Please Stop Making 3D Phones

The Evo 3D shouldn't come as a surprise—we've seen the LG Optimus, and know the onslaught of 3D-everything is unstoppable. But inevitability of something doesn't make it good. In fact, 3D phones, fundamentally dumb, make us cringe.

Let's reflect for a moment on why 3D is forcing its way upon our eyeballs in the first place. If watching something, be it a game, movie, or whatever, has any benefit it at all, it's immersion—period. 3D is meant to make us "feel like we're there" or "bring the action alive" or whatever other marketing line is flung around. The 3D screen is meant to be the logical successor to the big screen: a way of immersing ourselves deeper in what we're watching. Which is a good thing! Whether 3D accomplishes this is an argument for another afternoon, but, on paper, we can at least say that's what it's reaching for.

Immersion, whether 2D or 3D, makes sense on a big screen. It takes up your field of vision. It's most (or all) of what you can see.

Immersion on a 4-inch screen, whether 2D or 3D, makes as much physical sense as brushing your hair with a trident. It's not possible, unless we're willing to bend our definition of "immersed" to the point of meaninglessness. A window of image that small, relative to everything else your eyes are grabbing, just doesn't stimulate you the same way. Size matters.

Which is why shoehorning 3D onto a phone's tiny screen is beyond gimmicky—it's plain conceptually dumb.

Now, we're not mad at all small 3D. Nintendo's 3DS is pretty rad. But it makes sense. A well-designed 3DS title is meant to engage you in so specific a way that 3D makes sense. Take Pilot Wings, for example—the people who made it know what they're doing, and the 3DS' depth of field adds to the gameplay. Not only that, the effect is adjustable. It's thoughtful and fun.

You know what's not going to be thoughtful or fun? Playing the ungodly lackluster Asphalt 6—the same sad, diseased horse of a game that's trotted out for every Android gaming demo—in 3D. Or some crap dev's throwaway mini-golf title in 3D. The mobile phone market, unlike Nintendo, is poised to be flooded with mediocre content—developers drooling at a chance to 3D-ify for the sake of 3D alone. And manufacturers will be eager to gush about their newest pointlessly-3D device—the buzzword cup runneth over. Hey, this phone menu is in 3D and spins around for no reason! Oh, I can watch Clash of the Titans in 3D on a 3-inch screen! I can hardly tell what's going on, but it's coming straight at me!

Two things make 3D worth any semblance of a shit at all: size and content. A 3D phone is going to lack both of these things—and with that subtracted, what's left? Pure, undiluted gimmick. We'll pass.