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HTC Desire Z review

Seth Barton
7 Dec 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
400
inc VAT

It's not perfect, but if you’re looking for an Android handset with a proper keyboard then this is the one to buy.

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Specifications

Android 2.2 (Froyo), 3.7in 480x800 display

We’ve consistently applauded HTC’s smartphone efforts in recent years: with the company producing numerous excellent handsets running Google’s Android OS. One such handset was the Desire, which lived up to its name thanks to a 1GHz processor and 3.7in AMOLED display. Keen to continue its success, HTC has now launched the Desire Z.

At first glance the Desire Z looks like a chunkier Desire. The big difference here is the addition of a fold-out QWERTY keyboard. This pivots out from below the handset on a complex trio of hinges. It’s lightly spring-loaded, and though we found it a little awkward to pop-out and fold back at first (with a couple of almost-dropped-it incidents), you soon get used to the action.

HTC Desire Z Hinge

The keyboard has four lines of keys, with numbers accessed by either of the Function keys, of which there are thoughtfully two, one on each side of keyboard, for ease of access. There are two shift keys as well, and a big space bar you can reach with either thumb. A pair of small programmable shortcut keys let you launch apps at the touch of a button.

HTC Desire Z Open

Typing with our thumbs was quick and accurate, after a little practice of course. The keys could do with a touch more feedback, but it’s certainly better than using a touchscreen. That said, onscreen keyboards, and spellchecking, have come on a lot in the last few years. We reckon you’d have to be a serious text and email user to need a proper keyboard like this. It certainly adds to the size and weight of the device; at 180g and 15mm thick, it’s noticeably chunkier in your pocket than the original Desire’s 135g and 11.9mm.

The keyboard isn’t the only difference between this and its predecessor. The original’s 1GHz processor was one of the defining specs of the Desire, so it’s surprising to find an 800MHz processor in the Desire Z. This still makes it faster than aging handsets like the Legend, but in demanding apps, such as games, and switching between apps feels a little sluggish compared to the fastest handsets we’ve seen.

On the plus side, there’s an additional 1GB of internal storage, up from 512MB to 1.5GB. This gives you plenty of space for installing apps, without having to go through the faff of moving larger apps to your SD card to free up space.

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