Motorola Photon 4G vs. HTC EVO 3D

For as long as the modern smartphone has been around HTC has been the go-to manufacturer when Sprint wanted a top-tier device.  At first it was with Windows Mobile phones like the Touch Diamond and Touch Pro 2 and as the market shifted towards Android so too did HTC with offerings like the Hero and EVO 4G.  You could probably even say that as HTC shifted towards Android so did the market, but there was another manufacturer who had both a major influence on the proliferation of Android and was conspicuously absent from Sprint’s lineup: Motorola.

Last year HTC’s EVO 4G really only had competition from the Motorola Droid X in the Android world (Samsung’s pure Google Nexus S came pretty late in the year) but they were on competing networks so users didn’t have an easy choice between the two.  As usual, Sprint and HTC brought out the heavy artillery in June with the EVO 3D, a dual-core beast with third dimension capabilities.  But this year there is a new player; Sprint and Motorola have renewed their partnership and the first major device from the two is the Photon 4G, another dual core beast with specs that can give the EVO 3D a run for its money.  Which 4.3” qHD superphone is right for you?  Read on to find out…


Despite both being pretty even in dimensions and both being black slabs with a large display, four capacitive buttons below and a camera on the back, the two devices are both uniquely HTC and Motorola.  It is a credit to both of their design teams that the personalities of the two companies can shine through in each of these products.

For HTC it starts with the circular capacitive buttons, now a hallmark of the EVO family.  The deep black is contrasted nicely by silver milled aluminum buttons, the shiny HTC logo and of course the signature HTC-red camera trim.  The design is modern but classic, with nothing but the finest materials and top-notch craftsmanship.

Motorola’s Photon 4G, on the other hand, manages to be a bit more in your face.  It is not as bold as the DROID devices, but the aggressive angular lines remain.  The display housing and surrounding trim are a dark silver, shiny enough to stand out but dark enough to be elegant.  The bright silver kickstand jumps out against the flat black battery door but the edges are tapered so as to fit comfortably in your hand.

Both devices are large but they manage to mask their size with good design.  We like the textured back and red trim of the HTC but appreciate the overall feel of the Photon 4G.  This category really comes down to personal preference, but you’re going to get an excellent product either way.

Both displays are 4.3” qHD.  The EVO 3D of course has 3D (stereoscopic) capabilities, but they aren’t incorporated into anything but multimedia (movies, pictures and games.)  There are no 3D elements to the user interface and so far there aren’t many 3D apps out there either.  Some users appreciate it more than others, but for us when it works it is like a magic eye picture and it is impressive.   That said it’s still a novelty.

The Photon, on the other hand, eschews novelty for quality.  Its qHD panel is brilliantly bright and crisp and is the clear winner when put next to the EVO 3D.  The viewing angle is a touch better, colors are more vivid and the screen really stands out against the phone.  With the EVO 3D it is very good, but tends to blend in more with the hardware.  The added brightness make it slightly better to read in bright lighting conditions, although both will ultimately fade out in strong, direct light.  If 3D movies aren’t a top priority than the Photon 4G is the choice.

Motorola Photon 4G 360-degrees View:

HTC EVO 3D 360-degrees View:



73. lynn.c10

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 06, 2011

My HTC Evo 3D replaced my old and worn 4G EVO. At first, it was exactly what i was looking for... a phone with a longer battery life. i was extremley pleased with my new for the first couple of weeks been then the problems started to arise. The phone kept giving me these weird messages system faild and all kinds of weird things. i couldnt txt, couldnt take pictures, couldnt look at my contacts and couldnt use ANY program or app on my phone!!! All i could do was answer phone calls. i must say, i have never been more disappointed in my LIFE. This has occured 4 times in the past year that ive owned this device. but last friday i experienced a problem that sent me over the edge, and nearly drove me mad... The phone began to randomly call people txt people and start applications on its own. i was terrified. when i troed to send txt messages my letter A, L T and my ?,! and & would not function properly. then the phone began to freeze and do a number of other displeasing functions. Today i went to sprint and orderd my Motorola PHOTON 4G. i didnt care what i had to do to get rid of that dissapointing any one who is looking ino this phone i would highly encourage you to think twice about your decision. i promise you will be disappointed and be left unhappy. Although the hone itself is quite attractive dont let its looks deceive you.

72. deeps unregistered

Ummmm what about the faulty casing on the HTC evo? I just got this phone and was disappointed to see a big gap as the battery cover doesn't clasp back seamlessly. I took it back and the second box had the same defect. Manufacturing issue? tsk tsk. Not this on a 600 $ phone you guys....

