Wow! Just, wow! That was pretty much the crux of our first impressions of HTC's latest Android-based smartphone, the Legend. With a chassis carved from a single piece of aluminium, with a beautiful sandblasted finish, this is one stunning looking device. As Gordon rightly pointed out at the World Mobile Congress, the Legend looks and feels somewhere between the first generation iPhone and the new unibody aluminium Macbooks, and we mean that in every possible good way.
However, there are a few immediate problems. First, contrary to what you might expect, matt aluminium like this still scratches fairly easily (though less so than plastic) and over time can be polished to a shine on exposed edges and corners. As such we'd be inclined to keep the Legend in some sort of case – I'm a big fan of the leather slip, like this one I use with my iPhone – that protects the phone when in transit but doesn't hide its design or inhibit its functionality when in use. However, due to the Legend's jutting jaw profile such cases can't be used. Aesthetically, we don't mind it and we appreciate it's a design feature that harks back to the first Android phone, the G1, and this phone's direct predecessor, the HTC Hero, but on a practical level we think it's something that needs to go.
On a more positive note, the power button on the top, volume rocker on the left edge, and central circular select button all feel very solid in terms of fit and have a superbly light yet defined action. The new optical trackball (the sensor for which sits in the middle of the central button) also looks great and works well. However, we still think that such things are largely unneeded on touchscreen phones – pin-pointing a cursor in text is about the only task we regularly used it for. Sadly it isn't a clean sweep when it comes to button quality, with the four black ones under the screen being a little wobbly, and sometimes leaving you unsure if you've pressed them properly. We also maintain that Android phones simply have too many buttons – all three of the Menu, Back, and Search buttons can easily be replicated in software without any loss of functionality.
There are no alarm bells when it comes to connectivity, though, as the Legend sports a conventional 3.5mm headphone jack on its top and a micro-USB socket on the bottom for connecting to a PC and charging the phone. There's also a microSD slot hidden under the bottom, black-coloured section on the back of the phone, so getting files on and off the phone is a cinch. This plastic section also pulls away to reveal the battery (Apple take note) and SIM slot. It's a beautiful mechanism, but it's a bit of a pain to power down the Legend to remove the microSD card.