HTC Desire HD Review

Franz Bicar
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Of all the Android phones out in the market today, the HTC Desire HD is one that caught my attention. Its aesthetic looks, 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, WVGA (800 x 480) display, 720p video, and a modern 1GHz CPU somehow brings out the geek in me. All these are complimented by Android’s latest OS offering - Froyo. Both the Desire HD’s hardware and software makes the geek in me drool all over in jealousy and anticipation.

First let’s look at the Desire HD’s hardware. As mentioned already, the phone’s specification makes it one of the most desirable handset out in the market today. HTC’s aluminum unibody design makes the phone more rigid and durable. After all, the phone’s casing is carved out of a single slab of aluminum. It reduces unnecessary bulk making the phone look slim and sexy and at the same time light and durable.

Even though the Desire HD is wider than most smartphones in the market, once you have it in your hands, you can’t help but feel and appreciate the curves, contours, and the slimness of the phone. It feels solid and well-built. Its matte finish is perfect to prevent scratches and won’t easily slide out from sweaty hands.

There are some people who complained about the Desire HD’s camera which sticks out from the rest of the body. When you lay the phone down, it literally uses the camera as a stand. Furthermore, the camera has no protective feature which makes it easy for the camera to be scratched or cracked.

The most common issue is the unified cover for the microSD slot and the SIM. The cover feels a bit off and feels like it does not really belong to the overall design of the Desire HD.

As mentioned, the Desire HD is a bit bigger than most smartphones out in the market today. The phone measures 123 x 68 x 11.8 mm and weighs 164g (battery included), which makes it very hard to fit into a standard pocket. Even though it feels great in hand when it comes to balance, some may consider it too heavy for their taste.

At the bottom side of the phone, you have the 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB port used for charging the battery. At the top, you have the standard power button which is embedded carefully on the phone that if you don’t look closely, you might miss it.

The 1GHz QSD8255 chip (with Adreno 205 graphics) that powers the Desire HD is one of the best processor for a smartphone today. It is a second-generation Snapdragon built under a 45nm process and promises to give you quite a bit more punch whatever you’re doing. It makes the Desire HD one of the smoothest Android smartphone to date. It’s built-in 768MB of RAM also helps. Users can fully enjoy its 720p video capabilities - without lag during recording and playback! All in all, its one of the fastest Froyo smartphone to date.

With great features comes great power consumption. Borrowed from Spiderman but ultimately true for the Desire HD. Its 1230mAh battery does not give it enough juice to go full day using all its features extensively. Tests shows that it does last a whole day but only with minimal use. Some users won’t consider this a problem, but for power users, and people who conducts most of their business via smartphone, this won’t do. Intensive use of the Desire HD will leave you with a dead phone in no time.

The HD’s main selling point is its impressive 4.3-inch screen with an 800 x 480 screen resolution. Its LCD display brings out bright and crisp colors which is comparable to the iPhone or Samsung’s AMOLED phones.

The phone’s 8 megapixel camera also performed really well. However, those who choose the HTC Desire HD for its camera capabilities should think twice, as the device is not among the best in this category. The camera does not have a dedicated shutter button, so like the iPhone, you have to use the screen to snap your pictures - which is pretty inconvenient when you want to take self portraits. The maximum resolution that can be used to take pictures is 3264 x 2448 pixels. With a lot of tweaking, you can probably use the Desire HD’s camera for day to day use. But if you’re looking for excellent quality pictures, no smartphone can ever replace a dedicated point and shoot - at least not yet.

There’s nothing that really stands out about the Desire HD’s loudspeaker and earpiece. Call quality was on par with any other handset that’s come out lately, while ringtones and audio were conveyed reasonably well. HTC has added Dolby and SRS sound options for video playback.

The main homescreen feature three buttons at the bottom, from left to right: Drawer, Phone and Personalize. Clicking on the latter will let you personalize your phone to the max. Skins, wallpapers, widgets, shortcuts, ringtones, folders, notifications, alarms and more, can be customize with only one click. The notification bar from the top of the homescreen also shows the last six application used, which allows you to switch between apps faster than you would do directly from the phone’s apps list.

When it comes to software, the Desire HD has pretty much anything that a standard smartphone user would want: document editor, music and video player, location-based apps, social networking integration, pdf reader, organizer, email and many more.

Even though it cannot be compared with the complexity of Microsoft’s Office, QuickOffice is a solid enough document editor that allows users to read, edit and creat Word and Excel documents. The usual Adobe Reader lets you read any .PDF file, while the Calendar app acts like a perfect agenda with lots of extra options such as Location, Description, Reminders, Guests and Repetitions. Once you click on the Clock app, you will have quick access to Desk Clock, World Clock, Alarms, Stopwatch and Timer.

The browser stood out in particular, as it loaded content-heavy pages in a very snappy manner and responded to touch in a pleasingly alert fashion. Scrolling has now simply been perfected, as has pinch-to-zoom, while portrait-to-landscape transitions are also nearly instantaneous. The list of good things about the web on this phone also includes some stellar rendering performance including the playback of those hallowed Flash-based YouTube videos.

Given the positives and the negatives of the HTC Desire HD, I would still want one of these for my own. Except for the design flaw on the microSD and SIM cover and most importantly the battery life, I think most of these issues are OK. But for those who thinks these issues are important, there are other Android alternatives to choose from.

Comments in chronological order (2 comments)

  1. fred flintstone says:

    Wrong Picture

  2. Brian Turner says:

    You’re right - really sorry about that - that was the HTC Desire image originally. Now corrected. :)

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