When it comes to looks, the HTC Legend may have got the lion’s share, but the HTC Desire got the brains – with a super fast processor and deliciously responsive capacitive touchscreen it impressed us straight off the bat. Can it out-do its sister product, the Google Nexus One? And just how will that battery hold up?
What we like
Pictures of the HTC Desire just don’t do it justice – it’s so much more aesthetically pleasing in the flesh. It may not have the aluminium uni-body stylings of its brother, the HTC Legend, but its smart dark-bronze detailing and rubbery matt-black casing are elegantly understated. The huge 3.7-in AMOLED screen is sharp and the colours are vibrant. It’s light and slim, but feels really nice to hold in the hand.
The Desire is lightning fast. Both online and off we had no problems with lag. Web browsing is quite possibly the fastest and most pleasurable we’ve seen to date; loading times were negligible and the large screen was a joy to browse with. The 1Ghz Snapdragon processor added to the phone’s responsiveness and ensured multi-tasking didn’t slow us down.
Getting set up was a breeze with the Sense UI’s set-up wizard which guides you through the essentials the first time you switch on – it gets your email up and running, as well as social networks, phone book contacts and time, date and location.
The Desire does away with the Nexus One’s trackball, opting instead for an optical trackpad for scrolling and acting as the enter button for some functions. We didn’t tend to use it a great deal because the capacitive touchscreen was so responsive, but when we did it was easy and accurate.
Another great Sense addition is the Leap thumbnail mode – by zooming out from the home screen it gives you a quick and easy overview of your setup and you can quickly navigate between home screens without swiping. Customising home screens is just as easy peasy – and you’re not likely to run out of space with seven home screens to play with. There are also some HTC-built widgets to take advantage of, like Friend Stream, which amalgamates your social networks into one handy feed.
The onscreen keyboard is very good indeed; on a par with the Legend, which we described as the best we’ve ever used, but because the screen is even larger than the Legend’s 3.2-inch offering, you’ve got more space to play with. The haptic feedback was not intrusive, with its reassuring little vibrations letting you know when you’d made proper contact. There’s even a little wizard to help you get to grips with it.
Superior GPS made Google Maps a joy, the 3.5mm headphone jack means you can use any headphones you like with the handset and the music player, while not the most beautiful or intuitive we’ve ever used, is as user-friendly as the rest of the phone.
The 5.0-megapixel camera was far and away the best of the HTC cameras we’ve seen to date; while it’s still not the best quality camera we’ve seen on a phone, it’s much better than that of the Hero and other older HTC models. With a plethora of options and effects to play with, as well as a passable-quality video recorder function, it should more than satisfy as a camera phone.
What we didn’t like
Sometimes that beautiful screen was a bit too responsive – particularly when scrolling through menus and galleries, even the slightest touch would send the icons racing across the screen. At times like these we defected to the optical trackpad for more accurate control.
When we used the Desire intensively for a long time (about 45 minutes), it did get very warm. At this point we started seeing error messages and forced closes, and the Wi-Fi connection became a little wobbly. However, after a short break it was back to its old self – it’s not clear if these issues were recurring, however, as we didn’t experience them a second time.
The screen lock/activate button is housed on the top side of the handset – we’d have liked to see another of the buttons on the front of the chassis doubling as an unlock button, for the convenience of checking the time without having to pick the handset up.
What really lets the handset down is its battery life – we were lucky to get one day of use out of it without charging, even with just casual use. The battery indicator wasn’t hugely reliable either, with it seemingly quite full until it suddenly ran right down to the red.
There’s just not much wrong with the HTC Desire. Like most feature-heavy smartphones, battery life was something of an issue but there’s always the option to turn the 3G off to save battery and cut down on widgets.
We fell completely in love with the Desire – it seemed to know everything we wanted to do, and made it all ridiculously quick and easy to do. And, with the killer combination of speed, grace and that deliciously touchable AMOLED screen, it’s a winner.
HTC Desire User Reviews
"the worst phone I have ever owned, total rubbish. Smartphone? No dumb as funk. Totally un-intuitive and the battery time is beyond a joke."
"I have had the phone over a month now but I haven't even succeeded in uploading my numbers from my old phone ....... This phone arrived with NO USER MANUAL and no instructions.... so its been lying in a drawer since it arrived!!!! I phoned my serviCe provider who had pushed this phone on me .... I was to be emailed the user manual. That was over 3 weeks ago. Nothing to date."
