HTC Hero and HTC DROID ERIS: side by side

Introduction and Design

Android has definitely taken the mobile marketplace by store over the previous few months, and while the Motorola DROID has a lot to do with it the beginnings of this uprising can be traced back to the launch of the HTC Hero.  The Hero was the first handset to tap into Android’s potential with its custom Sense UI replacing the rather bland stock interface.  It made a splash in the European and Asian markets, then was reworked and brought to the States via Sprint and later Verizon.  Technically the Verizon version is known as the DROID ERIS, but we know a Hero when we see a Hero, and this, friends, is a Hero.


Neither the Sprint Hero nor the DROID ERIS looks like the original GSM Hero.  Both eschew the bold, angular lines and jutting chin of the GSM version in favor of gentler curves.  Between the two, the Sprint Hero is much more round than the semi-boxy ERIS.  Both have tapered sides so that the phone sits comfortably in your hands.  The ERIS is a millimeter thinner, but this is at the expense of battery as it only has a 1300mAh whereas the Hero has a 1500mAh powerplant.

The two feel nearly identical in the hands; the extra size of the Hero isn’t really noticeable nor is the extra quarter ounce.  While both are coated in soft-touch paint, the DROID ERIS feels a bit better to us and we prefer the black color scheme.  One thing we have noticed is that, with long-term use, the Hero’s gray begins to discolor slightly.  One thing we do appreciate on the Hero is the oversized trackball.  The increased size makes it more comfortable to work with.  We like having the trackball option on both phones, even if we don’t use it all that much.  It definitely comes in handy at times when you don’t necessarily want to just use the touchscreen.

We definitely prefer the capacitive buttons on the ERIS when compared to the physical ones on the Hero.  The Hero’s buttons are too easy to press accidentally, especially when the phone is in your pocket.  By making the keys capacitive on the DROID ERIS, HTC made this a non-issue.  Because these keys are at the bottom of the display there is more room for the Send and End buttons on the ERIS; we feel the button cluster on the Hero is just a bit too cramped.

Both devices have 3.2” capacitive displays with HVGA resolution.  The screen of the HTC DROID ERIS seemed to be slightly brighter though, and whites were whiter when compared with the Hero.  The differences are only noticeable when scrutinizing the displays side-by-side though.  The DROID ERIS does have a proximity sensor, something the Hero is sorely and curiously lacking.

We would have no problems carrying either device, but given the choice we prefer the ERIS’s design overall.  The better navigation area does a lot for us, and we like the black color scheme better.  We’d like to have the bigger trackball and better battery offered by the Hero, but we guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too!

HTC Hero 360 Degrees View:

HTC DROID ERIS 360 Degrees View:

Interface and Software:

The two devices are literally the same in this regard.  They are both running HTC’s custom Sense UI atop Android 1.5.  Both devices will be getting an Android upgrade; Sprint has confirmed 2.1 is coming while Verizon has not committed to a version but stated it “will be upgraded to a newer Android operating system software in first quarter 2010.”  Both devices have noticeable lag at times, but the similarly spec’d Motorola DROID runs much quicker on Android 2.0.  We are hoping that the lag is due to 1.5 and not to Sense UI, so that the upgrade will make these two devices much speedier.  Giving us some hope is that the Samsung Moment, also on 1.5, has a significantly beefier processor (800MHz) than any of these three and still lags at times.

The only software difference between the two is the carrier-specific software.  Sprint includes their NFL and NASCAR apps, as well as SprintTV, Sprint Navigation and their visual voicemail service.  Verizon includes visual voicemail at a price, but users are left to third party applications for navigation.  They run identical media players and both have the same 5 megapixel auto-focus camera.

Both the HTC Hero and DROID ERIS use the Qualcomm MSM7200A processor at 528MHz with 288MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM.  They offer 3G cellular data over the carrier’s EVDO Rev. A networks and have Wi-Fi b/g support.  Bluetooth 2.0+EDR allows for local file transfer, and both use a miniUSB charging/data port instead of microUSB.


Again, the phones performed pretty similar although the Hero came out slightly better all around.  On the HTC DROID ERIS callers rated us at an 8, saying that we sounded good overall and they had no issues hearing us, but we sounded slightly muffled.  To us they sounded pretty good, but a touch distant.  On the Hero they said there was a little more clarity and rated it an 8.25 because of that.  For us they were again just a touch clearer.  The test calls were placed back-to-back in a similar reception area for both carriers to eliminate as many variables as possible.  In fact, both phones were pulling an identical -89 dBm signal.  As noted earlier the Hero has an extra 200mAh in the battery, which is good for an extra half-hour of talk time.  Neither phone had stellar battery performance.  While we could usually get through a typical day any extra usage would prompt a mid-day recharge.


Not unsurprisingly the HTC Hero and DROID ERIS came out pretty even with one another.  We preferred the design of the HTC DROID ERIS better, but the Hero comes out ahead on battery life and- by a hair- on phone performance.  The extra software is a positive in our eyes too, specifically Sprint Navigation.  What sets these phones apart the most is the price tag: $180 is a fair price to pay for the Hero, but at $79.99 the DROID ERIS is hands-down the best value in wireless right now.

HTC Hero CDMA and DROID ERIS: Side by Side Video Comparison:

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