The original HTC Desire launched way back in April on Telstra and was the flagship Android device for both them and for the Australian Android market in general. 6 months on and it’s time for a new flagship HTC device to hit our shores, that device is the HTC Desire HD.
After having spent the week using it, I’m really impressed with the device. Don’t let the large size fool you, it’s really a premium feeling device that has a bit of a fun side. Sense UI has matured since the days of the original Desire, making it far more intuitive, feature-packed and most importantly, fast! Hit the break to get into it, I’ll keep it short, I swear.
- Solid, premium feel
- 4.3″ display
- Fluid interface
- 720p video capture
- No HDMI output
- Hardware buttons are too flush with the surface
- 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom
- The sheer number of Camera effects will make people want to upload more crappy party pics to Facebook
What’s in the box?
HTC are keeping their box designs very similar which is something I’m all for. They’re simple and creative as well as being a real bitch to open sometimes. Inside you’ll find all the usual:
- HTC Desire HD (w/ battery pre-installed)
- USB Wall Charger (comes in two parts)
- USB to Micro USB Cable
- Reading Material
I’m not a fan of HTC’s Earphones, but hey, they seem to suit a lot of people. I’m more of an In-ear Earphone type of guy.
As I stated earlier, the DHD is big (12.3cm x 6.8cm) so it’s not going to suit everyone. I love big screens, even on my phones, so the 4.3″ suited me perfectly. It’s 800×480 pixels so it looks quite nice, though I wouldn’t want the resolution to be any lower than that. Unlike the Desire, the Desire HD only has a standard LCD display which I found to look a little washed out. The screen is really responsive which is what you come to expect from a HTC device it also has 4-point multi touch which is a big thing considering the original Desire only had dual touch, and even that was plagued with recognition problems.
The 8MP camera takes fairly decent shots and has more effects and features than you can poke a stick at. I’m not usually a massive fan of cameras on phones, but these added features make it a little bit more fun and useful. Examples of some of these can be found in the pics below. Video quality is shaky at best, but is HD (720p) none the less. The dual LEDs do a good job of lighting up dark areas even outside. There are effects for video as well, but not as many as the still Camera. Test video below!
It appears HTC don’t like hardware buttons, I on the hand, love hardware buttons. The power/unlock button and volume rocker are both completely flush with the surface of the DHD, making them quite hard to find by touch. There’s not much give in the volume rocker so I wasn’t too sure whether I was hitting it or not, and when I did the volume would no doubt go in the opposite direction to what I wanted, just my luck. The capacitive buttons below the display work exceptionally well, and I didn’t hit them once whilst typing on the OSK (which works brilliantly, by the way). The 3.5mm headphone jack is at the bottom of the device for some reason, and I found it to be a stupid place to have it, I much prefer it at the top of the device.
Speaker volume is good, especially with the SRS Surround Sound and Dolby effects that change the quality of the sound. I found these to work even better when plugged into my stereo, you can notice a massive difference in sound quality. So it’s definitely a great multimedia device.
One thing I massively miss, is the HDMI output. It’s found on the HTC EVO 4G (the US variant of the HD) though HTC decided to remove it and add DLNA in its place, just for shits and giggles. I thought that DLNA would be a cool feature to have, I was wrong. I couldn’t get the HD to find my LG Blu-ray player, which does indeed have DLNA. So there goes that cool idea. Also with HDMI out you can display the whole phones display onto your TV at any time, with DLNA you can only playback media.
I think it’s fair to say that everyone who knows anything about Android has heard the term ‘Sense UI’ usually followed by ‘is freaking slow’ or more commonly ‘a resource hog’. The former is no longer the case, Sense UI on the Desire HD is by far the fastest I’ve seen on a device. After playing with it on the Hero, it was horrid. The original Desire made it usable. Now the Desire HD makes it fun, fluid & intuitive. There isn’t any noticeable lag (though the YouTube app does cause a memory leak for me) and HTC have added even more features to it. There’s HTCSense.com which allows you to control elements of your Desire HD & Desire Z from the web, HTC Likes which shows you which apps people with HTC devices love to download and HTC Hub which allows you to download more UI customisations from HTC directly.
Sense UI has been optimised to increase battery life with special power saving features that are present on Samsung’s Galaxy S. For example, once the battery life is below 15% brightness is turned down and syncing is turned off, which does make a big difference to the length of time you can use it before running to find a charger. I did find it a tad annoying at times when it would switch on aeroplane mode, so I ended up turning the whole power saving suite off. Fast Boot has also been added, which is basically hibernate. It powers the device off in a matter of seconds (3-5) and then when you power it up it takes about 2 seconds, instead of the normal 25+ second wait. Well done HTC, well done.
All of HTC’s core applications (mail, messaging, people, camera, etc..) have all had makeovers with added improvements, mainly UI, which add to the look and feel of Sense, that’s why Sense UI is by far the most complete UI on Android. There’s heap of features that I won’t get into as they’re all small, and hidden away and it’s not until you’re using some of the core apps, that you’ll run into them.
HTC’s Friend Stream application is pretty much useless thanks to the Facebook & Twitter applications found on the Android Market that sync information to your pre-existing contacts. Another near useless app is HTC Locations, which provides free turn-by-turn navigation with maps that are already fully downloaded onto the phone which combats the use of data when driving about. It’s near useless thanks to Google’s latest launch of Google Maps Nav here in Australia. But it’s always nice to have another app that has maps already fully loaded if you’re travelling somewhere without a data connection.
One last thing I’d like to bring up about the UI is the Flip Clock. If anyone reading this can remember back to the early days when the HTC Hero was first launched, it had the Flip Clock that would actually show a flip animation before showing the time, this was quickly removed by HTC because of how resource intensive it was, and was never seen again. People went crazy over it because it was such a cool idea for the time, but no phone had the resources to implement it properly, until now. The Flip Clock is alive and well on the Desire HD which was a pleasant surprise. It’s the small things that matter
As I mentioned in the Software part of the review, the Battery does get better with use. If you were to charge it fully then drain it (do this twice) you will notice an improvement in the Battery life. You also have to take into account that this battery is only 1230mAh, I mean the tiny LG Optimus has a 1500mAh battery, it’s HTC’s power optimisations that allow it to go a full day without charge which is very impressive.
If you’re a heavy user of data or multimedia you may be pushing it to get a full work day out of the battery. If you’re an average user, you won’t have any problems.
I’m personally a big fan of larger screened devices that are also powerhouses, and that is exactly what the Desire HD is. It’s big and it has a shed-load of power to get you through anything you want to do on it. If you own a Desire, Nexus One or Samsung Galaxy S and you think that your device is a bit big, you won’t like the Desire HD. I do strongly suggesting you go into your local Vodafone/Three store and playing with one just to get a feel of the device, because that’s the only problem you’ll have with it, not the software but the hardware.
If I had the money my Desire would be out of here with the HD taking its place. It’s a true premium device, Sony Ericsson take note.
A big thanks to MobiCity for once again providing us with the goods. They’re a great local company with competitive prices and great customer service, and no they don’t pay me to say that.
They have the Desire HD outright for $899
Any further questions or something you want me to go into, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