Tuesday, 18 February 2014

EVO 3D different camera modules

Both taken from EVO3Ds one on left is international, the right is a Rogers.
I gathered that HTC originally included twin 5MP sensor cameras in the EVO3D when it was first released. Wow... Twin 5MP 3D camera on a smartphone. That is some clever marketing. If you read the details though, the 5MP sensor was only ever fully exploited for 2D photos. The HTC's included camera app limited it's 3D photo captures to just 2MP 16:9 ratio at 1920x1080 resolution. Which on paper is fair enough, matches the 1080p HD TV standard. Video recording resolution for both 2D and 3D , is maxed out at 16:9 ratio at 1280x720 720p. Since the second rear facing camera sensor was only ever engaged for much lower resolution 3D photo and video capture, the EVO3D would practically never get to use most of the available 5MP. Such a waste... So did HTC release a wonderful new firmware to unlock full 5MP 3D photo and 1080p 3D video capture? No. From an unspecified date, they instead took the opportunity to out a cost effective hardware revision that quietly substituted that one underused 5MP sensor with a lesser 2MP sensor instead. Although the packaging won't indicate it... If you have a unit that rolled off the factory floor late in the EVO3Ds production run, there is a good chance you have a 5MP+2MP version. Looking at the phone settings you'd be forgiven for thinking it was still 2 x 5MP too, and functionally, most people probably won't ever noticed the switch. But knowing it bugs me... Dredging the internet, I'd found some folks on XDA forum had a made public an interesting tweaked Amaze camera app for Gingerbread EVO3Ds that would boost the 3D photo to 3MP 4:3 2048x1152. Still not the full 5MP but I'll take it. The app also has options to boost the bitrate of the 3D 720p video recordings up to an impressive 20MBs. Which should mean nicer looking video output. The app has 2 builds: if the 2048x1152 version crashes, it is indicative that your Evo3D has a 2MP second sensor. So this was one way to tell if an EVO3D is an early 2x5MP model or not. Unfortunately, the Amaze canera app only works for Gingerbread. The Evo3D I had was already on ICS, and sure enough, the tweaked camera app would force close every time I tried to open it. I had no way to tell if my EVO3D had 2x5MP rear facing camera. 

I only recently aquired a second EVO3D and was delighted to noticed some differences between them. 
A) X515m is on stock ICS made in Taiwan, red trim around rear facing camera  
B) X515a Rogers is on stock Gingerbread made in China, gold trim back

Inspecting the rear facing cameras, even without removing the back cover, I saw that the Rogers version has more recessed lenses vs the International version. I then proceeded to take them both apart to get a better view of the camera modules themselves. The one on the right with the impressive solid cast metal brace is quite possibly a latter 5+2MP module, it makes perfect sense as a logical enhancement. That once set in place, the sensors should be held securely positioned and well protected from potential shocks that may knock the 2 lenses out of alignment and cause less than optimal 3D capture. I'm hoping the less robust looking module that lacks such reinforcement on the left is perhaps indicative of an older version,but hopefully has a better chance of housing twin 5MP cameras.
The 2 modules have physical connections looking much the same and might be directly interchangeable. We shall see. Testing the Rogers with the tweaked camera app, it could only run the 1920x 1080 version, so it seems to be a 5+2MP module. Want to know more? I just found this article in XDA and worth a read http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1646832

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