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HTC EVO 3D - A step into the new dimension
Swapnil Bandiwadekar
November 01, 2011
First Published: 13:08 IST(1/11/2011)
Last Updated: 11:19 IST(2/11/2011)
HTCEVO 3D

HTC has taken a lot of care to make sure that the EVO 3D stands tall and apart from the multitude of other droids littering the market. The 1.2GHz dual-core CPU combined with the Adreno 220 GPU, 3D camera with dual-LED flash, huge 4.3" QHD display etc. the list of features is long on this one but our real purpose is to see if it's worth its Rs. 35,000tag.

Design
The design is simple yet attractive; the monoblock form with round edges is impressive. The huge 4.3" display hasn't left any space for any kind of decoration in front of the phone. Located above the display is a metal grill, which certainly adds to the looks of the phone, it also houses the earpiece, dual color notification LED, and ambient light sensor. The proximity sensor and front 1.3MP camera are situated on either sides of the metal grill. In spite of the huge 4.3" screen the EVO 3D fits nicely in our palms. Below the display you'll find the four capacitive keys which function as the home, options, back and search buttons.  New users, especially those coming from other platforms may mistake the home button for the menu button, which is featured as an on-screen tap button.

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Despite the heavyweight specs, the EVO 3D maintains a slim profile. It measures just 12.05mm in thickness, not really thick. HTC even managed to put buttons on its sides which are big enough to easily press yet they seamlessly mix in with the overall design of the phone. On the left side it has a microUSBport which doubles up as the charging port. On top you'll find a 3.5mm headset jack and the power button. The volume rocker is located on the right side to zoom in or out while using the camera. Then there's the camera shutter button too along with the switch to shift between 3D and 2D modes for the camera. The microphone is located at the bottom, along with a little lanyard.

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The back of the EVO 3D is made of plastic but has a sort of rubber coating over it. The diagonal lines and engraved HTC logo adds to its looks. The little elevated panel on the back consists of two 5MP cameras for 3D photography assisted with a dual LED flash. The back cover is one piece which tries to give it a unibody look. The downside of this one piece design is that you have to open the whole panel. The memory card is under this back panel. Though the memory card slot is hot swappable you'll have to open the back every time you want to remove it. You need to learn the tricks to open it properly without breaking it. Here's a tip, start opening the cover from bottom (where the lanyard is situated), it'll open up  on the charger side of the panel until the charger slot. Here on, slowly and smoothly insert your nails (we prefer a plastic knife) and move upwards. Don't attempt to open the opposite side. Once you reach the top of the charger side it'll automatically unlock the remaining part. But you always need to be gentle on it. The SIM card slot is the next page in the awkward design story. HTC has combined the microSD slot and SIM tray together to make a 'double-decker' kind of slot. It's just that the orientation of both is different. But again they have goofed up with indications. The upper part of the combo slot hosts the SIM card but  has the memory card symbol and SIM symbol is under the battery. So if you skip reading the manuals or the device Quick Start guide then chances are that you'll keep looking for the SIM slot forever. Again the small part of the SIM slot is under camera panel so don't think that HTC has fitted a microSIM slot. You need to pay more attention to it.

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We've seen HTC getting best awards for their best designs but this time they have forgotten something it seems.

Hardware
The HTCEVO3D runs on a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor clocked at 1.2 GHz. The graphics department is handled by an Adrenon 220 GPU. It comes with 1GB RAM and 1GB of internal storage. The 4.3" S-LCD has QHD resolution (960x540 pixels) which boasts 256ppi density. The display also offers Autostereoscopic3D which means you don't need extra glasses to view 3D content. The S-LCD has a good viewing angle and color reproduction though it can't match the performance of AMOLED displays. The loudspeaker on the back is weak and suffers because of its position.

User Interface
The HTCEVO 3D runs on Android OS version 2.3.4. Needless to say it also comes with the best custom UI we've seen so far, HTC Sense (3.0). While the Android OS takes care of running it smoothly HTC Sense makes sure that you won't get bored. HTC has customized every part of the Android OS including the image gallery and browser. There are some features which are very unique to HTC Sense and it lets users customize their phone as they wish.

