Friday 25 June 2010

HTC Desire

After surviving for a few months with an old Motorola V70e, I am back in the world of 3G and smartphones. My 1 year old ended the life of the screen on my HTC Touch HD just a few months before I was due an upgrade. Gotta love kids...

Thanks to the folks at Phones4u for getting me an HTC Desire upgrade, not only for free (if I went direct through Orange it would have cost me 50 GBP to upgrade to the same phone) but also with the cash back I got for trading in the Motorola my wife was able to buy herself out of her old contract and get herself a new iPhone.

First Impressions

This is my first Android phone. I have been using Linux for years now, so have been wanting an Android device for some time, but was stuck with the HTC Touch HD due to the contract. The Touch ran Windows Mobile 6.5 and was a nice phone, but in comparison to the Desire, much slower. Slower as in the time it takes to open programs, to smoothly scroll around the screen (where you could). Of course the Desire has a Snapdragon 1GHz processor compared to the HD's 525MHz one, so its bound to be better.

The screen is just gorgeous. The touch screen is so nicely setup, needs very gentle pressure, almost to the point where it is reacting before I make physical contact. Its very responsive and always does as I am intending it to do. Sweeping between the 7 home screens is very smooth and user friendly. And of course the ability to multi-touch is awesome and so very well calibrated. On the HTC home screen, one can pinch two fingers on the home screen and it zooms out to show all seven home screens as thumbnail for quick selection. It's very well thought about. The colours are rich and bright and I just love it!

I haven't used an Android device before so am not sure what a raw Android interface is like, say on a Nexus One. The Desire comes with HTC's own front end, HTC Sense. To my naive eyes, this just seems to add a menu bar at the bottom, where you have a permanent 'phone' button, and also a button to access your apps, and a button for adding stuff to the home screen (widget, apps etc). How much this differs to raw Android I am not sure, but it seems to work well for me.

The camera is pretty good, as far as small lensed phone cameras go. It's may be the same camera in the Touch HD as it is also 5MP, but it performs a lot better. The Touch HD camera was my biggest complaint. In anything other than broad daylight, it was painfully slow, taking a good 4 seconds from pressing the button to the actual photo being taken. This was no good for me trying capture moments with my toddler who never stayed still. In daylight it was fine.

The Desire has a flash which of course helps no end in low light conditions, even night scenes, although I find the quality of pictures taken with the flash not very good, to be honest.

But overall it has improved a lot, taking pictures quickly. It has touch focus, which I love for setting the point of focus for arty pictures. Also it has face recognition, which seems ok, although I have yet to find it of real use. Another thing it seems to let you do is to just press the button fully to quickly take a shot; the HD would not allow this, which contributed to the slow capture in low light.

Here is a sample photo taken to demonstrate the touch focus. Obviously I touched on the left hand side to make it focus on the object in the very near foreground.

I'll talk about apps that I have discovered and am using in another post as there is probably going to be a few. I love the concept of the Market place being contributed to constantly by software developers, both professional and amateur. Thee seems to be an app for everything. It's such a great concept and the Market software works pretty well.

As expected the setup out the box was very oriented towards prompting Orange with custom Orange apps. I soon got rid of them and started setting my home screens up from scratch, which seems to be something that constantly evolve I think, as today I am still constantly rearranging things. But I think hats part of the beauty of it, its not a phone with a fixed menu, you can just keep changing it at whim.

What I like is how well things seek to just flow. Everything that seems to be the obvious way to go is there. It's very intuitive. I find I am experimenting with different ways to control things and finding that most of the time it does work like that. It really gives sense of a lot of different people have given input in to how it should work audits all been implemented leading to such a usable device.

My wife has an iPhone. I find it utterly boring as far as the phone and its OS goes. You can play with apps but the phone is nothing. The Desire I can play with all day exploring how it works and finding new ways to do things.

I think they say, only nerds have Android phones and can see why.

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