Telstra has given 25 people, including me, a free HTC Desire handset as well as a bunch of credit on their Next G mobile network to provide “a mix of opinions and perspectives” on this so-called “superphone”.
Before we received our phones, we were asked to explain our expectations of the Desire. “We will be interested to compare this to your thoughts after the review,” said Telstra.
Here’s what I said:
HTC Desire is a “superphone”, eh? It should therefore integrate quickly and reliably into my workflows, and have the grunt to last a long working day. I reckon it could replace my laptop for staying in touch, coordinating my business and gathering media when I’m away from my desk. Android‘s meant to be “open”, so it should let me do things the way I want. I should beat my current Nokia N96 in every way.
I’ve only just started to use the Desire. But here’s my initial impressions, along with a bit more information about what I hope to be able to do.
First up, despite the annoying hype about the Desire being an “iPhone killer” — why does everything have to be expressed in terms of mortal combat? — I won’t be comparing it with the iPhone. Mostly because I don’t have an iPhone. I also figure there’ll be other reviewers doing that particular comparison.
What I will be doing is seeing how much day-to-day work and play can be done on the Desire, leaving my MacBook Pro untouched.
Obviously there’s plenty the Desire won’t be suitable for, such as writing long articles and editing podcasts. But I’m guessing it’ll be fine for my extensive use of Twitter, quickly checking email and some routine web browsing. It’ll be interesting to see whether it can be used for lengthy reading sessions, managing my business through Basecamp, Kayako SupportSuite, Saasu for accounting, and WordPress and cPanel for the various websites I maintain.
I’ll also be seeing how good the camera is, for both stills and video.
I fired up the Desire, so to speak, on Friday and used it randomly for two days. My impressions?
- The industrial design is good. The Desire sits neatly in the hand. The only annoyance is that I keep hitting the volume control with my left thumb. Maybe I’m holding it wrong.
- There is no HTC synchronisation software for Mac, only Windows. Grrr. Have they just assumed that Mac owners will automatically get an iPhone and thrown in the towel?
- The 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is nominally four time as fast as the Dual ARM 9 264MHz in my N96, but the Desire feels much faster than that. Scrolling is fast, smooth and responsive, as is zooming in and out of web pages.
- The built-in Twitter client, HTC Peep, didn’t seem capable of managing my heavy Twitter usage. I’ve installed the official Twitter for Android client and I’m much happier.
- I’m so pleased to be back on the fast, reliable Next G network, rather than the shoddy Optus network through my current provider Virgin Mobile. Using the two networks side by side while on the train on Friday, Next G was there — even through some tunnels — while Optus dropped back back to 2G or even no connectivity at all in some railway cuttings.
- I’m worried about battery life. Even with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and GPS turned off, it took just five hours for the battery level to drop to 50% when out and about yesterday. That’s a bunch of Twitter and occasional web browsing over drinks. Maybe I can manage the power better.
- Browsing the Android Market is clear and simple, as is downloading and installing apps. Google Maps was the second download after Twitter for Android, and again the software is fast and responsive.
- I’ve set up one email account to use IMAP to synchronise back to my own server at Prussia.Net. It only synchronises the Inbox, not the Sent mail. I moved an email to Trash, but it disappeared entirely. This doesn’t inspire confidence.
I’m about to travel across town for dinner, and I’ll play along the way. And tomorrow will be my first workday with the Desire. So to speak. That name is just so lame. I’m not sure whether I’ll migrate the rest of mye email just yet, but we’ll see how I go with everything else.
[Disclosure: I have been given a HTC Desire handset by Telstra free of charge to review. The comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.]