By March 29, 2010

HTC Desire review

HTC Desire review Ever since I first saw the HTC Desire, a week before MWC, I’ve been thinking that it could well be the handset that I’d use on a daily basis. Indeed there has been some discussion here at tracyandmatt about who will be doing the review. However, as I was the one to review the Nexus One I’ve pulled rank and it’ll be mine to review!

I’m sure that many will look at the HTC Desire and think of it as being simply HTC’s own version of the Google Nexus One and I guess in some respects that could be a fair assessment but is it as simple as that? There are a few differences under the hood and plenty within the user interface that make the HTC Desire look and feel quite different. We’ll talk about those differences as we go but probably the main differences are the optical trackpad and buttons on the Desire where the Nexus One has a trackball, single mic on the Desire vs the dual noise-cancelling mics on the Nexus One and finally HTC’s own sense UI on the Desire where there is a more ‘vanilla’ Android experience on the Nexus One.

So does the HTC Desire meet expectations? Read on to find out… (a word of caution, there are a LOT of images but you can click on any one for a full-sized view.)

 

The 10 Second review:

  • Device: HTC Desire
  • Price: around £390
  • Summary: The HTC Desire steals the top spot from the Nexus One as the best Android handset out there.
  • Best of: Fabulous AMOLED screen, speedy CPU and Sense UI
  • Worst of: Battery life, no multiple exchange support
  • Buy it now from: Devicewire.com or Clove Technology
  • Also consider: HTC Legend or Google Nexus One

 

What’s in the box?

  • HTC Desire handset
  • Mains charger
  • Battery
  • MicroUSB sync/charge cable

Bear in mind that although our review unit is final ROM and final hardware we haven’t yet seen the final retail packaging so you can expect to get more in the box if you buy one than we have with ours!

Don’t forget to check out my HTC Desire unboxing video for a more detailed look at the device and my follow-up demo video too.

 

HTC Desire review specification:

  • Operating System: Android 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC Sense
  • ROM: 512 MB
  • RAM: 576 MB
  • CPU: 1 GHz
  • Display: AMOLED capacitive touch screen with pinch-to-zoom capability
  • Size: 3.7 inches
  • Resolution: 480 X 800 WVGA
  • microSD memory card (SD 2.0 compatible) Supports up to 32 GB
  • Weight: 135 grams (4.76 ounces) with battery
  • Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
  • Capacity: 1400 mAh
  • Talk time: GSM: Up to 400 mins
  • Standby time: GSM: Up to 340 hours
  • Camera: 5 megapixel, Face detection capability, Auto focus and flash
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • Standard micro-USB
  • G-Sensor
  • Digital compass
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Facebook integration
  • Friend Stream
  • Photo sharing on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter
  • Video sharing on YouTube
  • HTC Peep for twittering
  • HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz
  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • 3G: Up to 7.2 Mbps download speed / Up to 2 Mbps upload speed
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • Tethering: Internet sharing through USB
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate / A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
  • FM Radio
  • Internal GPS antenna
  • Google Maps
  • HTC Footprints

 

General

The HTC Desire is pretty similar in design to the Google Nexus One, not surprising perhaps as the Nexus One is also made by HTC, but they are not identical. There are some differences on the outside too so lets start by having a look around the hardware and I’ll point out the differences.

Starting with the front of the device then we have a 3.7″ capacitive touchscreen. Just like the Nexus One this is an AMOLED screen which makes it extremely bright, clear and also there is a depth to colours that has to be seen to be appreciated. Below the screen there are four buttons, physical on the Desire where they were touch sensitive on the N1. The buttons are; Home, Menu, Back and Search. In the middle of the three you’ll find an optical trackpad. Optical is much better than a trackball as with no moving parts optical lasts longer and wont get clogged up with dirt!

Just above the screen is the speaker. It’s pretty neat up the top there. Just to the left of the HTC logo on the front is a small indicator LED. This lights up orange when charging, green when fully charged and will flash for notifications. You cant see it at all when it’s not illuminated.

