updated 03:25 pm EDT, Tue March 22, 2011
HTC Evo 3D brings dual-core and glasses-free 3D
Sprint at its CTIA event brought out its new headlining phone for 2011, the HTC Evo 3D. The phone is the fastest HTC has ever made, with a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon, and uses the extra power to be even faster and more efficient than the T-Mobile G2X or other rival devices. Qualcomm's chip is asynchronous and downclocks one of the cores if it isn't being heavily used, keeping the dual cores alive but improving the battery life, allowing one core to work at full speed but saving battery life.
The 3D is a close match for that of the Optimus 3D and captures two images with the rear five megapixel cameras to create the stereoscopic effect. HTC's phone trumps LG's through a sharper but still autostereoscopic 540x960, 4.3-inch display, which can show 3D without glasses but more faithfully for 720p 3D video. It can record 1080p in 2D.
HTC loads the phone with Android 2.3 and the latest version of the Sense UI, which brings the option of launching apps directly from the lock screen, a pseudo-3D home screen carousel and quick personalization. WiMAX-based 4G is appropriately onboard and gives Qik video chat from a front camera as well as downloadable Blockbuster video rentals, including in 3D, and hotspot creation for up to eight devices.
The new Evo rounds out with 1GB of RAM, 4GB of built-in storage (plus microSDHC) and a large 1,730mAh battery. Sprint hasn't given out a price and won't ship the Evo 3D until summer, when the dual-core might be rivaled by the iPhone 5 and other newer devices.
We loved the phone in our test at CTIA. The design is slightly more rounded and more comfortable still than the Evo 4G; unlike some devices, the 4.3-inch screen doesn't strain your hands. The LCD is certainly one of HTC's best yet, too. While it's not the "pixel-free" iPhone 4, it overcomes a common gripe of the Evo 4G, where the larger screen size wasn't offset by a higher resolution.
The stereoscopy in the 3D view is the usual parallax effect from the Optimus 3D or the Nintendo 3DS. If you can see 3D, it's good and relatively bright, at least in the low light of a conference area. You still need to worry about a sweet spot, though, so it's not for viewing off-angle.
Performance is definitely fast. While many of HTC's newer phones are reasonably quick, we didn't encounter much if any lag in navigating around Sense or most parts of the interface and apps; there was still a slight frame rate issue in the 3D Sense carousel, but that may be Sense's design, not the chip. If you live in a WiMAX area, the 4G may be a selling point. We noticed it loading our own site and others extraordinarily quickly, roughly as fast as the (also dual-core) G2X.
It's easy to be optimistic about the Evo 3D in the light of a presentation, but we do think it stands a real chance of helping Sprint on its long road to recovering subscribers. Our main anxities just revolve around time and price. By the summer, the iPhone 5 may be packing an A5 that could compete with or even outperform the Snapdragon. Also, if Sprint charges any price over $250, or possibly even $200, it may limit its appeal to early adopters. Still, it's not often Sprint gets to say it has the fastest and most feature-laden phone, and that's noteworthy in an era where Verizon plans to rush the market with LTE devices.