The HTC Desire is aptly named because it has a lot of attractive new features.
By ZAM KARIMintech@thestar.com.my
AT FIRST glance, the HTC Desire looks similar to Google's flagship smartphone launched late last year - the Nexus One. That's not really surprising because it was also manufactured by HTC.
They share a number of similarities such as the dark and light grey interlocking pieces for the housing, suede-like texture for the back, and a 3.7in glass capacitive touchscreen that dominates the front.
What's missing though are Nexus One's four touch-sensitive buttons and lighted trackball. Instead the Desire gets physical buttons for accessing the Back, Menu, Home and Search functions, which provide better tactile feedback.
Also new is the optical trackpad that registers finger motion. You can easily swipe through menus and homescreens with it.
Our review unit runs on the latest Android 2.2 (Froyo) operating system which offers cool new features such as WiFi tethering and portable hotspot function, Bluetooth voice dialling, and an updated Google Search bar.
The Desire isn't going to win any awards for its design which looks more business-like than casual.
But compared to other Android models, this smartphone is still more desirable thanks to the suede-like texture for the housing, curvy and slim design, and 3.7in AMOLED screen that displays colours with amazing clarity.
However, as we have said in the past, AMOLED displays usually fare poorly under direct sunlight and this one is no better.
Also, the screen is a fingerprint magnet and gets smudged very easily.
On the back is the 5-megapixel camera, LED flash and speaker. The microUSB slot is at the bottom but it doesn't have a cover to keep the dust out.
The Desire is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor - one of the fastest mobile processors in the market.
The processor is fast enough to handle most tasks but it can become laggy when flipping between homescreens and apps.
Built on top of the Android 2.2 operating system is HTC's Sense user interface, which comes with a number of cool widgets and features to make the phone fun and easier to use.
The Friend Stream aggregates Twitter, Facebook and Flickr content and the weather widget displays local weather forecasts with cool visual effects. For instance, if it's expected to be sunny the screen will shine and a wiper will appear to clear water drops if is expected to rain.
We also like the simple yet highly useful app called Flashlight which uses the phone's built-in LED flash to turn the smartphone into a working torchlight with three brightness levels.
Sense also has a Leap function for viewing all the seven homescreens at once.
Froyo, the codename for Android 2.2, actually stands for Frozen Yogurt.
The name doesn't give any clues to its new features and there are just too many to include all of them here.
The two cool features in Froyo is the ability to turn the phone into a WiFi hotspot and launch apps stored on an external memory card.
With the WiFi hotspot feature, the phone's Internet connection can be shared with up to five devices.
It works like a charm but we recommend subscribing to an unlimited data package if you wish to share your Internet connection with others.
Also, this feature is really battery hungry and can't be used for long without a power adaptor.
The Desire also gets a little hot when this feature is used.
One of the limitations of the old Android is that apps can only be run if they are stored on the phone's internal memory.
It's very easy to run out of space because most Android smartphones come with very little built-in memory - even the Desire only has 576MB of memory.
Froyo fixes this limitation and apps can now be moved to an SD card and they will work fine.
But you can't start moving all your apps yet because they have to be updated to take advantage of this feature.
The Desire doesn't have a dedicated shutter button for the camera. To snap pictures or start recording videos, you'll have to press the trackpad.
The camera has autofocus (which you'd expect) and face detection which locks onto a face and focuses automatically.
The 5-megapixel camera does a respectable job of capturing photos - they turned out sharp although there was a slight blue tint in most shots.
The phone can also shoot videos in HD at 720p resolution and works well under bright light.
In situations where there isn't enough light, the LED flash can be switched on but this introduces digital noise in the videos.
In terms of battery life, the Desire can last a whole day of heavy use before needing a recharge.
There is a lot to like about the HTC Desire. It has handy widgets, the Sense user interface is fun to use, and the smartphone runs on the latest Android 2.2 which has a lot of nifty new functions.
On the downside, the design is a little bland and the internal memory is very small.
Also, at RM2,199 the phone is a little pricey but the smartphone has a lot of handy features to justify the price tag.
Overall, the HTC Desire is a feature-packed phone that's worth checking out.
Pros: Nice screen; decent camera; Sense user interface; uses latest Android OS.
Display: 3.7in WVGA (800 x 480-pixels) AMOLED touchscreen
Operating System: Android 2.2 (Froyo)
Camera: 5-megapixels with autofocus, LED flash
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, microUSB
Expansion Slot: MicroSDHC
Standby/Talk Time: 360/6 hours
Other Features: A-GPS, 720p video recording, multimedia player, proximity sensor, accelerometer, flashlight function
Dimensions (W x D x H): 119 x 60 x 11.9mm
Rating: 4 stars
Review unit courtesy of HTC Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 6201-6433