Evo 3D Review

Scroll down to the bottom for the tl;dr and a link to download some sample 3D images. Evo 3D full specs.

I’ve had my Evo 3D for a week now. I decided to upgrade from my Nexus One as Sprint was offering $125 service credit if I switched. I thought I’d take advantage and get a dual core phone. My Nexus One was the benchmark for me as far as superphones/Android superphones go, at least when I got it. It had the latest version of Android and for a whole year, I never felt the need to root it and install any custom ROMS because, quite frankly, within hardware limitations it did everything every other phone did. Rooting it simply added even more functionality, I had no reason to get anything else.

Now, as I switched to Sprint, the 3D had not been released yet so I temporarily had an Evo 4G. I picked this phone as it would be the closest thing to the 3D. In comparison to my Nexus One it wasn’t that impressive. I liked the bigger screen and Sprint’s WiMax 4G is actually pretty fast. Aside from that, the front facing camera and HTC’s Sense were the main differences between the 4G and the Nexus One. I enjoyed using all of them, except Sense.

You may be wondering what this has to do with the 3D. Well, as I mentioned earlier, I thought the 4G would be the closest comparison to the 3D and since I was getting the 3D, I thought it would help me get used to the new phone a little easier. I was wrong…

The biggest surprise for me is Sense. I expected it to be lame and gimmicky, it isn’t. I don’t like the dock at the bottom, I wish you could customize it more, and I don’t like how certain notifications display on the lock screen, I’d like my privacy. But apart from that, I like everything else! My favorite feature is the new lock screen, which by the way, if you use a pin or pattern unlock you can still take advantage of this awesome lock screen. You can have your lock screen display different things on it, I have the current weather in an animation and it looks beautiful. You can also have a “friend stream” which displays a social networking time line, a photo album or you could just stick with a plain lock screen! Another thing on the lock screen is widgets. You have four spaces to place four app icons of your choice. This is another thing I appreciated as it makes opening your frequently used apps a lot more efficient. The only thing that would make this better is if it had icons for apps that had new notifications, at the moment you can only have four fixed apps.

The notification bar has also been modified in 3.0. As well as displaying your notifications, it also displays a row of icons at the top for your eight recently opened apps. Essentially the same thing that would be displayed if you long pressed the home button. This feature I use occasionally, but I’m already used to using the home button. Still though, Android is all about choice, so it’s nice that HTC included this.

The feature of the notification pull down I like the most though, was access to “quick settings”, a tab at the bottom. This replaces the widgets that used to be on the home screens to toggle certain settings. I loved that they are now neatly tucked away in the notifications pull down, it reminds me of the notification widgets that Cyanogen MOD had. Speaking of which, Cyanogen had a way to swipe away notifications to dismiss them without opening them. Add this feature to Sense and the notification pull down would be perfect!

The dock, like before had the ‘all apps’ button to bring up the app drawer (more on that later), the giant “phone” button (who makes calls anymore? :p) and instead of the “+” button, there is a paintbrush button to access the “personalize” screen. Tap this button from any home screen to customize the lock screen, wallpaper, widgets, add app icons and folders to your home screens and change your HTC Sense “scene”. You can also change sounds for your ringtone, alarm and default notification sound. It’s a really nice and convenient place to do all these things and in my opinion a welcome addition to the phone’s interface. The personalize screen can also be accessed by long pressing an empty space on any home screen.

Sense 3.0 also contains a few new widgets, which look great! HTC includes an app called “HTC Hub” which is like a central place to get new widgets, scenes and wallpapers. At the moment there isn’t too much on there, but I suspect this will change over time as Sense 3 is on more phones.

The app drawer is also different now. It has buttons at the bottom to view all apps, downloaded apps (ones that didn’t come with the phone) and frequently used apps (useful). The apps display in pages now, not the continuous flowing way, however, if you’d like such functionality back you can change the view to “list view”. This makes the app drawer look like how apps are listed when you go to uninstall them. Not as pretty, but functional and flowing.

There have been quite a few changes and additions to Sense that make the phone a pleasure to use, but I can’t list all of them here, there are articles on blogs out there that go over everything. I’ve talked about most of the major changes, all of which make using your phone a much more positive experience. As mentioned above, I only have a few small complaints about Sense, none of which take away from the experience as a whole. I used to think I was a die hard stock Android only person until I used Sense 3. If you were like me, Sense 3 isn’t that bad, in fact it makes using the phone a real pleasure. However, if you want to go back to stock Android and have a myriad of customizations, I’m sure the home screen replacements in the Android market still work, and at the time of writing, the Android developers have figured out a way to get root, so custom ROM’s and mods should appear soon.

