HTC Desire HD Review
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA without 3G.


HTC have become an incredibly popular Android propagator since the release of the original HTC Desire. More than ever, Android fan-boys and tech-enthusiasts alike are hanging on their every word, hoping their smartphone dreams will be realized in their next release. Now that the T-Mobile G2 (HTC Desire Z in Europe) has just received an awesome thumbs up here on phoneArena, it's time to see if its multimedia-centric sibling, the HTC Desire HD manages to enamour us with its huge 4.3-inch screen, cutting edge processor, 8MP camera and brand spanking new version of HTC Sense sprinkled generously over the already popular Froyo.


A clean, playfully styled box, around 4 inches wide, 4 inches deep and 6 inches tall will tease you when you first set eyes on it. A crisp, life-size image of the HTC Desire HD garnishes the box along with playful illustrations, willing you to open it, play with it, enjoy it. From the offset, this feels like more than a phone. Slide up the top part of the box, and as the bottom part glides down, HTCs latest offering gazes up at you, with plastic protective film smoothed over the huge, wonderfully clean screen, it leaves us itching to peel off all the plastic and unearth the innards of the HTC Desire HD. After looking for the battery in the box, and failing, we slid down the bottom panel at the base of the phone to reveal a SIM card and microSD card slot, but still no battery. Hmm. A quick look around the unit, and we made out the battery cover on the right hand side of the phone, checked inside, and hey presto, battery present. After removing the protective wrap around the battery, it was time to power up the beast and what was the first thing we noticed? Oh yes, THE SCREEN.

You can compare the HTC Desire HD with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

At a whopping 4.3 inches, this superLCD display lights up bright. Powering up the phone gives you a whiter than white screen with an itty bitty HTC logo in the center. For those with sensitive eyes, it could be a bit much. Giving everything a chance to load up, widgets, page transitions and response times all look very positive from the offset. The screen is crisp, there's no questioning that. Given the nature of Super LCD, it's a smidgen sharper than AMOLED, and this seems to come through with the super-sized HTC Desire HD screen. At a resolution of 400x840, it's pretty much the minimum resolution we'd expect from an Android phone with a screen this size, that said, this doesn't detract from the initial impact of the screen. When using the HTC Desire HD in isolation (i.e. without a Super AMOLED screen by its side), you would be forgiven for thinking that it's a colour reproducing titan. This is largely due to the size, and the brightness being pretty spectacular. Naturally, being phoneArena however, one of the first things we did was grab a Super AMOLED Samsung Galaxy S. There is a comparative dullness with the HTC Desire HD screen in direct comparisons. This isn't enough to warrant any complaints, but it is there. On the plus side, this might please some people who find AMOLED displays to be over-saturated.

Brightness options can be controlled through the menu or a home-screen widget with three set levels, low, medium and high. At night, the lowest brightness setting can be used comfortably. Indoors and in the day, the middle would be appropriate, and outdoors, full brightness is needed to counter the glare, which is inevitable with a screen as slick and shiny as this one. Movie watching also really benefits from full brightness, with details and movements looking far more discernible. In turn, for the sake of enjoyment, we tended to leave the brightness at full whack. This makes a very noticeable indent in power consumption however, so with heavy use, don't be surprised if your HTC Desire HD is flagging before the evening's out.

Physically, the HTC Desire HD is a glorious amalgam of aluminium unibody and glass fronted fascia. Four capacitive buttons sit directly below the screen with an HTC insignia directly below them. The buttons are sufficiently sensitive and provide haptic feedback to the touch. We were concerned they would be too close to the screen, yet we didn't find ourselves accidentally pressing them as we have on other handsets. Moving from the bottom to the top of the screen and we come to a cavity accommodating a mean looking grill (the speaker) with a tiny notification light to its right. The phone's top side houses the power button. On the phone's base is a microUSB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as an in-call mic. The left side contains the volume rocker while the right remains a smooth empty surface. On the back of the HTC Desire HD is the 8MP camera, dual LED flash, loud speaker and centred chrome HTC insignia. The styling of the phone is patchy. Now, that's not to say it's patchy in terms of bad, but it is styled using patches of two shades of metallic grey. This accommodates the multiple removable parts (the battery cover and the SIM card/microSD card cover) all of which are the darker shade of grey along with a rectangle surrounding the camera. The remainder of the HTC Desire HD, (the aluminium part) is the lighter shade. This two tone styling appears to have become HTC's trademark look of late, with a number of their Windows Phone 7 handsets taking on a similar styling. Our concerns lie with the removable covers. While these secure onto the phone well, there is a sense that these may weaken given time, especially at the bottom due to small gap between elements. Only time will tell how durable it actually is.

