Here is my review of the HTC Desire that I received from Telstra through their Social Review Competition. These are my thoughts, and my thoughts only. I was not paid by Telstra to do this, I have nothing officially to do with them, besides being selected for the Social Review. But a big thank you for them for that competition and to give me the chance to review it.
Click “Read More” for the review!
The HTC Desire is HTC’s current European flagship device, and a great one for them to choose. It shares most of the design elements found in the Nexus One, but HTC have added their own touch to things. It has been a big lead up to the release of this device, right back until it was first leaked out as the “HTC Bravo” and one of the first devices people heard of to run the now near standard 1GHz Snapdragon CPU.
The Desire has a lot of competition in the current market, with other big name phones such as the Google Nexus One, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, Motorola Milestone & soon Samsung’s Galaxy S. All of these phones are very high end and push Android to it’s current limits.
- 1GHz Snapdragon CPU
- Deep, vivid colours with the AMOLED display
- 7.2Mbps HSDPA/2Mbps HSUPA
- Full use of Telstra’s NextG Network on 850MHz UMTS
- A massive 576MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM
- Built in FM Radio
- Android 2.1 (Eclair)
- Sense UI, I mean seriously, it’s amazing!
- LED Flash
- Very good voice quality
- Buttons below the screen as very tactile
- The 19 Telstra Bigpond applications that are completely useless and flood the app drawer!
- The AMOLED display is no where near as crisp as TFT
- Sense UI has this stuttery type lag in some spots that hinders the experience
- The design makes it feel kind of cheap, the power button isn’t all that tacticle same with the volume rocker
- You can’t “hot-swap” MicroSD memory cards
- The Camera & Video quality isn’t top notch
- There is no current DivX support (It’s coming)
Unboxing & Design
Inside of the box are:
- HTC Desire
- Battery – 1400mAh
- Wall Charger
- USB Cable
- Earphones w/ extra heads & clip
- MicroSD Card (2GB – may vary)
- User Manual / Warranty / Etc..
In hand it feels very nice to hold, there are no sharp edges that hurt you hands after a while. Even with smaller hands, you should be able to reach all the physical buttons using one hand quite easily, something that is a challenge to do with the Xperia X10
The Desire is a burnt brown to a kind of bronze colour, with a matte finish over the phone except for a metal around the sides of the screen and top of the phone where the speaker is.
“Where are things located?” you ask, well here you go:
- Optical Trackball
- Back & Search rocker
- Right Side
- Left Side
- Volume Rocker
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- 5MP Camera
- LED Flash
- Loud Speaker
- MicroUSB Port
HTC have fitted the Desire with a 3.7″ Capacitive (800x480px) AMOLED Dual Touch Display with 16M colours. The screen size is certainly enough to give you finger room to move around on & enough real estate for apps to take up. Given the high resolution of the display it still seems blotchy & blurry in some parts and AMOLED sometimes shows false colours, such as grey showing up as faint pink. But it’s nothing major.
The display is “uber” responsive, I mean it will pick up the slightest of touches, it’s fantastic. Sense UI is the only thing holding this baby back as sometimes it will lag a bit and not pick up a press of the screen, note this doesn’t happen often. When using pinch-2-zoom it’s very responsive & fluid.
Clarity & Brightness
In comparison to the Xperia X10, the Desire has less clarity, but makes up for it with it’s deep, beautiful colours. The Desire is “usable” in sunlight, if you attempt to face it away from the suns direct glare, you should be fine! Below is the difference between the X10 & Desire at night with the same brightness levels.
As you can see the Desire seems brighter, but the colours are just superb. What the picture fails to show is the clarity between the two. The X10 kills the Desire in terms of screen clarity.
Sense UI – HTC’s trade User Interface across it’s Windows Mobile 6.5 range as well as it’s Android range. And I think it’s fair to say HTC kick some butt when it comes to a User Interface. Sense UI is very intuitive and easy to use, even if you’ve never touched an Android Device before. Not only does it make it easy for beginners, it also has a lot of extra “more hidden” features for the more advanced users to play around with, so you’ll never get bored!
Sense UI has 7 homescreen on the Desire 3 on the left and right and 1 in the middle, which gives you ample space to fill with icons & many of HTC specially made widgets. Speaking of which, there are heaps that cover quite a bit. From the time to weather, to finance and a tip calculator.
Sense UI Applications
Sense UI is far more than just a homescreen replacement, it goes right through Android. Everything has been changed by HTC to make it more user friendly and more appealing to your eyes (Vanilla Android is somewhat horrible!). It also has a number of built in apps such as:
- Desk Clock
- Currency Converter
- Friend Stream
- PDF Viewer
- Voice Recorder
Exchange support is built into Sense UI as well as the standard Gmail Client.
Here I’d like to demonstrate the speed of each other the phone I’ve reviewed.
Both the X10 & Desire run the 1GHz Snapdragon CPU by Qualcomm.
|SE Xperia X10||3.881||7061ms|
That’s right, this beast can also make phone calls which is another reason why it’s 1 up on the iPhone!
All your contacts are synced through your Google Account into the contacts app called, simply, “People”. When you then choose a contact in People, you are then faced with many, many different way to interact with this person. Such as calling & texting them, as well as all their synced info from Facebook (Birthday, Display Pic). Using the slider at the bottom of the app you can slide across to Messages, Emails, Status Updates, Photos & Call History, all with the 1 contact. This is a very, very people centric UI, which is why I love it to bits.
To search through your contacts, you have to go into a different app (STUPID) called “Seach People” and then type in the person you wish to find. This app searches through your phone contacts, email contacts and Facebook & Twitter friends.
In call quality, I found, was quite crisp and I could understand them perfectly and they didn’t have any problems hearing me. Whilst in call, the proximity sensor kicks in and kills the display when ever you place the phone up to your ear so you don’t accidently hang up on the person mid call with your cheek. When you go to receive a call from a contact already in your phone, it will bring up their picture so you have a visual display of who is calling you.
The loudspeaker is pretty average, but does the job well none the less. I had it set down on a table at least a metre from me, and I could be heard fine. When you go to answer the phone, the ringer automatically reduces it’s loudness, excellent!
Email / Messaging
Out of the box, there are 3 different email applications for you to choose from. Those being: Gmail, Mail & MyEmail (Bigpond App).
The Gmail app is the same one on every other Android Device, it supports push email, notifications, spam reporting & muting. As the app is very basic (although it does it’s job well) you can’t zoom in & out inside of emails, so if your email has an image that is wider than the screen you have to scroll around to read it all at once. If this is not the case, the text is formatted to fit inside the page, so no scrolling is needed.
The Mail app is for use with IMAP/POP3 mail servers as well as Exchange servers (see below). It can automatically detect mail server settings to set up your email account or you can do a manual setup and enter all the details yourself. The bottom slider (thingy) is once again present in the Mail app, which lets you see your inbox, conversations, VIP emails, unread & attachments.
MyEmail – Telstra Email
MyEmail is another one of Telstra Bigponds, dare I say, shitty “applications”. Which just opens up the browser to website which is obviously for Telstra’s own email client.
Moving on to Messaging.. This can be done in many ways, shapes and forms but for now we’ll stick to the Text Messaging Application. It’s happily called “Messages” which couldn’t be any easier, it presents with a few things on opening (screenshots below): “New message”, very straightforward that. After selecting that it brings up a box of who to send the message to, then the message text box. There is also “Send-A-Card” which is useless as it just links you to another Telstra URL (doesn’t work on WiFi). Below that are all the contacts whom you have text messages to & from. Selecting one of the those contacts will bring up the entire message history in threaded form!
The last form of messaging which I’ll write about is Gtalk (Google Talk) which lets you add contacts via their Gmail Address and chat to them whenever. The best thing about Gtalk is that it never disconnects and you can send & receive messages from people 24/7. It beats texting if you ask me.
Media / Video / Image / Music
First off, the Music Player. When you open it up your faced with a Cover Art playlist kind of thing where you can just switch to the next song with the flick of your finger. Bigpond music is also built in.. You are able to scrobble through parts of the song quite easily, with pause/play, back & next buttons at your disposal. The one major hitch I have with the Music Player (which is one of the best on an Android Device), is the lack of a Cover Art grabber. The X10 has one which syncs any of the missing Cover Arts you may be missing. If this were included it would be near perfect!
