The Desire is HTCs current european flagship Android phone. Its hardware specs are pretty much the same as those of the Google Nexus One phone, except it’s got physical Android buttons and an optical trackpad. In addition to this, the Desire has HTCs “Sense” UI, a skin that lies on top of the Android operating system.
I’m not going to lie, I loathe HTC Sense. These days, Android is riding a rocket to stardom, soon surpassing iPhone as the number one smartphone platform. A rising number of people are going to want an “Android phone”. Unfortunately, they can’t have it, because custom Android experiences like HTC Sense exist1. Sense brings you a black Android interface that features a flipping number clock up front, and a number of “social” widgets, such as “Friendstream”. If only it stopped there, I believe I could deal with it, after all, Android users can replace their entire homescreen interface with alternatives like ADW Launcher, available from the Android Market. The problem with Sense is that it doesn’t stop there, and I will go in to more detail in a different essay, suffice to say, Sense replaces core apps with HTC specific ones, replaces your lock screen with one that unlocks in your pocket … it sinks its teeth so deep in to Android that the overall experience is diluted and diminished.
As for the hardware, while on principle I’m against the amount of buttons present, I do appreciate that they’re physical. To be fair, they’re also quite handy once you get used to them.. I find myself missing the back button on the iPad. When I want to call someone, I find it nice and quick to press the search button, type in the first letter of my contact, and then press call. Even so, I’m still opposed to their existance, as they encourage lazy app design. Another boon of having only one a home button is that hardware vendors don’t get to screw around with the order of the buttons (“Back” and “Home” have switched places, compared to the Milestone).
In more comparisons to the Milestone / DROID, the speaker really isn’t that good. It’s not as loud, nor as clear, and the sound is almost scratchy in comparison. I suppose, on the flipside, that the Desire speaker is normal, whilst the Milestone/DROID speaker is phenomenal. Even so, now that I’ve experienced how good a phone speaker can be (my usecase was listening to podcasts in my kitchen, phone in pocket), the lack of a similarly excellent speaker in the Desire detracts from the rating.
The weight and grip of the device is just right, and you’re unlikely to get scratches on this thing. Overall the hardware is very nice.
So, should you get one? To answer this, you have to ask yourself: are you going to root this phone and install a vanilla version of Android on it? If you can answer yes, well then the HTC Desire may be your dream phone! It’s easily jailbroken using Unrevoked, and easily re-flashed using Rom Manager. You’ll get your phone just like you want it!
Did that last sentence make you throw up in your mouth a little? Well in that case, you don’t want to get the HTC Desire. If you want an Android phone and you don’t want to jump through flaming hoops to get one, I’m so sorry to say that you have only three choices at the moment:
- US Motorola DROID (not Milestone or any other Droid)
- Google Nexus One
- The soon to come T-Mobile G2.
In a summary of this odd device, you get two ratings:
- If you are a nerd and you’re going to the lenghts to “fix” this phone, this is the phone you’re looking for, especially if you’re stuck in Europe.
- If you just wanted an Android phone or a phone that works, I can’t recommend the Desire, and unless you’re able to get your hands on a Droid, a Nexus One or a G2, I recommend you buy an iPhone.
- This is not HTCs fault entirely, I also blame Samsung, Motorola and all the other “skin” vendors. ↑