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  • Specifications

Full Review


The HTC Desire has the distinction of being the third HTC in less than two months that we have awarded five stars - the others being the Legend and the Google-branded Nexus One. The Desire boasts the latest Google Android 2.1 operating system, a high-speed 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a vivid 3.7-inch AMOLED touch-screen.

Style and handling on the HTC Desire

Despite the large size of that screen, the HTC Desire is only a smidgeon longer than the iPhone and no wider. Like the Hero, it is Teflon coated, which gives it a lovely textured, warm feel. On the back of the phone is the five-megapixel camera lens, LED flash and speaker vents, making for a unique retro design that is miles away from the smooth, minimal Legend. The ‘chin’ that has been such a design feature of Android handsets in the past has been almost completely flattened now.

That large, 3.7-inch screen has 16 million colours and AMOLED lights make for a clear, bright display. The flip side of this is reflected glare, making the screen hard to see in bright sunlight.

Another new touch is the trackpad, which replaces a trackball, and the home, back, search and menu buttons are a matt metal. Another change, and not for the better, is that you now have to remove your battery to get to your microSD card, which is an unnecessary palaver.

Hardware and software on the HTC Desire

The 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor makes the HTC Desire more powerful than the iPhone – it’s not only fast but can also run several programs in the background without slowing down at all.

When it comes to specs, the Desire is an almost exact match for the Nexus One, except it can’t record high-spec video – apparently the update is on its way – and doesn’t have the second mic for noise cancellation. And although both phones have the Android 2.1 OS, the excellent voice-to-text feature on the Nexus is missing from the Desire.

But Google was bound to save some extra features for its own-branded Nexus One, and what the Desire does have is HTC’s marvellous Sense interface, which is a massive bonus.

Friendstream on the HTC Desire

New feature Friendstream syncs your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts and updates are streamed into a single feed that you can view and update via a home screen widget. Facebook and Flickr are also synced with your contact book, and contacts are automatically synced by email address. Even if they use different email addresses, you get suggestions for synching based on names.

Friendstream is one of the features that put the HTC Desire above other phones. Straight out of the box it’s a top-class internet and social networking phone, which means you can pick it up immediately. When you first fire up the phone, it will take you through a setup programme to add your email accounts, sync your social networks and register with a wireless network. If you already use Google for your email, contacts and calendar your data will be available straight away; if not, you will be asked to set up a Gmail accounts and your phone contacts will sync automatically. It means that while it’s easy as pie to sync everything up to Google, you’re not ties to a single handset.

And if you want to pimp your phone even more, there are more than thirty thousand applications available at Android Market.

Touch-screen on the HTC Desire

Android 2.1 means you can use multi-touch in the home screen, web browser, maps and photo gallery. So instead of scrolling through the seven home screens to find the one you’re after, you can pinch to view them all as thumbnails then tap to select the one you want. It’s a small feature but it makes using the phone much easier.

The screen itself look superb, showing backgrounds and icons in high-definition detail, and its 480x800-pixel resolution beats the Legend’s 320x480 pixels easily.

The on-screen keyboard is responsive and accurate – we especially like the auto-correct feature that makes spelling suggestions based on letters you may have mistyped. You can choose between portrait and landscape formats for typing, and both a comfortable to use. And because of that 1GHz processor, we could write messages at speed even with a MB-hungry app like Spotify running in the background.

Web browsing on the HTC Desire

The processor, screen and full HTML browser work to make the HTC Desire the best web browsing phone available, no question. Pages load quickly and look great once they have, and zooming is instant and not jerky like some. Pages are displayed as they are on a computer, and auto fit keeps it all on the screen.

Copy and paste works very well: do a long press onto a piece of text and it will be selected with a pin on each end. Simply drag the pins around the part you want to copy or share then paste it into a text field by long pressing again. You can also open a new window, bookmark a page, or save the text to your microSD card.

Maps and GPS on the HTC Desire

We like the new multi-touch feature in maps. It’s not a smooth zoom, but a incremental zooming in process like you get using the on-screen zoom buttons. Double tapping has the same effect.

We got a very quick GPS fix, and route mapping is also speedy. There is a “What’s Nearby” function and the ability to tap on any business on the map to get its contact details and Street View. You can also add layers to view high-traffic road or your contacts from Latitude of Buzz.

Of course, all the power drains the juice quickly – as is the case with all smartphones – so you will have to recharge daily; more if you always have the music player running. It might help to get into the habit of turning off GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G when you don’t need them.

Camera on the HTC Desire

The Desire’s five-megapixel camera is better than the Legend’s – although its specs aren’t too different. The auto-focus works better, and the addition of an LED flash makes lowlight shots possible – and not too bad either. We like the touch-focus feature that means you can choose the focal point of a photo manually.

There is a noticeable difference between photos taken on the Legend and those taken on the Desire. Photos taken on the Legend were warm and buttery, while those from the Desire are cool with lots of blue tones.

Like many camera phones, you get shutter lag, and this certainly isn’t the best camera phone on the market, but it’s fine for quick photos to share online.

While there is no HD video recording like the Nexus One, the HTC Desire can shoot widescreen video at the relatively low speed of 15fps. It falters in lowlight conditions, with diluted colours and jerky playback.

The verdict on the HTC Desire

The HTC Desire is the nearest thing we have seen to a handheld computer. Sure, the Nexus One has similar specs, but it’s only available on contract with Vodafone for an eye-watering £470-plus. And as far as we’re concerned, HTC’s Sense interface pushes the Desire above its competitors – it connects you to the internet and social networks out of the box, multitasks with speed, is completely customisable and has an increasing number of apps available to download, many of the free. We’re very impressed.




Type of phone:Smartphone
Weight:135 g
Display:16 million colours
Camera:Five megapixels
Video recording:Yes
Video playback:Yes
Video calling:No
Video streaming:Yes
Music formats played:WAV, AAC+, MP3, WMA
3.5mm jack port:Yes
Handsfree speakerphone:Yes
Voice Control:No
Voice Dialling:No
Call records:Unlimited
Ringtones customization:No
Display description:AMOLED
Standard color:119 x 60 x 11.9 mm
Launch Status:Available
Operating system:Android
Connectivity:Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, WLAN, A2DP, MicroUSB
Announced date:February 2010
What's in the Box:Phone, charger head, headphones, USB cable
International launch date:March 2010
Battery life when playing multimedia:N/A
FM Radio Description:Stereo FM with RDS
Internal memory:512MB
Memory Card Slot:microSD
Messaging:IM, SMS, Email, MMS
Internet Browser:HTML, RSS
E-mail client:Push email, IMAP4, SMTP, POP3, Attachments
Data speed:HSDPA, 3G, GPRS, EDGE
Talktime:390 mins
Standby:360 hours
Display size:3.7 inches
Audio recording:Yes

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