As we get closer to the HTC EVO 3D‘s official release date (expected to be June 24), various tech blogs have already begun reviewing Sprint’s newest flagship device. The EVO 3D is the successor to one of last year’s most popular Android smartphones, the EVO 4G. When the EVO 4G was released, it was the first 4G smartphone on a major US carrier. Although the idea of “4G” connectivity was still young at the time, Sprint and HTC successfully set the bar for the next generation of smartphones by introducing a device that many considered revolutionary. Besides the 4G radio, the original EVO packed many other features and specifications that were literally huge last year. It’s monstrous 4.3-inch screen, front-facing camera, HDMI output, and stylish kickstand all contributed to the general appeal and respectability of the device. It’s now a little over a year later and the original EVO is finally being succeeded. Does this heir to the Sprint throne have what it takes to be as revolutionary as its predecessor? More importantly, is it good enough of an upgrade from the original EVO to merit your hard-earned money? Read on and let me explain what I feel are the most important changes and whether or not this device delivers.
THE RUN DOWN…
Processor - First and foremost, the EVO 3D is equipped with hardware components that are quite improved from the original EVO’s. Most noticeably is the processor that powers the device. As the past year has gone by, we’ve seen pretty drastic improvements in processor technology and today’s top dogs all utilize dual-core chips. The EVO 3D is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor made by Qualcomm. This new chip allows the EVO 3D to be a lot faster than the EVO 4G. Opening apps, browsing the web, playing games, and navigating throughout the phone’s user interface should be pretty much flawless with this chip at the heart of the phone.
RAM - Another improvement made within the EVO 3D is the increase in RAM. RAM is a hardware component that compliments the processor. A smooth and snappy user experience on any computing device requires both a strong processor and a good amount of RAM. The EVO 3D has a solid 1 GB of RAM, which is actually double what the EVO 4G had, and 232 MB more than what HTC’s other newly released flagship device (Sensation 4G on T-Mobile) has. As we’ll talk about later, this increase in RAM is crucial to the EVO 3D’s performance.
Screen - The screen technology on the EVO 3D is also a pretty big and important upgrade. The screen is a qHD display with 960 x 540 resolution. This increased resolution with result in images and text that are much sharper than what was seen on the EVO 4G. The increased resolution also makes the EVO 3D’s display comparable to its iPhone competitor’s Retina Display.
Battery - One of the biggest problems with the original EVO 4G was its poor battery life. With such a huge screen and a 4G radio, the phone was drained of its power extremely quickly when compared to other smartphones at the time. Fortunately, the EVO 3D packs a larger battery, coming in at 1730 mAh as opposed to the EVO 4G’s 1500 mAh battery. It was a good decision to include a larger battery considering the EVO 3D not only has a large display and 4G connectivity, but also a dual-core processor.
Cameras - And of course, the EVO 3D’s main features are its two stereoscopic cameras around its back, which is capable of taking 3D photos as well as recording 3D videos. Each camera is 5 megapixels and is accompanied by a dual-LED flash. The EVO 3D is the first smartphone to be released on a major US carrier to contain 3D cameras. By introducing this feature, the EVO 3D continues its predecessor’s tradition of being the first to offer the next “big” thing. 3D content can be viewed on the device’s screen without the need for 3D glasses, which is also a pretty impressive feat.
User Interface (UI) - The EVO 3D is powered by the latest version of Android (2.3.3, Gingerbread). Android 2.3.3 features some minor aesthetic changes to the base Android experience as well as more practical changes like an enhanced method of copy and paste. In addition, Gingerbread has better support and compatibility with dual-core devices. Like most HTC Android smartphones, the EVO 3D has a custom user interface on top of the Android experience known as Sense. The 3D device runs the latest version of HTC Sense, 3.0. Sense 3.0 introduces many visually stunning graphics and animations as well as some added functionality. More on this later.
So there you have it, a little run down of the EVO 3D’s specs and what its highlights are. Now, I’ll dive further into each of the mentioned items from above and discuss whether or not the specs actually deliver the experience that you’d expect from this new device.
Processor - As for the dual-core Snapdragon processor, I think that it is definitely fast, no doubt about that. The extra 0.2 GHz makes it look good on paper compared to some of its competitors like Nvidia’s 1 GHz dual-core Tegra 2 chip. The thing is, how does the Snapdragon actually compare to its competitors in everyday use? It’s kind of hard to tell, but judging by recent reviews of the EVO 3D and Sensation 4G, which also uses the same processor, it looks like the chip stutters here and there. It seems to lag just a tiny bit (often unnoticeable unless you’re actively looking for these things) when opening apps and browsing certain webpages. Now, there are a TON of external factors that may be causing these little hiccups, but if we take into account the same factors and simply compare the Snapdragon to Nividia’s Tegra 2 or Samsung’s Exynos, it seems a tiny bit slower at times, which ultimately makes it look inconsistent.
RAM - The 1 GB of RAM was the right call here. Sense 3.0 is a graphically intense user interface. Without sufficient amounts of RAM, the UI is sure to cause the phone to lag and stutter here and there. Compared to T-Mobile’s HTC Sensation 4G which only has 768 MB of RAM, the EVO 3D is sure to perform better. Video reviews of the Sensation showed somewhat laggy screen transitions, where Engadget’s EVO 3D review shows pretty smooth and fast transitions. Again, the 1 GB of RAM was a great decision.
Screen - qHD and the 960 x 540 resolutions is the norm nowadays. All new flagship smartphones are expected to have this resolution. The thing is, I don’t think the technology is as good as it sounds and seems on paper. With a higher resolution, you’d expect drastic visual changes in images and text, but recent reviews of devices like the Motorola Droid X2 on Verizon, which also sports a qHD display, show little noticeable difference when compared to regular screens with lower resolutions. I guess with this, it’s something that you need to just have on your device to uphold its superphone/flagship status. In my opinion, you’ll hardly notice anything here. Other display technologies like Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus screens look drastically better than these qHD Super LCD screens…and, they have lower resolution too.
Battery - The EVO 3D’s 1730 mAh battery is a great improvement over the original’s 1500. With the battery’s larger capacity, the EVO 3D’s battery life is much improved. However, with many additional features in the EVO 3D that adds to the battery’s burden, you’ll find that the improvement is not as large as you’d expected it to be. Nonetheless, you probably won’t have to hunt down that charger as often as you did with the original EVO.
Cameras - The 3D cameras are no doubt the highlight of the EVO 3D. Many of you out there are probably still deciding whether or not 3D imaging on a smartphone is necessary or is simply a gimmick. I for one, think that it definitely IS a gimmick…for right now at least. If you look around the Internet and do some research regarding the latest devices that boast 3D cameras like the LG G-Slate tablet on T-Mobile and of course, the EVO 3D, they all seem to be of mediocre quality…so mediocre in fact, that it’s hard to take the technology seriously. At the end of the day, it’s simply another cool thing to have just to say that you have it. Does it provide a magnificent experience that is truly revolutionary?…I don’t think so.
UI - I’ve already discussed my opinions regarding HTC Sense 3.0 running on top of Android in my Sensation article. In summary, I believe the latest iteration of Sense is mainly for show. Not much functionality was added to the new UI besides the revamped lockscreen. Sure, Sense still LOOKS as good as it ever did, but really, I’d give up all the flashy stuff for speedy performance ANY DAY. If I bought an EVO 3D, I’d definitely put an aftermarket launcher on it to add much more functionality and to reduce any minor lag that Sense may cause.
So after saying all this, is the EVO 3D worthy of an upgrade from the original EVO? The simple answer is YES. The EVO 3D excels in many aspects: it’s faster, leaner, has a better looking screen, a larger battery, and a newer version of HTC Sense. It definitely is a drastic improvement over last year’s technology. With the inclusion of those 3D cameras, it’s also sure to turn heads and make your friends jealous. The things that I have critiqued the device on above are very minor gripes, gripes that only matter to die-hard phone geeks like me. The average consumer should not be bothered by these things at all and at the end of the day, the EVO 3D continues its predecessor’s reign as a revolutionary smartphone that sets the bar for competitors to model after. Check out reviews of the HTC EVO 3D by Engadget, CNET, and Boy Genius Report.