Saturday, June 11, 2011

HTC EVO 3D vs Motorola Photon 4G

If you’d asked a Sprint customer yesterday which phone they were upgrading to, I’m sure the majority answer would have been the HTC EVO 3D. The EVO 4G has been a dominant force on Sprint since its launch. As successor to the throne, the EVO 3D didn’t appear to have a competitor on Sprint. Now it seems Sprint customers who are due for an upgrade this summer have a really interesting choice ahead of them, considering today’s announcement of the Motorola Photon 4G. At first glance, these two devices seem to be side by side in nearly every way. So, let’s break it down feature by feature and see which one comes out on top!


Since their launch, NVIDIA Tegra 2 devices have pretty much had the run of the joint with no real competitors. These asynchronous Dual Core devices have been cropping up everywhere, wielding their Tegra Zone game store and improved overall performance as shiny baubles to draw in the mobile gearheads of the world. With the impending release of dual core Snapdragon devices like the EVO 3D, the world wants to know which processor is better. Here’s what we know:

- Both NVIDIA and Qualcomm might have been playing dirty with the performance benchmarks on these devices when compared to the other. Qualcomm’s amazing benchmarks were done on a 1.5 GHZ dual core with no battery optimization while plugged into the wall. And they accuse NVIDIA of using benchmarking software that catered especially to the Tegra 2 when testing. Since we’re looking at a 1.2 GHZ dual core and not a 1.5 GHZ chipset with battery optimizing software onboard, it’s entirely likely that the devices’ performances will actually be much closer together.

-Qualcomm has chosen to use an asynchronous architecture for their dual core systems in an attempt to improve battery life without sacrificing performance. This architecture allows the cores to run at different speeds. So, if one is not in use it can simply slow down to save battery. Unfortunately, Android 2.3 isn’t really optimized to take advantage of this architecture. HTC will need to implement some serious secret sauce or the processor won’t be the superhero we’ve all been looking for.

- Early comparisons of the HTC Sensation to other Tegra 2 devices, like the G2X, shows the G2X as a faster device. However, since the Sensation has an 8260 processor and the Evo 3D has an 8660, this does not necessarily mean the EVO 3D will suffer the same fate.


We’re increasingly connecting our phones to other things to turn them into even more powerful devices. Motorola has pioneered the WebTop system for portable computing on your phone. But, if you aren’t willing to shell out the extra cash for an almost-laptop, you’ll probably use the HDMI-out through either a multimedia dock or a straight cable. If you’re a big fan of playing games on your phone, this video shows how Motorola made this extremely cool and easy.

With the exception to the kickstand, the Evo 3D can do all those things as well (with a non-Tegra Zone game of course). However, where the Evo 3D takes the advantage is with MHL. Rather then have a separate HDMI port, the USB port doubles as an HDMI port–thanks to MHL. This means when you’re playing a game or watching a movie on your phone-powered TV, you’re also charging your phone with a single cable. This is not the case with normal HDMI.

GhostBlur vs. Sense

Both HTC and Motorola seem to think they know better than everyone else when it comes to creating an enjoyable user experience. HTC’s Sense UI update provides an extremely pretty interface with some very nice 3D transitions. And that silly clock is so popular, HTC ported it to Windows so people could use it on their computers. When it comes to comparing the two, Motorola’s GhostBlur UI typically ends up the butt of the joke.

With their new Sprint partnership, however, Motorola saw fit to make some “improvements” to the UI we saw on the Atrix. The Photon will come armed not only with GhostBlur, but also Sprint’s SprintID software (the quick-theming utility Sprint unveiled last year). SprintID will allow users to quickly theme their entire phone and provide apps that are appropriate to the theme.

I see this really as a personal preference. While I would lean more towards the pretty new SenseUI, far be it for me to judge someone who wants to combine the Atrix experience with the so far less-than-successful SprintID–especially since I haven’t experienced it myself yet.

The Camera

This one I do have some pretty strong thoughts on. Even if the EVO 3D took simply stunning 3D pictures, I wouldn’t be able to share them with anyone since there isn’t a single person I know that is even remotely interested in 3D right now. You can record 3D videos and upload them to 3D Youtube, in which case other people would be able to enjoy them. But 3D is just not used widely enough for me to actually want to take a 3D picture over a 2D picture. Unfortunately, when you want to take a 2D picture on the Evo, you only get a 5 Megapixel camera.

The Photon’s 8 Megapixel camera is really enticing by comparison. It’s coupled with Motorola’s modified camera app for Android, which is probably my favorite app to come from the Motoblur experience. This app puts tools like Panorama picture and color effects at your fingertips, and I can only imagine how nice pictures will look on the qHD display.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot these devices have in common. The 4.3″ qHD display, access to Sprint’s 4G network, similar shape and size, 1GB of RAM with plenty of storage options and front-facing cameras. There’s also a fair bit we don’t know about these devices, since neither of them are out yet. Battery life, touch response, whether or not they will ship with unlockable (or unlocked) bootloaders–all still a mystery. And each could shift your choice in this decision. For many, this decision will affect them for the next 2 years, so it’s a significant one to make. With all that we know about these devices, which would you choose?


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