First LG led the way with the Optimus 3D that quite literally, wowed us all with what they had accomplished. Other than the Optimus 2X, the Korean company didn’t really have any high-end droid under its belt, so this put them back in the running. HTC, on the other hand is one company who don’t have a shortage of Android handsets in the market, in fact, they have a whole bunch of them in the 20K and above price bracket. Their latest incarnation, the Evo 3D goes head on with LG’s offering since these are the only two 3D ready handsets today. But, is it good enough to repair the damage caused by HTC’s previous flagship? Lets find out.
On video: HTC EVO 3D
Design and Build
Where the Optimus 3D felt big and gigantic in your palm, the Evo 3D somehow doesn’t. It even feels a tad lighter, even though it does weigh 170g, which is heavy for a mobile phone. The front portion reminds us a lot of the Incredible S with the same rubber coating around the edges and the back. The plastics used are of high quality and it looks and feels like it’s built to last. The four shortcut buttons at the bottom are easy to access, but sadly don’t change orientation when you switch to landscape mode. The 4.3-inch screen sports a higher resolution than LG at 540x960, which makes everything appear a little bit sharper and clearer. There’s a front 1.3MP camera along with other sensors like Gyro, Proximity and Ambient light sensor.
Looks good and is built well
Up top, we have the power/sleep and 3.5mm headphone jack followed by an oversized volume rocker on the side. HTC have included a physical shutter button for the camera and a switch to toggle between 2D and 3D mode. The microUSB port is placed on the other side. Instead of a plain rubber back, we have some nice texture which not only improves grip, it also looks cool. The two cameras and the dual-LED flash have a nice red bezel around giving it a sporty look. The back cover is quite flexible making it easy to remove. The microSD card slot features hot swap, but you’ll have to remove the battery to insert the SIM.
HTC have paid good attention to detail
Overall, we prefer the styling of the HTC Evo 3D to LG's offering. Plus, it’s a bit easier to hold in your hand and doesn’t feel very heavy.
The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s MSM8660 dual-core processor running at 1.2GHz and runs the latest version of Android 2.3.4. Running on top is Sense 3.0, offering the same features we saw in the Sensation. The interface is swift and fluid making navigation effortless. The apps can be sorted according to most used or downloaded. HTC has included a ton of personalization options right from skins, scenes to different types of lock screens.
Sense 3.0 doing what it does best
Sense 3.0 includes some bundled apps like Adobe Reader, Facebook, Friend Stream, HTC Hub, HTC Likes, Polaris Office, Reader, SoundHound, Stocks and Weather. The notification bar has also been heavily modified to show you the recently closed apps on one tab and a ‘Quick Settings’ tab, which includes toggle switches for Wi-Fi, GPS, etc. HTC has packaged the phone well with many productivity and leisure apps pre-loaded which we'll take a look at later.
The 3D experience
HTC are using the similar 3D technique like LG, but we found their implementation to be slightly better and that difference is apparent immediately. For starters, the 3D effect is a lot more forgiving to your eyes and while it still has a narrow sweet spot, the effect just seems better. There is barely any crosstalk and the 3D effect is sharp and clear by just using a pair of active shutter glasses.
All the 3D content is grouped together
All your 3D images and videos are grouped together in the gallery so it’s easier to find them. In case the 3D effect is not right, you can adjust it. There is no 3D menu or store from where you can get 3D content unlike LG’s offering. Once you snap a picture, you also get the option of converting it to 2D.
The Sense 3.0 music player is quite feature rich which includes sound enhancements like SRS and equalizer presets. The supported formats remain the same which include MP3, AAC+, WAV and WMA. You can either browse through the files in your library or from a media server if you’re connected to one through DLNA. The home and lock screen widgets let you control your music quickly. The worrying part is that HTC don’t give you any usable internal memory. The 1GB that’s built-in can only be used to download apps but once connected to the PC, you don’t get a ‘Mass Storage’ option unless you use a memory card, not something we expected from a flagship phone. The sound quality from the stock player is decent but if you want a tighter sound with some decent bass, then you’ll have to turn to the enhancements. SRS doesn’t gel well with all songs and also the max volume level could have been more.