67. CHARLIE MURPHY unregistered


55. matistight

Posts: 1066; Member since: May 13, 2009

ugh, the HTC music app is so buggy! mine will show 8 albums and go to the first album, regardless of which one i click

53. lilworthy1 unregistered

Just to let you guys know the chips are equal. It is the way the programs are setup which causes lag. Bad programming slows down cpu

54. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

that's true but they're still not equal.

46. RogerPjr unregistered

I thought this review was about the individual phones...... The unique features of the HTC were explored a bit. The Uniqueness of the PHOTON, was on the other hand NOT. About the PHOTON: What other phone can be plugged into it's dock which has 3 USB connectors. ONE for mouse, One for Kboard, and a THIRD additional USB ( External HD to oh I dunno...back up / Sync files???) All the while I am watching YouTube / Skyping on my BIG SCREEN, OR Phone calling at this same time. Which is also connected to the dock'c dedicated HDMI. What other publications call futureistic. What was a show-stopper at CES this year. What is all over YOUTUBE about this phone... you choose not to even mention. WHY? MORE THAN CURIOUS WHY NOT!! Oh... does the HTC,LG, SAMMY, SONY, JOB's MOB have ANYTHING as novel yet superuseful as that. Ummm.... ... Ummm. nope.

42. Reesol unregistered

I like on the 360 view of the eve 3d the time changes from 11:34 to 11:36 : ).

36. William13

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 10, 2011

The Adreno 220 GPU can't even be considered in the same league as the GeForce GPU. I mean, let's just look at how long nVidia has been making GPUs for computers. The biggest difference is going to be when Motorola finally releases the software update that they've been holding onto. It's available on XDA and is ridiculously amazing. My coworker got this phone (we work for Sprint) and he got the software update and I can't even begin to describe how fast this phone flew. Our 3D advocate is quite jealous at how slow his phone runs compared to the Photon with that software release. I do agree that the S3 does allow for much more overclocking, but I honestly don't see many people interested in doing that to their phone. I understand rooting, but risking frying the processor or overheating the phone? I'd rather not, and I'd rather have the phone that's faster out of the box. Oh, and to the individual that mentioned getting CM7 on the 3D and seeing how fast it is? Just wait until Moto unlocks the bootloader on the Photon, then we'll see the raw power of the device without the crippling Moto-nonblur.

26. binglut9

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 12, 2010

two things sense is way to bloated and makes any htc phone a hastle...It is just too intergrated with everything....HTC needs to scale it back and not make it so resourceful...At least motorola is scaling blur back from what it used to be and that is why it is slowly becoming the better UI...Secondly as already stated the S3 chips are based on the A8 and it is just not as battery sensitive or performance savy as the newwer models....Why does HTC keep using these processors they all suck.....

22. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010 i just watched the video comparison and i got a look at Motorola's custom music player. my Droid 3 has a stock player with a different color scheme. i want what the Photon has! D:

18. Tmachaveli

Posts: 425; Member since: Apr 01, 2011

I agree they never went into detail about all the things that the photon can do


Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

I had both phones, and I can tell you the Evo 3D only was better when it came to going from one home screen to the next. The app home screen on the EVO 3D sucked when it comes to scrolling....the EVO 4G app screen is way better no slowing down like the EVO 3D. Speaker wise everyone knows the EVO 3D has a terrible speaker, and the antenna signal makes you wanna it obvious that I ditched the smoke and mirrors EVO 3D for the Photon; which if 3D don't matter and you want a phone that works the Photon is the obvious choice

38. William13

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 10, 2011

And the homescreen switches are much faster on Motorola's upcoming s/w release. It's nearly flawless.

16. TOdoubleD

Posts: 114; Member since: Mar 28, 2011

Great to see that Sprint has 2 great options and a 3rd coming soon from Samsung. And with any luck they will have the iPhone. I'm with PhoneArena, in the end I would pick the EVO 3D.

21. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

dude..i get your point, less caps please? xD yeah, that's pretty much what set apart the EVO 3D and the Photon with me too was the processor and the Webtop capabilities which i see as a more productive feature than gimmicky 3D.

