Thursday, June 03, 2010

HTC Desire - Android™ Smartphone

HTC Desire Gallery

HTC Desire along with HTC Legend are the latest addition to HTC line-up of Android™ smartphones, which includes the earlier Dream, Magic, Hero and Tattoo. Both Desire and Legend are operating on Android™ 2.1 Eclair which is a newer operating system, compared to the earlier models. There is possibility that Desire and Legend gets an upgrade to the latest Android™ 2.2 Froyo. HTC Legend is a replacement model for the Hero, which is quite obvious from the unique arched candy-bar form. HTC Desire is not a replacement, but the Google Nexus One in a HTC outfit. Just look at their similarities in form. If you didn't know, the hyped Google phone or Nexus One is actually manufactured by HTC. The HTC Desire gives users the chance to experience a similar (same specification with slight improvement) to the Nexus One, especially for us who cannot get the Nexus One from our local Telcos (yet?).

About Android™ Operating System
For those new to Android™, Android™ is a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. Android™ was subsequently bought over by Google, and lately by the Open Handset Alliance, which allows developers to write codes in the Java language and control the device via Google-developed Java libraries. With this alliance, it means that there will be more apps developed for the Android™ Market.


I have earlier reviewed HTC Tattoo, the lowest end of Android™ phone. When I first got connected to Android™ via HTC Tattoo, I knew that Android™ will be the last OS that I will use, because there will be no better than Android™. I was quite certain that my future mobile phones will be Android™ and in particular, HTC. When Nexus One was released, I was very tempted to order it online (the only option to purchase through the proper channel) because it is/was the best Android™ phone (as of post date). Luckily, HTC came up with their own version of the Nexus One, bearing similarities from external to internal, that is HTC Desire! It is hard not to admit that HTC Desire is slightly improved over Nexus One, with optical sensor being one of the improved feature. Hence, HTC Desire is arguably the best Android™ phone thus far.

Which is why I have to get my hands on a unit of HTC Desire!
* I was lucky to score this piece at a discounted promotion!

HTC Desire sports a luxurious 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive multi-touch display. The 480 x 800 WVGA resolution makes the screen a beauty to watch anytime. The 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 512MB ROM and 576MB RAM means very responsive for multitasking operations. HTC Sense™ UI (user interface) completes the Android™ experience. HTC Desire runs on the newer Android™ 2.1 (Éclair). HTC Desire is also packed with a 5MP auto focus camera with face detection and flash. The ambient light sensor helps the smartphone saves precious battery juice. Other standard HTC Android™ features include: G-sensor (accelerometer for orientation detection), 3.5mm stereo audio jack, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth (improved with filte transfer and object push protocols for file transfer), tethering via USB (internet sharing via USB) and microSD card support.
HTC Desire also comes preinstalled with Facebook for Android™, FriendStream (one app that consolidates all social network updates), Android™ Market, Google Maps and a whole lot more package of Google-related applications.

Unboxing of HTC Desire
Like all HTC Android™ smartphones, or in fact any Android™, HTC Desire comes in a slender white hardcover paper card box designed like a drawer, whereby the insert slides out from the bottom of the box. The fitting insert slowly slides down from the exterior box, the Desire rests on a tray.

The HTC Desire box compared to "junior" HTC Tattoo.

HTC Desire Video Review Part 1: Unboxing of HTC Desire

The HTC Desire handsets comes protected in a plastic sleeve and rests in a paper tray on the top tier. The documents includes: HTC Desire Quick Start Guide, Warranty Statement, Safety & Regulatory Guide, Contact Us and Accessories brochure. Apparantly, the full instruction manual is not provided, and must be downloaded online. The handset comes with a Sandisk 2GB microSD card with Card Adaptor, Travel Charger, 3-pin Adaptor for the Travel Charger, 5-pin micro-USB (not standard mini-USB) cable and 3.5mm Stereo Headset (c/w microphone capability).

HTC Desire
HTC Desire has a very close resembrance to Google Nexus One, both front and back. It is easy to mistake the Desire with Nexus One, if you aren't familiar with both models.

HTC Desire is very light at only 135gm with battery on. The body is largely plastic with the rear cover is a matt finish, similar to that on HTC Tattoo.

