HTC's Desire handset is definitely one worth waiting for. It takes many of the features we like about the HTC Hero and improves upon them. It's closer to an HTC HD2, with Android onboard.
Take, for example, the Desire's processor, now a 1GHz Snapdragon, as compared to the 528MHz in the Hero. Of the 17 smartphones we recently reviewed for our upcoming June issue, only the HTC HD2 has a similarly powerful processor.
The battery is slightly larger than either the Hero or HD2, at 1400mAh, compared to 1230 and 1350, respectively. Given that the Hero and HD2 manage about 40 hours in our battery testing, and HTC
Marketing Manager Anthony Petts said that the battery life in the Desire was comparable to the HD2. We'd expect around the same from the Desire.
Desire comes with upgraded Android
Desire will come with Android 2.1 "Eclair"; that's a step up from most of the Australian Android phones so far (if you're on Three, you can update your HTC Hero to Android 2.1, but most people will still have Android 1.6.). Eclair is used on the Google Nexus One phone, too.
One of the nice additional features of Eclair is the ability to use multiple Gmail accounts on your handset.
HTC are talking up the customisation aspects of the Sense 2 user interface - with twenty ‘scenes', each of which has seven screens to play with, there's plenty of screen real estate to set up widgets that suit your needs. We'll be posting more about this soon, including photos.
What's it like to use?
We had a brief hands-on with one at the launch. Some of the things we liked were the fast and responsive web-browsing, the new aggregator widget that pulls in updates from Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and other social apps, and the thumbnail view of the 7 screens in your current scene, which allows you to select the screen you want easily.
The 3.7in AMOLED screen is bright and should provide good readability even in sunlight - while it's not quite as large as the screen on the HD2, it's bigger than the Hero, and feels surprisingly large when you're reading onscreen text.
The 1GHz Snapdragon makes the Desire feel very responsive, and scrolling through contacts and the like was speedy and without any stutters or jerkiness.
Other features worth noting
Petts demonstrated the friendly ringtone - which automatically quiets when you pick the phone up, and the improved contact handling for Sense.
For business users there's an exchange client, and the Desire will automatically backup contacts and some data types direct to your SD card.
Because the phone is available via Telstra, it will come not only with Google services, HTC widgets Market and the full Android Marketplace (with 30,000 apps), but also the full range of Telstra services, such as Foxtel viewing, Whereis and Senses.
We'll get a review model in the next week to explore at length.
The downside: no data by default
The Desire will be launched on the Telstra NextG service on April 27th, but it's worth noting that while the base plan has a very tempting price of $60 per month with the handset free on contract, that plan comes with no data allowance.
For a phone like the Desire, which is predicated on access to Gmail, Google and internet connectivity, that seems like madness. Richard Fink, from Telstra, noted that there's also a $65 per month business plan with 300MB of data and that you can buy bolt-on data for the base plan. There will also be higher-cost plans that come with data included.
You will be able to buy the Desire for $779 unlocked through Telstra, too. Or if you can stand to wait for three months, other Telcos should then carry it.
Processor: Snapdragon 1GHz
Platform: Android 2.1 + HTC Sense
Memory Card: 2GB microSD
ROM: 512 MB
RAM: 576 MB
Dimensions: 119 x 60 x 11.9mm, 135g
Display: 3.7in 480 X 800 AMOLED capacitive touch screen
Battery Capacity: 1400 mAh
Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
Talk time: Up to 390min
Standby time: Up to 360hr
Bluetooth 2.1; 802.11 b/g, GPS, 3.5mm jack, Proximity sensor, Digital Compass