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I’ve not had the greatest of experiences with touch sensitive mobile phones, LG’s Prada Phone was ok at first, Samsung’s Jet a spewing pile of widgets, and Nokia’s phones more often than not never even got off the starting block. Having owned an iPod touch and loving it to bits, because the sensitivity is just perfect it seemed the viable option that my mobile phone upgrade would take me in the direction of the iPhone. Sadly my network “3” did not offer the iPhone (until straight after my upgrade anyway) and with iPhone’s being on the market for a couple of years now I doubted the event would ever happen, so with some hesitation I decided to upgrade to the HTC Desire because having read dozens of reviews it seemed that this might be a really good alternative to the iPhone.
HTC have the tagline quietly brilliant, and from first switch on I was a believer, they keep advertising to a minimum, yet most people know about their products. Being familiar with the iPod Touch (very similar to the iPhone) there are a lot of similarities from start up, but also a lot of differences. If I’m honest from the first impressions I was impressed and disappointed, the options and built in applications are far superior to the iPhone, however the navigation was a little less impressive. However the disappointment was very short lived, because as I spent more and more time rummaging around the menu’s I grew more and more impressed, and navigation became so much easier. And a visit to the Android Shop (I’ll explain about Android later) in comparison to the iStore offers is substantially more useful applications for free than ever on the iPod, I suspect however this more due to other issues than financial ones though.
So lets start with the call quality, in a recent survey this proved to be the least important factor with mobile phone buyers, in this day and age we are more concerned it seems with having the ultimate mobile computer than actually talking to people. Now while the call quality is very good, the reception quality was slightly less, pretty much a bar lower than on my last phone. Calls are clear, there was no nasty feedback (though that’s generally to do with reception more than phone) or repetition of your own voice.
So now onto the things that people care about:-
Text Messaging: The text messaging is very good and appears more as conversation or chat text rather than standard text messaging, allowing you to refer to previous conversations simply by sliding up through the text.
Spellchecker: All important in this day and age, and particularly good for me. This I observe to be the best spellchecker I have ever encountered, not only does it offer you choices but admittance of new words are input with a simple space, back space, space movement, that probably needs some elaboration. If you type a word and it does not recognise it, it selects the most appropriate word for you once you push the space option, however if your sure your right and say you are trying to enter a name or brand for example when you back space, then space forward it creates the new word and then imports it into its memory. If
Pictures of HTC Desire
your not sure how to spell a word if your on the right lines before completing the word it gives you a variety of options which you can select using the trackball to select the correct word then the simple use of the space button.
Touch Sensitivity: This is as good as the iPod’s pretty much bang on identical to be honest, nice and easy to use, and does not sporadically splurge things at you. There is a pop-up keyboard, which is easy to use and aided by the spell checker.
Buttons: Simple buttons are on the phone, an on/off button on top not only does what it says on the tin but also allows for silent mode selection, airplane mode, connection or disconnection to the internet, and vibration modes. On the right hand side is a ringer volume when in standard mode; media volume when playing MP3’s, watching video, playing games; and volume mode when on the phone. On the bottom on the phone is a home button to take you to the main screen, or a list of all open windows. The menu button gives you a selection of settings menus. A trackball sits in the centre and allows you to move left, right, up, down, and by pushing allows you to select. The final button is a large double-ended button allowing search and back page options. Once you have got used to using them, it’s hard to believe you were ever used to anything else.
The Screen: Bigger in both height and width to the iPod granted just marginally you get the impression it is much bigger than it is, especially when watching video. It’s a much tougher screen to the iPod also, not so easy to scratch and mark. Although like the aforementioned easy to mark up with fingerprints, so maybe a screen protector is to be advised.
The Home Page: The main screen presents you with the time and location, it comes programmed with Messages, Email, Internet, And Camera on the main page but along with the clock allows you to remove these and add options that you might prefer. So if you want Facebook or contacts on the front page you can easily add them by holding them and it places them on your front page.
Other Main Screens: Shift to the left and you get an overview of your Email mailbox, shift left again and you get Friendstream this gives you a combined update on the statuses of all your Facebook and Twitter contacts, once more and you get the weather for your area (as dictated by your location most locations are catered for however some obvious ones like Cheltenham are forgotten, even though a 13 home village a mile down the road is not) not only do you get the days weather, but it gives you the forecast for the next four days too. Returning to the home screen and moving to the right you now get a favourites option (to store favourite contacts), next up you can get RSS updates such as the latest news updates, and finally a blank page that you can add whatever you like to.
