The Display

In nearly every category the EVO 3D and Photon trade blows, each offering an advantage and a disadvantage depending on how you look at it. The display is the one area where I believe the EVO 3D is the undisputed champion. A quick macro shot comparing the display of the two phones reveals why:

HTC EVO 3D Motorola Photon 4G

Both have the same 960 x 540 display resolution and the same 4.3-inch screen size, but the Photon looks much grainier. You're looking at the difference between a RGBW PenTile panel and a standard LCD with full subpixel resolution. Motorola has gone the PenTile route in a few high profile phones as of late including the Atrix and Droid 3. The Photon simply adds to the list.

In normal use the Photon's PenTile panel doesn't pose much of a problem. If you're sold on the Photon everywhere else, don't let this be the deal breaker - you can get used to it. Scrolling will sometimes highlight the unique subpixel structure but mostly things just look grainy on the Photon. Small text, for example on a zoomed out web page, is the worst culprit - it just looks like there's no font smoothing enabled. It's livable but it's hardly desirable.

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Both phones can get very bright, but their black levels are among the worst we've tested. While viewing angles are acceptable on these phones, they clearly don't use the highest quality panels available for this form factor. Contrast is reasonable but no where near as good as other phones we've reviewed.

Display Contrast

Although the phones have comparable brightness characteristics, they differ wildly in white levels. The Photon's white point is calibrated to around 8200K, making everything much bluer than normal - a trick we often see used in TVs and consumer displays.

The EVO 3D by comparison delivers a better overall experience. Text looks sharper and the white point is at a more reasonable 6200K.

Whether or not the Photon's display is going to bother you depends mostly on how much text you read on your phone. Text messages are typically fine as the fonts themselves are large enough and they're against a white background. The issue is more pronounced, as I mentioned before, on web pages with small text. Once you zoom in the problem goes away, it's mostly an aesthetic issue when you first load up a web page since you're going to zoom in on any content you actually want to read. I'm not trying to excuse the use of an RGBW PenTile grid, I'm just trying to put its impact into perspective. It's not ideal but it's also not the end of the world.

Photon (left) vs. EVO 3D (right)

Personally, I prefer the EVO 3D's display.

Introduction The Camera


View All Comments

  • anactoraaron - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    With all of the new dual core phones hitting the shelves, there are a few 'budget' phones using 'yesterday's' high end tech. I would love to see a few reviews- or maybe just a 'android budget phone roundup' or something. I recently purchased a Samsung Exhibit 4G and love it! There's plenty of single core snapdragons and a hummingbird in the wild on the cheap and it would be great to put them against each other. Obviously you are limited to what you have (or are sent to review) but jus sayin. Reply
  • Reikon - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I don't really get the point of getting a budget smartphone on a postpaid carrier. You might as well go prepaid, which has much cheaper monthly plans with phones comparable to budget postpaid phones. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Yeah, saving $100 or even $200 on a phone over the course of two years when you're paying $80+ a month for service just seems silly... Unless you pay for your phone but not service (families, companies, etc.), then I could see it. Or if you switch carriers a often, but I don't see how anyone manages that with the current ETFs. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Darn Anand, had I known you kept delaying the EVO 3D review to compare it directly with the Photon I would've stopped badgering you about the review... And possibly waited before buying the EVO 3D! Reading now... Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I wasn't being sarcastic btw, I'm glad you combined the articles. Although, after all is said and done, I'm not sure I would've had an easier time deciding had i read your article before buying.

    Just looking at the battery results I can see why you would have trouble picking between the two... 3G browsing time is most important to me as we're unlikely to see 4G here in Puerto Rico anytime soon (they're testing but only in very limited areas), and I don't talk a lot on the phone... Still, the Photon has a large lead in the Wifi battery test.

    It surprises me that there can be such drastic differences back and forth between the two, and even between the EVO and Sensation. Can the software stack play such a large role or is it network issues? The Photon's drop from Wifi to 3G is more than 2x but the GSM Sensation does so much better on 3G than the EVO, could that be a matter of HSPA+ speeds allowing it to finish loading and sleep sooner?

    Personally I haven't been able to get more than 3.5-4.5 hours of screen-on time out of my EVO 3D, while doing nothing but web browsing, be it 3G or Wifi... Even when sitting one rom over from a router and an Airave. I'd love to be able to squeeze 6+ as your test suggests. Maybe it's a screen brightness issue, at home I read a lot in dimly lit rooms...
  • Impulses - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I've noticed you're wearing glasses in some of your pictures btw, myopia? I have like -3.5 and I often take off my glasses to read on my phone when I'm sitting down (or to read in general)... Anyway, it seems that even tho I don't need glasses to read at a certain distance (i shouldn't, I'm not near sighted at all) I do need them to be able to appreciate the 3D screen at all.

    Was just wondering if you noticed that and/or may have an explanation... The 3D effect is barely noticeable without my glasses, soon as I put them on things just pop out, but I'm looking at the screen at a distance where I normally don't need glasses to read, seemed weird to me.

    Also did you notice any jumpyness with the text input cursor? That and the build of Swype included on the phone both seem very buggy to me, but the text cursor thing happens even with the stock keyboard. I'll probably root it soon and try the latest Swype beta. It's kinda ridiculous that Swype can't update built-in installs themselves and have to squeeze their updates into full manufacturer OTAs.
  • Impulses - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Err, the part about not being nearsighted there should've said farsighted. Reply
  • ilkhan - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Page 1
    "Both are awkwardly large thanks to their 4.2" screen size"
    Both are speced at 4.3" :)
    Nor would I call my 4.3" EVO 4G awkwardly large.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Fixed :)

    For sure it's a personal preference thing. I do believe on Android the sweet spot is somewhere in the 4 - 4.3" range, but for someone coming from a Nexus One for example both of these could feel awkwardly large by comparison :)

    Take care,
  • Mumrik - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    "they just haven't been all that interesting.

    Until now of course.


    Anand, did you pull a Jeremy Clarkson on purpose?

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