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
  • Earphones
  • 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!

[nggallery id=59]

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 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

Battery Life

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.

Final Thoughts..

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.

Thank You

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

MobiCity | Your Mobile Destination | Unlocked Mobile Phones

Any further questions or something you want me to go into, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

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In terms of size this is heading towards the Dell Streak. How does it compare? The dell will be getting 2.2 soon so what are your thoughts.


I meant as a smartphone. Though if you are selling the Dell, I guess that means that you prefer something else.

I am planning to upgrade from my old Nokia E61. I was thinking of the dell and so I was wondering what your thoughts were about the Dell compared to the DesireHD. I think I read that you were using the Dell as your primary phone?

Matt Coutts

Any comparison between Milestone 2 and Desire HD, or among Milestone 2, Desire HD and Galaxy S?


Great review. My workmate has had his for about 2 weeks. For me it is a little too big. Front facing cameras are not a deal killer. Hardly used if at all on phones. More suited to tablets and bigger devices. Headphone socket better at top for times when you have your phone propted up on the desk looking at updates while having the jack plugged in listening to music. Things that missed a mention: No hardware camera button. Helps take steadier shots IMO. FM radio. Nice it is there. Waiting to see your Desire Z review now. I’ve had… Read more »


I think HTC’s Locations is great. I don’t think google will allowing caching of maps anytime soon so until then Locations will still be very useful!

Mark Scott

Great review Buzz and nice garden too. 😉

Two questions I have is that how does it stand up as a phone? Can you hear the people at the other end without needing the volume right up and can they hear you ok?

Also is the music player ok? Some people though that one of it cons was the music player wasn’t up to scratch as oppose to the other phones.


now, after seeing the sweet as specs on this baby, why not upgrade the battery to a 1400MaH, and introduce dual sim?
talk about a killer phone!
i’d certainl kill for that!
this seems like a phone that will hold its one for some time to come!
and honestly, is a front camera that much of a deal breaker? its certainly not worth swapping over to applecrap for!


I’d much rather have maps with preloaded map info, than turn by turn navigation. I’ve had Brut on my Desire, and I rarely ever use the nav, but wish it would load map images faster (or at all, when coverage is bad). I also use Friend Stream on my Desire much more than the separate Twitter & Facebook apps. I love the convenience of having both sources in a single stream. I wish I could get a decent desktop (Linux) app to do the same thing… The new Sense UI stuff looks like a good improvement – I’m hoping they’ll… Read more »


newer cpu, much improved gpu


I was all keen on buying this phone but the apparent major build quality issues and dual core mobiles around the corner are going to make me wait a bit longer to upgrade…


Those are the stupidest ‘Cons’ I’ve ever seen..
the only valid one is the audio jack being at the bottom..
and it does have HDMI output, special cable from the mini-usb.. it also has DLNA, that’s like wireless hdmi


The EVO 4G doesnt output the phone homescreens etc. to the TV im pretty sure. Just media just like the desire HD.


I’ve only had my Desire HD since friday but I have to say the choice of putting the headphone jack on the bottom is actually a good idea! If you are holding the device in your hand in portrait orientation, the cord is not obscuring the screen and it doesn’t really matter which way the phone is orientated when it’s in your pocket does it? (I always put phones in my pocket upside down anyway). I agree with your comment regarding in-ear headphones, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pin out configuration of the headphones seems to… Read more »


I totally agree, I think the headphone jack on the bottom is a great idea. In practice when you hold the phone up to your face it’s simply more convenient having it at the bottom as well as when you go to put the phone in your pocket, no more flipping the phone around to fit it in properly.

On another note when I first got mine system performance was slow and I discovered I had to turn usb debugging on which fixed the issue, which i thought was a little stupid. However great phone, loving it 🙂


On the front facing camera front though… just an observation. People are all wacky about it again because iPhone finally has it (except over WiFi… to another iPhone 4, which is bloody useless). Thing is, I’ve had video calling enabled phones for ages now, my last two could do it, as could my wife’s… so we could use it if we wanted, it wouldn’t cost us anything on Virgin either. Have I ever used it? Nope. Do I ever feel the need to? Nope. We send each other MMS pictures quite regularly to ask about something we’ve found at a… Read more »


I know what you mean re: video calling, but I think it would be useful for Skype video calling.

Having said that, not having a front-facing camera still wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me.


It’s a very sweet phone, unfortunately HTC crippled it by leaving out the front facing camera. With Gingerbread tipped to bring native video chat, the shelf-life of this phone is looking grim.


Awesome review. On my Desire with Telstra and would have looked at the Desire HD as an option if it were compatible on the Next G network. Keen to see what the Desire HD will do to the market for the future.


With Gingerbread just around the corner is it worth the investment just for Froyo?

Played with one at Vodafone store, 3.7″ is too small for me now on Nexus! 4″ at least.