The next thing that surprised me was… 3D! I thought it would be gimmicky and I wouldn’t care for it at all! However, the combination of nice looking stock 3D images, as well as the camera being able to take some good quality 3D stills itself, the camera is such a pleasure to use! I miss having a dedicated camera button (my G1 had one) so I thought that it was great they put one on the 3D. However, it’s not just a button you simply press, it’s a two stage affair. Once you open the camera app (by either using the app icon or holding down the camera button) you press down lightly to focus and then all the way down to take the picture. I know there are a lot of actual cameras that do this, but it’s wonderfully simple an intuitive I feel like taking photos all day with it! I hope HTC includes this button on all their future models! As for switching between 2D and 3D photos and video, it’s a simple slider switch on the side next to the camera button. You can also convert 3D images to 2D jpegs for sharing with those who don’t have a glasses free 3D screen.

The phone comes preloaded with a Spiderman 3D game which was fun and ‘The Green Hornet’ in 3D. I haven’t watched the whole film, but that’s because I’m not too interested in the film itself. The 3D looked good though. I really hope this phone becomes popular and developers take advantage of 3D, I think it has the potential to make some really cool and creative apps and less of a gimmick. I haven’t stared at the 3D for too long, I’ve heard it can give you headaches if you do stare for too long, so I thought I’d mention that.

Battery life is well… Android. It does have a dual core and Sense has a really nice looking interface, but it has a bigger battery than the old Evo 4G and Nexus One. As a heavy user, I get the same amount of battery life as I did with the Nexus One and Evo 4G. I NEED to have a charger at work otherwise I won’t make the day, but again, I am a heavy user, plus I get a 4G connection at work, so the 4G radio is on all day. I’d say I get about 4 – 5 hours before it runs down to about 10%. I believe with light to moderate use you can easily last 8 – 9 hours.

Oh, and about that dual core. It’s fast. Everything is quick and snappy and there is no lag at all! Uninstalling apps that would normally take maybe ten seconds is now done in an instant! I feel like opening a bunch of apps to see if I can slow it down, but I don’t think anything will work. And it does all this whilst running the latest version of Sense. I’m quite impressed with the performance and even though some people may say that, whilst true, a 1Ghz single core is good enough, having a dual core does make a difference.

Speaking of speed, the 4G is great. I get about 4 – 10Mb down and I’ve gotten up to 1Mb up if I remember correctly when I did a Speakeasy.net speed test. This is great for browsing and watching HD YouTube videos, everything loads pretty quickly. My only complaint is that the radio signal seems a bit weaker than the Evo 4G. It’s pretty rare that the signal drops though so it’s not a big issue. The qHD screen is a larger resolution and looks okay, but still is nowhere near as good as the AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S phones. You also need to turn the screen brightness up for decent viewing in direct sunlight. I think this is a problem on a lot of phones, except the Samsung ones, so HTC, please fix this!

Another issue is the capacitative buttons are a little too sensitive. I had this problem on the Evo 4G, but not the Nexus One. Especially if I use one hand it’s all to easy for my palms to accidentally press the home or search button. This is fixed somewhat because I have an Otterbox case on, which makes the phone a little easier to hold, but the problem is still there. Speaking of which, the phone feels thinner than the Evo 4G and lot easier to hold. The thickness may be about the same, but the width is slightly smaller and makes one handed use a lot easier. The speakers don’t seem to be too loud either. They are good enough for ring tones and notifications but for listening to music and maybe watching YouTube videos, you may want a pair of earphones.

Speaking of watching YouTube videos, for the brief amount of time I had the 4G I enjoyed using the kick stand at the back. This is gone with the 3D, not quite sure why, there’s room for it. It would have been nice if they had included the kick stand from the Thunderbolt, as the Thunderbolt’s stand can be used in portrait as well as landscape. Though there are cases that have stands on them. Another thing I miss is a trackball like I had on the Nexus One. The trackball is so much better than having to use the on screen controls to navigate input text, it just feels more intuitive and easy. This isn’t really a big issue, but it’s weird the compromises that HTC makes as they evolve (no pun intended) their phones. Don’t know why they wouldn’t include a trackball or trackpad.

