HTC’s Evo 3D 4G is a mouthful to say and can prove tough on the eyes if you don’t use the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” smartphone’s 3D capabilities in moderation.
The handset, which goes on sale from Sprint (NYSE:S) June 24 for $199.99 and a two-year deal, is the first smartphone in the United States that can shoot and display 3D still pictures and videos. More on this standout feature later.
The Evo 3D has average physical specs: 5 inches long, 2.6 inches wide and nearly half-an-inch thick. The phone is no lightweight: It weighs 6 ounces, thanks in part to the chunky 1730 mAh battery required to fuel 4G data for a decent chunk of time. Don’t hold that against HTC. A weight of six or more ounces has been the low end for 4G phones in 2011. You can read the other feature specs here.
When I held the phone for the first time, I was put off by the rubberized, dark-gray enclosure. It felt a bit like holding one of those school-sized chalkboard erasers in my hand. The camera bevels on the back, outlined in lipstick red, might bother some folks as well. To be honest, I didn’t care for this device … until I turned it on.
The Evo 3D boasts a clear, crisp 4.3-inch Super LCD 540-by-960 qHD (quarter-high-definition) resolution 3D display, and it’s powered by a snappy 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. No biggie: QHD displays have become de rigueur for high-end Android phones.
But the HTC Sense 3.0 user interface on this device blew me away. I had never seen something so graphically pleasing and intuitive on a handset.
Once I synced my Google account with the Evo 3D, and the handset ported my wallpaper, apps, contacts and calendar appointments, I didn’t pick up my native Android phone for about a week. I didn’t need to. HTC does better than any other phone maker at appropriating Google’s vision for cloud-based data on a smartphone.
Customizable Home Screens
Sense 3.0 turns the seven customizable home screens into a whirling dervish of a carousel, so a long swipe from left to right will run users through every screen really fast.
The home screens include a weather widget, HTC’s FriendStream social network aggregator, a calendar, music screen, contacts and bookmarks. One neat new perk here is a lock screen feature that lets users customize their lock screen with their photo gallery, FriendStream, wallpaper, clock or stocks.
When you choose the gallery lock screen, the pictures come floating up when you unlock the phone, giving users a snazzy slideshow of their stills. App icons have been retooled in Sense 3.0, and Facebook and Twitter for HTC Sense are a treat, running cleanly and efficiently.
Supported by Sprint’s 4G WiMax network, the device moves data at a rapid clip. I got 6Mbps upload speeds and 7Mbps download speeds for apps and other content. All of my apps ported smoothly from my own phone.
The Evo 3D 4G actually has three cameras: two 5-megapixel cameras that together can take 3D stills and record 3D videos, and a 1.3MP front-facing camera for video chat. There is a toggle switch on the right side to move between the 2D and 3D camera viewing mode, next to a pronounced metal shutter button for easy picture taking.
The 2D camera is run of the mill, with solid HD video capture at 720p and playback up to 1080p. The HDMI-out via USB never gets old for those who want to flash content on the big screen.
The 3D camera action is a trip-literally. I found myself vacillating between being wowed by taking 3D stills and shooting 3D video without needing glasses and becoming incredibly dizzy. It’s tough to look at 3D for a long time, especially when you’re moving your field of vision or the screen … or maybe it’s just me.
This phone is driven largely by 3D. It comes with a free 3D version of the Green Hornet film via HTC’s Watch application, as well as the “Ultimate Spider-Man” game from Gameloft and a Gameloft app.
Playing Spider-Man in 3D was cool for about 10 minutes. Then it just became annoying to look at. Unless you’re a 3D-happy kid, it’s hard to see the joy in using 3D for a long period of time.
The 1730 mAh lithium-ion battery that comes with this phone? On 3G, it lasted 10 hours of regular use, but 4G is another matter. After shooting video, watching video or playing games, I received about 4 hours at the most. That’s the current state of pairing small cell phone batteries with data-gluttonous 4G networks.
Normally, I would warn people off a one-trick pony gadget, but using this device absent the 3D capability was a joy. I would recommend it based on the user interface, apps, fast data processing and the network.