Once upon a time, when you wanted to buy a mobile phone you did just that – it was a phone you could carry around and nothing else. Then, as technology moved on, we got the choice of flip phones, sliders and candybars, before being tempted by phones with QWERTY keyboards and smartphones, which could do almost everything your laptop could do. Now, since the launch of the Google Nexus One, we have a new category to consider, the superphone.
Does they leap tall buildings in a single bound? Or accelerate to 60mph in under 4 seconds? No, but in the world of mobile phones, they do the equivalent. Here, we’re talking about the HTC Desire, the second official superphone on the market, after the aforementioned Nexus One. As you may know, the Nexus One was also built by HTC and the Desire is essentially their version of the phone without the Google branding.
Initially known as the Bravo and the Passion, the HTC Desire was launched at Mobile World Congress and instantly become one of the hits of the show. If you’re one of the many who are excited about this new phone, then enjoy out in-depth overview, which should keep you going until its release!
Understanding Why the HTC Desire is Super
Hidden deep inside the case is the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The QSD8250 is also found inside the Nexus One and incorporates a 1GHz processor, a 3G radio and GPS radio on the same platform, which results in a low-power, small size chipset ideal for the latest, and most powerful mobile phones. There is 512MB ROM and 576MB of RAM to keep everything super-smooth too.
The Desire’s operating system is Google Android and is the latest v2.1 build. This revision brings new features such as live wallpapers, Bluetooth v2.1, the latest version of Google Maps, changes to the user interface, Microsoft Exchange support and several other hardware specific tweaks to Android.
For such a powerful device, the HTC Desire is surprisingly compact at 119mm long, 60mm wide and just 11.9mm deep. The size of the chassis has enabled the fitment of a stunning AMOLED touchscreen measuring 3.7″. This capacitive screen has a WVGA resolution, or 480×800 pixels and is ready for multi-touch use, so you can use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the screen to zoom in. It’s not a lightweight though, at 135 grams.
We’ve already told you that it’s Android keeping the Desire up and running, but as this is an HTC phone, we have HTC Sense making it just that little more usable and a lot more attractive! Also unveiled alongside the Desire at MWC, this latest version has several performance upgrades along with some great new features, including Friend Stream, an program which collects all your social networking updates into one handy stream, and Leap, which offers an expanded overview of all your homescreens. Leap makes use of the pinch-to-zoom function for your screen selection.
Along the bottom of the front panel, there is a collection of hardware buttons, where the Nexus One has touch-sensitive keys, for Home, Menu, Back, Search and a central optical trackpad.
What Else Can it Do?
- 5 megapixel camera While HTCs of old had disappointing cameras without any features, this has changed with recent models, and the Desire is no exception. The widescreen 5 megapixel lens is accompanied by autofocus and a flash, plus software for face detection and geo-tagging. Finally, the camera can shoot video at 30fps and a resolution of 720×480.
- GPS To enable the geo-tagging via the camera, the Desire must come with GPS. Of course, this being an Android phone, Google Maps comes pre-installed and there is a digital compass to further enhance navigation and enable use of downloadable augmented reality apps. HTC Footprints is also installed, which is like an enhanced version of geo-tagging where you can add audio and text notes to be stored alongside a photo.
- Connectivity The HTC Desire is a 3G mobile phone with support for both HSDPA, to 7.2Mbps, and HSUPA to 2Mbps. If 3G isn’t an option there is also GPRS and EDGE, plus of course, the Desire has Wi-Fi, A2DP Bluetooth v2.1 and USB tethering too.
- Social Networking Again, as the Desire is an Android phone, you’ll find widgets for Picasa and YouTube, plus Facebook, Flickr and several others. For Twitter users, the HTC Peep application makes an appearance and all the above are organised into one place thanks to Friend Stream, part of the latest version of HTC Sense.
- Other Widgets There are a variety of standard widgets with which you can fill up to seven homescreens. These include a photo frame, a Twitter feed, a weather app, a clock, your Friend Stream, SMS and the latest news.
- Sensors. The Desire is complimented by a G-sensor, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor. These enable helpful features such as the phone decreasing its ring volume when you pick it up, adjusting the backlight to compensate for natural light conditions and muting an incoming call when you turn the handset face-down. An accelerometer handles auto-rotation of the screen.
- MicroSD Card A MicroSD card slot can be found behind the battery cover and can accept cards up to 32GB in size.
- Multimedia You may as well make use of that massive screen! Supported video files include WMV, 3GP and MP4, while the audio side is happy with MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG and several others. The Desire has an FM radio and Dolby Mobile too.
- Internet Browsing and Email The standard browser is very fast and has clever text-resizing software when you zoom into a webpage, so as much of the text is kept readable on the screen. Flash is installed too. With Android 2.1, Exchange support is added to the Gmail and POP3 email account system.
- Application Store Using an Android phone gives you access to Android Market, where there is a massive range of free and paid-for applications for you to download on your phone.
- Size Is the HTC Desire pocket friendly? We’re not sure, but it does depend on the size of your pockets we suppose!
- No Dual-Mics The Google Nexus One has dual microphones for noise cancellation, but this has been dropped from the Desire. While it’s not a deal-breaker, the system does tend to work really well.
- AMOLED It’s utterly gorgeous indoors or out of direct sunlight, but on a very bright day, you may struggle to make out the screen as well as you may want.
So is the HTC Desire a superphone? Well, as the term ‘superphone’ hasn’t really been defined it’s difficult to say. However, if we take it to mean is the phone on the cutting edge, packed with the fastest processor available, every top-end gadget including 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, a compass, a massive AMOLED screen and super stylish looks, then yes, we think the Desire fully qualifies as a superphone!