HTC EVO 3D Hands-On Preview

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UPDATE: This preview was written based on a very short time with this smartphone. A more complete version after extensive testing is now available:


Sprint took the wraps off the HTC EVO 3D this week, giving the world its first official look at the smartphone that’s going to replace last year’s very popular HTC EVO 4G.

This smartphone is going to be packed with features, most notably a large, 3D display and a dual-core processor.

I was at the CTIA tradeshow for the EVO 3D’s debut party, so I’ve had a bit of time with this upcoming model. So far I’m impressed. It is still months away from release, so the prototype units on display are still a bit buggy, but at this point, things look good.

BUILD & DESIGN

At first glance, the EVO 3D reminds me of several of its predecessors that also have 4.3-inch displays. I’m sure it won’t surprise you that its design bears a strong resemblance to the EVO 4G.

HTC EVO 3D from SprintBut don’t be fooled, there are going to be some significant changes in this upcoming model, starting with the display. This will be a qHD touchscreen, up from the WVGA one on it’s predecessor. That gives it a higher pixel density, making fonts and just about everything smoother.

3D
The feature of this display you’re probably most interested in, though, is it’s ability to display 3D images and video without requiring you to wear special glasses.

The EVO 3D is one of the very first smartphones with this type of screen, and it shows. Items really are 3D, but it’s not what I would call a satisfying experience. It’s cool, but it’s not awesome.

I think this is mostly related to this being new technology. It reminds me of the first generation color screens from a decade ago. They were OK, but kind of sad compared with the beautiful color displays of today.

But this HTC model is going to help pave the way toward the day we take 3D smartphones for granted, and even demand them.

I’ve tried out a few 3D games, and I liked what I saw. I’m looking forward to a whole range of these, from first-person shooters to puzzle games that take advantage of all three dimensions.

An important thing to be aware of is that HTC doesn’t hit you over the head with this new technology. If you don’t launch a 3D-specific app, or open a video from YouTube 3D or BlockBuster 3D, you don’t see anything in 3D. That’s the way it should be, until 3D screens are a bit better.

I was concerned that the 3D display would be somehow muddied or blurred when displaying 2D images, but that’s not the case. This screen looks great.


PERFORMANCE

The HTC EVO 3D is going to debut running Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread), with a new version of the HTC Sense user interface layered on top. Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of alternate UIs, but Sense does make a number of improvements to the standard one. There are quite a few additional widgets, for example, and the new version is going to arrange the nine homescreens in a sort of carousel, so you can spin through them quickly.

Even better, this model is going to sport a Qualcomm processor with two 1.2 GHz cores. This means that if one app is hogging the processor, there’s a second core to handle the other apps you’re running. Dual-core processors are now the state of the art for high-end smartphones, and Sprint’s upcoming model has one of the best available.

HTC’s handset developers didn’t stop there — the EVO 3D is going to sport a whopping 1 GB of RAM. Generally speaking, more RAM is always better, as it allows you to run more apps, have more web pages open, and work with bigger files.

HTC EVO 3D from SprintI only had a limited time with a few prototype units of this upcoming model, but I was pleased with the performance I saw. We’ll have to wait until this device is released for serious testing, but preliminary indications are good.

Wireless
Even though Sprint isn’t emphasizing this, the EVO 3D is going to be a 4G model, as it will include support for this carrier’s WiMAX network.

It will also include the usuals: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

Camera
The 3D capabilities of the HTC EVO 3D also extend to its camera. Or cameras, since it’s going to have two 5-megapixel ones on its back to enable users to record 3D images or video.

I did a bit of experimenting, and these 3D images look fairly good on this smartphone’s screen. If you’ve been wanting to record little Billy’s birthday in 3D, this apparently won’t be a bad option. 

If you also own a 3D TV, you can output your 3D videos through the HDMI port. This will support 720p 3D video, or 1080p regular video.

Like most high-end models these days, this one is going to include a front-facing camera for video conferencing. 


PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION

HTC EVO 3D Image GalleryWhen I first learned that Sprint was going to replace the HTC EVO 4G with a model that includes a 3D display, I was concerned. The early-generation 3D screens available now aren’t something that I want to look at for long periods of time, and this had the potential to make this device into an epic failure.

But now that I’ve spent some time with the HTC EVO 3D, I have a better better feeling about it. It’s shaping up to be a great smartphone that also has 3D capabilities, not just a 3D smartphone.

It’s too bad we’re going to have to wait until this summer to see it hit store shelves.

 

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