New kid on the block

New kid on the block

After over a year with the Samsung i8910, I am moving on. Samsung is through making updates – in fact it’s through doing anything Symbian for the time being. As far as custom ROMs go, there’s only so much the modders can do. The ROM cooking community is not very big and with no further updates from Samsung, we can’t expect anything revolutionary.

So, after seeing this deadlock, I thought, what’s next? I thought about this for a very long time. Finally I settled for the Desire HD.

The Desire HD

The Desire HD

Why the Desire HD?

Several reasons.

1. First off, it’s made by HTC. HTC is known for keeping their devices up-to-date. They build great hardware and they have an awesome track record.

2. The Desire HD runs Android (2.2 Froyo out of the box). Android to me feels like what Symbian should have been. You can do pretty much everything you can do on a Symbian phone, that is, send files via bluetooth, navigate through the file system, play multiple video/audio formats etc. Android works like Symbian with the elegance of iOS. It’s not quite either of them, but it possesses some of their positive attributes.

3. The hacking and ROM cooking community is quite large and thriving over at xda-developers. Within the first week I’ve already rooted the phone, S-OFF, Radio-OFF and all that, plus I installed a custom updated ROM (Android 2.2.1). There are already ROMs with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with the processor over-clocked from an impressive 1 GHz to 1.5 GHz. I like tinkering with devices and the Desire HD is a tinkerer’s dream.

4. HTC Sense UI is fantastic. Sense feels streamlined and it’s buttery smooth, better than iOS in customization options and yet just as smooth.

5. The Android market reportedly has over 200,000 apps (yes, that’s 200 thousand!). What’s better about it, is that most of these apps are free. Not only that, but these apps can do more than you can do on iOS eg. search through the phone, monitor and kill apps, access the underlying Linux terminal, emulators etc.

Desire HD

Desire HD

6. The Desire HD has superb hardware. A Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255 (45nm technology) 1 GHz processor, Adreno 205 GPU and 768MB RAM. It has a measly 1.5 GB internal storage, which is enough for a bunch of apps plus a micro SD card slot. It also boasts a 4.3″ Super-LCD which is pretty good in all conditions.

7. The build quality is also top notch, the aluminium “uni-body” design is very sleek and it feels great in the hand.

8. The camera on this thing is fast. The quality isn’t much different from the Samsung i8910 camera but the speed is eons away. Photos are taken instantly. The videos are smooth, you can tap-to-focus and activate/deactivate the dual LED as you film! Still on the LED, there is a dedicated torch app which uses it. It even has 3 levels of brightness!

What’s not so awesome

Like many other phones the Desire HD isn’t perfect.

1. Battery life is really bad. Maybe not that bad. The problem is, I can’t keep my hands off it. Wi-fi is on most of the time – if not that, the data connection is on – if not, I’m playing some game. The browser is so good that when ever I’m using the phone I find myself surfing the web. It’s like a mini iPad without the 10hr battery life and that really sucks.

2. The buttons are hopeless. The volume rocker and power buttons are badly designed. I can barely tell whether I’m increasing or decreasing the volume.

3. I miss the dedicated camera button. HTC has a face detection feature that starts a count down and shoots as soon as it detects a face. That system works flawlessly. They also have a timer setting which works in the same way. But I just wish there was a dedicated camera button. This is my first phone with a camera that doesn’t have a dedicated camera button.

4. I also miss the front facing camera. I used to video call every now and then with the i8910. Gone are the days – it’s voice calls all the way now.

The other redeeming thing I like is which has features to find the phone, ring it, wipe it, lock it or display a message – all through the website.

Overall, I am a very happy camper. The phone is solid, buttery smooth and thoroughly entertaining. HTC really took some time out to make their Sense UI…um…make sense. No wonder apps like ADWLauncher are so popular on the Android Market, they are like poor replicas of Sense.