HTC Legend Review

9
Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and with T-Mobile USA without 3G.
The American versionsupports AT&T's 3G network.

Introduction:


HTC has been on the forefront of Android technology ever since the operating system took off, but the HTC Hero was the first to show how profoundly the platform could be personalized. The handset was the first to feature the manufacturer’s proprietary HTC Sense interface that was to appear on Windows phones later on (when the company renamed TouchFLO to Sense). We do like the interface that, along with the innovative design of the HTC Hero, managed to excite us enough to rate the Hero 9/10, despite the slightly irksome issue with the lagging software the handset was plagued by at that time. The device has gained great popularity in the US and the credit goes to the two CDMA versions that hit the shelves on Sprint (HTC Hero) and Verizon (branded as the HTC DROID ERIS).

And as the old tales go, after the Hero comes the Legend. The HTC Legend is a direct successor to its famous predecessor and even a passing glance at its specifications should be enough to convince you these two are not that dissimilar. The hardware differences include AMOLED display, aluminum body, faster CPU at 600MHz and increased amount of RAM (384MB against 288MB).

There are changes in the software as well – the Legend runs Android version 2.1 and features updated HTC Sense interface. We have to point out the feeling you get while using it is quite different. In a good or bad way, actually? Read on and you will find the answer. Before we get to this part, however, let’s take a closer look at what’s inside the box.

-    The HTC Legend
-    Software CD
-    User guide
-    microUSB cable
-    Adapter for charging
-    2GB microSD card

We would advise you not to spend hours trying to find out how to open the handset (as we did) and read the user guide instead. It’s much easier and faster. The reason for all the confusion is none other but the brand new…

Design:

The craftsmanship of the HTC Legend attracted quite a lot of media attention. Actually, the body of the handset is made from a solid chunk of metal, although the concept is certainly not brand new, since the famous Nexus One comes with the same design. It’s a cool thing that the guys at HTC have found a way to enable you to replace the battery easily, while managing to keep the monolithic overall look of the device unspoiled. We have to say the HTC Legend feels awesome in your hand, appears completely solid, comes with great build quality and happens to be quite light-weighted (only 126 grams). The chin at the bottom that is characteristic of the European version of the Hero has been retained as well, but the handset comes with rounded shapes and is almost 3 millimeters thinner.




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

As we have already mentioned, the HTC Legend is equipped with an AMOLED display. This is one of the major dissimilarities to the Hero that integrates a TFT screen instead. And the difference is significant indeed. The native screen resolution of HVGA and diagonal size of 3.2 inches remain the same. Eager fans of huge displays will probably dismiss it as too small, but this particular size has its advantages and equates to a device that is actually handy to use with one hand. The screen of the Legend is, of course, capacitive and supports multitouch. As a matter of fact the Hero offers the latter feature as well, although its successor is substantially better at that. What we don’t like much is that the screen is far from brilliant in direct sunlight and details get too hard to discern, so you will have to shield it against the Sun. 

There are less hardware buttons alongside of the HTC Hero. The send and end keys have disappeared and all keys are arranged in a single row below the display. They feel handier to use and you no longer need to bend your thumb at weird angles to press them, which remains the case with the HTC Hero. All buttons feature pronounced travel and are trouble-free to use.

The HTC Legend integrates an optical trackpad instead of the trackball its predecessor is equipped with. It is quite sensitive and really useable. Frankly, we cannot say which of these is better, since we have never really come to use either of them, because we have never really felt we needed to. What most people use them as, in real life, is… camera shutter only.

The 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the top, next to the power on/off button that is easy to feel with your finger. The microUSB port is on the opposite side (replaces the miniUSB connector of the Hero), along with the earpiece and the opening for the hand-strap.


All told, the HTC Legend is certainly among the best Android handsets today in terms of design. We can even go so far as to say that the Legend is one of the top three smartphones ever. The device is more elegant than its predecessor, although some may find the HTC Hero more attractive with its angular shapes. The HTC Legend goes to show that HTC is a market leader in design and able to create handsets with smooth, simple forms that are irresistibly attractive. Speaking from experience here, we can definitely say the device is more appealing than the HTC Desire.

