The jury is very much out on the whole concept of 3D smartphones, but there are now two available that let you try the concept out for yourself. LG was first off the starting blocks with its Optimus 3D, and not too far behind is HTC with its Evo 3D.
Before we consider the 3D aspects it is worth noting that the HTC Evo 3D a nicely specified smartphone in its own right. The screen is large at 4.3 inches. That’s pretty much the biggest a screen can be on a smartphone before it becomes unwieldy, and many people will find it difficult or impossible to reach right across for one handed use.
With 540 x 960 pixels on offer, though, the screen caters well for visual detail, and video, photos and web pages in particular benefit from this. But there is a caveat. Just as with the LG Optimus 3D the screen isn’t among the best we’ve seen. There is a certain dullness to it which is, we suspect, a consequence of the 3D aspect.
The screen size inevitably means this is overall a big smartphone – it measures 65mm wide by 126mm deep by 12.05mm thick and weighs 170g.
Four touch sensitive buttons sit beneath the screen for Android Home, Menu Back and Search functions, and the edges offer one surprise in terms of ports and connectors. There is a microUSB connector on the left edge, on/off switch and 3.5mm headset connectors on the top. On the right is a volume rocker, camera button and that surprise – a button that switches the screen between 2D and 3D modes.
This is an important button. Battery life on the HTC Evo 3D is dreadful. HTC equips it with a 1730mAh battery, which is large by smartphone standards, but it may well not see you through a full day from a full charge. Even in 2D mode it depletes surprisingly quickly, and if you leave that switch turned on to 3D mode heavier users may be lucky to get through half a day before needing mains power. And that’s regardless of whether you are actually viewing 3D content or not.
The technical specifications are top notch. There is a 1.2GHz dual core Qualcomm processor beating away and supported by 1GB of RAM. There is just 1GB of internal storage, but you get an 8GB microSD card bundled.
Wi-Fi with mobile hostpot and DLNA support, HSDPA, Bluetooth and GPS are all present and correct. The operating system is Android 2.3. There is a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera and twin cameras on the back of the chassis which cater for 3D photography.
So what about the 3D aspect, then? Well, on the photography front stills drop down from 5 megapixels for 2D to 2 megapixels for 3D. LG’s Optimus 3D manages 3 megapixel 3D stills. Video is shootable in 3D to 720p.
As for other aspects, HTC rather hides it light under a bushel. You can view 3D video from YouTube, but HTC doesn’t provide a user interface element to get you there. You need to know the ‘yt3d’ prefix for YouTube searches. Similarly the HTC Evo 3D supports 3D games, but there’s nothing to tell you that on the product.
The 3D itself works as well as it does on the LG Optimus 3D. You need to get used to how to hold the HTC Evo 3D for best effect, and sharing 3D viewing is not possible. Some people find 3D viewing makes them feel a bit queezy after a short while. But it does work.
In the end, we aren’t convinced that 3D is more than a battery sapping gimmick. But if you want it, we’d suggest looking at the LG Optimus 3D rather than this handset. It has more 3D features, a dedicated user interface, some pre-installed 3D video content and the same sized screen. And it is a bit less expensive too.
Written by Sandra Vogel.