HTC Hero Review
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA but without 3G.
Introduction and design:
Once upon a time… That´s how fairy tales start, isn’t it? So, once upon a time there was a company, called Google that one day decided to embark on a valorous feat and develop an open source operating system that was to become known as Android. Seeing the opportunity it presented, several other players rushed in joining forces and things went well at last. Years slipped by when the G1 was finally released in 2008, the first handset to ever run the new operating system. The world patted the companies on the shoulder, muttered several words of approval, nicknamed the device “the ugly duckling” and went on waiting for the next mobile revolution to come to pass, because, even if the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan in the end, people tend to stick to superheroes, all powerful and invincible, coming to save the day. It’s… nature.
Now, the superhero has finally arrived. The HTC Hero doesn’t wear the Google´s logo on its head and features an interface that has been changed past recognition. The Hero supports multitouch and comes equipped with a browser that plays flash content. Another feature that caused a lot of stir at its official announcement is the Teflon coating that protects the phone from dirt and scratches. Actually, only the white color version comes covered with the material and fortunately, that´s exactly what we have in our hands.
The HTC Hero comes in a bag with the company’s logo, and in it there is an elongated, compact, white box of high quality and everything inside is neatly arranged. All the box lettering has been made using soy ink, which makes it eco-friendly and easier to recycle. Aside from the phone, what you also get is user guide, stereo headset, 2GB microSD card, USB and charger cable with socket adapter that varies depending on the region. You will immediately notice that all accessories are in showy white and we couldn’t help involuntarily associating it with Apple and their products.
The Cupertino-based company is famous for its ability to innovate and the unique view they have on the world in general. The roots of the Taiwanese-descended HTC are half the planet away, but the company also leaves its unique mark on every device they manufacture. The design of the HTC Hero makes for an illustrative example.
The handset looks quite dissimilar from the Palm Pre and iPhone that both stick to round, smooth shapes and much like the HTC Touch Diamond2 and its sharp edges. This doesn’t mean it´s not exceptionally good-looking to bits. The blend of a slanting back, chin jutted out in determination, overall size and weight makes the device comfortable to carry around and it fits your hand perfectly, because the phone is not as wide as the iPhone, coming at the expense of a smaller screen.
You can compare the HTC Hero with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
The HTC Hero sports a 3.2-inch TFT screen that utilizes capacitive technology (you can read more about it here). Like all other Android-based cell phones to date, the display delivers HVGA native resolution (320x480 pixels) and awesome sensitivity, definitely at par with the iPhone. Although the overall image quality is above the average, it simply cannot compare to the AMOLED displays of Samsung-manufactured devices like the Galaxy, OMNIA HD and OmniaPRO B7610. Colors are less saturated and image not as sharp. It remains usable in direct sunlight, provided it´s not all covered in fingerprints. Similarly to the iPhone 3GS, the Hero features a special oleophobic coating that on one hand, contributes to curbing its affinity for finger marks and on the other, helps toward their easier removal.
Come to coatings, let´s talk about Teflon. This is something that we normally see on kitchen utensils like frying pans and it´s supposed to protect these from scratches and stains. We make bold to say it performs admirably here. During our tests, the HTC Hero had to endure a long travel by train, side to side with a silvery iPod Nano 2G. While the Apple´s product eventually ended up covered with black, unsightly blots and fingerprints, the smartphone retained it impeccably showy white appearance. Moreover, the coating provides nice cohesion, so the device won´t slip out of your hand even if it´s sweaty.
The back panel is easy to remove, without the ominous creaking and bending that´s so characteristic of the G1. This is good news indeed, because this is the only way to reach the microSD slot or the SIM card holder located under the 1,350 mAh battery.
Almost all hardware keys are located on the slightly protruding lower part of the handset, except for the volume rocker that´s on the left. Aside from send and end keys, you also have buttons to call up the home screen, the phone menu, back and search keys and a trackball. They all have small travel and size, but feel easy to press. Our only gripe regards the back and search buttons that are positioned a bit above where your index finger would normally fall and in our case, we had to bend our forefingers at an odd and slightly painful angle to be able to press them when holding the phone in the right hand. You won´t have any troubles if you´re used to operating your handset with your left hand though plus the jutting design element means the microphone gets closer to your mouth when you speak, which feels like using a normal phone receiver.
The miniUSB port is on bottom and the 3.5 mm jack on the top side of the phone. The latter is something that Android fans have wanted ever since the G1 rolled out, although it´s a bit odd that the opening is slightly at an angle, so the earphones jack doesn’t fit tightly to the phone body when plugged in. Well, it doesn’t seem to affect the functionality, so we won´t complain.
As a whole, the HTC Hero sports a different design and we like it quite a lot. The handset looks appealing and feels comfy to use plus it offers a decent solution to the problem that stains and fingerprints can sometimes be. We hope to see Teflon coatings become more widespread, because we do like devices in light colors, except when they get dirty after being used for several minutes.