The HTC Desire HD is one of the most anticipated superphone this year and it’s coming to town in time for Christmas (or so they say). Check out our full review of the Desire HD after the jump.
As a successor to the popular HTC Desire, the Desire HD brings with it most of the desirable features of its predecessor then wrapped it with a huge 4.3 inch screen (see our review of the HTC Desire here to get a better perspective).
With such a huge screen real estate, the handset makes for a very good first impression very few smartphones ever get. The 4.3″ LCD display is already bordering on the tablet category, just right under other 4 and 5-inchers like the Archos 43 and the Dell Streak.
The build and form factor is nothing new to us as we’ve already seen it over a year ago with the HTC HD2, although that one was running on WinMo 6.5 (there’s a hack to install Android on that one too) so it’s not a surprise that people are eager to see the marriage of the HD2’s hardware and Android OS.
What we missed with the Desire HD that we really liked with the older Desire is the inclusion of an AMOLED screen. While the LCD on the Desire HD still brings in that bright and clear display, the crispness and depth of contrast we get from AMOLED is very noticeable.
The resolution is at 480×800 pixels — it was just right on the Desire but the Desire HD’s 4.3″ display seems to big for such resolution that widgets and icons are a bit oversized. The 3.7″ Desire can accommodate 4 rows of icons and the 4.0″ Samsung Galaxy S can do 5 rows; despite the 4.3″ screen of the Desire HD, it can only do 4 rows (a limitation brought upon by the resolution). In retrospect, this might be good for those who have bigger than normal fingers.
However, if that switch was the one that made the Desire HD more affordable (with a 35k SRP compared to the Desire’s 34.9k SRP), then I think it is a reasonable trade-off since the launch price are practically the same.
That, or there’s just not enough supply of AMOLED these days.
Construction-wise, the Desire HD is tightly built. If you’re familiar with recent HTC handsets or have owned one, you’d agree how solid the units are. It’s got some heft to it, considering the size and materials used. The width is just right although people will smaller hands might have a harder time with the grip. It’s relatively thin too and somewhat tapers towards the edges with curves just at the right places; it’s actually thicker in the center where the camera is positioned.
The front panel is all covered with the glass display while the bottom end leaves enough space for the usual touch controls (similar to the Nexus One) of Android devices. I would have preferred the physical buttons like the ones on the older Desire but we’re pretty much familiar with how this works so it’s not a huge deal.
Above, from left to right: HTC Desire, iPhone 4, Desire HD, Galaxy S
The back panel has two compartments you can pry open — one for the SIM card slot on the right side and another one at the bottom part for the 1230mAh Li-Ion battery. The 8MP camera is positioned in the top middle part of the back panel with the dual-LED flash is on its right side and the microphone on the left.
The lens is protected by a metallic barrel around it. The barrel somewhat protrudes from the back so it usually ends up as the first point of contact when you put down the handset on tis back. As such, it’s also prone to bruises — I’ve already peeled off a tiny bit of dark paint off of it.
Like many top-of-the-line handsets, I guess you’ll really need to get a protective case for the device once you start using it. A thin, soft gel case would suffice.
While the camera has been cranked up to 8-megapixels, there isn’t much improvements in the photo quality. There’s no dedicated camera button too. Images are between decent to good when in the outdoors or with sufficient lighting but not much on low-light conditions. The 720p video recording looked much better though. Audio quality is good and sound volume is just enough for music or movie playback .
Here are some sample photos I took using the Desire HD:
You’ll notice that shots taken at low-light conditions tend to be bit grainy. The video quality is better though. See sample below (just set it to 720p when viewing).
The Desire HD performs very well; it’s very snappy and responsive and with the HTC Sense UI wrapped around Android Froyo, the interface is all pleasantness. You get the cool HTC widgets, themes and skins as well as the entire 7 home screens. There’s not much difference with the older Desire except for the pre-installed HTC Hub, Media Link and HTC Likes (recommended Android Apps).
The calendar widget now has a flipping animation when updating the time. Drag down the notification toolbar and you’ll see a list of recent apps. The virtual keyboard is now also expanded to include 4 arrow keys so you can navigate thru text much easier. Then there’s the Universal Search that collates all searches in one results screen.
We’ve also seen Flash 10.1 running on this device flawlessly. It’s way better than Flash Lite on the older HTC Desire. You also get the mobile hotspot (WiFi tethering) which comes with Froyo.
Performance is top notch, with the second generation 1GHz SnapDragon chip and 768MB RAM taking as much load as you can fire up apps on the device. We’ve had several apps running in the background including Angry Birds (which looked gorgeous, btw), DropBox uploading a video file, the full Harry Potter 7 website loading and a YouTube streaming all at once. Web browsing is also better with the large screen and full Flash experience.
As an added bonus, HTC has also launched HTCSense.com, a remote device management service for the Desire HD and Desire Z. It allows for data storage on the cloud (contacts, text messages, and other details) as well as security features like phone locator, remote lock and remote wipe of handset data.
Battery life is another thing altogether. With only a 1230mAh rating on the Li-Ion battery, the handset barely lasts the entire day especially when you’re connected to the net. This isn’t an isolated case though. We’ve experience the same with the Desire and the Nexus One before so if you’re coming from another Android device, this is already expected. Either you bring a charger all the time or carry a portable rechargeable pack.
HTC Desire HD specs:
4.3â€³ Super TFT display @ 480 x 800 pixels
1GHz Qualcomm 8255 Snapdragon CPU
1.5 GB internal
up to 32GB via microSD
HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2 Mbps
GPS w/ aGPS support
FM Radio tuner
8MP camera with dual LED Flash
720p video recording
Li-Ion 1230mAh battery
Android 2.2. Froyo
Release Date: December 2010
The HTC Desire HD is definitely a great phone. It’s one of the best Android phone we’ve tested this year; actually, among the best smartphones we’ve used ever. It’s not a perfect phone; it’s got a few shortcomings too (yeah, that resolution was a bummer) but over-all, I’m pretty impressed with the handset. With a suggested retail price of Php35,000 it’s actually right within the range of all other flagship smartphones out there.