The rear cover snaps on/off, unlike the usual slide covers, which means you have to use your nails to pry the rear cover (heartache if you scratch the finishing). This makes changing battery or removing the microSD card, a nightmare!
To make you feel patriotic to Google, HTC Desire is branded with a "with Google" logo on the rear.

The 1400mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery allows up to 400 mins talktime or 340 hours standby on GSM network. However, official ratings are not necessary accurate, especially when different apps are installed and internet access gets more frequent. On a general note, the battery can definitely last a decent one day and possibility 1.5 days, with mobile network turned on and data usage.

The micro-SD card and SIM card slots will eventually be blocked by the battery, which means the memory card is not hotswappable. The micro-SD card slot is 2.0 compatible and supports up to 32GB.

Like all Android™ phones, HTC Desire comes with a common and loveable 3.5mm stereo audio jack for your favourite earphones or headsets. Next to the audio jack is the Power button. On the rear is a 5-megapixel color camera with Face-detection capability, touch auto-focus with LED flash. The loudspeaker is loud and clear though does crack a bit at maximum volume. The tiny groove between the loudspeaker and Power button is for prying open the rear cover.

HTC Desire utilizes a 5-pin mini-USB which is not really a standard type that comes with cameras, card readers, PSP etc. Hence, you cannot have spare cables hanging around, ready to be used for charging the phone. The phone comes with standard Android™ buttons: Home Button(hold to multi-task, like Alt-Tab), Menu Button (access options and function like right-mouse button on a PC; hold to bring up keyboard), Optical Sensor button (swipe across it to move cursors and depress to select/confirm/OK), Back Button (to move one step back/cancel), Search Button (a very useful button to search any text related to the current application or look up Google).

HTC Desire Video Review Part 2: Operation & HTC Sense UI

Compared to HTC Tattoo
Since I have the HTC Tattoo, the lowest end Android™ phone, why not do a comparison of "Grandpa and Grandson".

Aren't you already loving the slimmer HTC Desire (left) than HTC Tattoo (right)? Also note the difference in the USB port. As I have mentioned the Tattoo uses a standard mini-USB while the Desire is smaller than the normal.

HTC Desire immediately stands out with its much faster boot-up (see video review).

Definitely more estate on the HTC Desire but oddly, the Home-screen still only allows 4x4 tiles, like every other smaller HTC Android™ phones. Nevertheless, you do get better resolution and larger widgets, icons, space. The HTC Tattoo comes with a resistive screen with no multi-touch, which explains the budget pricing. However, I find myself prefering a tap-to-point using finger nail and not the flesh, easier.

HTC Desire Video Review Part 3: Boot-up compared to HTC Tattoo

HTC Desire In the Hands
In the hands, it felt exactly like holding the Nexus One or the iPhone, with regards to size. The smooth matt plastic finish is rather worrying and does not give the sense of strength and quality like holding an iPhone.

Compared to my other "Desirable" Gadgets
No size comparison is complete without size comparison to other gadgets or devices, and also the unrelated usual celebrities.

Together with the legendary LUMIX LX3 and Canon iXUS40,

with Konica KD-400Z and retro Kodak Instamatic,

with LG Viewty Smart and Apple iPod mini 2G,

with Sony PSP,

with just some of my current photography toys but mainly Nikon,

with the usual celebrities, really toys!