"Amazing! stunnning phone, stunning camera quality, i'm simply amazed! the best phone i've ever had! it took a few days of getting use to but when you do its a breeze! much better then Blackberry, all my friends have them, and i wanted a different phone and i've definately made the right choice best phone EVER!!!!"
"This phone is the best phone anyone could EVER HAVE!! The charging is fast,and the screen never freezes.You can also turn the phone sideways which is much easier for some people.The battery lasts for long which is good for anyone who likes to chat away!! I would recommed this to anyone who is looking for a new phone."
"I've got this phone, I've had it almost a year and i'm not bored with it yet there is so much you can do on it and loads of games and apps you can download on Android market . The best phone i've ever had :D"
"This is the first smart phone ive had and after looking at the iphone and samsung galaxy friends have i decided on this one as it seemed to do the same but with better contract options. Im on vodafone and upgraded for 18 months at £30 and a free phone. WOW why didnt i get this sooner, ive managed to put it down after 3 weeks to write this review and i'll be back on it, so easy to use, lovely to hold, clear hugh screen and great apps........... i love it. Im not going to go on about battery life, what do you expect from something so packed with stuff? one pain i find is the volume key as i keep knocking it but who cares. if your looking for a smart phone this has to be at the top of your list."
"Probably the best smart phone I have come in contact with. I love how user friendly it is and how quick and easy browsers run. Apps download inpeccably fast which was nice. I can do everything from my phone and its amazing!"
"one word.....WOW!!!! ive had this phone now for over 6 months and it just keeps getting better and better , i love everything about this phone , the apps are great , the screen is lovely to use , the phone did take a little getting used to but now i can zip round it really easily , mine has android 2.2 on it and mine has NEVER EVER CRASHED? never had to reboot it due to locking up or anything like that unlike some (round fruit branded phones i can think of lol) the camera quialty is ace and the video quality in 720p is amazing, the games are just getting better and better and so are the apps try the new android market on your pc then click an app you like and it will install to your phone with no wires , no hassle amazing to see , android is just going from strength to strength and with android 2.3 on the way to the htc desire things can only get better, HTC has found a devoted customer in me and when upgrade time comes i will be htc again top marks HTC."
"I have had the phone for just over amonth now, and and pleased by its ease of use, lightening fast speed and multiple apps available. its one of the best phones I have ever had, and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a new phone. The only thing that stops me from giving is 5 star rating is sometimes when browsing the photos, it gets stuck in the middle of a photo and needs a restart."
"Running out of internal storage already after installing a few apps, but they say it will get fixed with the 2.2 update (which didn't show up on my phone's firmware update yet as). I have the words "WITH HTC SENSE" printed on the back of my phone in capital letters, capital letters aren't the problem, the problem is that it doesn't show up in the list of supported phones on HTCsense.com :S I thought I was the only one who thinks that the existence of buttons is pointless on a touch screen phone, but now that I read one review that thinks so I have to say that having buttons on a touch screen phone is pointless."
"Buying an htc Desire is like buying a Mercedes special edition super sports car...WITHOUT HEADLIGHTS !!! Yup, it's a SMARTphone but unfortunately it's stupid it doesn't have "notes" and "tasks", not to mention the very stone age PC sync software that doesn't give you a summary of what have been synced. Now I have to walk around with my HTC and my old Nokia phone (that has all my appointments, tasks and notes) to make up for my loss.
If you don't use notes and tasks then this would be a 5 star phone for you otherwise you'll be left very frustrated as much as I am.
My next phone will probably be a Nokia again until I hear good news about android"
"I have it for 3 weeks now and its the best thing ive ever held in my hands.My friend has iPhone 4,and its a great phone but Desire is much better.Much cheaper,faster and does everything the iPhone does if not even more.Great screen,great camera,lightning fast.If u were thinking about buying one dont hesitate."
"I love my desire! some of the software updates have slowed it down considerably tho, anyone have the same issue? It feels lovely in my hand, the screen is amazing the vibration feedback is just right, best phone I've had. Compared minewith an iPhon4 and it does more or less everything that does!"
"Best piece of cosumer electronics I have ever bought. Does everything you would ever need a smartphone to do and more. Battery life is pretty good (I can go 2 or 3 days if I'm using it as a phone only, or a day if I'm using GPS etc) and if you have a google account everything from calender to contacts just works out of the box. This phone could not be better. Why haven't you bought one yet?"
"Best phone ever, everything works so well and with froyo the small phone memory is no longer an issue. Battery life is fine, but does need charging each night. Excellent satnav as well. Very happy."