HTC Legend 360 Degrees View:




Interface:

The HTC Legend is not just perfectly made, but it comes with contemporary software as well. We are talking about the latest version of the famous HTC Sense interface that runs over Android 2.1. At the time of the current review, the HTC Hero has not been updated to this OS edition yet. Still, this is going to happen sooner or later, so ultimately, both devices will become identical in terms of software.

Actually, even without the above-mentioned update, the Hero and Legend are not that dissimilar after all. The manufacturer has made certain improvements, but the software base remains pretty much one and the same. The home screen consists of seven pages and they host both widgets and shortcuts. Unlike the Hero, the Legend unifies all widgets into a single category and you are allowed to download more from HTC’s website. We do like the “helicopter view” that shows all seven pages at the same time. You can enter this mode by double-pressing the button that takes you to the home screen or simply “pinching” the screen. Thanks to the extra feature, you can get right to the page you need in a snap, without having to scroll pages until you get dizzy.


The novelty here is called “FriendStream”. This is a widget that acts as a central depot for information coming from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. You get something similar with Motorola’s MOTOBLUR and Sony Ericsson’s UX interface. At first we felt confused by the incoming information – for an instance, if a friend of yours writes something on the wall of another person, you will see the message as a status update and won’t be able to find out who it’s directed to. This often leads to funny situations in case you rely entirely on FriendStream to find out what’s going on with your online buddies. Moreover, the application does not feature a setting as to how often the available information is to be updated. Ultimately, we prefer the Peep widget (for Twitter following,) because it delivers the latest updates instantly. FriendStream allows you to update your Facebook and Twitter online status, which may come in handy for heavy social networking users.


You have the option to customize the home screen (via themes called “Scenes”) and can create your own. This is certainly one of the features of HTC Sense that we like best.


Whether it’s because of the faster processor or, alternatively, Android 2.1 (allegedly, this edition is better optimized than the previous), but the HTC Legend is a quite snappy and head and shoulders above the Hero with this respect. The device gets sluggish extremely rarely, perhaps while running FriendStream only. As a whole, the handset runs smoothly whatever the software and we are happy to see that HTC has fixed one of the major issues that plagued the HTC Hero (that was easily noticeable in the initial software version of the device, but was later addressed with a update). It’s a cool thing that you can turn off the animated effects and make the device run even faster, although normally, you won’t need to do that.

Phone contacts:

It’s not by accident that HTC calls the phone contacts “People”. The application provides access to all relevant information about people you know like personal call register, message history, social networking updates and pictures. The handset finds the correspondence between names and email addresses from various sources of information (Facebook, Google, SIM) and offers you to merge them. We have to admit this is one of the most functional phone books we have seen. Take a look at our review of the Hero for more details and bear in mind that the only difference is the Legend features universal search that is similar to the function you get with the iPhone and Palm Pre.



Organizer:

Once again, there are no major differences to the HTC Hero here and frankly, none are needed. The calendar can be synchronized with various sources of information like Google (multiple accounts), Facebook and PC Sync. Moreover, you will be able to take a look at the weather forecast for your region on opening the calendar in daily view, which is handy indeed. The alarms, world clock, stopwatch and timer functions are unified in a single and totally cool menu. Unfortunately, the HTC Legend lacks pre-installed tasks application, although Android Market is brimming with programs with similar functionality.



Messaging:

Having had the chance to review several handsets by different manufacturers recently, we have to point out that getting back to the screen QWERTY of an HTC-made device feels great indeed. It’s available in several modes, including alphanumeric, compact QWERTY, full landscape and portrait QWERTY keyboards. Important symbols are brought onto all full QWERTY layouts and they can be typed in by holding the corresponding key pressed for a while. The feature may come in pretty handy, especially in case you need to enter passwords containing several special symbols. Take a look at out review of the HTC Hero for more information.



Connectivity and Internet:

One of the things we stated in our review of the HTC Hero last year was the browser was excellent, but its Flash support had left us… wanting. So, what about this year’s HTC Legend?

