There's no point beating about the bush, if you don't mind your phones being big, the HTC Desire HD is the best smartphone on the market right now. A good screen, great design, and bucket loads of features combine to make this the best overall phone we've seen.
All this and we've apparently been given a version of the phone that doesn't have the final firmware. Quite what is missing, we're not sure but we found nothing that would concern us.
Ironically, what immediately strikes us about the Desire HD is not a positive thing but rather how big and heavy it is. Measuring 123 x 68 x 11.8 mm it's 8mm wider, 10mm taller, and a couple of millimetres thicker than that favourite yard stick, the iPhone 4. It's also 27g heavier at a total of 164g. As such it really does feel bulky and to our minds pushes the limits of what we'd consider comfortable and practical, and we'd have preferred to see the same overall package squeezed into a device with a 3.7in screen like the original Desire.
What that size does get you, though, is an enormous 4.3in screen that has many potential benefits such as being easier to read and nicer to view video and photos on. However, we feel it's still somewhat small to happily watch a whole movie on, as you would on a laptop, and you'd have to have pretty poor eyesight to find it significantly easier than a 3.7in display. As such we feel the extra size is of little to no benefit, especially as the 800 x 480 resolution is no higher than rival devices with much smaller screens. Moreover, it's simply impossible to reach the whole display when using the phone one-handed without shifting your grip, which can be a bit awkward.
Display quality is also not quite as good as we might hope. It uses an LCD rather than OLED panel so isn't as bright or vibrant but we actually don't mind this as LCD screens are sharper – comparing this phone to the Samsung Galaxy S really confirmed our issues with that phones display looking rather grainy.
However, what we would've liked to see is the same quality LCD panel as used on the iPhone 4. By using IPS technology rather than TN, that display has better viewing angles, greater contrast and better colour reproduction. We really are nitpicking here and it wouldn't put us off buying one but it's worth noting that perfection this phone certainly isn't.