All in all HTC has done a pretty good job. The HTC Desire HD feels solid, utilises interesting means of securing the battery and cards, and looks sweet as in the process. The screen is big, bright and beautiful, despite delivering less saturated colours than a Super AMOLED screen, and the handling is very comfortable. While the lower card cover doesn't inspire us with as much confidence as we may have liked, overall, we love handling this phone.

HTC Desire HD 360-degree View:



23. dkvc unregistered

Dated functionality is much more related with iOS doesn't even have a proper homescreen or widgets, but how PhoneArena would dare call the almighty iOS dated? It's much more convenient to say that Symbian that got dated functionality, since it became usual to bash this OS. I really like PhoneArena reviews, but sometimes you act so biased.

22. diogorva unregistered

The phone was way overated. You got a giant screen but you can't see anything in direct sunlight, the battery is terrible, the HD video-recording is bad, if you read the GSMArena review, you will see that even the audio quaility is poor. You can have better phones for way lower prices.

21. dkvc unregistered

Symbian^3 got dated functionality? What hell? What you think about iOS then that doesn't even have Widgets? That was such a biased "observation" from the reviewer.

20. Mad Max unregistered

@desire HD users: can anybody tell me something about the Microphone-quality? I need a recorder, that works quite as good as the iphone-recorder. A friend has got the old desire and that has got a real bad mic-quality...

19. Dan_p unregistered

I'll play the devil's advocate here. I'm not really that into what the HTC Desire HD's offerings. Will gladly go for a stock android experience on any day as it is more stable. The phone should at least give the user the option to turn Sense off. Aside from iPhone 4 and Nokia N8, the attempt on HTC Desire HD to marry steel and plastic looks desperate at best. There have been reviews in other sites heavily criticizing the clunky handling of battery cover, ill fitting parts, and physical gaps... I hope these get fixed. Totally unsightly for a supposed flagship. The impact of battery life is simply understated, a dead high-tech device is simply unacceptable for the corporate types who need to be connected most of the time. I would still gladly recommend the older HTC Desire or the Samsung Galaxy for a more rewarding Android experience. Symbian-wise, N8 makes up for a very compelling offering with its excellent build quality, unrivalled spec list, and a reliable and functional OS. iOS-wise, iPhone 4 is definitely the only choice that offers simplified OS to cut across all intellectual levels, a compelling collection of apps in its app store, and a universally likable build.

18. icooon unregistered

how's the comparison b2een HTC desire HD and the samsaung galaxy tab which plays phone role. Ur comments pls.

17. notlying unregistered

i have the desire build on my hd2 and i have had no problems with apps, maybe you should learn to use your phone first before complaining...

15. Mike unregistered

I bought the htc desire HD after letting my iphone 3gs go which i had since release. First impressions were good, but sadly i didnt turn out to be very happy with this phone. I was impressed with the camera, htc sense and the speed of phone, oh and the best thing it can be used as wi-fi hotspot, but it was not long before i had some niggles.The internet crashes very frequently, when i take pictures using the camera after perhaps a day the pictures are shown only as error grey boxes, a surprising amount of the apps i downloaded either dont work properly or cause the phone to crash and occasionaly the phone crashes where i cant even make a call without restarting the phone (only happened 2/3 times but not good with owning this only 2 weeks or so). I had really high expectations due to the hype of the original desire so its a shame!

