By August 6, 2009

HTC Hero review

Straight off the back of my HTC Magic review, and earlier than expected, Matt called to announce we have one of only 2 HTC Hero handsets in the country but we haven’t got it for long, as apparently it’s quite popular already.

How will it stack up against the Magic? I was pleased overall with the Magic and would have been tempted to buy one if it wasn’t for the Samsung Galaxy and Hero due to be released, so was the wait worth it?

As Matt mentioned in his HTC Hero unboxing video this is probably the final retail unit, but not the final box.

Edit – the final box is now available here.

The HTC Hero

The HTC Hero


What is in the box?

  • HTC Hero
  • USB to miniUSB sync / charge cable
  • USB adaptor to AC charger with UK plug
  • Stereo headset

HTC Hero Specification:

  • Processor: Qualcomm® MSM7200A™, 528 MHz
  • Operating System: Android™
  • Memory:  ROM: 512 MB / RAM: 288 MB
  • Display: 3.2-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 320×480 HVGA resolution
  • Network:  HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz – Up to 2 Mbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds
    – Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • Device Control: Trackball with Enter button
  • GPS: Internal GPS antenna
  • Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Camera: 5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1350 mAh
  • Talk time: Up to 470 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time: Up to 440 hours for GSM
  • Expansion Slot: microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • G-sensor
  • Digital Compass
  • Dimensions (LxWxT): 112 x 56.2 x 14.35 mm (4.41 x 2.21 x 0.57 inches)
  • Weight: 135 grams ( 4.76 ounces) with battery


The top of the device is the slot for removing the back as well and the much welcomed 3.5mm audio jack

HTC Hero top view

HTC Hero top view


The left hand side is the recessed up/down volume rocker which fits nicely with the bevelled shape of the Hero. There is also a small logo stating ‘HTC innovation’.

HTC Hero left side

HTC Hero left side


Nothing on the Right hand side as with the Magic


HTC Hero right side


The base as the miniUSB sync / charge housing which is next to the microphone hole

HTC Hero bottom view

HTC Hero bottom view


The back of the phone is found the F2.8 Auto Focus 5 mega pixel camera, once again lacking any flash or portrait mirror. In the middle of the back casing is the lanyard hole and at the top beside the camera a speaker hole.

HTC Hero back view

HTC Hero back view


On front of the HTC Hero there is a large slot holding the earpiece, under which is the brilliant 3.2-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 320×480 HVGA resolution, covered in the review.

HTC Hero front view

HTC Hero front view


Next is a row of 4 buttons from left to right the ‘answer’ button, ‘home’, ‘menu’ and finally the ‘end / power’ button.

Below which is the trackball and a longer rocking button which is ‘search’ on the left and ‘back’ on the right.

Overall the device is a good size, again, being a good compromise between a big enough screen and not too big a phone. It feels well made, with a silver bezel running ¾ of the way around the sides and top, as picked up in the video the 4 buttons on the front, are also highlighted in the same.

The talked about lip on the bottom of the device wasn’t an issue for me and made the device easy to handle and although I expected not to like it (because if it jutting out and being noticeable in the pocket) it really wasn’t a problem. When on desk face down it actually lifts the majority, if not all, of the screen away from the surface and stops it getting scratched.


I am not going to cover this is great dept as it has been done on Matt’s preview at the launch and also covered on the G1 and Magic reviews. I would like to mention a few highlights for me.

The new HTC sense UI is a great step forward, and with the additions of things like ‘aHome’ and the normal ‘Android’ home makes the device very customisable, but out of the 3, I now prefer the new HTC variant. You can change the screen regularly to stop it getting tired and you can have it as cluttered or basic as you like.


Points of note here is the introduction of the widgets which can be added or not as you wish, me being a gadget freak couldn’t have enough of them. Handy inclusions are application widgets, as seen, which allow you to quickly turn on and off things like Wifi, Bluetooth or GPS on the tap of the screen. I have also included a countdown widget to important events such as cycling to Paris.


Further extras, like a bookmark widget for your most commonly used websites, and shown here a twitter widget. Not to mention the improved and impressive keyboard.


All add together to make life easier and a pleasure to use.

Matt has also lent me some software to try out and me, being me, thought I’d try to get it to work on the android, it was at this point that I realised there is no File Manager on the HTC Hero, or the Magic come to that, fortunately the ‘Market’ came to my rescue with the free download of ‘Astro’ which let me interrogate the SD card. Just one example that for all the things the manufacturers omit, someone out there has solved it and developed it, mostly free of charge, I like android.


In an awful lot of ways this is exactly the same as the Magic, different people will have different views as to which they prefer, Me, I prefer the HTC Hero, as for me it looks more professional and the black/chocolate/grey version looks even better. Put side by side with the Magic the Hero is slightly longer and pretty much identical in width and depth. The addition of the Sense UI is a huge step forward and I liked it so much I added a similar style interface to my trusty old Asus P526 as well.

The screen is, as with the Magic, brilliant, it is totally responsive with even the lightest of touches. Swiping the home from side to side is registered immediately without the need to keep repeating the actions as with previous less sensitive models. I have been using my Diamond a little this week and I have to admit the Hero makes if feel silly and sluggish.

The camera has seen an upgrade to 5 mega pixel from the Magic and although better still not that good, missing the flash etc. Still a lot of room for improvement HTC.

HTC Hero camera and MicroSD card slot

HTC Hero camera and MicroSD card slot


The call quality is also up to the job as with the Magic, I have read about issues with these units freezing up, but I must say that I have found the Hero to be completely reliable and no issues at all.

There is a issue in trying to sync these devices with Windows, having to download and install the SDK (458 MB) wasn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, and once loaded it wasn’t that easy to use either, that said sync with Gmail and contacts was a doddle and easy to set up straight from the off with the phone doing most of the work, as soon as you register or log in via the initial set up screens.


I like it, I prefer it to the Magic, but that is personal choice and I am sure many will like the Magic over the Hero.

The day to day use and the endlessly customisable screens make this device great to pick up and play with in quieter moments. The automatic updating of weather, twitter and so on keeps everything up to date and current without any hassle.

Would I buy one? I might well; I just need to have a look at the Samsung Galaxy (i7500) to be sure. A leap to the android side is definitely on the cards, but I will still have to have a windows variant hanging around as well.

From what I hear the Galaxy is not far away and hopefully with the swift release of the Hero, Samsung may be obliged to get their finger out. Overall being spoilt for choice can’t be a bad thing.


Review by: Steve

Posted in: Reviews

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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