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I first got my HTC hero when android wasnít really well known and the iPhone was all the rage, it is fair to say that things have come some way since then, but this phone still holds its own even if I have upgraded to a quicker and slicker android phone.
The HTC hero is a great phone and I found the experience of upgrading to a smartphone smooth and easy and now is an everyday essential.
The phone itself is light and I can easily carry it in my shorts pocket on a daily basis and don't worry about it falling out, this is something that I was particularly concerned about with upgrading from a tiny phone and seeing as I wear shorts pretty much the entire year. The screen is clear and crisp and easily big enough for my uses and since having tried both the HTC desire and the HYC sensation I can say that this screen size is the easiest on your hands to use, it is easy to reach across with the same hand as you are holding the phone whilst others like the Sensation require two hands for most uses. I don't use a screen protector and have not had any problems with marks or scratches and I think this is at least in part to the use of a resistant screen and I have also found it to be plenty bright enough even on the lowest settings and it actually bright enough on the top settings to be used in bright sunlight.
The touch sensitivity of the screen is great and it responds really well to gestures and is really easy to use, I tend to use it all of the time for zooming and playing lots of different games where accuracy is key (Iím not that good at them but this has nothing to do with the screen). The battery life of the phone is not that great and with normal use needs to be charged at least once every 2 days though I tend to do this every night, this can be greatly extended if you have constant access to wi-fi so you can turn off mobile data, charging times are hard for me to specify as I normally charge overnight but from when I have had to charge is seems to be able to get there from the nothing in a couple of hours.
The Hard buttons on the bottom are ok however one of my grievances that has been corrected in later models is the location of the back button which is a bit awkward for us right handed people to hit however once used to it isn't actually that bad. The volume button on the side is really good and the trackball works really well in games and for general navigation though again this had been left out of later models as it has been deemed unnecessary and to be honest it isnít really missed when absent.
My phone was SIM free so I don't have any of the usual added bloatware but as with most smartphones load time at boot up is a bit slow with the phone generally taking a couple of minutes before it is really ready to use and then since the update to android 2.1 I have to be careful with my memory usage which could do with being a bit higher again like in later models. (If you want something fast booting then nothing impresses people more than the HTC Sensation).
The Android operating system on the phone with the HTC sense interface is great, everything is so customisable and the marketplace makes the uses for the phone almost endless. I use it as a GPS, calculator, timer, countdown, for research, for internet (recommend the Dolphin Browser or Opera mobile), for gaming, texting, as a phone and more.
I havenít used the Hero much as a camera or camcorder but the footage I have taken and the pictures I have got from it have been as good as I expected from a phone, not great but not too bad, however it is worth noting that there is no flash. I also havenít used it much as an MP3 player as I have an MP3 player for that, from what I have used it works well and the sound it generates if you are not using earphones is really good (well for its size).
I know that in the past there had been talk about smartphones not having the same reception as older phones, I can say that I have never had any problems with this phone, I have always been able to make a phone call when required and the only places I fail to get phone calls are known signal dead spots. Making a phone call is really simple, just got to the phone app, type in the number or pick a contact and hit call. So despite all the bling it is still a phone.