HTC Desire HD smartphone

HTC Desire HD review: HTC's new flagship Android smartphone won't be for everyone, but the Desire HD's massive screen and updated software make it one of the best phones on the market

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HTC Desire HD
  • HTC Desire HD
  • HTC Desire HD
  • HTC Desire HD
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Massive 4.3in screen
  • Excellent performance
  • Great Web browser

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Removable plastic compartments are awkward
  • Poor volume buttons

Bottom Line

The HTC Desire HD builds on the original Desire by adding a larger screen and updated software (from both Google and HTC). Aside from its questionable battery life, most of the Desire HD's flaws are minor. Put simply, the HTC Desire HD is a multimedia and Web powerhouse; it is one of the best smartphones on the market.

Would you buy this?

HTC has updated its Sense UI on the Desire HD; in addition to its continued support for scenes, the new Sense now offers "skins" that change the look of windows and the dock. Other additions include an "HTC Likes" widget for recommended app downloads, the "My Shelf" app for storing and reading e-books, a universal search function, a unified messaging inbox, and instant maps through the "Locations" app, which doesn't require network coverage once downloaded. A range of maps can be downloaded and stored on the SD card; the Australian map is a 345MB download that will work without the need to access mobile data. Browsing the map isn't technically "instant" as HTC claims it is, but it is noticeably speedier than using your data connection with Google Maps. We also love the fact that your eight most recently opened applications appear at the top of the notifications panel in a horizontal scroll bar.

Like the yet to be released Desire Z smartphone, the the HTC Desire HD benefits from a shorter boot up-time (claimed to be 10 seconds) and DLNA support for connection to compatible televisions. We found the start-up time to be just over 10 seconds in most instances, which is a vast improvement on most other Android devices, as well as the iPhone 4. HTC has also thrown in some small but very nifty touches; the Desire HD can be set to reduce its ringtone when it detects movement (i.e. when you pick it up), it can mute the ringtone if the phone is flipped over face down, it will ring louder when it senses it is in a pocket or a handbag, and it will activate the hands-free speakerphone while on a call if the phone is flipped over face down.

HTC Desire HD review

The HTC Desire HD provides "instant" maps through HTC's "Locations" app; once downloaded, the maps don't require network coverage to browse.

HTC has also launched HTCSense.com, a set of desktop-based services largely centred on backup and security. Once you've created an account and logged in, you can locate your phone on a map if it is stolen, remotely lock or wipe the handset, re-direct calls and messages to an alternative phone number and archive contacts, text messages and call history — all through your PC. You can also access the Android market from HTCSense.com, including a list of third-party applications recommended by HTC.

HTC Desire HD: Camera and battery life

The HTC Desire HD has an 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, and doubles as a 720p HD video recorder. The dual LED flash works reasonably well in dim lighting, and video recording is relatively easy to keep steady and of a good quality. The camera has a wealth of settings, including image effects like solarise and sepia, along with the ability to adjust ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast and exposure.

The weakest aspect of the HTC Desire HD is its battery life. While this is expected to improve after a few weeks of use, our general impression is that the Desire HD is a battery hog; the smartphone struggled to last a full day with background syncing enabled, and even when we relaxed our push settings for e-mail, Facebook and Twitter to two-hour intervals, the Desire HD was still lucky to last a full day. To enhance battery life, we recommend downloading a task manager app from the Android Market; this will allow you to close applications that might be running in the background and sucking up valuable battery juice without your knowledge.

The HTC Desire HD is exclusively sold through Vodafone and 3 in Australia.

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