HTC Desire review Front View

HTC Desire Front View

 

To the left hand side there is an up/down volume control rocker.

HTC Desire review Left Side

HTC Desire Left Side

 

Nothing to be seen on the right hand side of the Desire but it does give you a good view of how thin the handset is and you can also notice the very slight upward angle at the bottom, just a hint of a ‘chin’.

HTC Desire review-right

HTC Desire Right Side

 

The design of the bottom of the HTC Desire is a little different to the Nexus One. Naturally the micro-USB sync/charge socket it there but unlike the Nexus One, there’s no additional contacts for the device to charge in a docking station. The design is also different enough to mean that the Desire wont fit in teh cradle designed for the Nexus.

HTC Desire review Bottom View

HTC Desire Bottom View

On the top then the HTC Desire has a 3.5mm headphone connector which you can use for headphones (shocking) or the supplied wired headset. There has also been some discussion over TV-out on the HTC Desire but we’re sure that it doesn’t have it. Also on top there’s the power button. I think you can guess what that does.

HTC Desire Top View

HTC Desire Top View

 

On the back there’s a 5 megapixel auto-focus camera and an LED flash. The camera does stick out about 1mm from the back and means that it’s the camera that the handset rests on when placed on a surface. Probably not ideal.

To the right of the camera is a small grille behind which you’ll find the loudspeaker.

HTC Desire Back View

HTC Desire Back View

 

The whole of the back cover comes off to reveal the battery compartment, SIM card slot and microSD card socket.

HTC Desire with the back cover off

HTC Desire with the back cover off

Highlights:

  • Excellent AMOLED display
  • great performance
  • HTC’s sense UI

 

Lowlights:

  • Battery life isn’t brilliant
  • Multiple Exchange email support ‘removed’
  • A couple of minor bugs

 

Review

I don’t think that anyone can deny that the Android OS is becoming more mainstream with almost every manufacturer now releasing their own Android powered handsets. We’ve been lucky enough to review a great number of those handsets over the past few years and I’m pleased to see that the platform seems to be growing up now with more and more apps in Android Market and Exchange Active Sync support to name just a few.

Back in January of this year Google announced their own handset, the Nexus One. This initially received a lot of attention but over the past few months the popularity seems to have waned and, if reports are to be believed, sales have not been as high as expected.

You may have seen my Nexus One review almost two months ago now. I actually bought the handset and had it shipped from the US.

Fortunately HTC made a big announcement in February and revealed 4 brand new handsets. This included 2 new Android devices, the first of which, the HTC Legend, we reviewed a few weeks ago and now we have the HTC Desire. Many regard the Desire as HTC’s own version of the Nexus One. In many respects the Desire and the Nexus One are the same, they look similar, have the same screen, CPU etc. but there are also quite a few differences.

Hopefully you will have seen my HTC Desire unboxing video that I recorded a few days ago. So after the recording it was time to settle down and get the Desire set up the way I want it.

HTC have included a decent setup wizard which you’ll see the first time you turn the handset on. This will guide you through the initial steps from setting the language and installing the SIM card to setting up a WiFi connection and registering your email and twitter accounts. The whole process is pretty smooth and only takes a few minutes but you can skip through it if you want and set everything up later. This is a decent feature for those that are new to Android.

As I mentioned already, we have a full and final version of the Desire and its ROM but we don’t have the retail packaging. The review model didn’t come with a memory card in the box but I’m pretty sure that there will be one supplied with the retail version I just don’t know how big that will be at the moment. In any case don’t forget to install that memory card, you are going to need it!

So after the initial setup up and a few seconds of waiting after the first boot you’ll be dropped in to the main homescreen. The interface is actually made up of 7 different panels (panes/tabs, whatever you want to call them) with home being the middle one and a further three on either side. You can see the arrangement below.

WeatherWidget messages ExchangeWidget Homescreen favourites news-rss blank

The standard setup then from left to right: The Weather Widget, Messages Widget, Email Account Widget, Homescreen (with Clock & Weather and shortcuts for messages, mail, internet and camera), Favourites Widget, News (RSS Reader) Widget and finally one blank page.

