Monday, July 25, 2011

HTC Desire Review

In a nutshell: The HTC Desire is one of the most impressive phones of all time. Despite being significantly cheaper than the iPhone, it can match or beat everything that the iPhone does. An Android smartphone with a fabulously responsive touchscreen, the Desire packs in a huge choice of apps, brilliant web browsing, one of the biggest and best screens ever, a good camera, a music player and GPS too. You want more? Add in a superfast processor, monster battery, WiFi and a 3.5mm headphone jack and you've got the perfect phone. Available in Black, Graphite, Silver or White.
HTC Desire
2010 looks set to be the year of Android. And HTC looks like the manufacturer of choice for Android phones. We've given previous Android phones a "beta" kind of rating, because that's what they were. But the Android Market has expanded rapidly in the past year, and the early glitches in the Android software have been ironed out, making it into a grown-up operating system for real-world users. The only other issues with the early Android phones were related to hardware, so can the HTC Desire overcome all of these problems and become the smartphone of choice for 2010?

Well, let's quickly put you out of your misery and say that the answer is a loud and clear YES!

The Desire is a logical upgrade of the HTC Hero. The Hero was a brilliant phone that received rave reviews on this site, but we felt that it just wasn't quite there. The Desire fills in all the blanks that were missing in the Hero, making it truly the smartphone to beat. The Desire is a mid-range phone too, available free on reasonably-priced contracts, and it's very user-friendly, so we expect this to be an absolute monster phone.

Let's start, as we always do at with a look at the exterior. Pick up the Desire. It's a nicely-styled touchscreen phone that feels solid, but is ultra thin at just 11.9mm. It's slightly smaller than the iPhone 3GS, but has the same weighty feel. Unlike the iPhone it has real buttons at the bottom of the screen, which is no bad thing in our opinion. The screen itself will blow you away. It's a massive 3.7 inches across, larger than the iPhone 3GS and with an unbelievable 480 x 800 pixel resolution, which is nearly three times as much as the iPhone! This is virtually a computer screen fitted onto a mobile phone, and it's the best in its class. The AMOLED display is super-sharp too.

Let's move onto the user interface, because this is one of the most outstanding features of the phone. The screen is capacitative, so it responds to your touch like a dream. The Desire has pinch-to-zoom capability, so you can easily control the onscreen view with your fingers. The combination of the latest release of Android 2.2 (called Froyo) plus the specially-designed HTC Sense interface make a seamless user experience, and the phone just responds intuitively to your touch. Is it as easy to use as the iPhone? Yes it is!

The Desire isn't just a pretty face. Far from it. It's one of the highest-spec phones around. HTC have equipped it with a superfast 1GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon CPU, a massive 576MB of RAM and the external memory is expandable all the way up to 32GB. The battery has a giant 1400 mAh capacity. It's quite amazing that HTC have managed to provide such highly-specified components for a phone at this price point. We wonder if they're actually making any money on it.

All this equipment powers HTC's best camera ever. It's a 5 megapixel camera with face detection, autofocus and a flash. It may not match the best from Sony Ericsson or Nokia, but it's certainly a respectable camera for a phone. The camera is capable of geo-tagging too, as the Desire comes equipped with a GPS receiver. The GPS receiver works with Google Maps (pre-installed) and supports HTC Footprints (geo-tagging software) and has a digital compass.

Musically, the phone comes with a fully equipped digital music player that can handle all popular music formats and that syncs easily with any Windows-based PC. We're delighted to find a 3.5mm audio jack, so you can connect a pair of high quality stereo headphones for the best possible listening experience. And with up to 32GB of storage, you can store all your albums with ease. There's also an FM radio included.

The Desire is in the premier league when it comes to the internet. The huge high-res screen is simply superb for web browsing, and the Android software in combination with the responsive touchscreen and pinch-to-zoom feature make navigating, zooming and scrolling a doddle. The internet is fast and always on, with the 3G HSPA connection offering download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps. If you're in a WiFi zone, you can make use of the WLAN connection for even faster data access. There are also widgets for facebook and other online tools.

Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate, with A2DP support for wireless stereo headsets and a mini-USB connector.

We've already mentioned the large battery capacity, and this seems to give sufficient real world performance too, despite that massive screen. You'd do well to keep an eye on how many apps you have running though, and to switch off GPS and WiFi when not in use.

Is there anything that the HTC Desire is missing, or anything that could be improved? Nope, not really. This is probably the nearest we've ever seen to the perfect phone. No doubt there are one or two minor improvements that could be made, but then it would have to cost more. As mid-range smartphones go, this is as good as it gets!


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