Starting with the homescreen, it may look similar to what you've seen on other droids but HTC has taken it to the next level with Sense UI. It offers seven homescreens which can host your app shortcuts or other widgets including live widgets like Weather. There's a carousel available too to quickly change homescreens, but if you think it takes time then you've the option of a Leap view. The Leap view will show all your homescreens as thumbnails and you just need to tap on the one you want. However you can't add more homescreens or delete any of them, the number is fixed. To add or remove an item you just need to tap and hold on to screen which will take it to edit mode. You'll see two tabs in edit mode, Edit and Remove. To edit the settings of a particular widget drag it to 'Edit' or to remove it from homescreenmove it to 'Remove'. You can also have folders on the homescreen and move your apps inside them to free up some space.

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The homescreen is the most extensive we've seen thus far. Going ahead, there are various Scenes available in Sense UI 3.0. In our opinion, Scenes are very powerful if used properly. They can help you get the most out of the phone for your daily life. Say for example, the travel scene is perfect while you're on a weekend trip or even going abroad. It offers a world clock (four cities) on the first screen, another screen hosts the weather widget which can show weather information of any four places and some other screen hosts maps for your convenience. There are 5 default scenes available get more from the HTC repository. Then there are HTC Skins too which changes color schemes in the user interface. As with Scenes you can download more Skins too. You also get a wide choice of wallpapers including live wallpapers.

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HTC has gone further and customized the lockscreen too. Like with Scenes  thelockscreen also grabs attention because of the customization options offered by the Sense UI. You can set the lockscreen to show photos from a photo album or to show updates from your friends or even weather and stock updates. Kudos to HTC for this intelligent customization. Did we mention you can also quickly launch any four apps of your choice directly from the lockscreen. You just need to pull the app in the ring and it gets activated.

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To dial a number, just tap the on screen phone button on the homescreen and the dialer appears. The dialer offers smart dialing so you won't need to scroll through your entire phonebook. Just start hitting keys and relevant entries quickly appear. One more interested thing we noted here is that it detects if you're in roaming and asks if you want to add international country code before dialing the number to home network. Same thing happens if you're adding incoming number which doesn't have a proper country code. This is a very great feature. 

The menu or app launcher is made up pages which are scrolled vertically. All your apps are shown on these pages and obviously as your apps grow the no. of pages will also grow to accommodate them. Each page has a 4x5 grid of apps i.e. 20 apps per page. Alternatively you can have list of apps too. As with any other Android phone there's no option to create folders. Also you can't even arrange apps as you want. The only default choices are arranging them alphabetically or by date (most recent or oldest). So if your app farm grows too big you'll find it difficult to find your desired app. Still to make your job a little easier the Sense app drawer categorizes them as 'All apps', 'Frequent' and 'Downloaded' but you won't get any choice of customization here. You can also share your apps with your friends through variety of options.

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The Image Gallery on HTCEVO 3D is also customized to give it cool looks. All your videos and images from all over the phone are located and displayed here. It uses album hierarchy to display them. You can see all photos in 'All Photos' album or only those captured by the camera in 'Camera shots'. It can also display your albums from media sharing sites and servers like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and from any media server you're connected to. The same goes for sharing. The gallery gives you lots of options to share media including Facebook and Twitter. There's a slideshow option which also allows us to stream media to external devices using WiFi/DLNA. You can also print images directly from the gallery, and you can launch the camera straight from gallery to take more snaps.

HTC has added their own version of Task Manager to handle apps. Sadly it's not very convenient like rest of the Sense UI elements. Generally the Task Manager would help you to switch between apps and end them as well. In case of The EVO 3D, to switch between apps you need to press and hold the home key which brings up a list of 8 most recently used apps. Now if you want to kill any of them, you'll have to go to the menu and open the full-fledged task manager app from there. Alternatively pull the notification bar, go to quick settings and click on memory icon which will also open the task manger. From here you can kill apps one by one or all at once.

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Messaging
Messaging on Android has always been great. You get a threaded view for all your messages. It doesn't list your messages as SMS or MMS. You add media to your existing text message and it becomes MMS. Starting a new conversation is just as easy, just tap compose, feed in the recipients number and you're good to go. The messaging also comes with feature which are similar to speed dial. In the 'To' field start hitting keys and relevant contacts will appear quickly so you don't have to take long route of going to contacts, searching and adding them. To send message to multiple contacts you just need to separate them with comma (,). You can also send messages to groups defined by you.