You can of course customise these to your hearts content which is one of the things I love about Android, you can add widgets and shortcuts to suit your needs. HTC have done an excellent job with Sense as this further improves the user experience and adds a raft of other apps and widgets.

If navigating around the 7 screens seems like a pain to you, going from page one to seven can be, then you there’s a feature called ‘Leap’ to help you out. Sometimes referred to as the ‘helicopter view’ Leap gives you a small view of what’s going on within each of your screens and lets to pick one to work with. In order to access Leap you simply have to use two fingers to ‘pinch’ on any of the screens or press the home button from the middle homescreen. You’ll end up with the view of the screens like the example below.

leap

Leap View

 

A few of you have already been asking me about live wallpapers on the HTC Desire. Just as with the Nexus One and the HTC Legend there are several live or animated wallpapers to choose from. The one I’ve opted for and that you’ll see active in the review screenshots is called HTC Sense. It’s simple but effective, coloured circles slowly moving over a colourful background.

There are several other live wallpapers to choose from, mostly the same as on the Nexus One but there are a few extras and one that stands out particularly is the live map as a wall paper. This loads Google maps as your wallpaper and displays your current location on the screen. Pretty fun and cool but will perhaps eat through the battery rather rapidly.

 

With the HTC Legend, HTC introduced the concept of Scenes to the homescreen. Scenes allow you to have a number of homescreen profiles for different purposes. The choices available are: HTC (the default), Social, Work, Play, Travel and Clean Slate. The idea here then is that you can have a profile for when, for example, you want to use the phone for work and another for when you want to be down the pub and at play. You can individually customise these Scenes and create your own ones too.

scenechoice socialscene workscene playscene travelscene

In order above, Scene Selection screen, Social Scene, Word Scene, Play Scene and Travel Scene

 

One of the first things that I always do when I get a new device to test is have a good look at the programs that come pre-installed. Pressing the little ‘up-arrow’ at the bottom of the homescreen will bring up the programs that are installed on the Desire. Quite a few will be fairly familiar Android apps but others are specific to the HTC. We’ll look at some of the installed apps in more detail further on in the review.

programs1 programs2

The All Programs menu (two pages)

 

The other place that’s always worth looking at on a new device is the settings menu. You can often find some interesting settings to tinker with in there. HTC have customised the settings menu a little bit too. They’ve added in more colourful icons and have laid it out in a more friendly fashion. It makes the settings menu a little more accessible. The thing that I find myself using most is the Wireless & Networks settings, where you can set up your WiFi network, bluetooth and so on. It’s perhaps also worth having a look at the Software Information page to see what version of the software build is installed. Would love to hear from others to see what versions they have!

(The T-Mobile version is: build- 1.15.110.10 CL153468 release-keys, Software- 1.15.110.10, Firmware: 2.1-update1, Baseband- 32.30.00.28U_4.05.00.11, Kernel- 2.6.29-3cb3dfbf [email protected] )

settings wireless about

Settings Menu, Wireless & Network Settings and Software Information

 

Remembering that we are actually dealing with a mobile phone here lets talk about the voice calling elements of the HTC Desire. First of all there is the phone dialler. Just as you would expect this brings up a numeric pad to allow you to enter numbers and to place the call. You can also look through your contacts here and place a call to any of them that have a phone number. Any contacts that do not have a phone number will be excluded from this list.

When you actually place a call you’ll see another screen. If you have a photo for the contact you are calling then this will be displayed, otherwise you’ll get the green android appear instead. It’ll also tell you about your call status, once the call is connected it’ll show you the call time and you can choose to either mute the call or put it on speakerphone.

