HTC Desire HD Review
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.