Frankly, the situation remains almost the same. The browser is snappier on the overall, zooming in and out on things via multitouch is smooth and double taps work flawlessly. Websites get visualized in almost the same way as on normal computer screens, because Flash animations load without a problem (meaning you will be able to see animated banners and similar things). Their usability is, however, entirely different matter. We didn’t encounter any issues with YouTube, because the website is opened in the browser’s Flash Player (not to be confused with the dedicated YouTube player that has to be started manually). Some of the videos available at other pages like Viddler are watchable (without using the player), but they tend to stutter, while websites like the non-mobile version of Vimeo won’t load at all. The same applies to listening to audio tracks in Flash-based players – some of them work fine, other simply won’t and that’s that. Still, let’s keep in mind that many modern handsets do not support Flash at all, so we have to admit the Legend is pretty capable on that point. If you, however, feel like watching YouTube videos with proper quality, we would recommend that you stick to the dedicated YouTube application rather than resorting to the HTC Flash Player (set up as the default program).


The HTC Legend features both HSDPA 7.2Mbps and Wi-Fi functionality. We do like the option that allows for local sharing of audio tracks and pictures over Bluetooth, a feature that is conspicuous in its absence with the HTC Hero (and all other Android-based handsets for that matter). If you need to be able to send over documents, you will have to get third-party software from the Android Market.




Camera:

The quality and capabilities of HTC’s cell phone cameras have improved significantly lately and they are now much closer to what the market leaders Samsung, Nokia and Sony Ericsson deliver. Fortunately, this applies to the HTC Legend and its 5-megapixel camera with LED flash.

The interface takes 2-3 seconds to start up and you are greeted by a short notification that you can take snapshots by pressing the optical pad, i.e. use it as camera shutter. Keep your finger pressed against the screen to take advantage of the touch focus function. The camera will automatically bring the object it’s aimed at in focus, much like the iPhone 3GS. Each snapshot is saved for about a second.

The number of available options is relatively high, but you just don’t have the rich variety of functions the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 or LG GW620 deliver. You get the basics like white balance, brightness setting and various shooting effects. The maximum video capture resolution has been increased to VGA (from CIF with the Hero), but still remains quite far from the HD capturing that is all the rage now.


The snapshot quality is a step forward alongside of the Hero and actually happens to be among the best in the Android world. Colors are realistically represented and images have enough details. The part about the realistic colors doesn’t apply pictures taken indoors, since objects lit by the camera flash appear rather weird (people turn into zombie-like creatures, which may be of interest to eager fans of special effects). As a whole, captured images are totally useable for sharing over social networks, where most cell phone snapshots end up anyway. 



The videos that you will take with the Legend are passable for the samepurpose, despite the fact they don’t have enough details. Still, clipsplay smoothly (at almost 30 frames per second) and their soundtracksare of decent quality.

HTC Legend sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution

Multimedia:

The HTC Legend makes only moderate headway alongside of the Hero in terms of multimedia. The cell phone plays MPEG-4 files with resolution not exceeding 800x480 pixels. Oddly enough, we didn’t encounter any issues watching clips coded in H.264 (the codec offers better image quality) and it’s such a shame the device does not support DivX and Xvid videos.



The audio player offers decent audio filtering by artist, album etc. There are no available options to affect the playback quality though, which is rather displeasing. The boxed headset packs some punch, but the sound is overly sharp. During our tests, audio tracks sounded much better through one of our sets, although the excessive sharpness never disappeared completely.

You will have no choice but to plug in the headset in case you feel like listening to the FM Radio. It’s actually a novelty feature for the Android line-up of HTC and comes with super simple interface. Still, what’s important here is the application is snappy and equipped with functional RDS that detects radio channel names instantaneously.



GPS and Software:

The only navigational software that is pre-installed on the HTC Legend is Google Maps 3.4.0. We tested the handset in Europe, where the free voice navigation of Google Maps Navigation is still unavailable. If you decide to help the GPS module and activate it in assisted mode, getting your exact location pinpointed will take just a few seconds. Without it, you will have to wait for 4-5 minutes to find out where you are (after hardware reset) and less than a minute if your have already been located exactly.