We often get questions about speakerphone so I did test this out. The loudspeaker on the Desire is one of the loudest that I have ever come across and I’ll mention this again later in connection with the media player, but if you want to put the phone on your desk as a speakerphone then you probably wont need it set to full volume.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, one of the hardware differences between the Nexus One and the HTC Desire is that the N1 has two microphones, this aids noise cancelling and should improve the call quality for the person at the other end. The Desire though has only one microphone and lacks the advanced noise cancelling that two mics would offer. In practice would anyone know the difference? Pretty tough to test, perhaps if you were in a noisy place such as a car there would be some improvement but maybe the average customer would not notice the difference.

Whilst talking about microphones and noise cancelling, the HTC Desire lacks the voice to text features of the Nexus One where you could press a button on screen and speak your Google search or have the phone recognise your voice to enter text in an email etc. It has been suggested that the reason for the omission from the Desire is down to the lack of noise cancelling and the affect this has on the accuracy of recognition. While this may be part of the story my personal theory is that it’s not on the Desire as it doesn’t work so well with an English accent. With the Nexus One I did find that attempting an American accent improved accuracy. There’s also the consideration of multiple other languages in Europe so I believe this may have more to do with it.

phone call

If you read my reviews or watch my videos regularly you will no doubt have heard me mention that I live in the middle of nowhere. Where I live no mobile network gets much of a signal indoors. My main account is with Orange and on the iPhone for example I get no coverage in or around the house. I can take that same SIM and put it in an older Nokia and get a bar or two of coverage. Typically, and I am generalising a lot here, smartphones are a bit deaf when it comes to network coverage. The BlackBerry 9700 I am using at the moment gets sporadic GPRS coverage in the house and when I was testing the HTC Legend a few weeks ago that did also get some patchy service now and then. The HTC Desire seems to be pretty good when it comes to reception. Sitting on the desk next to me now as I write the review I notice that it goes from no service to some EDGE service periodically – that’s a good thing for this area!

Also having just mentioned phone signal I should mention WiFi reception. That too is good on the HTC Desire. My wireless access point is at one end of the house and my bedroom is at the other. Things like laptops and netbooks have no problem picking up WiFi in the bedroom, they get practically full service there but mobiles are a different story. My iPhone 3GS looses the WiFi signal before I get close to the bedroom. The Desire though still can get a signal at that distance and although it’s quite weak and not totally dependable it does work. Not a terribly scientific approach to determining how good WiFi is but from my experience the Desire is better than average!

 

With its 3.7″ AMOLED screen the HTC Desire should be good for web browsing, and it is! Yes the screen is the same size and resolution as the Milestone and the Nexus One so the amount of text you can get on the screen will indeed be the same. The Webkit 3.1 browser on the HTC Desire does a fantastic job of rendering web pages, it will initially scale a site so that it fits in the width of the window so you can see the layout as it’s meant to be and it looks virtually the same as you would see on a desktop browser. You can then scroll around the screen looking for the content you want and, because the Desire supports multitouch right out of the box, you can use two fingers to pinch-to-zoom wherever you want.

There’s also the business of reflow. Not a totally new technology but something that HTC pioneered a while ago. Whenever you zoom in to an area of text the reflow engine will reformat, or reflow, that text so that it fits the width of the screen. This means that rather than having to scroll left to right to read a whole load of text you would have only to scroll down which is much more natural.

The browser also makes use of the Desire’s built in accelerometer so will rotate the display to suit whenever you rotate the device allowing you to easily switch between portrait and landscape browsing. There is very little lag when rotating. In fact the browser is very rapid, have a look at the part in my unboxing video where I load up our website for the first time, it loads and renders the page faultlessly in seconds.

The Desire’s browser also supports Flash so you’ll be able to use your favourite Flash based sites or even play Flash based games. The HTC Legend also has flash support but if you go to any site that use a lot of Flash then you start to notice a bit of a slow down. Fortunately the Desire has a bit more horsepower and the slowdown is a lot less noticeable. Actually the only time that I noticed any differences between the HTC Legend and HTC Desire in terms or raw performance was in the Flash test.

browserportrait browserlandscape

 

During his review of the HTC Legend, James commented that the Legend excelled when it came to email. Well if we thought that the Legend was good then the Desire is possibly better! Why? Well the actual software side of things is pretty much identical. HTC have added their own email clients to both handsets and it works the same on both, the experience is a little better on the Desire because of just one thing, the screen space. Because the Desire has the larger screen both physically and in terms of pixels it means that there’s more room for your emails and email widgets.

