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

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Sometimes you can't help but channel a little Clarkson :-P Reply
  • Reikon - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    One reason that Wimax gets better battery life than 3g is that push doesn't seem to be instant on Wimax. From my tests on my EVO 3d, notifications take about 15 min on Wimax while they're basically instant on 3g. Reply
  • bingunginter - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Galaxy S2 Has been out for several months and it is one of the most popular handset right now. Why is there no review for this phone ? Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Not available in the US from any of the carriers and AT doesn't import phones for review. Reply
  • sidarous - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Both phones have been rooted, although it appears from some cursory web-browsing that rooting is slightly easier on the Photon.

    When my contract is up in a few months, I'll probably go with whichever one has a more active ROM community. That is, unless something bigger and better comes out :-)

    Does anyone have thoughts on this? Do HTC or Motorola phones generally have more fun ROMs?
  • sidarous - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Also, while it isn't a big deal right now, when signing a 2 year contract, it might be better to hold out for a device with NFC support, like the Galaxy S2 (the Sprint variant will either be the "Samsung Epic Touch 4G" or the "Samsung Within"). Reply
  • Dug - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Can using a different camera app help with the overblown pictures? Reply
  • SigmundEXactos - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    1. The Photon can take 32GB microSD cards (I have one in my phone).
    2. The Photon has two GLARING issues:
    a) Sometimes the phone shuts off until you pull the battery or plug it in then turn it back on.
    b) Sometimes inbound and outbound calls have no audio, until you turn the phone off then back on.


    There is supposedly an update coming "soon" (there is already a Motorola signed update, but it's not been pushed OTA yet), see:

    I've heard the EVO 3D has some voice quality issues and/or reception issues.

    They really need to start making PHONES first.

    Don't get me wrong, those two issues aside I love my Photon, but I'll probably be swapping out before the 30day period unless the fix comes out.
  • techkraut - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I disagree with your assertion that "Sprint customers almost always get the short end of the stick" and that there have not been any interesting handsets from Sprint since the Epic 4G. Sprint has had several other firsts since then and like them or not, they were certainly interesting. Among those firsts were the Sprint Kyocera Echo, the first handset to offer a dual android screen device that doubles as a small tablet. The Sprint Replenish offers a Blackberry-like form factor Android device that is one of few "green" devices on the market. I think that over the last 12 months, Sprint has maintained a very competetive and interesting device portfolio. With these two devices, Sprint continues that trend. Reply
  • EarthsDM - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Anand, I was hoping that you would consider the Nexus S 4G. I assumed it would be one of the best phones available for Sprint's network, being a part of the Nexus program. One of my coworkers has the Nexus S non-4G and he loves his. That said, after my painful (and expensive) experience with an Epic 4G I won't consider owning another Samsung phone unless you review it. If I'd trusted your review of the Epic 4G (GPS doesn't work, other problems, not ready for prime time) instead of the Engadget review (great phone and expect regular updates, you can trust Samsung!) I wouldn't have saddled myself with such an awful device.

    There's nothing quite like being five feet away from an adult tiger, holding up your phone to start a video recording, and have that phone hard crash and being a minute-long reboot process. It got bad enough that I had to shell out for a used EVO 4G :'(

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