"I saw a comment about someone complaining the video isn't in high def 720p. Well to that person no need to worry! the android 2.2 update enables 720p capture! :)"
"My son recently got the HTC Desire. I can't count the phones he's had. He claims it beats all other phones hands down and he is only just now scratching the surface of its capabilities. enables online activities with a laptop and X box. 200 words max doesn't do the review justice he would say. I am so so tempted to get one myself."
"One of the best phones I ever had,I got it to replace my 3GS(an excellent phone)and I originally planned to have it for a few weeks until the iPhone 4 is released.No more iphone 4 for me this phone (and OS) are excellent.My only complaint is maybe that the battery life could be better but I am a heavy user and I had to charge my 3GS by noon,this one is a little better."
"I could not wish any better!!! Im very happy I didnt get iphone 3, this one is by far the best phone I ever had in my entire life! So easy to use and so fast I could not belive myself. To be honest its faster then my loptop, I have connected to my home wirless and its so speedy woow. Phone feels sexy in the hand, with its back rubber its secure in your hands even if they are wet. Love the camera quality, in seconds I seted up navigation and looking worward to use it for the next travel anywere around. It has soo many functions Im still unalising what most of them are lol. Texting is hell easy, web... voice search does all. I could just go on and on and on... in short words iys a dream phone. So thank you very much for it and for the good price plan deal too. Regards Ioseb"
"I love this phone u had the g1 before and I thought that that was the best phone but this one is awesome. My father in law has the iphone and this in my opinion is so much better. I say big thumbs up to HTC can't wait to see what comes next x"
"what the iPhone4 might aspire to be. HTC Desire with its ever increasing android gadgets is a world beater! I love it."
"The HTC Desire is my first touchscreen smartphone ... and I like it ! I chose this phone as I knew I\'d have to get a 24 month contract to keep the monthly payments reasonably low, so wanted an up-to-date phone now that will still be useful in two years time, as no doubt this phone will be superseded before winter is on us !! Yes, the battery life could be better maybe, but all smartphones seem to suffer from short battery life -- probably due to lots of apps draining the battery ! The HTC Sense interface is so sensitive that sometimes you can accidentally touch the wrong icon or send the phone off in a different direction than you intended. You get a good set-up routine to begin with which allows you to practise with features on the phone, and with it being an Android handset there\'s lots \'n\' lots of applications to keep you interested and informed in many many ways. Overall I\'m well-impressed with it, and like most things in life, when you\'ve become accustomed to it through practise, you\'ll find it so easy to use."
"I bought one of these on the release date here in Thailand. It is perfect for me. For others it might be more sensible to buy something more \"proprietary\" (i.e. iPhone) if you can\'t handle having to \"try and test\" apps. However, if you are confident with technology then there are VERY few bounds with this phone. The finish is amazing, I wish they built everything in my life as I can find NO fault at all. Do buy one of the rubber slim covers as the extra bulk is easily forgotten once you realise that it makes the phone less prone to damage. Better still it actually works without any functional flaws (unlike the iPhone). The new Android 2.2 release is nearly ready for distribution to this device and this will take this phone to the top of the game. GREAT BUY."
"allways had nokia phones seen htc desire thought i would try it its best move i ever made even my m8 who has iphone likes it he says next time he due upgrade he getting one and plenty of apps for it only slight problem is battery life mind u i use my phone a lot and very fast at downloading apps for it"
"What a great phone easy to use i like it a lot and I'm glad i chose it and on a good tariff with Vodafone"
"I have recently bought a HTC Desire after using my husbands iphone 3gs for the past few months. The desire is as easy to use as any iphone but I think it's more configurable. The screen is clear, the keyboard is easy to use and there are loads and loads of free apps. Adding music and ringtones is so easy, it's just another drive when you connect it your pc, just drag and drop. Battery life is ok, you can manage it with apps etc by turning off wifi in areas without it etc. Don't forget to make sure you get a 3g sim as my old sim was only allowing gprs when I was out and about. It's great to be able to use Google maps, I use it all the time on my PC so having it mobile is great, in fact all google apps are available to download. I got my desire for free with my pay monthly tariff which is a lot cheaper than the iphone. I havent found anything that the iphone can do that the desire can't yet. The camera is easy to use and pictures are clear. I love it!"