Just as with the Legend there’s several widget styles to choose from for email.

email1 email2 email3

First of all there’s the email preview type, the latest message is displayed on the screen in a preview format along with the senders details and, if available, their contact photo. This format is more like the email views that we see in TouchFlo3D. I’d say it’s probably ok for someone that doesn’t get a lot of email but for anyone that has anything sensitive emailed to them it’s probably a bad idea to have that pop up on your screen.

The other two widget types are similar. Both give you a list view of your inbox items and show you the read/unread status as well as who they are from and the subject. The third type expands on this by adding the contact photo of the sender and the first few lines of the message.

 

emailapp1 emailapp2 emailapp3 emailapp4 emailapp5

As for the email client itself there’s full Exchange Active Sync support as well as POP, APOP and IMAP so virtually all email servers will be accommodated. Setting up a new email account is a breeze. Taking Exchange for example, the questions are pretty straight forward, username and password, email server address and domain name are all that needs to be filled out to get the connection set up. You’ll also then be asked whether you want to sync Calendar, Contacts and tasks on top of email.

In the 5 screens for the email client above you can see:

  • The first tab is the main ‘inbox’ view where all mail will be displayed.
  • Next there’s the threaded email view, ‘conversations’, a nice addition allowing you to see whole conversations in one place.
  • Then we have ‘VIP Group’, a nice idea I think. This shows only email from contacts that you have flagged as VIP. I found this quite useful as I flagged other members of the tracyandmatt team as VIP’s so that their messages appeared there only. A good idea to add your boss, wife of girlfriend to the VIP group.
  • Flagged or marked messages are next so anything you flag for follow up or as important are shown here.
  • The last screen shows meeting invitations. This is handled really well on the Desire, any meetings or appointments you are invited to all showing up in the one place!

 

I mentioned in my videos about the HTC Legend and I think James did in the review, that, for some reason, HTC have decided not to have multiple Exchange email support in either the HTC Legend or the HTC Desire. The Exchange Active Sync support on both devices really is second to none, it’s far better than Windows Mobile in my opinion and I cant fault the functionality that’s there. It’s just a real shame that you can only have one Exchange server account configured when the Nexus One and other 2.1 devices can do it, it’s natively available in Android 2.1. Once you have one Exchange server account configured on the Desire the only account types you can then add are POP, APOP and IMAP.

Now I fully appreciate that this ‘missing’ functionality is unlikely to bother many people but for me it’s almost a deal breaker!

nomoreexchange

 

Moving on to calendars then and once again this in an area to get the HTC makeover. HTC have also included several calendar widgets for you to choose from to adorn your ‘desktop’. To begin with you can have a classic month view where each day with an appointment is marked with a small triangle in the corner. Next up is the agenda view. Once again this is a full-screen widget that lists your upcoming appointments, allows you to scroll through your agenda and colours the entries depending on whether they are work or personal events. The final calendar type is a small ‘ribbon’ which simply shows the next appointment that you have. This is possibly more useful for those people that do not have dozens of appointments. The advantage of this style is that it doesn’t take up a great deal of room and allows you to have other widgets or shortcuts on the same page where the other styles take up a full screen on their own.

calendar1 calendar2 calendar3

 

The calendar application itself is also really good. For someone that relies upon calendars as much as I do it’s really important to get this functionality right.

It starts with the month view (see below) where appointments are shown on the appropriate day and are shown with a green bar as an indication as to the time of the event. While you wont be able to accurately determine the exact time of the event from those small bars they do serve as an at-a-glance guide.

For more detail you can switch to the 7-day view. This view not only marks appointment times accurately but also introduces colours so that, for example below, events in red are national or public holidays and events in orange are work appointments. Other events, such as personal appointments would be shown in further colours.