When music is playing you are able to hit the home button to go back to the homescreen whilst having the music continuing to play in the background. The music will play until you go back into it via the Music App, Notification Bar or Music Widget(s) on the homescreens. So you can have your favourite tunes playing while your playing your favourite games . There are also the standard play/pause, next & back buttons on the lock screen, it will also show the Cover Art if it is available.
The speaker quality is quite good in all honesty. Not the best, but good. Compared to the X10 it’s superb. The X10 sounds like a tin can. It can also get pretty loud without sacrificing quality.
Next up, the Video Player. All your videos can be found through, and I kid you not, the “Photos” application. Maybe they should rename it “Media” instead. But none the less your videos can be found there along with your pictures. Videos can be MP4, 3GP, WMV & 3G2 format to be played properly. But I had a few issues running WMV files. The Video Player lets you scrub through the video easily. It’s lag free, even when I tested a 720p MP4 video. Although it doesn’t play DivX, there is an update on the way (Android 2.2 (Froyo)) that will allow the Desire to play DivX
Last, the Image Viewer. Your pictures can be found in the “Photos” application. When you first open it you are faced with all your albums and a thumbnail for each & that ever present slider bar is at the bottom which you select media on the device, Facebook or Flickr if you have them set up. Once you have selected an album all the pictures load up side to side so you can easy flick left or ride to slide through them all. In this same window you can delete, share, take more photos or go back to the main Photos menu.
Pinch-2-Zoom (Sliding your two fingers in & out on the screen) can be used to zoom in and out on the images. Double tapping on an image produces the same kind of zooming effect. At the main menu of the Photo app, you can press the menu button on the device then settings then onto “Slideshow”, which changes lets you play with the Slideshow Settings inside of the app.
One of the extra in the HTC Desire, that nearly every other Android Device doesn’t have is an FM Radio. It will only pick up a station if you have headphones plugged in (they’re used as the aerial). The quality is absolutely brilliant, much better than I ever expected it to be. It’s one of my favourite features in this phone.
You can search for yourself for what station you want, or you can let the phone scan for stations. When a station is found you can set it as a preset for easy listening next time. You can also mute the radio, or change it from Mono to Stereo and if your favourite song comes on, you can turn it onto the loudspeaker to annoy the hell out of everyone who hates Justin Bieber or Lady GaGa.
For those wondering in the screenshots below, the “Japan” button just changes the frequency to a lower value to suit radio frequencies in Japan.
Camera & Video
The Camera on the Desire is 5MP and is capable of taking a pretty clear photo both during the day and at night thanks to it’s nifty LED flash. There are plenty of settings to play with, such as effects & picture quality. You can also change the resolution down from 5MP to lower values if you need a smaller picture for MMS. But if you’re going to take a photo for Twitter or Facebook 5MP is fine as the apps automatically resize the image to make it smaller without reducing quality. In the screenshots below you can see some of the settings you can get.
You can touch the display to focus in on a region to take photo of, which I think is very handy and the images are pretty darn clear. Taking a photo is done by pressing down on the Optical Track(pad/ball).
There’s no 720p video recording here (yet), but the Desire can hold it’s own when it comes to taking a pretty basic video. The video recording app is called “Camcorder” which is nice and basic like the rest of HTC’s app names.
All the settings are identical of to that of the Camera (above) except you can choose the resolution of the video to one of the following:
- WVGA – 800x480px
- VGA – 640x480px
- CIF – 352x288px
- QVGA – 320x240px
You can also change the encoding between H.263 & MPEG4, whichever suits you. An example of the video recording can be found below . *Make sure your volume is low*
Data / Browser
The Desire’s browser is one of the best in an Android Device. It is feature packed, and in genuinely quick.
The browser does indeed support Flash Lite 3 which is pretty useless if you ask me, but it’s enough to display the things you love, like banner ads, and not display the things you hate, like farmville! But it does display our site in beautiful mobile format, and that’s all that matters!
It is quite easy to add bookmarks and get to saved bookmarks as well as seeing how many windows you have open inside the browser. I managed to have 8 windows open at any one time, which is more than enough. My favourite part of the browser has to be the different integration points it has with Google Translate, Google Search & Wikipedia when you select text. Just amazing. Best browser around, I would almost buy the Desire JUST FOR THIS BROWSER. *ahem*. I think I got my point across.