In both portrait and landscape mode you'll have a  QWERTY keyboard at your service and the big 4.3" screen lets you type messages quickly without worrying about miss-hits. There's word prediction and spelling correction available too which is very helpful. You can also add words to the dictionary. In Android 2.3 you have a very simple way of selecting and zooming the text. Actually it takes this clue from the same system in iOS. You get two markers to select words and once you select the word(s) you get options to cut or copy it. To move the position of the cursor simply tap on place where you think it should go. Still if you're finding accurate just tap and hold on the screen you'll get the 'zoomed' view and you can move the cursor easily with your thumb.

Performance
This is the real part which decides if the phone is worth all the hype or not. EVO 3D has a strong spec sheet but in real life its fails to compete with others. In most parts it fared well but as data on the memory card grew it started showing a noticeable lag in menu while scrolling. We used a 2GB card for test purposes. But it fared well elsewhere. We suspect it's the higher display resolution which is putting extra stress on processing units. It also lagged in Android Market while scrolling through apps. We ran a few tests on it and we're offering a few screenshots for comparison. The lag wasn't very noticeable and in daily life it won't be a big concern either. We guess the underlying OS also has something to do with this slower performance but hopefully future updates will add tweaks to improve it.

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Despite the high-end specification the battery of the EVO 3D has enough juice to keep it alive for more than 24 hrs. In our case where the EVO 3D was connected to Wi-Fi for most of the time, moderate calling and some entertainment, the battery exhausted after 1 and half day. Such battery performance is a rarity nowadays. You can further extend the battery life by disabling the auto-sync and other features.

Entertainment
The EVO 3D comes with Sense-d version of Music Player. It locates music players from everywhere. The cool looks won't go unnoticed. It sorts music by albums, artists, genres and even composers. It also offers a cover-flow UI to quickly flip through your albums.  Now that we've come across this section we must tell you, the EVO 3D NEEDS a memory card for all multimedia functions, be it playing music, taking snaps or even downloading apps from the Android Market. It won't let you use the inbuilt 1GB of memory. We really can't see any reason to restrict the user from all this available storage. It almost goes wasted.

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The EVO 3D also has a FM Radio so you can always tune into local radio stations and listen to chat shows. You can also download apps from the Android Market like Last.FM which will let you tune into online radio stations. Since we didn't receive any headset with it we can't really tell you how they sound but music reproduction on our own headset was great, but the loudspeaker isn't very loud.

Camera
The EVO 3D is all hyped for its camera capabilities especially 3D capturing. But it hugely disappointed us very quickly. It comes with two 5MP cams, while taking photos in 2D mode only the upper camera works. While 2D images are captured in 5MP resolution those captured in 3D are stored in 2MP resolution. Now to be honest 5MP is a thing of the past but you've to live with what you get. The camera UI is very intuitive, you can access all major settings directly from  the viewfinder. You must have heard about Auto Focus but in the case of the EVO 3D it's Auto 'Auto Focus'. This means the phone will itself focus the camera lens on object and it's simply perfect. You just need to full press the shutter key without worrying about objects in focus. If you still feel hardware keys aren't for you, you can use the on-screen capture button too. We wish if Nokia had implemented such an option in their recent EDoF phones instead of EDoF modules. While taking photos you can use various color filters to get different effects. 

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We say it again, there's a big room for improvement for HTC in the camera department. The images captured by the 5MP camera on the EVO 3D will put any other 5MP camera to shame and we do not mean it in the good sense. Even 2MP cameras will perform better. If you ask us the N82 was the best shooter in the segment. It fails to resolve details in images. We're putting sample images for you to decide. In 3D mode the story isn't any different, so you shouldn't be attracted to it just because it has twin cams. Surprisingly macro shots were crisp and clear without any great loss of details.

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We then turned to video recording just to be disappointed again. What happened with still images, was iterated in movies too. Though it offers HD movie recording (720p only) the quality of the content isn't what you'd expect from a HD camera. The EVO 3D yet again fails to resolve details.





