When a courier arrived with a brand new HTC Desire minutes before I was walking out to the pub for Friday night drinks, I thought “Bugger it, I will take it with me” in an effort to get opinions other than my own. The result was a mixed bag of views.The new HTC Desire that goes on sale in Telstra shops next month, comes with the Google Android 2.1 operating system and the brilliantly fast 1.0 GHz Qualcomm processor. It also has a built in FM radio, automatically lowers the ringer volume when picked up, and has a 480 X 800 WVGA AMOLED screen.
The pub where I decided to bench test the HTC Desire was located in the middle of Mosman in Sydney. It attracts some interesting sorts – millionaires, footballers, stock brokers, lawyers, retirees, and even labourers working on local building sites.
Every person who saw the phone commented on the high quality of the new AMOLED screen with several people comparing their iPhones with the new Desire. They claimed that the high-resolution AMOLED screen looked great and was ideal for viewing video’s and still pictures.
One standout comment was that the phone felt good in the hand with several iPhone users surprisingly impressed by the phones look and feel in particularly the use of anodised aluminium for the casing.
The most interesting comments came from Blackberry owners. They were more concerned about emails and the cost of delivering the emails to the HTC device. When they saw how easy it was to connect to an Exchange server they suddenly wanted to see how easy it was to type an email on a touch screen as opposed to a keypad found with most Blackberry phones.
Even die hard Blackberry users agreed that messaging on the HTC Desire was a dream despite the phone not having a physical keyboard.
The contacts view on the HTC Desire is also good as well – Facebook and Twitter integration are now offered, as well as all your socially networked buddies’ updates grouped together in the new friend stream application.
“Wow, it’s much faster and easier to use than I thought,” said one heavy Blackberry user. Interestingly, the comments then turned to cost.
Strikingly similar to the Google Nexus One phone which was recently launched overseas but not in Australia, the new Desire seemed to have hit a chord with die hard Apple iPhone users with comments like, “The screen is brighter and you can scroll faster. But what about an application store or access to iTunes?”
In fact, several users said that they liked the Desire better than their iPhone.
However, some of them were not prepared to move to a Google Android phone. “It’s a better phone but not at the expense of losing access to the Apple Application store and access to the Apple iTunes store,” said an iPhone user.
During the hour long exercise, not one single person had a negative attitude towards the HTC Desire, with several people overwhelmingly claiming it was the second best phone to the iPhone and significantly better than offerings from Research in Motion with their Blackberry range.
To activate the phone, one has to simply press an on/off button located on the top of the phone. Ideally, I would like the three buttons that are located on the bottom of the phone to automatically restore the screen after it has powered down.
The Desire has three key buttons conveniently located on the base of the phone. I really liked the menu button because you can be inside an application and by pressing it you can get access to a host of additional capabilities.
Included with the Desire is range of animated wallpapers to choose from. You can swipe between the screens as usual, or use the touch-sensitive button -to scroll between screens.
One big feature that impressed the pub crowd was the built in pinch feature, which is set to be challenged by Apple in an upcoming patent court case in the USA.
How this works is that if pinch your fingers together on any of the home screens, you get to view all seven pages in miniature so you can see where you put your hero applications including the clock and weather widgets.
The Desire also has Friend Stream, which aggregates Facebook, Twitter and Flickr updates in one place. This is a handy feature but did not appeal to the pub set who were more interested in the built-in mapping from Google and the Telstra WhereIs service.
With both Apple iPhone and Blackberry users, the email functions were seen as being “extremely important”.
With the Desire you can sort emails in different orders including unread, favourite senders and more, instead of just making do with reverse time order.
There’s also Exchange support and support for flash video in web sites as well as tethering and Bluetooth.
With several women, the biggest attraction of the new HTC Desire was the 5MP camera and the built in camcorder. When images shot by the group were viewed on the AMOLED screen, they all said that they looked better than on any other mobile phone they had seen.
The HTC Desire has an abundance of applications built in the phone however I would like to see larger icons that match the iPhone.
In a battery bench test versus the iPhone and the HTC HD2 ,the new HTC Desire outperformed both smartphones.
This phone is set to be a big hit especially as several of the pub crowd came to the opinion that it was time to update their current phone. The most common question. What is the price? When is it available?
With the HTC HD2 already setting records in Telstra shops this phone could go a long way to giving Telstra an advantage in their decision to invest heavily in Google Android technology in 2010.
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