Now Telstra’s Desire runs on UMTS Bands I & V. In layman’s terms it runs on 2100/850MHz UMTS. In terms so simple it hurts me to write it, it runs on Telstra’s NextG & 3G networks perfectly! But lately I have found that the device won’t connect to the 3G network, so you have to turn on Airplane Mode then turn it off so it attempts to reconnect to 3G again, this has happened nearly 5 times in the last 4 days.
It has theoretical maximum download of 7.2Mbps HSDPA & 2Mbps which will make full use of Telstra’s NextG network, which is by far the best in the country. And no, I was not paid to say that, it’s just fact.
Running a speedtest through the Speedtest.net Application I get: 2.34Mbps / 1.27Mbps. Not too shabby really. But I am in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.
I’m just going to say it straight, it sucks. It’s terrible. It’s atrocious, I cry myself to sleep about it at night. But hey, it’s better than my X10 (just). So someone, somewhere needs to find a way to make the Desire’s battery last much, much longer or there are going to be a lot of angry Telstra customers & HTC Desire importers around because their phone dies every 6 or so hours after medium use.
I must say, I have managed to get a full day out of mine. “But how?” you ask. Simple: Keep it on the charger
Apps / Market
A world of Applications
The Android platform is based around 2 philosophies: Openness & kick butt applications. And it succeeds in both.
The standard of Applications has considerably increased over time, since the HTC Dream’s release in Oct 2008. When I purchased the HTC Dream in March 2009, there were a handful of apps. A lot of them were from well known developers, but the Applications themselves were very basic. Now, the Applications take full control of everything your device has to offer, such as the G-Sensor, Accelerometer & phone vibration.
Graphics in games has also gained momentum. It’s a far more in depth experience when gaming thanks to the HTC Desire’s raw power from it’s 1GHz CPU, in comparison to my laptop which is 1.6GHz (pathetic, I know).
There are Applications for almost everything, no matter what interests you. Whether it be comics, music, video, e-books, games and health, with a lot of miscellaneous stuff in between.
The main selling point of this phone in terms of software. If you’re looking for an alternative platform to the iPhone but still want the range of applications, Android is the one you want.
There are ~56,000+ Application in the Android Market as well as the countless amounts you can download an install straight off the net, you’re not restricted to just buying apps from the Android Market.
In the Android Market there are 2 main categories: Apps & Games.
The Apps category then consists of these subcategories:
- All Applications
- News & Weather
- Software Libraries
The Games category consists of these subcategories:
- All Games
- Arcade & Action
- Brain & Puzzle
- Cards & Casino
Within the Android Market there is also a “Downloads” section. In here is where it stores all your downloaded Applications, and purchased Applications that you can re-install if you un-install them. It also shows any apps that have updates (see screenshots), tapping on them will bring up the ability to download the new version which will override the old one to keep you up to date all the time.
The last handy hint from the Android Market, is that it notifies you of any updates for your Applications. So you won’t have to keep going and checking for updates yourself, manually. It just gives you a simple message in the notifications menu, when you tap on it, it will take you to the Android Market Downloads section to update the Application. Easy as!
On Screen Keyboard (OSK / IME)
Being a touch only device, it needs a decent On Screen Keyboard (OSK) and HTC have pulled together the best OSK in the Android realm that I’ve seen & used. It’s accurate as well as being very responsive. There is nothing worse than typing and the keyboard not picking up some characters, this doesn’t happen at all when typing at a medium pace. But when you do attempt to speed up, it will indeed start to jump around a tad.
The OSK also has a calibrator, unlike the default Android OSK, which allows you to type in a set phrase “A quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog” and the Desire will then set the OSK up to suit how you type and makes it more accurate at fast speeds. I recommend you do this as soon as you get your device up and running, as it’s very annoying to type on straight out of the box.
Drawing it all to a close, I love the Telstra HTC Desire, I honestly do. I really thought I wasn’t going to like it because of it’s AMOLED display, but it’s grown on me. I find all the Telstra “Applications” completely useless and annoying, which is one of the few things that make me detest the Telstra HTC Desire, but hey, they load that useless bloatware c*ap on to all their devices.
Please leave any comments & requests in the comments below