I don't think 3D has a place in smartphones

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| April 12, 2014


Coming up with new and innovative features has probably become a daunting task for industry leaders at this point. In fact, I would say that there is very little room for innovation at this point. Instead, industry leaders have shifted their focus from creating these innovative features to improving them. Features like battery life and durability of a device seem to improve marginally year after year, but we have yet to see a major breakthrough. Although I would deem those features near the top of the list when it comes to improvement, you simply can’t rush technological breakthroughs if you want them done right.


So, in the meantime, it’s up to manufacturers to wow us by improving on other features that they can improve upon. For some it might be working on touchless controls, like with the Moto X, or fingerprint scanners, like the iPhone 5s. Others might be working on perfecting the design of smartphones to make them more comfortable to hold, like with the LG G Flex. Or, according to recent rumors, you have Amazon, who seems to have taken an interest in the advancement of 3D displays in smartphones.


3D displays and smartphones aren’t anything new in the industry, although examples of phones that feature it are few and far inbetween. Really, the only one that sticks out clearly in my mind is a phone that I myself once owned: the HTC EVO 3D.


I remember thinking highly of the HTC EVO 3D, because at the time of its release was about the time I started working for Sprint, the company that held the exclusive rights to the device. It came out just one year after the iconic HTC EVO 4G, and aside from sharing the EVO name you have this sweet new 3D display. The thing could even take 3D pictures with its two 5-megapixel cameras. Of course I was going to make this device mine. After all, it seemed rather cutting-edge. However, the novelty of the device quickly wore off once you realized that the whole “3D” thing was a bit of a stretch... or a lot of a stretch.


The truth of it was, after I used the device for like, a week, I don’t think I switched the phone into 3D mode more than once or twice, and it was mostly to show people how terrible the "3D" on it was. You had to hold the phone at just the right angle; otherwise, you could expect to be making friends with Aspirin sometime in the near future. Taking 3D pictures was silly as well, because you could only see the 3D-ness on the phone itself or on another EVO 3D - which a lot of people didn’t have because it was a Sprint exclusive.


The phone wasn’t exactly a wasted purchase because some of the specs were better than the EVO 4G, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t wished that maybe I went with a different model at the time. There wasn’t much to write home about with the EVO 3D, especially when it came to its main selling point - you know, the whole 3D thing. That being said, I didn’t miss the 3D feature all that much. Even if it did do what it said it could do, I don’t think it would be something I would actually want to use.


I think that’s why I’m feeling a little underwhelmed about this rumored phone from Amazon. I don’t usually like to pull the “That’s A Gimmick” lever, but I truly do feel that 3D is going to be a hard sell. I do think that Amazon has the potential to be a major contender in the smartphone industry if they so choose, but probably not for this “Help me, Obi Wan Kanobi,” type of feature. No matter who uses it, though, I just can’t see 3D becoming a major feature in smartphones.


There’s certainly room for debate on the subject, though, which is why I’m turning to you, readers. What are your thoughts on 3D, possibly holographic imaging on smartphones? Is it a feature you would like to have in your smartphone, or is it something that you feel would be sort of gimmicky? Share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments below!


Image via Blastr, AnandTech