Typical; you wait an age for an Android 2.1 phone to arrive, and then three come along at once. Google’s Nexus One and two HTC phones – the Desire and the Legend – are hitting the shops at about the same time.
While the Legend is a reinvented Hero, the Desire is strikingly similar to the Nexus One – near identical in shape and styling, though with physical buttons at the base of the screen instead of the touch-sensitive lights on the Nexus One. The real ones here are more reassuring and work more reliably.
Neither phone can be woken from sleep from any of these front buttons, which is annoying if the phone’s on the desk and you just want to see the time. Reaching over to press the top button is no hardship but just not quite as convenient as it could be.
Like the Nexus One, there’s a range of animated wallpapers to add sparkle to your home screens (and deplete the battery). The HTC Sense UI means there are seven of these screens to choose from.
You can swipe between the screens as usual, or use the touch-sensitive button – another change from the Nexus One’s trackball – to scroll between screens.
Even better, pinch together on any of the home screens and you get to view all seven pages in miniature so you can see where you put the signature HTC clock and weather widget. Other HTC clocks and the dull old Android analogue clock are also there for you to choose from.
The Desire also has Friend Stream, which aggregates Facebook, Twitter and Flickr updates in one place. This is handy, though if you prefer you can just stick to Peep, HTC’s cool little Twitter feed app.
Look deeper and there are other neat added features like the email app, which allows you to put mails in different orders including unread, favourite senders and more, instead of just making do with reverse time order. There’s also Exchange support and support for flash video, both of which are missing in the Nexus One.
Sadly, the Desire doesn’t have voice input for text messages and emails. The Nexus One’s voice input is far from perfect but it’s good fun and works well, so it’s a shame it’s not here.
The Desire has a high-resolution OLED screen and looks great – vibrant, contrasty and colourful. The size makes it big enough to make your video and photos look impressive, too.
You can shoot both, of course, and the 5MP camera is typical of most smartphones: sharp, effective but dogged with shutter lag.
Overall, the Desire is a highly, er, desirable object and makes Android shine. If you prefer the extra home screens and widgets HTC Sense offers, it’s a shoo-in over the Nexus One.
Available from T-Mobile
A premium smartphone with lots going for it, and the HTC Sense extras make it a compelling alternative to the Google Nexus One