Colour themes are also carried over to the agenda view and, just as with the agenda view widget, lists all of your upcoming appointments allowing you to browse through them with ease. The agenda view seems to work best for me!

monthview 7dayview agendaview2

 

Allow me to briefly mention mapping and GPS. Seems that every device on the market has built in GPS these days and obviously the HTC Desire should be no different. I think that GPS is an excellent tool and it’s put to good use on the HTC Desire, not just for mapping but also for Footprints and Geotagging of your photos.

By default maps are provided by Google Maps and I’ve found them to work very well whenever I have had to get from point A to point B. There’s no turn-by-turn instructions but the maps seem to be accurate enough. Should you need a ‘proper’ sat-nav though you’ll have to buy and install one separately.

map1  map2

The GPS chip built in to the Desire seems to be very good. For the most part I have been using it indoors for testing and writing up the review but even on the first use, which was here in a dark room sitting at the computer my position was accurately shown on the map. Seems that the days of waiting for 2-5 minutes for a cold start position fix may well be behind us these days!

 

There are two main social networking applications on the Desire. The first requires no introduction; Facebook. The Facebook app is the standard Android one and offers the ability to connect with friends, to see their photos, news etc. One thing missing from the Android version of the Facebook app though is chat.

One application that we saw for the first time on the HTC Legend is also included; Friendstream. This integrates all your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr into one stream, hence the name!

You can either have a FriendStream widget (like the one below on the right) which will let you scroll through updates on the homescreen, or you can use the Freindstream app.

You can send updates from the app, look at photos and also links. HTC have done a fantastic job with FriendStream and I’m sure it will be around for a very long time. I tended not to use it but that’s just because I like to keep my apps separate. Fortunately with the Desire it will multi task (unlike the iPhone) so i could have both the Facebook and Twitter apps running in the background. I aslo experienced a few problems with Friendstream as you’ll see in my Desire demo video.

HTC’s Peep application is also included. This is a nice little Twitter client that was first included on the HTC Hero and has now made its way on to most of HTC’s other devices. It works really quite well.

facebook friendstream peep

 

The HTC Desire offers several options for text entry. First of all the default is a full QWERTY keyboard. This is what I suspect that most people will use and as the screen is quite large it works very well on the Desire. It also has predictive text that suggests words as you type. Personally I find predictive more annoying than helpful so generally turn it off but it’s there if you choose to use it.

Two other entry options exist. First is a compact QWERTY keyboard, sometimes referred to as a 20-key. I’ve never liked compact QWERTY keyboards, I cant seem to get on with them but I know they are popular so it’s good to have it included.

The third layout is a phonepad style or 12-key. This allows you to enter text in a more T9 style which again I know suits some people more than others. The advantage here is that it gives you much larger buttons to press which is handy if you have fat-fingers!

No matter which keyboard style you choose it will revert to a full-QWERTY when you rotate the screen in to landscape.

qwerty1  compactqwerty phonepadstyle qwerty2

 

Media playback on the Desire is much the same as the Legend. There’s a music app which performs all the functions a music player should, from song/artist/album views to genre and now-playing. One thing a little odd about the Desire I have though is that it didn’t seem to want to display album artwork for the media I have on the memory card. It’s the same memory card and media that I used when we reviewed the Legend and that was fine but the Desire seemed not to want to show them. Needs more investigation!

There’s also a built-in FM radio on the Desire. As with most devices, you have to plug in headphones in order to use the radio as the headphones act as an antenna. The radio reception is ok, nothing spectacular but it’s a good feature to have for when you run out of MP3’s to listen to.

I want to also briefly mention the loudspeaker. There is a single speaker on the back of the Desire and it is definitely the loudest louspeaker I have ever come across on a phone. Playing back music for testing the max volume setting is actually too loud when you have it on the desk next to you. Despite the massive volume there’s very little distortion from the little speaker. It’s not going to replace your home HiFi but it does a good job.

music music2 fmradio

 

Another new app and widget for the HTC Desire is News. You can think of this as a nicely integrated RSS reader. I found myself using this a lot as I tend to read news from a lot of different sources on a daily basis. This means I can have all of that content delivered in to one stream that I can look through all at once.

