Before we begin, a small disclaimer. The CNET Australia team is as cynical about 3D on portable devices as you are, but 3D isn't all there is to like about this handset.
In some ways, the shape and feel of the Evo 3D is an about-turn for HTC, whose handset design has been leaning towards a more refined, sleeker aesthetic. The Evo 3D, while still a refined design, feels like a more masculine handset than we've seen across smartphones in general this year. It's heavy at 170g, and thicker, too, with its dual cameras under the hood, but while these are often adjectives we use to criticise a handset's design, we actually like the way the 3D looks and feels quite a lot.
It's one of HTC's biggest phones to date, with a 4.3-inch qHD resolution 3D display and a slim row of touch-sensitive keys below the screen. We do prefer physical keys to avoid pressing them accidentally, but these have worked well during our tests regardless.
The battery cover of the Evo 3D is patterned with a raised grip and houses the two camera lenses and a dual-LED flash. On the right-hand side are two rather gaudy silver protrusions; a large camera shutter and a 2D/3D switch. There's no external speaker grille, so audio you listened to with headphones will sound a little muffled through the plastic chassis.
HTC joins Nintendo does with the 3DS, and the result is great at times, and an eye-sore (literally) at others. The catch to viewing 3D content (only photos, videos and games — basic phone use is still in 2D) is that you have to be looking directly at the front of the screen. If you turn the handset on even the slightest of angles you will lose the 3D effect and be left with a confusion of pixels.as being the only smartphone manufacturer to jump on the 3D bandwagon in 2011, and the effect on offer will polarise smartphone shoppers. HTC uses parallax barrier technology to create the effect, like
If you settle in with a short 3D video or a slideshow of 3D photos, the effect can be quite a thrill. YouTube has a collection of 3D content you can access, and the professionally produced videos look great on the Evo. Pictures you take with the phone's camera also stand out as a high point of our review period. For best results, subjects need to be about 1.5 metres from the lens, and when you get this right the results can add an extra dimension to the emotional attachment to the image.
Gamers are also considered in the 3D offering — our review unit came preloaded with Gameloft's Spider-Man 3D. We tried valiantly to enjoy this game with 3D switched on, but headaches soon set in and we found ourselves dialling back the 3D settings to the minimum. This 2D to 3D setting was built into the Spider-Man title, so it's not guaranteed that all future 3D games will offer similar headache-saving measures.
HTC has impressed us time and again this year with the stark improvement in its camera modules. The dual 5-megapixel shooters in the Evo 3D are up there with some of the better HTC cameras, like the Sensation and the Incredible S, and the dedicated camera button is a welcome addition. The Evo 3D has a continuous auto-focus feature, which has the lens adjusting itself with every slight movement of the handset while in the camera software, and while this too frequent buzzing is annoying, it does make for some great photos.