HTC has taken its Android-powered Desire smartphone – one of the finest smarties money can buy – and pumped it up to monster proportions. The HD model now has a giant 4.3in widescreen, extra firepower in the camera department and the latest Android 2.2 OS out of the box. Not to mention some cool new treats from HTC.
Although the Desire’s sleek frame, subtle curves and well made all-in-one metallic body remain intact, its mechanised soft keys and optical trackpad have been ditched in favour of four touch-sensitive keys.
HTC has once again dressed the core Android 2.2 OS with its ultra-customisable Sense UI and an array of apps. Users can run riot personalising the seven sliding homescreens with HTC-tailored widgets, the most useful being Friend Stream for aggregating social networking feeds in one panel.
Although not as razor-sharp as the iPhone 4’s retina display or as vivid as the 3.7in AMOLED screen on the Desire, the HD’s WVGA-quality 4.3in LED panel is still bright and striking. Perhaps with its HD moniker we expected an improved resolution but movies and web pages nevertheless appear detailed and lucid onscreen.
Of course, the near tablet-sized display is just made for internet surfing and the HD delivers a top class experience over its WebKit browser. The pinch-to-zoom action is incredibly elastic with text automatically realigning to fill the screen when prowling in and out.
However, it’s the support for Flash 10.1 that gives the HD an edge over the iPhone 4 and WP7 phones and although we found videos initially slow to kick-in over both Wi-Fi and 3G, once streaming it worked well.
The same 1GHz processor that directs proceedings on the Desire again proves a nippy customer. Web browsing and general performance is snappy with little sign of lag. The new Smart Boot feature is also blazingly fast, with the phone firing up in a couple of seconds after the initial power on.
HTC has boosted the megapixel camera count from 5MP to 8MP and upgraded the flash to a dual LED. The lack of a dedicated camera key is annoying but its quick continuous autofocus makes up for this, automatically adjusting when the handset moves.
Shutter speed is impressively fast and picture quality, although clearly over-processed when viewed close up, is good enough for casual papping. Find good light outdoors and photos are colourful with some sharp levels of details, while the dual LED flash proved consistently effective indoors.
Video is captured in 720p at 25fps, and like the still photos results are OK rather than spectacular. There’s no HDMI port but you can wirelessly stream your videos and photos to your DLNA supporting laptop and TV. You can also tether the phone to your laptop and use it as a 3G modem – data tariff permitting.
The Desire HD is another first-class Android handset from HTC but the feature boost is probably too minimal for Desire owners to consider an upgrade so soon. But if newcomers can handle its XL chassis and need a cutting edge multimedia smartphone, then the Desire HD is the killer choice.