3D technology has come to movie theaters. And TV sets. And game consoles. And now, 3D technology has made its way into smartphones, thanks to the HTC EVO 3D. This Android-based device is an update to last year's immensely popular HTC EVO 4G. That phone was the first 4G phone to hit U.S. stores, and its follow-up does one better, adding glasses-free 3D technology to an impressive list of features.
Adding 3D capability to a smartphone feels a bit like a gimmick, as its not entirely practical in everyday use. But, on the HTC EVO 3D, the 3D capability is added nicely -- it's fun to use and easy to ignore when you don't want to be bothered by it.
The 3D capability is made possible by the phone's screen, which is actually two panels on top of each other. You don't need glasses to get the 3D effects, but you do need a head-on viewing angle; look at the phone from the side, and you'll see two images instead of one in 3D.
You can capture photos and video clips in 3D, and you can view movies, videos, and games in 3D, too. The biggest challenge will be finding 3D content, though, as there is not an abundance of it available. Still, the 3D content I viewed, which include video clips and photos, looked great. I also played Spider-Man 3D, which was a little more challenging. I found myself moving the phone as I fought off Spidey's attackers, which all too often caused me to lose my perfect 3D viewing angle.
Luckily, the HTC EVO 3D has more to offer than just its 3D capability. It's an attractive smartphone. Like its predecessor, the HTC EVO 4G, the EVO 3D is big -- very big. Its 5 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by .5 inches thick, and weighs 6 ounces. Trust me: you'll feel this phone when you slip it in your pocket.
Much of that size is due to its oversize display, which measures 4.3 inches diagonally and packs in a resolution of 540 by 960 pixels. Even when you're not viewing content in 3D, you'll see a sharp, crystal clear picture.
In my test calls over Sprint's network, the EVO 3D delivered very good call quality. Voices were loud and clear, and I noticed no background noise or distortion. I did find the big EVO 3D a bit bulky to hold during extended calls, though.
Even though HTC dropped the "4G" from this phone's name, the EVO 3D is still a 4G device. While 4G coverage has improved greatly since the HTC EVO 4G was launched, the high-speed networks still are not available everywhere. To learn more, see 4G Wireless: Everything You Need to Know.
In addition to the 4G connection, the EVO also supports 3G and Wi-Fi wireless networks, so you have plenty of options for speedy Web browsing. I tested the phone over 4G, 3G, and Wi-Fi networks and found it delivered high-speed browsing over all three. Web pages loaded very quickly, videos played back in a flash, and all of the content looked great.
Like the HTC EVO 4G, the EVO 3D supports Sprint's mobile hotspot service, so you can use it to create a hotspot to which you can connect up to 8 Wi-Fi enabled devices.
The EVO 3D runs Android 2.3, the latest version of Google's mobile OS. Android has grown more refined with each release, and version 2.3 is certainly impressive. It's polished and pretty, where earlier versions were gawky and geeky. Read my full review of the Android OS for more information.
On top of the Android OS, the EVO 3D features HTC's Sense interface, which has been nicely updated since I tested it on the EVO 4G. HTC Sense adds useful shortcuts to the home screen, and a cool-looking 3D carousel that allows you to flip through the phone's 7 home screens. It still includes the Leap feature, which lets you view thumbnails of the various apps that you have open, and Friend Stream, which lets you view information such as social network status updates and more.
The HTC EVO 3D features both forward and rear-facing cameras. On the front, you get a 1.3 megapixel camera for video conferencing, and on the rear of the phone, you'll see two 5-megapixel cameras which can be used to capture 3D and 2D images and video clips.
My 3D test photos looked pretty darn good, with sharp images that really seemed three dimensional -- when viewed from the right angle, of course. 2D images also looked very good, though colors on both images sometimes seemed a bit washed out.
The camera can capture2D video clips in 1080p HD and 3D video in 720p HD. Both 3D and 2D clips looked very good.
Multimedia and More
The EVO 3D's multimedia prowess doesn't end with its 3D features. You also get the very nice HTC Sense music player, one -touch access to Amazon's MP3 store, and a variety of Sprint services, including Sprint TV.
Price and Availability
Sprint is offering the HTC EVO 3D for $199.99 when you sign a two-year service agreement. Sprint requires a PDA/Smart Device service plan with the HTC EVO 3D, such as the carrier's $69.99-per-month Everything Data plan. While it's nice that you get an unlimited data plan (Sprint is one of the few carriers still offering this option), you will need to add a $10-per-month Premium Data add-on for the 4G service -- and that add-on plan is required whether you live in an area with 4G coverage or not.
The HTC EVO 3D is not worth buying simply for its 3D capability. While that's a nice bonus, it's not the main draw of this phone. Instead, the HTC EVO 3D is worth buying for its slick design, updated Android OS, and its ease of use. Those features alone are worth the price.