In theory, the HTC Desire Z brings together the best of both worlds with touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard inputs – in practice, the keyboard seems a little too muddled to be the best of its world.
Don’t get me wrong, the Desire Z is a great phone that greatly benefits from having the option of using a physical keyboard for those who still fancy a bit of texture at the fingertips.
But first: a bit about the phone itself. The Desire Z is a 3.7inch touchscreen handset that runs on Android 2.2 with the typical HTC-specific Sense interface.
As it’s single solid button (apart from the keyboard, of course) is a touch-sensitive black button that can be pressed as a sort of enter key and can be scrolled across with the finger in place of directional buttons on older phones.
It also features a 5MP camera that takes some nice shots for a phone camera, with little of the visual noise you get from the typical iPhone shot.
The Desire Z runs fluidly across the menu and through apps, though is slightly slower than the Desire HD by comparison.
The reason I make the comparison is that while the Desire HD is a pretty hefty phone, the Desire Z is even chunkier, sitting at 14mm thick and weighing 180 grams thanks to its in-built keypad.
Now, onto the keypad – a convoluted beast. While the typical keyboard will feature the central F and J keys in the centre of the key map with the spacebar directly below, the Desire Z awkwardly props the small spacebar a few spaces to the left.
Another nitpick at the keyboard is the placement of the earphone jack on the left side of the keyboard that tended to get in the way when listening to music/watching videos on the phone and typing at the same time – another poor placement option.
Rather than how other models of keyboard built-in phones (like many Nokia phones) slide out, the Desire Z pops up and out in a way that is good for locking the keyboard away and stopping accidental openings.
Once you get used to this keyboard (which isn’t as much of a joy to use as others) the option of having touchscreen and keys together on one Android phone makes this a very appealing buy.
On the speaker side, calls sound great on this phone thanks to an extra clear and loud receiving speaker. The in-built speaker can also play content fairly loudly.
You won’t want to be watching too much content though, since battery life isn’t this phone’s big feature. Like many other app-happy Android phones, battery life can be as low as six hours if you use a constant stream of apps and social networks.
A handy little extra thrown in is the ability to turn the phone into a wireless hot spot so you can connect multiple gadgets to the Desire Z’s data connection.
The keyboard might be a little bit clunky to navigate, but once you’re used to it the joys of having an Android phone with a keypad and touchscreen together start to shine.
The HTC Desire Z is currently available exclusively through Vodafone on a $65 Infinite Plan over 24 months or for $5 per month on a $49 cap.