"Things wrong with HTC desire -Considering this is a multimedia phone has a shockingly low provided memory storage and should have come with 32GB storage moved backwards on storage. -Did not use edge to edge viewable screen space, absolutely no reason to have any physical buttons on a touch screen phone, could have extended the vertical display by 2.5cm easily. The black bar around the sides completely unnecessary and could have extended the horizontal view by 3mm x 2. -Cannot do video calls? a major backward step in mobile phone communication technology. -Cannot do 720p video recording, existing panning video shots jerky and not smooth. - Irritating having to press the top physical button and then drag the touch screen every time one has to make a call between short time breaks, this has to be repeated when making lots of calls throughout the day = very irritating bad design . -Days use of battery before recharge, needed a higher capacity battery"
"My I phone was up for upgrade and it was a toss up between the new I phone or the Desire I chose the desire quite honestly because it was cheaper monthly tariff but wasn't sure I had done the right thing until I really started to play with the phone all I can say it does everything I want mail,surf and a useful phone .
Its fast and multitouch is very good There are little bugs but easily fixed just read the forums online the battery life is awful but I phone users will be used to that I do use it quite a lot so if you are an occasional user it may last longer but good luck with that Get this phone and get a car charger and all your needs will be filled"
"I have been using the HTC Desire for a week now, and am always being impressed, if not surprised, by what it can do. The negative points I have come across in my week of use are: some difficulties or even incapabilities with flash; lack of edit on documents, and; sometimes questionable battery life. That's it. And with Android 2.2 imminent and the Market always expanding and offering new options on apps, I don't see those first 2 being a problem for very long. The battery life then is the only real negative point, and there are apps to download to help with management of the battery life name the other running apps, which do help to slow the energy sap.
Apart from that, though: the screen, the apps, the homescreens, the keyboard, the load times, the accelerometer, the general workings, the ease of synchronizing everything from mail to calendars to Facebook onto the phone - it's all incredible.
This is my first touchscreen phone, and I'm sure I will be happy with it for quite a while.
Congrats, HTC: this will take some beating."
"As always the HTC live up for thier word in Qaulity briliant cuz it is in every aspect, if you are an Iphone lover guess what. you can work it as an Iphone and thanks to the apps that are getting better every time. as the android is very new but it piked up where Iphone at!!! I love HTC to the core and i belive in them so much regarding support as well.they are the best without any question asked. and about the phone well it speaks for it self. so if you are thinking of an Iphone!!! well you dont really know what you are missing here."
"Switched to Desire after catalogue of problems with Nokia N97. Does everything the Iphone or N97 does only a lot better than the Nokia didn't. Better camera than iphone, camera flash, FM radio, view flash video on internet, not tied into itunes, not restricted to Apple approved software. Quietly competent. Very pleased with it"
"I was torn between the htc desire and the sony ericsson x10, it came down to cost where the htc desire wins hands down! My problem with this phone was the poor call quality, in the background it sounded like i could hear the sea!! This was extremely dissapointing, as the reason i buy a phone is to be able to phone people surprisingly! Apart from this fault the phone was very fun to use."
"Onto my first whole day with the Desire. First impressions are that it's a great phone, with the usability people need from a phone with so many applications on offer. From reading other reviews before getting mine I'm a little concerned about the battery life, but time will tell."
"I got my HTC Desire about three days ago and I have to say it is a very very good phone. I brought it sim free as a replacement to my old iPhone 3G and to be honest it has taken some getting used to. It is technically a much better phone than the iPhone and is lightening fast by comparison (even to the 3GS). The functionality is all there and I haven't got a bad word to say about it. If you are good with gadgets and tech just get one now! The only people that might be unimpressed are the technically illiterate who will struggle getting to grips with the functionality of the android platform and harnessing its power."
"HTC Desire - One word WOW Changed from my iPhone to the Desire best decision I have ever made. Loving the phone and with the support of Google/Android the apps are just getting better and better - Go out and buy one you wont regret it for a minute"
"I just got my hands on the HTC desire. I have absolutely been blown away by it. brilliant, powerful, utterly user-friendly, super cool"
"I was one of the lucky ones who received this phone on Saturday 27th March. I only have 200 words to say how good this phone is which is sad as I could write a book on how and why I love this phone. There are loads more to it than are shown in the ads and reviews. This phone is perfect and I love it, it does everything you need it to and more. My son likes it too and he has the Iphone 3GS. He's very critical of everything else other than the Iphone and even he said how brilliant it was. There's not much point about going on about the spec as it's there on all the reviews. So I'll just say, android, big processor, fast, great screen, wifi, good 3g where I live, easy set up, lots of things you can customise on the 7 screens, good video playback, good camera, transfer files easy from pc, bluetooth pics, music etc, has a windscreen wiper when weather shows rain and wipes screen. Bad points, not found any. Don't think about buying one of these, get one now, you will not be disappointed."