Plenty of ways to control your music
Other than MP4 and AVI, you’ll need a third party player to play other formats. The stock video player is very basic, but you do get SRS sound enhancement. Unlike the Optimus 3D, the Evo 3D will not do 2D to 3D conversion, it will only play videos recorded in side-by-side format. Having said that, the videos look really good on the screen and the colours are rich and vibrant. Finally, we also have FM radio, something that was missing from LG's droid.
The Evo 3D is a quad-band phone with full HSDPA and HSUPA 3G support, just like any high-end handset released these days. Along with Wi-Fi ‘n’, we also have Bluetooth v3.0. There’s no NFC support or USB on-the-go functionality, but it does have MHL support to make up for the lack of an HDMI port. The stock browser is decent and HTC bundles some Internet ready apps like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Browsing websites is easy thanks to the large screen
Their FriendStream widget lets you conveniently view your timeline from the home screen, but it shows Twitter and Facebook feeds together, so you can’t view them individually if you wanted to. YouTube app is also present from where you can view more 3D videos.
HTC bundles along some extras as well like a media server, which lets you stream content from your phone to any other player that supports DLNA. Flashlight app lets you use the dual LEDs as a flashlight, which is quite handy. Reader apps lets you buy books from Kobo book store and comes bundled with some classics as well. A Task Manager app is also present, which is quite important on an Android phone. The Evo 3D comes with a bunch of games like Teeter and 3D versions of The Sims 3, Spiderman and Need For Speed: Shift.
The full 5MP resolution can be used in 2D mode but in 3D, you’re limited to 2MP, which is low. Switching between the two modes is a lot quicker, compared to the Optimus 3D and the physical shutter button gives you more control while capturing images. Customizations include Scene modes, Effects, Self-Timer, white balance and Geo-tagging.
No Full HD video recording in 2D mode which is big bummer
The options that are exclusive to 2D mode include Image Adjustments, ISO, Resolution, Widescreen format, Auto-enhance and Face detection. In 3D mode, you can even choose between two formats to save in, MPO and JPS. Touch-to-focus is present in both modes. Pictures turn out very sharp and clear for both indoors and outdoor in 2D mode, however, the image quality is not too impressive in 3D. The flash is quite powerful and will easily illuminate a small area within a distance of 5ft.
The scaled down resolution in 3D mode affects the picture quality quite a bit
The video recording is a bit of a disappointment as you’re locked down to 720p for both modes. Nevertheless, the video itself is smooth with very little jitter and what’s more, touch-to-focus is present while shooting as well.
HTC have gone with a higher capacity battery, which is 1730mAh compared to the 1500mAh on the Optimus 3D. This obviously reflects in our tests, too. In the video drain test, we managed 5hrs 40min of continuous video playback, which is pretty good. Next, our loop tests revealed an 8hr battery life, which included 2.5hrs of video, 2hrs of audio, 2hrs of music streaming through Wi-Fi and 1.5hrs of talk time. The Optimus 3D in comparison didn’t even make it all way through our first loop, so props to HTC for fitting a larger battery.
At a street price of Rs. 35,990, it’s a bit cheaper than the Optimus 3D and even though HTC’s 3D implementation is a tad better, it’s a hollow victory, overall. The whole idea of a flagship phone is that it’s supposed to define the absolute best a company has to offer. Naturally, one would expect all the features present with the competition and perhaps even more in order to justify the high price. HTC were on the right track with the Evo 3D, but somewhere down the line, they lost their way. The 1GB of internal storage is next to useless, since it’s only for downloaded apps. You absolutely need a microSD card if you want to use the camera or listen to music. The next big cock up is the lack of 1080p recording in 2D mode. Seriously? What else are you going to use the dual-core processor for?
We had high hopes for the Evo 3D, as it looked like a very promising phone, but these two major omissions are a big blow for HTC. The phone is other wise beautifully crafted, it’s built well, looks good, feature packed out-of-the-box and the 3D is done very well. Is it better than the LG Optimus 3D? We’ll leave that for the grudge match which is coming soon.
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