720p movie shooting and a new version of HTC Sense confirm HTC's position as the Android king
Yesterday we brought you news of the latest additions to HTC's smartphone range: the HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire Z. We got some hands-on time at the launch in London and from what we’ve seen, Android fans are in for a treat; these handsets are very enticing.
Like the HTC Legend, the handsets are made from aluminium, and feel solid, yet lightweight enough to carry around.
Running a 1Ghz processor the HTC Desire HD is the new flagship HTC handset. It looks just like an enlarged version of the Desire; the front totally dominated by the 4.3-inch WVGA display, which is perhaps a bit too large for some. However others appreciate the extra real estate, especially for movies and browsing.
The screen is certainly bright and sharp with bold colours, although it’s a real shame it doesn’t use OLED technology - it’s not quite as eye-popping as the Apple iPhone 4. When quizzed about this during our briefing, HTC’s Jon French cited ‘the Global shortage of AMOLED’ as one of the background factors.
The second handset the HTC Desire Z has a 3.7-inch screen and runs an 800Mhz processor. The highlight here is a full QWERTY keyboard which slides out using what HTC calls a ‘Z hinge.’ The motion feels smooth and quick and we don’t think there’s any danger of it sliding open accidentally in a bag. The keyboard does make the phone slightly chunkier to hold and less sleek than the Desire HD, but its existence alone will please anyone who struggles with a virtual keyboard.
Typing on the keyboard is a pleasant experience, the keys are a good size (not ridiculously small), well spaced and and typing feels very comfortable, there’s even room to rest your fingers. New features include the repositioning of the ‘@’ command and the addition of two shortcut buttons that you can program to open apps such as Facebook quickly.
HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire Z: Interface Tweaks
Both the Desire HD and the Desire Z run Android 2.2, but come with the latest incarnation of the excellent Sense interface which has some nifty new features.
Contacts have been enhanced so you can see status updates alongside a photo and regular contact information, you can also choose to block numbers or conversely share more information with your friends, including your location.
The Desire has always supported multitasking, but on this handset it’s picture rather than icon based. But now as well as holding down the button to access it, you can also drag the screen down in a far quicker and more intuitive movement to view open programs.
HTC Desire HD: Multimedia
The Desire HD has an 8-megapixel camera, while the Desire Z has a 8-megapixel camera. Alongside a range of tweakable features you can now apply filters before you take a photo - it’s undeniably gimmicky, but certainly fun.
Once you take a picture, click the upload button and should you choose ‘Facebook for HTC Sense’ the option appears to tag a photo there and then instead of having to do it in Facebook, a process that makes lots of sense and is very quick to implement.
A very welcome addition to both models is the inclusion of 720p movie shooting; it’s not really unexpected considering Apple and Samsung have had HD handsets out for a while, but we’re not complaining. Choose to view your movies back on a TV via DLNA or using the built in HDMI port.
HTC Desire HD: Pricing and release
First impressions of the Desire HD and the Desire Z are good. The Desire HD seems to be a natural extension of the original Desire, while the full-QWERTY-touting Z is something new. Following the old ‘if it ain’t broke’ adage, HTC hasn’t dramatically changed anything; instead they’ve just made a serious of crucial tweaks to make the user experience smoother and more efficient, while dramatically improving multimedia capability. We’re far more excited about these two handsets than the Symbian-based Nokia E7 or Nokia C7 we saw at Nokia World.
We can’t forget HTCSense.com, the cloud-based service that launches alongside the handset. As well as backing up your Desire HD, if you lose it it will ring your handset (even if it's on silent) or wipe it for you.
The Desire HD and Desire Z will be available from October 11th on all carriers. According to HTC's Jon French, contracts will cost a maximum of £35 per month, while Amazon has the RRPs of the handsets set at £499 for the Z and £529 for the HD.