HTC Desire Review
Later today, HTC Philippines will have announced local availability of the HTC Desire in the Philippines as well as revealing the suggested retail price. Before that happens, read on and check our full review of the handset below.
It is no secret that the HTC Desire was patterned from the Google Nexus One which it was also commissioned to do (more like a co-branded partnership of sorts) early this year. As such, the Desire looks like a fraternal twin of the NX1 with some minor cosmetic changes and added features. To give you a better perspective, read my review of the Google Nexus One first.
The rounded corners, the brown and dark gray color tones and the optical trackpad are all signature designs of HTC. The Desire has all that with an anodized aluminum front and (rubber-like) polymer back panel. The power button is on top, just across the 3.5mm headphone jack. The micro-USB port is at the bottom and the volume rocker is placed at the left side. The handset lacks a dedicated camera button normally found in most other smartphones. At the back is the 5MP camera and LED flash
At the bottom end of the front panel are the familiar buttons for an Android phone — Home, Menu, Back and Search. In the middle of the four is a nice optical trackpad which looks like a cross between the marble trackball of the HTC Hero/NX1 and the optical trackpad of the BlackBerry Bold 9700.
HTC was able to retain a design signature yet able to address the problem with regular trackballs getting dust and dirt on the sockets. One drawback to this approach is that you don’t have any sort of tactile feedback. The physical buttons are similar to that of the Hero, only this one is probably made of stainless steel, but way better than the touch panel on the Nexus One.
One of the most attractive feature of the HTC Desire is its 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen (480×800 pixels) that offers a very bright and ultra-crisp display. The screen is impressive, matched only by very few other handsets like the Omnia II, Galaxy S, Legend and Nexus One. Once you tried AMOLED, you’d look at all other screens differently with a little bit of longing.
The display size is just enough — not too big and not small either. Couple that with haptic feedback and multi-touch and you get a nice experience browsing websites, maps and watching videos.
Powered by QualComm’s SnapDragon 1GHz processor, the HTC Desire is one of the fastest smartphones around. Here’s a short video I recorded showing the UI, responsiveness of the device and how fast it loads some of the apps.
The virtual keyboard is always a challenge on all full touchscreen handsets and the Desire is no exception. With Android handsets like the Desire, you’ll need some time to get use to it, especially that you have to “train” the built-in dictionary when auto-correcting your spelling. This experience might vary from person to person depending on what language and texting style they use with the unit.
The HTC Sense UI adds a bit more eye-candy and usability to the device, along with 7 homescreen panels to boot. The Desire comes out of the box with Android 2.1 OS so you get the latest features including multi-touch, phone tethering, live wallpapers and voice controls among others.
The 5MP camera performs very well with average to good picture quality, thanks to a relatively fast shutter speed. However, the camera seems to find it hard to autofocus on subjects. Gets even harder indoors or in low light. Here are sample shots (cropped and resized).
Video capture is decent although maxes out at 15frames per second at 800×480 WVGA. The NX1 does a bit better at 20fps. Here’s a sample clip done at highest settings.
Battery performance is average (1400mAh) and depending on how heavy your usage is, it could last anywhere from one full day to two days. Like most other smartphones, connecting to 3G eats up the battery the fastest (in which case, portable battery packs like these helps).
The 3.7″ screen of the HTC Desire in the middle of Xperia X10’s 4″ and the Hero’s 3.2″.
The more obvious feature that the HTC Desire has that is missing from its Nexus One sibling would be the FM Tuner. Aside from that, the other differences are minor at best and both have almost identical DNA.
We’ve yet to get the final retail price of the HTC Desire but if the current prices in the gray market (Php31k) and the suggested retail price of the HTC Legend and Hero, we might see the Desire reach the Php35k range. It’s a bit pricey but the handset delivers in both the hardware and software department. The Desire is one of the top Android smartphones that can go head to head with the Galaxy S and the Xperia X10.
Update: Suggested retail price of the HTC Desire is Php34,900.