate it for the same reasons: there are literally hundreds of different things to look and decide on.

personalize

The first thing we will look at is the skins. Now this isn’t just a change of the background, it goes way beyond that: it changes the entire colour scheme, back ground wallpaper, font colours, lock screen etc. So if you get bored with your current look of the handset, you are just a few taps away from dramatically changing your phone. Note, you can also download more skins from HTC as well.

skins

The next feature is called Scenes and while this has been around for a while, I feel like this is one of the most interesting features of Sense 3.0 and for the EVO 3D, HTC has created Scenes that are much more visually interesting than the earlier ones offered on different devices.

scenes

Basically, these Scenes allow you to have multiple homescreen profiles so that you can set them up and switch between them at any time. For example, you could have a profile for home, work and travelling, each with different apps and widgets for different situations. Out of the box HTC provide Social, Work, Play and Travel Scenes on top of the default HTC Scene. On top of that you can also download more Scenes. The Scene selection is a lot easier now too as each one now provides you with a small preview image rather that a named selection list.

Like I said earlier, you can change what the lockscreen looks like and what apps you can quickly launch from it and here is where you can change it. The ones included out of the box are default, photos, Friend Stream, Weather, stocks and clock. My personal favourites are the Weather and Clock but I am pleased that there are many to choose from so whatever floats your boat, you are covered.

lockscreensLockscreen customise

 

Email

HTC first introduced their own updated email client last year with the HTC Legend and Desire and while this was a much need app back then when earlier email clients weren’t the best in both functionality and appearance. The 2010 update included multiple email account support and combined inbox views as well as a number of other email views to make dealing with a lot of email, a lot easier.

email

 

There are many ways to view your email:

  • The first is the main inbox view where all of your emails from all of your accounts are in one list and all of the emails are colour coded so you can easily tell which account that particular email came too.
  • The next is the conversation view and it groups messages into a threaded format by the subject.
  • The third is the favourites view and this allows you to see only email from those people on your favourites list. This works hand in hand with the favourites you have in contacts and as speed-dials.
  • The fourth is the un-read view.
  • The fifth is the flagged messages view.
  • The penultimate is to do with invitations and you can also set up meetings here as well.
  • And last but not least is the attachments view where you can view all of the messages with attachments embedded in them.

However, if you do use Gmail for you primary email, I highly recommend you download the Gmail app from the market as in my opinion, it is much better for Gmail users. But there is one thing that lets it down and that is that there is no unified inbox. So if you do get yourself an EVO 3D, try both out and see which one you prefer.

 

Calendar

Just like the email client, HTC’s calendar went under the knife last year which resulted in multiple calendar support being added and the addition of a number of calendar widgets as well.

calendar

You can view your appointments in the usual month, week, day and agenda views, all with the Sense styling.

 

Text Entry

Just like everything else, HTC have changed the standard QWERTY keyboard to one that they cooked up. There isn’t much of a difference between the standard and HTC keyboards except for the colour, the layout and the text prediction: I prefer the standard Android 2.3 Gingerbread keyboard for the first two but I have found that the text prediction on the EVO 3D is second to none.

keyboardlandscapekeyboardportrait

There also is a landscape version of the standard portrait QWERTY and everything pretty much stays the same aside from the obvious that it is much wider and the keys are much bigger.

There is also a voice entry button on all of the keyboards that works rather well and it is one of the best features of the Android operating system but do remember that you will need internet access to make it work.

But one thing still ‘unresolved’ is that the shortcut key for email and internet extensions only includes .net, .com, .com and .edu – particularly obviously missing is .co.uk

 

Internet

The internet browsing experience on the EVO 3D is truly great because of the qHD resolution, fast CPU and the 1 GB of RAM. It literally cuts through web pages with a decent internet connection and when you are navigating the web page, it does it with without any lag whatsoever. And this was a huge surprise to me, heavy Flash sites even perform reasonably well when usually this web technology grinds every device to a halt.

browserlandscapebrowserportraitbrowserreflow

When you turn the device on its side, you get the all of the 960 pixels to read huge blocks of text and view loads of images fantastically. There also is text re-flow so when you zoom into see text closer, it automatically re-adjusts so you don’t have to scroll around the screen while you are reading a long article, for example.

 

Friend Stream

The Friend Stream app that is included on all modern Sense UI devices is HTC’s way of combining together all of your possible social network feeds into one single app. Twitter, Facebook and Flickr are all supported in the latest version and this app is very much like marmite: you either love it, or you hate it. Personally, I hate Friend Stream but not because it is a bad app, but because I prefer having specific apps for specific social networks like Twitter and Facebook, many available for download from the Android Market.

friendstream widget

 

Android Market

And while we are talking about it, I thought I would cover it and basically it is the same Android Market as seen on every other handset aside from one exception: on an HTC Device you’ll see an HTC recommends tab with all of HTC’s top picks in-place of the My Apps section. However you can still access it by pressing the menu button.

android market

 

Media

There hasn’t been a massive change in the music department, just The music app works well but there are no frills as such. Music can be displayed by title, album artist or genre. Album art is shown along with the playtime and time remaining and playback can be controlled from the lock screen too.

music lockscreenmusic

On the EVO 3D, you’ll find the standard YouTube client, the same one included on every other Android handset out there right now. Android has the best YouTube client in my opinion, it’s simple and elegant. All you have to do to full-screen a video that you are watching is turn the handset 90 degrees and the display rotates and the video plays full screen hiding the other toolbars and navigation items.

youtubelandscapeyoutubeportrait

But what makes the client on the EVO 3D different from the rest is just that: it can view 3D YouTube videos. These are really good but there aren’t very many of them but if you do manage to find one, you have the ability to view them as they were intended to be.