As with many other features on the Desire it comes in two parts. Firstly there’s a desktop widget that displays the news stream. This can be set to update on a schedule of manually. If you have a lot of subscriptions you may want to set it to manual as you could find it eating up a lot of your data allowance otherwise.

On the app side of things you have a few options for how you see and manage your news feeds. There’s a subscriptions page for adding and managing subscriptions then you have a choice of how you see the feed items. You can have a fairly standard list-view which you can scroll through and also choose the order in which items are shown – either oldest or newest first.

The other view type works left to right and seems to only show you the images used in each feed item, still I think it’s a nice way to browse them!

news-rss rssview rss-image-view

 

 

If stocks and shares are your thing HTC have included a stocks app on the Desire. You can add or remove symbols that you want to watch and see them as a quote or in graph format over 1 day, 5 days, 1 month, 3 months or 6 months. There are also widget versions of the stock app with three options; list view, a scrolling ticker style view, or and individual stock quote view.

stocks stocks1 stocks2

 

The YouTube application on the HTC Desire is much the same as you would find on most Android handsets. I think Android has the best of the YouTube applications, although the new Windows Mobile one is catching up for sure.

You can browse through videos, look at the top videos and recommendations as well as search for a specific video or channel. As you can see below, a search for leodee (my YouTube account name) brings up my channel and all the unboxing videos I have available. YouTube videos then playback pretty much flawlessly on the screen (depending of course on your internet connection) but for me they play back smoothly over WiFi.

youtube1 youtube2

 

Not going in to any detail about Android market as I am sure that you’ll know what it is all about by now. Suffice to say that you can access Android Market and download tons of apps and games, some of which are free but others are paid for apps.

market

 

In the past HTC received a lot of criticism about the cameras on their phones. There was a spell where they decided not to included a flash on any of their handsets and even some of the more recent handsets have only had 2 or 3 megapixel cameras, this is at a time when the likes of Sony Ericsson are pushing up to 12 megapixels with some of their phones. Whilst I appreciate that it’s not all about the pixel count it seems that cameras were not a key focus point for HTC with their handsets.

This trend seems to be changing now though and the latest few handsets to be announced by HTC all have 5 megapixel cameras and include an LED flash. Perhaps 5 megapixels may not seem like a lot, but I think for the casual few photos that most people would care to take that will probably be more than enough. I personally don’t use the camera on any phone I have owed for anything more than an impromptu shot when out and about and I suspect that many people will be the same.

The camera on the HTC Desire then is pretty good in my opinion. The application itself offers a great deal of control over things such as ISO, White Balance and Exposure as well as being able to turn auto-focus on or off depending on your needs. There’s also a digital zoom should you wish to use it. The only thing missing for me is that there’s no dedicated camera button on the side of the handset. In order to take a photo you have to press the optical trackpad button which just doesn’t feel very natural, I suppose one would get used to it though.

camera camcorder

HTC have included a ‘Camcorder’ icon in the programs menu. This basically takes you to the same camera application but with the defaults set to video recording mode. Video recording seems reasonable. There has been some discussion/confusion about the recording modes on the Desire and its ability to record HD footage. HTC have told us that from launch the Desire will be able to record 480p video but there will be an update later to allow for 720p HD video recording. I’ll be trying that out when the update comes along!

Once you have your video recorded you can choose to share it via Email, MMS (if it’s not too big) or upload it direct to your YouTube account. There are similar options for still photos too but additional options include sharing via Facebook, Flickr, Peep and Picasa.

I’ve taken a few sample photos for you below. It was nice and sunny on Saturday so the first is in the garden in bright sunshine, the second a macro shot of a rose and the third taken with the flash in almost total darkness. The flash is pretty good and, if anything a bit too bright. I was probably a bit too close to the subject for the flash photo but it gives you some idea of what to expect.