16. admin unregistered

Mike, have you installed the latest 2 updates?

14. ghost_uwi

Posts: 47; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

Oh sweet video review *grabs popcorn*

13. admin unregistered

guys, I have the Desire HD. BUT. It doesn't last as long as my "old" Galaxy S. Nor does it have as much storage 1.5gb vs 8gb. Doesn't take as good photos as my SGS, not videos either. In the complete darkness yes the DHD CAN take pictures/videos but... Also I prefer the more nimbler body of the SGS, but I do like the metal body of the DHD. btw is there a swype app out there? I really need it in order to type fast but thats me. The screen on the SGS, must be hands down the best I have ever seen (so far) I don't know if I shall give the DHD back to the store and get my self a Galaxy S again (remember 2.2 is out now) I dont have any lag on my DHD, phone arena you should check out "USB DEBUG" mode on the device, some are having problems that the CPU is active for no given reason. and I do agree on the plastic covers, I fear I might break them if I need to open it up again...

12. Eingild unregistered

It's nice to know that Phonearena is now responding to the comments of the readers. This is a definitely + points for the user experience. Kudos to PA.

11. ..... unregistered

guys can you help me pick. i can't choose between the desire hd and samsung galaxy S wich 1 is better

24. ilandror

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 03, 2012

htc desire hd.

10. ghost_uwi

Posts: 47; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

*grumbles @ missing video review* :P

9. Mark unregistered

Reviewer, If you have heard about the Voodoo lagfix (it speeds up Samsung Galaxy S, and avoids the 'lag' you were facing in your review), then can you please tell me which phone is better, this or the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S

8. Donny Dee unregistered

Verizon this month I hear? Incredible Pro or HD?

6. bbbb unregistered

its really funny that symbian^3 smartphones with 'outdated' cpu and tiny amount of RAM are more stable and can do better multitasking than desire hd.

5. fakhri unregistered

reviewer, how realistic would the desire hd be as a primary ebook reader? if anybody here is a ebook reader, please do chip in your opinions. id like to know whats the minimum screen size for comfortably reading an ebook. trying to decide whether i can get a big screen phone like Desire HD or Droid X, or go with a phone + separate ebook reader. thnx PA. great review

7. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

Hey Fakhri, Thanks for the positive feedback on the review. As for whether the HTC Desire HD could double up as an ebook reader, this is subjective. The onboard ebook reader is a bit harsh on the eyes, though we really like Aldiko. It's a free ebook reader that lets you make the background black and text white, making it much easier on the eyes. Also, it isn't really usable in portrait as lines are way too short, though landscape is ok. If you're looking for a "pocket friendly" Android phone that could double up as an ebook reader, we're using the Dell Streak at the moment and it does a really great job of handling ebooks and just about fits in your pocket. You will be sacrificing on Sense UI however. A good idea would be to try out the native app and if possible Aldiko in a store near you. Hope that helped, The phoneArena Team

3. ghost_uwi

Posts: 47; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

Wow excellent review. After reading about 20+ reviews on this phone you hit the nail on the head with this one. My only gripe is where is the video review :(

2. Jigar unregistered

well the review looks fantastic...great job phonearena... i've been using n95-8gb for over 2.5 yrs and m currently looking for a gud android phone.. had shortlisted Desire and Galaxy S...but now Desire HD looks simply awesome... Only concern is the battery life...hope its taken care of in future updates...the phone should at least last a day (like n95-8gb) Good job HTC...

4. ghost_uwi

Posts: 47; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

WOW @ N95 had that a while back great phone. When you upgrade you will be blown away by almost any of the new high end (grade 9.0+) phones out

1. jaadx

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

Great review for great phone Thank u phonearena but wish to see a galaxy s vs desire hd review that will be so nice
Desire HD
  • Display 4.3 inches
    800 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, 0.75GB RAM
  • Storage 1.5GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1230 mAh
  • OS Android 2.3.5

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