The solution to the problem is called Android Market, where there are many navigational applications. This is the place to find software you need, whatever it may be, because the store features more than 30,000 programs. By the way, we tested the handset with one of the most hardware-demanding  games today, Raging Thunder II and it played smoothly, although not nearly as good as on the Nexus One.






Performance:

Probably the first thing you will feel when talking on the HTC Legend is… slight pain, caused by the sharp edges of the front side of the handset. Still, this is something we can live with. The second aspect of the device pertaining to calls that you will notice is how realistic your callers sound. The overall loudness is somewhat weaker than what we would have liked, although we were able to perfectly understand people on the other end, plus this is what they said about the in-call quality on their end as well.

According to the manufacturer, the battery of the HTC Legend should be able to provide about 8.16 hours of continuous talk time and keep the device operational for almost 18 days in stand-by. Having had the chance to test the device comprehensively, we believe both numbers are accurate… in case you switch off all internet-related services, since they drain the battery fast.

Conclusion:

We are happy to say the HTC Legend is certainly not a victim of the sequel syndrome. Hard facts of life, you know. Traditionally, first episodes of acclaimed movie series tend to be the best, with sequels proving to be progressively worse. Fortunately, this is not the case with the HTC Legend and it’s more like “Batman: The Dark Knight” – better than the previous iterations.

At the same time, it’s not that different from them either. The most significant change alongside of the HTC Hero is the outward appearance – the aluminum body feels truly great and utterly solid in your hand. The camera has been substantially improved as well and while the AMOLED screen is a cool feature indeed, we would have liked it much better if it came with WVGA resolution rather than HVGA. The overall operational performance of the device is better, plus the HTC Sense interface brings several (albeit minor) novelties.

We do have a few gripes about the multimedia capabilities of the handset and it would have been great if the HTC Legend was able to handle at least DivX videos. Apparently proper video playback will be an exclusive privilege of the HTC Desire (after software update). The pre-installed audio player lacks equalizer functionality and the audio playback quality is not exactly the best we’ve heard either.

What other options do you have?

-    The Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 – The model has been recently updated to Android 2.1 and the pack brought certain interface novelties as well. With its multimedia capabilities, the Spica easily outrivals the Legend, thanks to its DivX and Xvid support.
-    The Motorola MILESTONE/DROID – A solid option for people who prefer hardware QWERTY keyboards and don’t like HTC’s personalized interface. The European version of the handset has already been updated to Android 2.1, while the software update for the American edition is due any time now.
-    The Google Nexus One – Outmatches the Legend with a larger display and faster processor. Just keep in mind the handset comes without personalized interface. Its body is made from a single chunk of metal too, but the overall look and appeal is quite different.
-    The HTC Desire – The big brother of the Legend that is definitely less spectacular to look at, but equipped with larger screen and faster, 1GHz processor. Basically, they both run the same interface, although the Desire offers certain extras like animated wallpapers.


The HTC Legend is an extremely well-balanced device that has a few, minor disadvantages. We think it’s the optimal Android handset today, because it’s a seamlessly blend of contemporary functionality and design, HTC’s Sense interface and compact size that happens to be reasonably priced. Of course, eager fans of high-tech devices will probably dismiss the Legend and go for the HTC Desire or Nexus One instead. Owners of the Hero should consider upgrading their handsets in case they are irresistibly attracted to the overall design of the Legend. As for all other people willing to get a proper Android-based cell phone, all we can say is “the Legend has finally arrived”.





Pros

  • Awesome build quality and spectacular design
  • Really snappy (with almost all applications)
  • Capable camera
  • Excellent in-call quality
  • Partial Flash support

Cons

  • Limited video playback capabilities
  • Mediocre audio playback quality
  • Discomforting display (in direct sunlight)

PhoneArena Rating:

9.0

User Rating:

8.3
12 Reviews

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