HTC has a knack for making smart phones and the HTC Hero is possibly one of its best to date. Boasting Google's Android operating system and tonnes of features, is this the iPhone rival we’ve all been waiting for?

What we like
Most touchscreen phones look like iPhone clones but the Hero is distinct from the competition. Our white review model came in a Teflon coated casing that feels great. The Hero’s main distinguishing feature though is its chin that sticks out at the bottom – we really like it.

There's no physical keypad but the on-screen keypad works like a charm. Whether you're typing in portrait or landscape mode, the HTC's keypad is easy to use – albeit a bit slow at times.

Anyone who has tried Android on a T-Mobile G1 or HTC Magic will know that it's nice but not entirely user friendly. HTC has added a bespoke interface on top of Android that makes using it a lot easier. You can add widgets really easily and there’s even a pre-installed Twitter app.

Some phones that boast social networking features don't deliver but we're glad to see HTC taking it seriously. Aside from Twitter the Hero also integrates Facebook and Gmail contacts into your address book, which is very handy.

We're very glad to report that the Hero's screen is very responsive and that there's a 3.5mm headphone jack. One of our biggest gripes about the HTC Magic was its lack of standard headphone jack, but the Hero has one and in return the music experience is great.

What we don't like
The Hero is a true iPhone competitor, which is why we're disappointed that HTC didn't put in a faster processor. At times certain actions, such as typing, seem to lag. It’s also a shame that there isn't gigabytes worth of on-board memory, so you're stuck storing data on a microSD card.

The 5-megapixel camera sounds impressive but during our tests it only performed well in daylight due to the lack of a flash. We'd really like to see a high-end phone with a great camera so that we can really take advantage of all the features.

Conclusion
The HTC Hero is superb and the best iPhone competitor we've reviewed so far. Our only disappointment is that HTC didn't use a faster processor. If you’re not bothered by the slight lag though then we couldn't recommend this phone enough.