Test Images from HTC Desire

Click on image thumbnails to enlarge in full resolution.
01. Night shot

02. Standard wide-angle shot, no flash.

03. Zoom, no flash

04. Close-up, no flash

05. Close-up with flash

06. Average (default) metering, no flash

07. Spot metering, no flash

08. Close-up with flash

09. Close-up, no flash

10. Tilt-shift effect using 3rd-party camera app

Currently, HTC Desire is definitely one of the best and most "desired" smartphone. Since its release, it was sold out on day 1. Until this day, I have received many feedbacks from iPhone 3GS users who are planning to switch to Android™ and getting the Desire. I had to get myself a HTC Desire to play with since I was at the Official HTC Desire Launch!
Why Android™?
I have used Windows Mobile (on LG KS20) and conclude it to be slow, small buttons and inefficient memory usage. Android™ definitely does not lose out in terms of flexibility or "smartness". I have played with iPhone, and I meant really only play, playing games and apps. I dreaded the lack of multi-tasking!! Other OS simply does not match up in terms of app support!
Why Desire?
Since HTC Desire is the best Android™ phone around, it is only obvious that you get the best. Desire is HTC mass-market version of the Google Nexus One with improvements. Hence, the Desire is most powerful (as of post date) Android™ phone available. When it comes to Android™ phones, no one does it better than HTC! Why? Because they developed the Nexus One, that is why. HTC Desire runs on the newer (though not latest) Android™ 2.1 Eclair with a 1GHz processor that blows smoke in other smartphones. With HTC Sense UI, the whole experience with Android™ is even better and easier. Getting a hang of the OS is not hard, as long as you remember standard Android™ buttons: Home Button(hold to multi-task, like Alt-Tab), Menu Button (access options and function like right-mouse button on a PC; hold to bring up keyboard), Optical Sensor button (swipe across it to move cursors and depress to select/confirm/OK), Back Button (to move one step back/cancel). It is just like working with a PC in the palm!
If you are thinking of not using the common phone, it seems like the Desire is your best choice. You can seriously do much more with the Desire with multi-tasking, a larger screen (3.7-inch compared to 3.5-inch), a better camera with flash, up-and-coming Android™ Market, at the expense of losing a galore of game apps. Connecting to the Google "cloud" makes life much easier by leaving it in the "clouds". Trust Google, they promised to "Not Be Evil"! HTC Desire's fast 1GHz processor makes the operation very smooth and fast, with hardly any detectable lag. This advantage boosts the performance with the HTC Sense UI which is one of the most-user friendly and intelligent UI around. If you do not have memory-consuming apps and require a huge screen, you can opt for the smaller HTC Legend which comes with a sleek aluminium unibody. If you have the extra cash and wanna get the best Android™ experience, get the HTC Desire. It is no regrets and certainly not too late to jump on the Android™ bandwagon.
Fears of being a commoner with the Desire? Fret not, HTC has a whole lot more Android™ phones in their pipeline, but at the meantime, get the best, HTC Desire!

Updates (5th June 2010):
  • HTC Desire is supposed to get an upgrade to Android™ 2.2 Froyo on June 23rd. Note that an upgrade of OS means all data on the phone will be deleted. You can decide if you require the subtle updates in GUI and added wireless tethering capability.
  • User feedback: HTC Desire has touchscreen inaccuracy of the Desire. In fact, with any capacitive multi-touch screens, the overly sensitivity can frustrate the typing or touching with errors. I suggest spending a bit more time getting familiar with the screen. (still I prefer resistive screens).
  • User feedback: HTC Desire or Android™ does not handle contacts with and without county codes well, e.g. "+65-12345678" does not show up as the same caller-ID as contact saved as "12345678".
  • User feedback: Lack of Java support in browser means, like an iPhone, some websites become not compatible and poor video-streaming support from sites such as XINMSN. Apparantly Windows Mobile HTC HD2 seems to be the only one doing well at this.
  • Compared to the SingTel exclusive Samsung Galaxy S (launch on 5th June 2010), the Galaxy S gets a slightly bigger 4-inch SUPER AMOLED touchscreen (using a new Korean made multi-touch screen was tested to be more accurate at tracing touch than the one used in HTC Desire). Galaxy S packs internal memory with external memory support and a faster 1GHz processor. The Galaxy S records video in HD 720p resolution which ousted Desire. Galaxy S also supports popular video formats including .mkv. Galaxy S is equipped with a 5MP camera (without flash?) and a secondary front camera for video calls. The operating system is released in Singapore as Android™ 2.2 Froyo. The GUI is a close clone to Apple iPhone 3G/3GS or LG S-Class, with an identical tile thumbnail layout, but advantage being Android™ with widget-support. If you stay true to the royal bloodline, you will know who to take sides. Nevertheless, the Galaxy S does pose a threat to Desire sales.

Photography & Editing by William
©William Tan 2010

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This is an individual and independent user review, for more information on the official product, please refer to:

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ber said...

cool review... i thinking between this and galaxy s


ber> no doubt there will be more powerful Android coming, but I do love the Desire because it is a HTC version of Nexus One.
I am a diehard Google supporter!
And seriously HTC Sense UI is really very good, compared to other Android UI which I tested.
Moreover, HTC is the manufacturer for Google Nexus One.
I am just staying true to the royal bloodline! LOL
(too bad I ain't rich to hook myself up to a Nexus One at retail!)