The 3D aspect isn't what should attract you to the HTC Evo 3D, though. It should be about what it offers as a smartphone, and fortunately there's a lot here to like here, including the addition of a dual-core processor and the latest software. The Evo 3D is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread along with the latest version of HTC Sense, which offers a new lock screen and enhanced widgets, among other things. You can read more about the Sense user interface in our review of the HTC Sensation 4G.
Voice features include a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, video calling via Qik, and text and multimedia messaging. In addition to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, the Evo 3D is 4G-capable and can handle simultaneous voice and data over 4G. The smartphone can also be used as a mobile hot spot for an additional $29.99 per month, and there is no data cap. Finally, we appreciate the fact that the Evo 3D offers a way to toggle between 3G and 4G in order to save battery life.
The handset comes preloaded with a number of apps and services, some useful, some not so useful. Among the more helpful apps are the Polaris Office suite, Kobo Reader for e-books, and a dock mode that displays the time, weather, upcoming appointments, and your social network feed on one screen. More apps are available in the Android Market, which now has a catalog of about 200,000 titles.
Though apps generally don't take up a lot of space, be aware that like the HTC Sensation 4G, the Evo 3D doesn't offer much internal storage. It has 4GB of internal memory but only 1GB of that is available to the user, and you can't uninstall the preloaded apps. You can move them, as well as any downloaded apps, to the preinstalled 8GB microSD card, but if you plan on loading up your phone with apps, music, and video, you might want to upgrade to a higher-capacity card. The phone's expansion slot can support up to 32GB.
We already talked a bit about the 3D photo quality, but how's the regular 2D camera? Pretty impressive, actually. The camera offers a broad set of editing tools, including a sliding scale for adjusting exposure, contrast, saturation, and sharpness. Even without customizing the settings, picture quality was bright and sharp. The built-in dual LED flash helped photos taken dimly lit rooms look vibrant and crisp. The camera can also capture 1080p HD video in 2D (720p in 3D), and video quality was also good.
We tested the dual-band HTC Evo 3D in New York using Sprint service and call quality was OK. We had no problems hearing our callers, and we didn't notice any type of voice distortion or garbled sounds. However, there was a constant hissing in the background; it was faint enough that we could still carry on conversation, but it was noticeable. Unfortunately, our callers didn't have the best experience. Some said we sounded muffled, while others noted tinny sound quality.
HTC Evo 3D call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was another mixed bag. The sound was generally clear, but the audio cut in and out a couple of times, and at the highest setting there was just enough volume to hear callers in a noisier environment. Meanwhile, callers said we sounded far away and there was some hollowness to the audio. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and had no problems making calls or listening to music. We also made a video call using the Qik client over Wi-Fi. The audio came through just fine, but the video was choppy and occasionally froze on us.
We didn't experience any dropped calls during our testing period, and we were able to get 4G coverage in most parts of Manhattan. However, it did drop to 3G a few times, particularly around midtown. Sprint's 4G network provided good data speeds. Using Ookla's Speedtest.net app to measure speeds, we averaged 9.02Mbps down and 0.92Mbps up. CNET's full site loaded in 13 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 4 seconds and 5 seconds, respectively. High-quality 2D YouTube clips buffered within seconds and played back continuously. There were some hiccups with 3D videos as they stopped and started in a few spots, and streaming content from Sprint TV looked pretty murky.
Armed with Qualcomm's new 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the Evo 3D easily handled any task we threw at it. General navigation was speedy. Apps launched as soon as we tapped them, and we were able to switch between tasks with minimal delay. Aside from the 3D screen issue we mentioned earlier, the only other uh-oh moment we had during our review period was that after we connected to the smartphone to our PC to transfer some media files, the phone spontaneously rebooted itself. However, this only happened once in our testing.
The HTC Evo 3D ships with a bigger 1,730mAh lithium ion battery than the Evo 4G and has a rated talk time of 6 hours. In our battery drain tests, we were able to get 6.5 hours of continuous talk time over 4G on a single charge. Starting with a full charge in the morning and with moderate to heavy use (including playing 3D games and video), we were able to go a full day, sometimes early into the next day, before needing to recharge. As soon as we complete testing, we will update this section with our battery talk time results. According to FCC radiation tests, the Evo 3D has a digital SAR rating of 0.885W/kg and a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M4/T3.
Among Sprint's touch-screen smartphones, the HTC Evo 3D sits high on the list, if not at the top of the list. HTC and Sprint improved the Evo in areas that matter the most, including speed and battery life, while keeping some of the qualities we loved about the original Evo, such as a premium design. These features are what make the Evo 3D worthwhile; the fact that it happens to do 3D too is just an added bonus.