HTC EVO 3D review: An extra dimension
Sense UI, Gingerbread and the new lockscreen
The HTC EVO 3D comes with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread and the latest version 3.0 of the HTC Sense UI. We've already seen it in action in the HTC Sensation. Check out the video demo we’ve prepared and watch out for the new lockscreen.
The Sense 3.0 lockscreen has four shortcuts and a ring at the bottom. You drag the ring towards the center of the screen to unlock the phone.
Or, you can drag any of the shortcuts into the ring to unlock the phone and launch the corresponding app. You can assign any four apps to the lockscreen.
The HTC EVO 3D comes with six different lockscreens preinstalled. You can access them in the Personalize menu.
The default homescreen just shows the ring, four shortcuts and the time. Then there's the Photo album lockscreen, which tosses photos from your gallery in cool 3D fashion.
There's the Friend Stream widget with SNS updates and the Weather widget which shows off the Sense UI's cool weather animations. There's Stocks too - with quotes flying up or down. Finally, there's the Clock lockscreen which shows a bigger clock - you can pick any of the 11 clock widgets available.
Unfortunately, you can't download new lockscreens from the HTC Hub. Not yet anyway.
Beyond the lockscreen is the Sense homescreen, with a scroll arc at the bottom that's just an indication of which homescreen pane you’re on – it can't be used for actual scrolling.
There’s Leap view instead - tap the home key (on the center homescreen) or do a pinch gesture to zoom out to display the thumbnails of all seven homescreen panes at once. Upon a press and hold you can drag to reposition the homescreen panes as well.
Seven homescreen panes is all you get though – there’s no add or delete option. With all those widgets (which are quite useful too) you’ll want to keep all of them anyway.
HTC Sense comes with the proprietary HTC Scenes – essentially six custom homescreen setups (Work, Travel, Social, etc). Each scene changes the wallpaper and the set of widgets. For instance, the Work scene has a Stocks widget, while the Social offers a Twitter widget. Those can be customized, of course.
You select a Scene within a fancy-looking 3D card interface. You can modify existing scenes (older Sense versions prompted you to save modifications as a new scene) and you can get more scenes off the HTC Hub.
Switching between scenes takes a couple of seconds but the customization goes deep – the business and personal modes that some competing phones offer seem quite limited compared to the HTC Scenes.
HTC Sense has another customization option called Skins. Every skin changes the look and feel of most of the onscreen buttons, application screens, option menus, and other items. Each comes with unique wallpaper and uses different colors for various UI elements. They can also replace the standard dock, lockscreen and widget frames with custom ones or change their shape.
The main menu displays as a typical grid, laid out on vertical pages with shortcuts sorted alphabetically. You can set different sorting options - alphabetically, most recent or oldest - but you can't rearrange them manually. There's a list layout, where two-finger alphabet scrolling is enabled.
The main menu has a tabbed layout similar to different Sense elements (such as the phonebook). There are three tabs available at the bottom – All apps, Frequent and Favorites. They are quite useful especially when you have lots of installed applications.
Tapping the Personalize button brings out a whole screen of items to choose from – for the display (scenes, wallpapers and skin), for the homescreen (widgets, shortcuts, folders, etc.) and even sounds (ringtones, alarms, notifications and Sound set).
In the widget section, both types of widgets (custom HTC and stock Android) are placed on the same page. There are so many of them you may find the seven homescreen panes short. You can download new widgets off the Market or the HTC Hub.
When you select a widget you are prompted to choose between several versions – most widgets have at least two styles. The different versions typically offer at least two sizes of the widget and different skins. For example, there are thirteen different clocks. Still they don't seem to have changed all that much since the HTC Desire.
Some widget styles even offer different functionality. One version of the Twitter widget, for instance, shows updates for the people you follow and lets you tweet/update status. The other version is more compact and only allows status updates and tweets.
Editing the homescreen is different to vanilla Android. You can tap and hold on a widget and you can drag across homescreen panes. While you're dragging a widget (or shortcut or whatever), two "buttons" appear at the bottom of the screen - Edit and Remove. You drop the widget on either button to perform the corresponding action.
Edit can be used to modify the settings of a widget - e.g. choose a different folder for the Photo Frame album or even choose a different version of the Clock widget. This saves you the trouble of first deleting a widget and then putting it back on the screen to choose a different version, setting and so on.
The notification area features a list of recent apps (in addition to the notification list), just like a task switcher. A press and hold of the Home button works too. The notification area is tabbed as well - the second tab has toggles for WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS, network data or the Wi-Fi hotspot. There is a shortcut to the full list of settings and the last line shows used/free memory.
Besides the standard task switcher, you get a task manager too. It's simple to use - each running app is listed with an indication of how much RAM it's using (no CPU usage reading though). You can terminate apps one by one and there's a Kill All button too.
The fast boot feature is enabled on the HTC EVO 3D but it won’t work if you have removed the battery – in that case it will do a regular slow boot.
The cool things is apps preserve their state after the restart – so if you were browsing a web site before turning the phone off, the browser will restore your session.
Our guess is, HTC is using some sort of Suspend or Hibernate routine as seen in regular computers to implement the fast boot; still great feature to have, though.