During a previous post, I had instilled the virtues of the HTC Desire smartphone as one of my gadgets of choice for my upcoming Road Trip in September 2011, when I’ll be cycling the 3471km route of the 2011 Tour de France. I have since upgraded my smartphone to the Desire’s bigger brother, the HTC Desire HD.
Although it is a step up with some quite obvious improvements, there are also some let downs. I doubt if these let-downs will affect owners coming straight into the Android platform, but anyone upgrading from the original HTC Desire will, I think, probably feel the same way.
The Desire HD is definately a better phone altogether. Visually, the screen is much bigger at 4.3 inches compared to the 3.7 inches of the Desire. The screen also includes touch sensitive buttons as opposed to the hard buttons of the Desire. With vibrate feedback enabled, the response from these touch-screen buttons is a great improvement.
The design of the Desire was such that the screen and the aluminium surround were on the same plane. This was evident when, running your finger from the edge of the screen to the side of the Desire, it was a smooth transition. On the Desire HD however, there is a very slight lip. The result of this is that the movement needed to pull down the notification curtain on the Desire HD has to be more purposeful than that on the Desire. A minor gripe I know and one which owners upgrading from another brand of phone probably won’t notice. Another gripe is the design of the lock screen button. It’s still in the same place, along the top edge of the unit but, on the Desire HD, you have to press it quite a lot harder than on the Desire. Again, owners with nothing to compare it with will think nothing of it.
The one major improvement is speed. Touch an icon and the app starts instantly. The Desire HD and the Desire both share the same 1GHz processor but the increased speed is due to the increase in RAM from 576Mb to 768Mb. Internal phone storage has also been increased. It has been trebled to 1.5Gb thereby easing memory issues when installing large numbers of apps. Having said that, with the recent Froyo (v2.2) firmware upgrade, you now have the ability to move apps from the internal phone memory to the Micro-SD card.
The camera is now an 8 megapixel camera with Auto focus, Geotagging, face detection and dual LED flash. It can also record video at 720p HD.
Google Navigations requires you to have a data connection in order to plan a route. HTC have come up with a way of negating that data traffic by incorporating their own Navigation into the phone. This allows you to pre-load maps onto the SD Card which will be a great help for me when travelling abroad. Currently, I have a UK sim on Contract. I’m planning on travelling in France a lot this year which, ordinarily, because of cost, I wouldn’t be able to use the navigation features on the phone however, with these pre-loaded maps, all the routing calculations are done from the phone with no data charges.
HTC have also made improvements to HTC Sense, the skin that sits on top of the stock Android operating system. You can now control some of the Desire HD’s features from any web browser. For example, if you forget your phone at work, in order for you not to miss any calls, you can set-up a call divert to any phone number using any computer. Should you lose your phone, you can set it to ring at full volume, even if the actual phone settings are set to silent. If the phone falls into the wrong hands, not only can you see where the phone actually is in real time on a map but you can also remotely lock it and/or clear it’s memory.
Given all these improvements, I am slightly disappointed that the Desire HD doesn’t feel like a brand new phone. It’s just that when you buy a new toy, you want it to entertain/amuse you in different ways to the old toy. That’s not the fault of the phone itself though; I do like my new toy. It’s that the operating system on both phones is actually the same. The Desire HD however, does everything so much better and quicker and with a couple more new features due to the improved HTC Sense.
According to Google, a firmware upgrade to Gingerbread (v2.3) is out but when it becomes available as an over-the-air upgrade for this phone, only time will tell.