HTC Hero CDMA Review

Introduction and Design

Sprint continues its onslaught of devices with their version of the HTC Hero.  This is the company’s first Android device, though it will be joined by the Samsung Moment just a few weeks later.  The Hero distinguishes itself from other Android devices thanks to HTC’s Sense UI.  Actually, Sense personalizes Android in a similar fashion to how TouchFLO 3D does it with Windows Mobile. It allows the user total customization of homescreen apps, widgets and even allows for different interface setups.  Other features of this fully-stocked phone include a 3.2” capacitive display, 5 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, EVDO Rev. A, 3.5mm headphone jack and microSDHC expansion up to 32GB.  Included in the box you’ll find:

•    1500mAh Li-ion battery
•    AC adapter with female USB end
•    USB data/charging cable
•    2GB microSD card


We first saw the Hero as a Teflon-coated, chinned device in Europe.  Underneath the Sprint version is identical (save for the CDMA radio,) but externally the two devices are vastly different.  For starters, the chin is gone.   This was a distinctive feature of HTC Android devices, but one that we never cared much for, although it does contribute a little bit to a better voice clarity during talks. 

This CDMA Hero had ditched the original angular design, trading in the hard lines for soft curves.  The device feels fantastic in your hand; while we still feel that the Diamond was the best device to hold, this new Hero is hot on its heels.  It is narrower than other full touchscreen devices like the iPhone and BlackBerry Storm, which makes it more comfortable to hold.

You can compare the HTC Hero CDMA with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

While the GSM counterpart is available in white and brown (with others likely forthcoming,) Sprint’s version comes in a drab gray.  HTC is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation here.  They tried to infuse some color and personality into the Diamond with its red back but got flack for it, and now they are getting flack for the more conservatively styled Hero.  We wouldn’t have minded some color, but the silver-on-gray color scheme isn’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination.

The buttons remain the same as the original, but have been moved around and are thankfully now symmetrical.  The user has Send and End keys on the far edges, and Menu, Home, Back and Search buttons situated inside them, with a trackball at the middle of this cluster.  The trackball of the G1 was revealed to be the same as found on the Curve, but this trackball is larger than the one we’ve encountered into the past.  The bigger ball is easy to navigate with and we appreciate the larger size.  The only other buttons on the device is the volume rocker on the left side.

The 3.2” glass screen
is capacitive, incorporates multi-touch technology and has a resolution of 320x480.  It is similar if not identical to the screen we’ve seen on the G1 and Magic, which means that it is 65k colors.  It is a good display, but does not have the pop that the Instinct HD or Palm Pre has - each with 16m colors.  The screen fingerprints worse than most, and is nearly impossible to keep clean.  We’re not sure if it has the same oleophobic coating that the GSM version did, but we were constantly cleaning ours.  The auto-adjusting backlight kept the display too dim for our tastes, so we disabled it.  For whatever reason this sensor is not used to turn off the screen during a phone call when the Hero is against your face, as it is on many of HTC’s Windows phones.

The bottom of the phone  has HTC’s funky miniUSB port, though any miniUSB charger or cable works with it.  At a time when all other manufacturers not named Apple are going to a microUSB standard it is rather frustrating to see this older port used.  Thankfully HTC has included a 3.5mm headset jack, which can be found at the top of the Hero.  The back is very plain, with the 5 megapixel camera housing surrounded by the speaker cutout.

While the color scheme could be better, we really like this new design for the HTC Hero overall.  It is extraordinarily comfortable to hold and we do not miss the chin one bit.  The phone is built very solidly, the screen is very responsive and the buttons all offer good travel.  HTC adheres to a high manufacturing standard and the Hero is undoubtedly no exception.

HTC Hero CDMA 360 Degrees View:

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