37. William13

Posts: 27; Member since: Mar 10, 2011

Agreed completely, I love HTC much better as a manufacturer and found no single-core phone to even touch my Evo (not necessarily performance wise, but the overall package HTC presented). The big differentiation in this comparison is that HTC chose to go with a gimmick and Moto chose to pack extras we will actually use into the phone, i.e. 16 GB internal storage (I know only 9 is accessible), the webtop dock functionality, and the kickstand (most don't use it but it's really slow at my store so we'll all sit and watch Netflix on our phones between customers so we like the kickstands). Either way though, I don't know why people are so angry about a comparison between 2 phones. If you don't like the 3D, get the Photon, if you don't like the Photon, get the 3D. There's no need to go on PA and post in forums how your phone is the coolest and neatest phone ever and all others totally suck... They're just freaking cell phones, productivity tools people, quick looking at them as status symbols.

13. Tmachaveli

Posts: 425; Member since: Apr 01, 2011

i have the photon and its really a dam good phone.i luv HTC but in my heart i all ways liked Moto.the photon is quicker than u think.i like the webtop feature on the phone it is awesome and the dock for it is pretty cool as well just being able to watch netflix on my tv from my phone is a plus.Both phones are the bomb it up to you on which one you want

12. Niners13 unregistered

I almost burst out laughing at the best of the best at the "hardware" You mean the opposite? Weakest of all of the dual-cores.


Posts: 36; Member since: Apr 01, 2009

thats funny i did the same with your comment. do some research the new msm 8260, 8660 is the strongest dual core. tegra 2 doesnt even support neon. and if you new anything about snapdragon u would know its not a cortex a8 its closer to a a9. it will do some out of order. raw power when both cores are being used.

33. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010 need to read the higher comments.

8. lubbalots unregistered

Comparing oranges to oranges? Why not comparisen Apples to oranges or to Mango, etc.. Makes more sense.

7. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Thanks for the comparison :D Love to see two great sprint choices going head to head on a match

3. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

The photon 4g has a pentile display which suck

23. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

it's really not bad at all when you get used to it. i don't even notice it any more but you see Phone Arena themselves say that the Photon's screen looks better than the EVO 3D's and if you won't take their word on that then their praise for the processor may also be in question.

2. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

So Qualcomm's S3 Snapdragon processor is THE better chip compared to NVIDIA's Tegra 2. Wow & everyone says that Qualcomm's chips were the worst. I always knew the S3 was a sick chip plus the Adreno 220 GPU is completely bada$s when playing games. I can't wait to get CM7 on my HTC Evo 3D so I can really put the phone through its paces. I really want to overclock the HTC Evo 3D to 1.8 to 2.0 GHz & see that beast really fly. From what I read when the phone is at 1.5 to 1.8 GHz the battery life is not impacted too drastically, but on 2.0 GHz they do see a real battery difference. I just can't wait. I already rooted my phone, now I am waiting to get some sweet ROMS. I am so glad I got the HTC Evo 3D, I have NEVER been more satisfied with a phone. This is a CLEAR WINNER!

9. HTCiscool

Posts: 449; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Basically if you run Linpack on all of them it clearly shows that in terms of pure oomph, The S3 is actually better than the Exynos. The problem is that Applications must be optimized to make use of its full power, with Exynos and Tegra ll however, both cores are automatically used simultaneously. The Quadrant scores that you and I take on our HTC's rarely exceed 2400 because They are only using one 1.2GHz core. I'm really looking forward to overclocking mine too XD

10. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

FINALLY someone who understands. To get a Quadrant score of 2300 to 2400 on 1 core is insane. The Exynos & Tegra 2 chips get higher only on 2 cores. Imagine the Quadrant score if BOTH cores were running at the same time like the Exynos & Tegra 2 chips. Yes HTCiscool, I can't wait for CM7 or MIUI with an overclocked dual-core at 1.5 to 1.8 GHz. Man I am salivating! lol :-) I love HTC phones, their developer support is second to none!

11. Niners13 unregistered

You are both COMPLETELY clueless. Quadrant only supports one Core. Snapdragon is just a turd, there is nothing to "understand". A8 based cortex is ancient. @1.8ghz it's still weak and barely keeping up with Tegra 2 @1.0ghz You notice all the Tablets are still using Tegra 2 even Samsung not some crummy Snapdragon. Exynos, Omap, Tegra 2, all better

14. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Dude Quadrant doesn't just run one core, it sees the dual-cores of the Exynos, OMAP, & Tegra 2 as 1 core because it hasn't been updated to recognize both cores. Exynos, OMAP, & Tegra 2 use BOTH cores at the same time not 1 core as you said. Qualcomm's S3 Snapdragon is the only chip that uses 1 core at a time & only uses the other core when needed. That is why it's great on battery life. The S3 is an asynchronous dual-core chip, while the Exynos, OMAP, & Tegra 2 are synchronous. Here is a link so you can better understand the difference from asynchronous vs. synchronous multi-core chips.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless