Is 3D on the mobile phone a killer feature or just a cheap gimmick?
By CHONG JINN XIUNG
Glassess-less 3D has arrived on mobile devices and HTC's Evo 3D is among the first 3D enabled smartphones to hit the market along with the LG Optimus 3D.
Certainly it is cool to take 3D pictures and videos but once the initial novelty wears off, is the Evo 3D still a good phone?
On the outside, the Evo 3D looks similar to HTC's other 4.3in Android models like the Incredible S. It also has a sheet of Gorilla glass protecting the touchscreen.
Turn the phone over and you'll get a good look at the Evo 3D's massive camera component that comprises twin 5-megapixel autofocus cameras and dual-LED flashes.
Removing the back cover reveals the large 1,730mAh battery along with the SIM card and micro SD slot.
The back cover seems to be made of a matte black plastic material that wraps around the edges of the handset. The patterned texture provides excellent grip so it shouldn't slip out of your hands during use.
Around the sides are the combined HDMI/micro-USB connector on the left side while the volume rocker and 2D/3D switch is on the right, next to a nice round shutter button.
The overall build quality is quite solid and conveys the sense of a phone that is built to last.
However, we found it all too easy to trigger the touch-based Home and Back key below the screen.
Many times while text messaging, brushing a hand against the button will bring us back to the main menu unexpectedly.
The Evo 3D's specifications are about right for a high-end Android smartphone. It runs Android Gingerbread and comes equipped with a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with 1GB of RAM.
We could clearly tell that the Evo 3D's performance benefitted greatly from the processor as almost everything we did on the phone was buttery smooth.
The phone's graphics prowess is clearly shown in the revised Sense 3.0 user interface with beautifully rendered menu tiles that give the impression that they are 3D objects moving around a carousel.
The handset's 4.3in qHD (960 x 540-pixels) screen is nice and spacious, providing ample space to interact with and view content. What is worth noting is that it supports glasses-free stereoscopic content.
If there was one aspect of the Evo 3D that disappointed us, it had to be the poor battery performance.
In daily use, the Evo 3D could only last us half a day when used for making calls, surfing the Web or checking up on our social networks.
The battery is also taxed heavily when snapping pictures and videos in 3D as well as watching 3D content.
Suffice to say that you have to be prepared to bring a charger along with you if you want your phone to last you a whole day.
For regular 2D photos, we found the image quality to be pretty decent with above average low-light and noise performance. The focusing time is pretty fast but not fast enough if you want to capture fast moving subjects.
Another area that the camera lacks in is dynamic range - it often blows out or under-exposes contrasting scenes.
Video capture in general was pleasing as videos appeared smooth in 720p HD at 30 frames per second and audio is recorded in stereo.
Interest-ingly the camera still provides the option to touch-to-focus during video recording.
Switching over to take pictures in 3D is a big part of the Evo 3D experience.
The resulting stereoscopic pictures and videos taken are decently exposed though the magenta tone puts the colour off slightly.
The resolution of pictures captured in 3D is also lowered to 2-megapixels.
As shooting in 3D takes up a lot of power, the phone will immediately tell you to switch back to 2D when the battery is low.
Recording videos in 3D squeezes the video to a 1,280 x 720-pixel format by software process. Unfortunately we did not have a 3D TV on hand to test out how the 3D videos looked like on the big screen but they appeared fine on the phone.
So how does the Evo 3D measure up when it comes to viewing 3D content?
It sure was cool to see images and videos pop up from our phone but like the LG Optimus 3D, the viewing angle for 3D is pretty narrow.
You need to hold and orientate the device at a particular angle in order to get the desired 3D effect, otherwise you will end up seeing double images.
Apart from seeing your pictures in 3D, you can play some included 3D games like Spiderman 3D, which ran pretty smoothly in our test run with it.
There is no easy way to adjust the 3D depth for the game except through the pause menu, which is inconvenient. Otherwise, it is a decent mindless button masher to while your time away.
Sadly, we haven't heard of many mobile games being released in 3D and there is relatively few 3D content currently available for mobile devices.
In short, the 3D feature is more of a novelty than a real asset for the device.
The Evo 3D is a well-made phone that has great specs and lives up to its reputation of being HTC's flagship phone.
However it does take a step back in some areas - despite having a blazing fast processor, the camera is limited to taking just 720p videos (both in 2D and 3D) unlike other phones that have 1080p support.
Nevertheless, the picture quality is better than most that we have seen from other phone cameras.
Like we mentioned earlier, the biggest gripe we have with the phone is its short battery life that barely lasts half a day with regular use.
While stereoscopic 3D image and video capture are nice features to have, we are not fully convinced that it should be the selling point of the phone.
At this point in time, it is more of a gimmick especially with little 3D content out there. But on the bright side, the Evo 3D is a pretty decent phone even without the 3D features.
Pros: Nice large screen; fast processor; smooth performance; regular 2D photos look good.
Cons: Short battery life; touch-based buttons easily activated; limited to 720p HD recording.
3D Android smartphone
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSPA 900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with HTC Sense
DISPLAY: 4.3in QHD 3D touch screen display (540 x 960-pixels)
CAMERA: 5-megapixels; auto focus; dual LED flash; 720p HD video recording for both 2D/3D; 1.3-megapixel front camera
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11, micro USB
MEMORY: 1GB RAM; 1GB internal phone storage
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (up to 32GB)
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 420 hours/ 7 hours 45 mins
OTHER FEATURES: DLNA certified, Personal Wi-Fi hotspot, Downloadable maps, Facebook and Twitter for HTC Sense, Friend Stream
DIMENSIONS (W X D X H): 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3mm
Review unit courtesy of HTC Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 6201-6433