There are a lot of apps preloaded by Sprint on the 3D as well. Thankfully Sprint/HTC now allow you to pretty much uninstall ALL of these bloatware apps. If you’re like me, you will find this a blessing. I don’t know about you, but when I get a new laptop, the first thing I do is uninstall all the trials, demo programs and other bloatware that comes with it. With the exception of Sprint Zone for account management, I don’t really need any of the other Sprint apps. The phone has 1GB of memory for app storage also, which is quite a bit. You should be able to fit enough apps on the internal storage without having to move them to the SD card. The phone comes with an 8GB SD card, which isn’t really that big, especially considering you can record 720p videos, but of course, this is a cheap upgrade to get up to 32GB’s of storage, SD cards aren’t that expensive.

It comes with the latest version of Android on it, Gingerbread 2.3.3. Well actually 2.3.4 is the latest version for phones, but that is only a minor upgrade which I’m sure will be available in the future. HTC is probably the best manufacturer for getting updates out in a somewhat timely manner and there is absolutely no way with a dual core and 4GB ROM that they wouldn’t keep this phone updated. It will be able to handle anything! I thought I’d briefly mention that I didn’t really like the stock keyboard that the phone comes with. It also comes with Swype too though, however this is Android, so you always have a choice. I am actually using the SwiftKey X beta and I love it.

It seems odd to leave this so near the end of the review, but remember this is actually a phone and it DOES make phone calls! Call quality was good and I have not received a dropped call yet, so that’s also good. I don’t know how I sound on the other end, but I don’t think this phone has a noise cancelling mic. Still though I’ve had no complaints so I’m assuming it’s fine.

Overall the build quality of this phone feels incredibly solid. HTC’s build quality has always been superb for me and this is no exception. It feels nicely weighted, although heavier now that I have an Otterbox case on. I will say it still looks like a generic HTC phone, which bothers me a bit. I wish it looked a little more unique. In fact, if it was white instead of black, that would do the trick! Such a simple change would make this look like a completely different phone compared to all the other HTC Evo clones out there.

I had my Nexus One for a year before I decided to root it and MOD it. Within hardware limitations there wasn’t anything it couldn’t do. So when my contract was up, I waited patiently for a phone that would be a worthy successor for the Nexus. The 3D, as it turns out fits the bill. I was mostly expecting a faster, smoother experience with Android, I really got this phone because I wanted 4G and a dual core, but I feel like I got more than what I expected. I got the extra speed from 4G and the dual core, both of which are great, but I was surprised at how great Sense 3 is to use and impressed with the 3D features. The downsides however, is that with heavy use the battery life isn’t good and I wish the screen looked a bit nicer. Other than that, unless¬† you happen to be upgrading from another dual core phone, this phone is amazing and worth every penny. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

I’d give the Evo 3D an 8/10.

 

tl;dr:

Good:

  • 3D is actually really cool, hopefully developers will make more 3D related apps.
  • Sense 3.0 is amazing (this coming from a stock Android lover) and really makes the phone a pleasure to use!
  • Dual core and 1GB memory means everything is super fast, absolutely no hiccups or lag in performance whilst I was using it!
  • Truly the best dedicated camera button I have ever seen on a phone, all phones should have a button like this!
  • 4G coverage in my area at work and at home is good. 4G speeds are fast and make browsing the web, tweeting and watching HD YouTube videos as good an experience as if I was at a computer with a dedicated broadband connection.
  • Feels thinner than the Evo 4G and much easier to use with one hand, screen size is perfect.
  • Latest version of Android.

Meh:

  • Battery life still isn’t good enough for a heavy user! This has been a problem for me on every Android phone with a stock battery that I’ve had!
  • Screen looks good, but still nowhere near as good as the AMOLED on Samsung Galaxy S phones.

Sample 3D Images

Download 3D.rar

Above is the link to download a rar file with .mpo files in them. These can only be viewed on 3D capable displays. If you have an nVidia card that supports steroscopic 3D, they can also be viewed on a regular monitor with the red and blue 3D glasses. If you have the nVidia control panel installed, simply double-click one of the .mpo files and it will automatically launch a set up wizard for you.

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One Comment

  1. tippystardust
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I want one!

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