HTC Evo 3D review: HTC Evo 3D

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4 stars 5 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Glasses-free 3D; large, 4.3-inch screen; runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread; 3D photo and video capture.

The Bad Bulky and heavy; poor battery life; 3D effect can't be switched off.

The Bottom Line The HTC Evo 3D offers a fast processor and powerful Android software, but this smart phone is heavy and its battery life is terrible. If you're mad for glasses-free 3D, it's worth a look, but this feature feels rather like a gimmick.

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The Evo 3D is HTC's first glasses-free 3D smart phone, packing a powerful dual-core processor and Android 2.3 Gingerbread . It's available for free on a £35-per-month contract, while an unlocked, SIM-free version costs around £500.

Should I buy the HTC Evo 3D?

If you're looking for a phone with that little extra something to make it stand out from the increasingly generic smart-phone crowd, the Evo 3D could well be what you're after. Its 4.3-inch, 3D-capable screen doesn't require you to wear an awkward pair of glasses to appreciate the effect, and, if you dig the idea of snapping images, shooting movies and playing games in three dimensions, the Evo 3D will have you very excited indeed.

But the jury's still out on whether or not glasses-free 3D is going to take off. It's certainly a bonus, but it comes with drawbacks as well. Firstly, incorporating the auto-stereoscopic display and twin-camera set-up required to take 3D images has forced HTC to boost the phone's thickness to 12.1mm -- a far cry away from the ludicrously thin, 8.5mm frame of the Samsung Galaxy S2 .

HTC Evo 3D thickness
At around 12mm thick, the Evo 3D is much chubbier than the super-thin Galaxy S2.

Secondly, the battery life of the device nosedives whenever the 3D effect is enabled. If you spend an hour or so playing a 3D game, you'll notice a catastrophic dip in juice. During our review, we witnessed a fully charged battery go from 100 per cent to 50 per cent after about two hours of 3D-related activities. Even when the phone isn't being used, its ravenous appetite for power is astonishing.

HTC Evo 3D battery life
Staying power isn't one of the Evo 3D's strengths. The 3D tech drains power, and, even when idle, the phone is a thirsty beast.

But, despite its troubles, there's no denying that the Evo 3D is a formidable smart phone. It boasts a 1.2GHz, dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and comes pre-loaded with the most up-to-date phone edition of Android Gingerbread, version 2.3.4.

If you're in the market for a new Android phone, the Evo 3D is definitely worth a look. Although the 3D technology has its limitations, it's a selling point that many other high-end devices lack. But, unless you're absolutely barmy about 3D, we wouldn't recommend ditching your existing dual-core device purely to get your hands on the Evo 3D's three-dimensional display.

HTC Evo 3D vs LG Optimus 3D

The Evo 3D is basically an  HTC Sensation with a few upgrades -- a 3D screen and more RAM -- and a few considerable downgrades -- lower-resolution cameras, a heavier and bulkier frame, and poor battery life. But its biggest rival is definitely the LG Optimus 3D , which is currently the only other smart phone in the UK that offers the same glasses-free 3D technology.

We found that LG's phone offered the better 3D experience, and it also allows you to switch off the 3D effect to conserve battery life -- something that the Evo 3D doesn't allow. However, the Optimus 3D is currently stuck on Android 2.2, whereas HTC's handset runs the very latest edition of Android.

Software

The Evo 3D runs HTC's Sense 3.0 user interface, which sits on top of Google's Android 2.3 operating system.

HTC Evo 3D Sense user interface
Sense 3.0 offers familiar features, including that iconic clock, thumbnail home-screen previews, and weather forecasts.

HTC's Sense UI remains one of the most polished and intuitive Android skins on the market, although it has to be said that many of its most innovative features are now either available in the core Android software or have been imitated by other companies. For example, the once breathtaking ability to mute your device's ringer simply by turning it over is no longer exclusive to Sense-powered Android handsets.