Connectivity and Internet
HTC hasn't spared anything in the connectivity department. The EVO 3D comes with a tri-band GSM, GPRS/EDGE and quad-band 3G with HSPA speeds, WiFi (b/g/n) goes without mentioning, so you shouldn't feel disconnected from the rest of the world. To add to your fun EVO 3D also supports DLNA, a function which lets you stream media on your phone via Wi-Fi, to make your job easy HTC has provided 'Connected Media' which lets you stream music, photos and videos to supported devices. The calling on the EVO 3D was a good experience. GSM signal strength wasn't any issue. We also never faced call drops or connection errors.The HTCEVO 3D can also act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, meaning that you can share data connection on your phone with other devices, a maximum of 8 devices can connect to this hotspot.

As usual the stock browser takes a minimalistic approach, with only the address bar being visible which disappears when the page loads completely. The browser supports desktop grade Flash Player and the phone is more than capable of handling heavy Flash sites thanks to its dual core processor and 1GB RAM, but despite the all this power, one can only have four browser windows (or tabs) open at a time which feels very restrictive. Most of the options can be accessed quickly with just a tap on the options key. Accessing major settings will need just one more tap, showcasing the simplicity of the Android browser. The Android browser is made to give you a desktop level browsing experience, so it has a tendency to consume large amounts of data. So if in case you don't have unlimited data plans, you better turn off images or switch to mobile view. Another option would be everyone's all-time favorite Opera Mini/Mobile but you'll miss things like Flash player. There's a mini-map of pages available too to help you quickly navigate long pages. It also offers various levels of font sizes and text encoding.

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It can play inline videos on Youtube very smoothly but the browser crashed when we tried to play HD videos. Videos up to 480p had no problems but the resolution is stretched for its screen, but the very little number of people who have very fast data speeds will be concerned.
In our test the Android browser was faster than our expectations. Even on slower GPRS/EDGE network it loaded pages with amazing speeds. We must give it thumbs up. Besides the crisp clear display with 256 ppi density adds a cherry on the top.

Maps and Navigation
The HTCEVO 3D comes with two options for navigation and mapping. The first one is classic Google Maps from Google combined with the navigation app to assist you while travelling. As usual it needs an active data connection to load maps; apart from offering directions it also offers public transit options. So if you're planning to travel by bus it'll tell you about the approximate time for the trip and number or name of buses going to your destination. Sadly Google Navigation was not available in India.

Now for the location app from HTC. It's a very clever move from HTC indeed. It lets you download and store maps offline. In whole Android league of OEMs HTC is the only company to offer such an app. It is powered by Route66. Like Google Maps it also offers directions but turn-by-turn and voice navigations are not available in the standard package. You can download maps without a PC and over the WiFi, for both of them you'll have to go purchase the premium licenses. People who are always on the move will find cost of their licenses surprisingly low. For India unlimited navigation costs INR 1770.

Thanks to the powerful GPS receiver in the EVO 3D we could get a GPS lock on within 2 minutes. Location offers street view and satellite view. And according to your position and destination it also shows nearby locations which you may find interesting along the route. The unique icons used to indicate those help to locate them quickly. These places can also be seen directly from the main screen of the app. The Places app by Google also serves the same purpose. You can also share your location with the help of the Latitude app.

Personal Information Management
Starting from Phonebook it's been replaced with HTC's own 'People' application, which offers unlimited storage for your contacts. It can also integrate your contacts from your Gmail accounts and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You can also link your existing contacts to those in email accounts and there's an option to block particular callers too. You view all your call logs here too though a separate 'Call History' app is available for the same purpose.

HTC has replaced the default Calendar app too and it's only for good. The attractive feature of this enhanced Calendar app is that it shows the weather information for your current location for current and coming days. So you can decide whether to schedule a task for a particular day or not. It can show multiple calendars and show and sync calendars from supported email accounts to be specific, from Gmail accounts. It offers day, week and month views. You can also view all your tasks from a single point. It also shows meeting invitations you may have received from others.

The Clock app has also got a little of the Sense treatment. It shows current time with alarms on main screen. The main screen of the app also shows weather information. It also offers world clock, multiple alarms, stopwatch and timer, the complete package.

