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3D Smartphone Adds New Dimension to Gaming

LOS ANGELES — During CES 2015, I went hands on with Snail Games' W 3D smartphone. The phone stood out from the rest of the herd by merging an Android handset that offered a solid gaming experience with a glasses-free 3D display. Back then, the China-based company wasn't sure if the W 3D would make it to U.S. shores, but now it looks like American gamers will finally get their chance. The company has announced plan to take pre-orders for the device, starting on June 14, with a ship date of September 29.

For the impending U.S. launch, Snail will only offer a limited number of units. The W 3D will cost $399 unlocked for GSM and CDMA networks and will work with 4G LTE. Thanks to the phone's dual SIM card slots, you could potentially have a T-Mobile and Verizon SIM in the same phone.

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Snail has made few changes to the device since the last time I saw it. You're still going to get an Android phone with a 2.2-GHz octa-core MediaTek 6595 processor with 2GB of RAM with 16GB of onboard storage. You'll have microUSB and mini-HDMI slots. Thanks to the removable back panel, you can swap out the 4200mAH battery, which Snail claims lasts 30 percent longer than the battery powering the Samsung Galaxy S6.  

The W 3D's display is as impressive as ever, delivering stunning color and detail. At this week's E3 Expo, I watched the 3D version of Avatar on the phone, and while the effect was slight at times, I never lost any sharpness or hue. The W 3D will have the ability to add the 3D effect to any movies or games in the Google Play store — provided the 3D was built into the media.

There have been a few aesthetic changes to the phone since January, such as swapping its glossy back cover out for a matte plastic panel. The translucent shoulder buttons at the top of the device have also been refined for a more comfortable experience.

The face buttons and D-pad also have gotten a slight tweak, allowing the buttons to glow in specific instances. When the phone is charging, the buttons will be green; they'll turn red when it's in use. Developers can program the buttons to use different colors at their leisure.

While the device currently runs Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), Snail hopes to ship with Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean) at launch. If not, the company will update the operating system in an over-the-air push at a later date.

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The W 3D is an Android device, but Snail plans to include an interface independent of Google software that consumers can use optionally. The yet-to-be name software will allow the phone's owner to add their own avatar and keep track of mobile purchases, among other things. The interface will enter beta in July and go live by the September 29 launch date.

Gamers in search of a way to take their mobile gaming to the next level should consider the Snail W 3D smartphone. Featuring a powerful processor and one of the largest smartphone batteries on the market, the W 3D should be a force to contend with.

Sherri L. Smith is a Senior Writer at Tom's Guide. When she's not reviewing the latest headphones and speakers, you'll find her gaming on her Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC. Follow Sherri at @misssmith11. Follow us @TomsGuide and on Facebook.