What’s installed: The phone comes pre-installed with a variety of wonders, the obvious things like calendar, calls lists, contacts, and camera to the less usual. Facebook is becoming an essential application on phones nowadays (this integrates with your phonebook) the Facebook application is both a blessing and a pain, firstly the blessing and nothing gets my back up more than weeding through page after page of game status’s, this application filters all those out so you simply gives you actual status updates and normal posts, this saves lots of time when you just want to see what’s going on. The downside however is it has no message access (Facebook Mail) though you can go to Facebook by clicking the internet option and see either full or mobile versions of Facebook. But lets move on from Facebook as there is something quite exciting on this later to come. FM Radio offers you standard radio through your headset. Footprint allows you to store locations via SatNav and comes pre-installed with a few locations, but essentially what this allows you to do is visit somewhere, let the SatNav option on the phone plot it on a Google Map, and place photos of your visit, and write a brief bit on it, so if you were visiting a lesser known place or landmark it’s a good jolt for your memory. Google Buzz is Google’s answer to Facebook. Maps and navigate kind of go hand in hand allowing you to look up locations or plot your location, as well as organise Satellite Navigation of places you might like to go to. Market allows you to shop for applications to add to your phone. Peep is the HTC portal for Twitter. Music allows you to listen to your MP3’s. Quick Office allows the viewing of Microsoft office files. Teeter is a great Labyrinth game. While Youtube speaks for itself.
Internet: The Internet is absolutely amazing on this phone, far better than anything I have every seen on a mobile device. Its fast thanks to the snapdragon processor, allowing you whether using wi-fi or your mobile network to load up pages in seconds, but more than that, it allows you to watch embedded videos whether they are quicktime, adobe, or realplayer, in fact I have yet to find embedded video that does not play, something the HTC has above the iPhone. While a lot of common pages load up in there mobile versions, most just appear as full pages as you would see on your PC, those that come up as mobile versions your just a click away from seeing the full versions. Streaming video sites like ITV, See Saw, Blink Box etc. all work so you really do get mobile television on the move, the BBCI player works but is better with the free myPlayer app from the Android Market. But Facebook fans there is the best news ever, not only can you use Facebook on the move, but you can upload video or Photo Albums from your phone as well as play all those games, Farmville, Hotel City, My Empire all play well although can be cut short if your using too much memory, if you don’t want to clear down this can be rectified by rebooting the phone. But speed is the thing for the Internet, even on the iPhone loading of pages can be slow, this is a whole new boardgame.
Camera: While its not as advanced as many with only a 5 Megapixels it still delivers beautiful crisp clear images, that can either be kept on the phone or uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogspot, Picassa or any other third party application you wish to install. The same applies to Video, although uploading can be quite slow.
Market: Android market is a very good place for downloading additional applications for your phone, the options are endless and there are so many more free options than the iStore, and for once free does not mean limited which is the best part. Some applications I can really recommend are:- Aldiko which gives you access to online books, both free and paid for. Blogaway allows you to update your Blogger/Blogspot page with exactly the same features you have on a PC, you can add video, photo’s, hyperlinks. Last FM lets you listen to your playlists and search for new content. My favourite Marvin is a ZX Spectrum Emulator that allows you to play pretty much any ZX Spectrum game ever released, and all for free; I have spent hours playing Spectrum games that I thought I never would again. You can save the ones you want forever, or delete them, but best of all is a much speeded up Loading Screen with flashing borders and screechy sound. Photoshop gives you a clutch of features on Adobe’s best selling Picture manipulation tool. Picsay allows you to add humour to your photos. RAC Traffic updates your planned routes with anything that might affect your journey. Springpad is a much up-scaled version of a notepad, which allows you to add text, photos, scan barcodes and log locations as well as search nearby if in search of garages, shops, hotels, garages, and restaurants. Stitcher gives you access to Podcasts from across the world. And Tunee allows free music downloads (although I’m uncertain of the legality and how long it will be around).
Some more important aspects you’d like to know about are that the battery life in fairness is poor, and you’ll need to charge this up every day however the battery life is better than the iPhone and the speed of full charge is fairly swift. The HTC Desire is lighter than the iPhone, and not so thick. It’s very hard to accidentally dial out or send random texts to people because as well as having to quickly touch the power button to take it out of standby mode, you also have a slider to move down the screen to unlock the phone. The same slider is how you answer the phone. The phone has 512MB onboard storage, and comes with a 4GB Storage Card, you can upgrade the card to 32GB if you wish.
I mentioned Android earlier which is essentially the operating system that runs the phone, this is in some way connected to Google. But more and more smart phones are being released with the Android operating system, allowing compatibility between the phones regardless of the brand.
I could talk about this phone all day because if I’m to be honest it is absolutely hands down the best mobile phone I have ever owned, it does everything that technology can pretty much allow of a phone, and really would provide you with an opportunity to effectively replace your PC. It has some flaws don’t get me wrong the most important to me is incompatibility with Apple Macs.
They say that Rim Blackberry are about to launch the iPhone killer, but personally I think it’s already here, the trick is getting people to know about it.
The HTC Desire is currently free on 3 on a £30 contract for new users, or any size contract for existing account holders.
Fantastic review, both extremely helpful and very informative.
bandcamp 29.04.2012 14:04
I'm still one of the very few people I know who haven't bought a Smartphone. But I still adore my little Sony Ericsson! Should (for some awful reason) I have to give up my Mowbli, however, I'll seriously consider an HTC :)
LadyValkyrie 08.09.2011 17:31
What an extremely thorough review explaining every feature of the phone. I've never written a mobile phone review but would be happy to use this for inspiration.