IMAG0047 IMAG0051

IMAG0053

 

So now that you’ve taken lots of photos and videos how do you get them from your Desire to the PC? Probably the easiest thing to do it to plug the Desire in to your PC with a USB cable. HTC have added a ‘connect to PC’ screen whenever you plug the Desire in. This gives you the choice of Charge Only, HTC Sync, Disk Drive or Internet Sharing. If you choose Disk Drive this will mount your SD card so that you can see it as a drive in Windows. You can also choose the default action so that you are not prompted each time you plug the cable in. This in itself is handy as if you want to use any of the media sync products such as Double Twist or Missing Sync these require the SD card be mounted. Setting the default behaviour means that’s something less to worry about.

usb

 

Many of you have already been asking me what the build quality is like and how the Desire compares to the Legend. In terms of robustness then the Legend takes the crown, with its Aluminium body, glass screen and cleverly designed battery and memory card compartments its certainly up to a few knocks! The decision whether to buy the HTC Legend or the HTC Desire is very much a personal one which in my mind is more down the the size and which you prefer the look of as after all is said and done, they have virtually identical operating systems and UI’s. Both have fantastic AMOLED displays and excellent email and calendar integration. If you like widgets then you’ll be in heaven too!

My personal pick would be the HTC Desire. I prefer a larger phone and larger screen and I think that 3.7″ is just about the ideal size. I love what HTC have done with Sense, it makes for a great user experience. I’m guessing that Sense may not be to everyone’s liking and it’s not something that you can turn off or disable on either the Legend or Desire. Those wanted a more ‘vanilla’ approach to Android would be better off with the Nexus One perhaps and anyone that wants or needs that multiple exchange support will also be better served by the Nexus.

I love what HTC have done with the design of the Desire. I’m not a fan of the trackball on the Nexus so having the optical trackpad makes far more sense and will last longer. I also prefer the reassurance of physical buttons for the home, menu, back and search buttons. Even with the best haptic feedback options sometimes it’s nice to have proper buttons that your fingers can easily find!

Desire-buttons

 

I guess the last thing for me to talk about is the battery life, that’s one of the key questions that most people have. Without using proper benchmarking tools it’s tricky to evaluate battery life. I have listed battery life as one of the lowlights of the handset but I should say that I don’t think the battery life is terrible but it’s one of the weaker points of the handset. Having had the Desire for just a few days and spending most of the time with it testing things out for this review I’ve been getting through the battery at a rate of knots. BUT, I’ve had the screen on a LOT I’ve had WiFi on and I live somewhere with a poor signal that makes the device continually hunt for service. All of these things conspire to eat through the battery. At the moment I can’t really comment on what the battery life would be like in more ‘real world’ tests. I’ll do my best to update you in this respect over the next few days.

 

 

Conclusion

I ended my Nexus One review by saying that I wont be giving up my iPhone in preference. The HTC Desire is much closer to stealing me away from the clutches of Apple. As I’ve mentioned in the past the appeal of the iPhone is in no small part down to how well the device integrates and syncs with iTunes and once you have all your stuff in iTunes it’s hard to get away.

I’ve had the HTC Desire for far less time than I would normally like before writing a review and I’ll only have it for a few days more so I’ve tried to keep things to the facts but once there are more of them out there then I hope to spend more time using the Desire. I want to see if I can replace my iPhone and I hope that Missing Sync or DoubleTwist will help me make the transition. I’m sure that I can probably work around the Exchange support issues I’ve mentioned already too.

They said that the Nexus One took the smartphone to a new level and the term ‘superphone’ has been used a few times. If that’s the case then I don’t know what superlative I would use for the HTC Desire. Uber-phone perhaps? In any case I personally prefer the Desire to the Nexus One, I like what the Sense UI brings in terms of usability and the overall feel of the phone.

In my opinion the HTC Desire steals the top spot as the flagship Android handset and is by far my favourite Android handset and well on it’s way to being my favourite of all devices regardless of platform. For now anyway.

 

Review by: Matt

[ Post Tags: HTC Desire, Android 2.1, unboxing video, tracyandmatt.co.uk ]

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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