The Evo 3D essentially runs the same software as its non-3D counterpart, the HTC Sensation , offering the same improved home-screen animations, access to quick settings in the pull-down notification bar and a powerful task manager.

HTC Evo 3D task manager
A task manager comes as standard. The notifications bar shows open apps and provides access to quick settings.

The Evo 3D also benefits from Sense 3.0's flashy new lock screen. To unlock the phone, you drag a ring from the bottom of the screen into the middle. The biggest benefit is the ability to instantly access applications using four shortcuts. You can do this by dragging the shortcut icon down towards the ring.

HTC apps

HTC's Sense UI offers a range of exclusive applications and widgets. New to Sense 3.0 is the HTC Watch app, which allows you to purchase, download and view movies and television shows on your phone. It should be noted, though, that, at present, there are no films which take advantage of the phone's 3D screen. There's also HTC Locations, which attempts to go toe-to-toe with Google's Maps app.

HTC Evo 3D Watch
HTC Watch is new in Sense 3.0, but, sadly, there are no 3D movies available at the moment.

Design

The first thing you'll notice when picking up the Evo 3D is the sheer weight of the device. At 170g, it's something of a mobile monster, and one of the heaviest handsets we've cradled since the gargantuan Dell Venue Pro.

Aside from the bronze accent running around the dual cameras on the back of the phone, the Evo 3D is one imposingly black slab of tech. The absence of colour makes it look like the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but that's not to say it's ugly -- it merely lacks the refinement of the iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S2.

iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC EVO 3D, Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
From left to right: iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Evo 3D, Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.

The back of the Evo 3D is made of plastic, with a rubberised covering, which means it's less likely to slip from your grasp during use -- a welcome feature, because you'd probably break a toe if you accidentally dropped this weighty blower. The ultra-grippy texture is complemented by a series of diagonal grooves.

HTC Evo 3D rubber coating
The rubber-coated and grooved back increases grip.

The front of the phone lacks physical buttons, instead opting for a touch-sensitive array. The traditional four Android buttons are present, but, as seems to be the case with practically every phone, the order has been jumbled, as per HTC's own preference.

HTC Evo 3D touch-sensitive buttons
The Evo 3D has touch-sensitive, rather than physical, buttons on its front.

Moving from one Android phone to another can be a frustrating experience, as each manufacturer seems to have its own preferred button layout, but at least the Evo 3D doesn't do away with the search command, as many phones in Samsung's Galaxy range do.

On the side of the Evo 3D, you'll notice a large metallic button for controlling the camera shutter. This is a two-stage button that allows you to lightly press for focus, and then fully press to capture a shot. Next to this is the switch that toggles the camera between its 2D and 3D capture modes.

HTC Evo 3D shutter button
The two-stage shutter button grants improved control over your image focus, and the switch toggles between 2D and 3D capture.

3D screen

The Evo 3D's biggest selling point is unquestionably its auto-stereoscopic 3D display. It uses unique technology that allows it to effectively project two different images into each eye, thus creating the impression of three-dimensional depth. We've already seen this trick in action on the Nintendo 3DS console and LG's Optimus 3D , and it's very impressive. Not having to don a pair of laughable 3D spectacles is a real godsend.

HTC Evo 3D display
Sadly, our images can't replicate the quality of the phone's 3D display.

But there are some caveats. Firstly, the 3D effect is only triggered by certain activities. You can view 3D movies and still images, play 3D-compatible games, and shoot 3D photos and video. But none of the phone's menus are displayed in 3D.

Also, because the illusion of 3D is dependent on achieving the perfect viewing angle, it's very easy to make the effect 'break' by tilting the phone during use. This issue affects all screens of this type, and isn't exclusive to the Evo 3D. It means you'll need a steady grip when using the device -- something that could prove to be a problem with games that use the phone's accelerometer.

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Where to Buy

HTC Evo 3D

Part Number: CNETHTC Evo 3D

Typical Price: £500.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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