HTC has also replaced the default Calculator app with their Sense-d Calculator app. The functionality of the app remains the same and it changes only look wise. In portrait mode it works as standard calculator but rotating the phone to landscape mode will also change the app to advanced mode.

The EVO 3D has two mail clients to handle your mails. The default is Gmail client which handle only Gmail accounts. The other is Mail app from HTC which can connect to multiple accounts. It offers a common inbox for all your email accounts. The conversation or threaded view is also available. You can mark your emails as favorites to quickly find them later. It sorts mails by conversations, favorites, unread mails and also filters emails with attachments.

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It offers full HTML view for emails. Composing new email is just a tap away, sadly it couldn't retrieve contacts from our Hotmail account. This feature is only available to Gmail account. You can add new email account straight from the app.

There are two news readers available on EVO 3D like maps. The default one is from Google and other is obviously from HTC. The default reader also offers updates from your Gmail contacts who you chose to follow. There are various categories available to choose new feeds. But you can always subscribe to feeds from your favorite sites too. The HTC app shows weather information too along with regular feeds, but there's no option to customize feeds and you're stuck with the default ones. It shows top stories, stories related from your current country and other categories.

Unfortunately there's no proper file manager available on the EVO 3D like other droids. Even HTC hasn't added one from their side. You'll have to hit the
Android Market to get one.

In case you've changed from your current phone to the EVO 3D and want your essential data to appear on it, there's a nice little app by HTC called Transfer. It transfers data from your old phone to EVO 3D via Bluetooth. The supported data elements differ from phone to phone. In our case it could transfer only contacts from our Nokia E6.

HTC Hub, HTC Likes and HTC Sense web-services
HTC Hub is the place to access various HTC resources from one place. You can download apps, widgets, scenes, skins and whatnot from one common location. It works as a marketplace for downloading HTC Sense elements. HTC Likes shows the recommended apps by HTC from various categories. To install apps it launches the Android market.

Now the big thing in latest HTC Sense UI is the integration of the phone with Sense web-interface. Have you seen the facility to associate your Windows Phone with your Windows Live or Hotmail account? HTC Sense now works the same way. You need to create a HTC Sense account and sign-in to it from your device and you're ready to go. It'll also sync your contacts from the phonebook to the web-interface. Using Sense web-interface you can locate your device. You can make it ring at loudest if you've kept it at some unknown location in your home and if in case you lose your device you can remotely lock it or wipe off all data on it, which is pretty useful.  You can also set call and message forwarding.

Conclusion
The HTCEVO 3D is a good phone and is one of the few first dual core phones. The hardware is pretty impressive. It's the only 3D phone after the LG Optimus 3D. The HTC Sense has always been impressive and it works in the favor of EVO 3D because of wider and intelligent customization. The battery life is very good in its segment. But it spoils the main attraction it has to offer. The EVO 3D plainly fails in delivering quality imaging be it 3D or 2D. For camera enthusiasts this could be a deal breaker. The social networking integration with Sense web-interface is unique to it but its failure can't be overlooked.

You may also want to look at what the competition is offering. The direct competitor of the HTCEVO 3D is the LG Optimus 3D which also costs around Rs.35, 000 and has a better performance everywhere, but you'll lose the Sense experience EVO 3D has to offer. If you come a little down the ladder then the Samsung Galaxy II welcomes you with a big heart. Though it doesn't offer 3D imaging, it's the slimmest dual core out there and has the bext 8MP camera in the whole Android line-up along with the latest TouchWIZ UI, which is next to the Sense UI in terms of customization. It's also the most sought after Android device nowadays and will cost you Rs.30,000 (approx). Another cheaper yet good option is present in the form of LG Optimus 2X. It's also a dual core wizard and costs Rs.25,500 (approx). Last but not the least HTC's own Sensation which costs same as SGS II and sports an 8MP camera but we're unsure about camera performance here too.

If a camera isn't a necessity for you then you can surely go for it for all the goodies The EVO 3D has to offer. The performance on the EVO 3D isn't also a big concern. It already has got enough power hardware; only the software should be tweaked more. But at Rs. 35, 000 it's way too costly for its performance. But if HTC reduces its price and brings it under sub 30K range then deal isn't very bad.


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