 

News and Weather

At HTC they seem to think that us smartphone owners are totally pre-occupied with news and weather and they show it as on the EVO 3D you’ll find that news and weather are well covered with not only the weather widgets but also a news and weather app.

news weatherhomescreen1

This app has a series of tabs along the top and starts with the weather and a 7-day forecast for your current area. Then there are additional tabs for the Top Stories, UK news, Sports and Entertainment. These just provide headlines and tapping on a story loads it in the web browser.

 

Wi-Fi Hotspot

Using your phone as a WiFi hotspot isn’t a particularly new feature (if-fact it was officially introduced with Android 2.2 Froyo ) but HTC has made it nice and easy to use. Simply start the app, give your phone a router name or SSID and switch it on. Then you just connect to the EVO 3D in the same way as you would join any other Wi-Fi network from a laptop, iPad, iPod Touch or pretty much any other device that used Wi-Fi as it’s means to connect to the internet.

Portable Hotspot

 

3D

As I was the one who reviewed the LG Optimus 3D for this site, I have already had some experience in glasses-free 3D smartphones so when it came to reviewing the 3D portion of the EVO 3D, I kind of knew what to expect. Out of the box, the Optimus 3D has tons of apps and games that show off the 3D aspect of the device which meant that when I first started to use the EVO 3D, I was surprised that the only app available on the EVO 3D that takes advantage of the technology is the camera. This might be because overall the Optimus 3D is an average high-end smartphone that needs a gimmick to make it appealing to smartphone buyers. Whereas I feel like the 3D aspect of the EVO 3D was just included to be there, rather than the entire focus of the handset.

Anyway, for a 3D handset that I feel doesn’t push 3D into the forefront, it actually is the best 3D experience I have had on a mobile device. I found that the 3D quality on the Optimus 3D was much more intense and much more straining on the eye whereas the 3D experience on the EVO 3D is much more pleasing and less strainful on the eyes, even though it delivered the same quality of 3D-ness. Although, my eyes did start to hurt after around an hour of looking at the screen.Also, I found you had to view it in a very specific angle with the EVO 3D, but that may just be my own eyes, with yours it might be different.

 

Camera

They say two is better than one and with the EVO 3D it is certainly is the case. On the back of the device, you have two, count ’em, two 5 MP cameras. The one nearest the top of the handset is the one that is used for taking 2D/standard photos but if you flick the switch, it uses both of them and creates a 3D image when you press the shutter button.

camera

And talking of that shutter button, it is a fantastic one at that, almost as good as on some dedicated cameras. It is a two-stage camera shutter which means that you can accurately and precisely judge when to take the perfect photo.

You can also shoot 720p video from these cameras – in both 2D and 3D.

The camera UI seen on the EVO 3D is the standard Sense UI one and it comes with all the trimmings you could possibly need from a camera: ISO, flash controls, zoom, white balance etc.

The capture speed is really quick, not instant though. In practice it rather depends on the focus. If you already have the subject in focus then the capture is virtually instant but if you need to refocus the frame that can take a second or two to achieve depending upon the amount of available light and the contrast in the subject.

As for the quality of the photos themselves, decide for yourself below. (By the way, I’m not a very good photo taker so ignore any shoddy camera work!)

test shot 1test shot 4

test shot 2test shot 3

 

Battery

The 1730 mAh battery looks good on paper but because the EVO 3D is such a powerhouse, it quickly drains it down in a matter of hours – 7 to be precise with regular use: web browsing, phone calls, text messaging, listening to podcasts, etc… This is okay for a high end smartphone but believe me when I say that the slightly lacking battery life is the most disappointing thing about the EVO 3D.

 

Conclusion

Truthfully, I think that the EVO 3D is the best phone HTC has made. The hardware has been beautifully built , the screen is gorgeous to look at and the Sense 3.0 skin is the best Android skin I’ve have used – although it is a bit intense. Plus you have the added bonus of 3D as a cherry on top.

However, it isn’t the best looking handset, so if looks are your thing, go with the Sensation as it is just about the same in-terms of operation. But in my brief side-by-side testing, I found that the EVO 3D beats the Sensation pretty much every single time. Not by much though…

As for those who want a 3D phone, I would also recommend the EVO 3D over the Optimus 3D, not because the 3D experience is better, but because the overall package on the EVO 3D is much better. LG has made 3D the number one priority for the Optimus 3D and it shows with the adequate hardware, laggy skin and the included 3D apps, whereas HTC seems to have put making a good smartphone in the forefront, with 3D being added just to be there.

All in all, the HTC EVO 3D is a tremendously good phone on both paper and in practise and it is one of the best phones I have ever used. Why should you be thinking about anything else?

 

Review by: Patrick

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