HTC Desire HD review
A responsive, big screen and all the features you could ever want, but HTC's Sense software is becoming bloated, battery life is below average and it's expensive.
Review Date: 10 Jan 2011
Price when reviewed: £437
Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa
HTC's Desire was one of the first phones to popularise Android and give the iPhone a run for its money, so it's no surprise that HTC has stuck with the name. Following the keyboard-equipped Desire Z, the Desire HD is more akin to HTC's HD2 Windows Mobile phone, although a closer comparison reveals it's actually slightly larger.
It shares the same design, with a gently curved rear case and edges that taper towards the front. This makes it more comfortable to hold and stops it from looking too boxy. Build quality is good, although the single metal cover on the rear of the HD2 has been replaced by two small plastic covers: one, on the side of the phone, hides the tiny battery, while another at the bottom of the case hides the SIM and microSDHC card slots.
The massive 4.3in screen has the same 480x800 resolution as the 3.7in screen on the Desire Z, and it's sharp and colourful. With so much space, Android's icons look larger than we're used to, and along with a responsive capacitive touch interface, we found it incredibly easy to use the phone. Moreover, with so much space, web pages, videos and photos are much easier to view and work with. We aren't fans of the touch-sensitive controls for the four standard Android buttons under the screen, and the location of the power button at the top of the phone means you have to reach awkwardly to wake the phone up.
HTC's Sense software continues to evolve, and while it's still recognisable as Android (with all the advantages of the recent 2.2 version), the interface is heavily tweaked. Sense now asks you to create an account, which allows you to log in via the web and locate your phone, set call and message diversion, and even lock or erase the phone.
Sense includes apps, widgets and a host of interface tweaks. The People app replaces Android's Contacts app, and gives you a central interface for contacts from all the accounts you add, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, and aggregates everything about those people - tweets, status updates, photos and events - in one place. It's also extendable now, as you can download plugins for new services such as LinkedIn and Picasa to extend your social network.
There's a new app called the HTC Hub which lists new plugins, apps, widgets, wallpapers, ringtones and other ways to customise your phone. HTC has even added its own market, called HTC Likes, which provides recommendations and even tracks any comments about apps that your friends have made.
While the phone finder and plugins are welcome additions, we feel HTC risks confusing customers by trying to duplicate Android's built-in apps. As well as People and HTC Likes, HTC has added a Locations app that seeks to emulate Google's Maps and Places apps. It uses maps provided by Route 66, although you can force it to use Google's maps instead. In our testing, we didn't think it offered any substantial benefit over Google's already excellent Maps, Places and Navigation apps.
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