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HTC Desire HD - Design cont.

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


At this point you may be thinking this all sounds a bit negative considering our opening gambit but here's the crux of the point; while we feel the size of this phone is something of an issue, the rest of its abilities more than make up for it.

HTC Desire HD vs iPhone 4

For a start the design is lovely. The front is beautifully clean and simple thanks to the four navigation buttons underneath the screen being incorporated into same glass as the display. Flip the phone over and the taupe back looks simple and understated. What's more, it should be hard wearing as the majority of the chassis is made from anodised aluminium with just a few soft touch plastic panels dotted around where needed.

HTC Desire HD back

We do have a couple of very small niggles, though again they're unikely to be major concerns. The first is the thin plastic strip that protects the edge of the screen, which sits proud slightly and feels rather sharp. You're not going to cut your finger but it does feel a bit odd. The other concern is the gap on the back between the main chassis and the bottom panel. It's a hairline crack but as there's no lip for the panel to nestle on you can actually see straight through to the innards of the phone – this obviously won't be a device that survives a dunking in water.

HTC Desire HD backplate

Also not quite up to snuff is the volume control, which is a tad mushy making it difficult to tell if you've pressed it. The screen lock/power button is also rather hard to reach one handed and we would've liked to see some way of activating the screen when holding at the bottom.

HTC Desire HD side

HTC Desire HD side

Along the bottom edge you'll find a headphone jack and microUSB, the latter of which both charges the phone and provides data transfer. All pretty standard stuff but crucially there are no major omissions, though some rival devices do offer mini HDMI for outputting video to your TV. On the audio front HTC has also teamed up with Dolby and SRS to provide Dolby Mobile and SRS Wow audio enhancements.

HTC Desire HD camera lens

An 8 megapixel camera sits on the back, which is larger than most smartphones on the market, and it even has two LEDs to help out in the dark. Ideally we'd also see a Xenon flash but this really would be a harsh criticism.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


October 21, 2010, 10:24 pm

Like it immensely, but still slightly prefer the iPhone 4 (extra OS polish, camera, screen sharpness) - just my two cents. Can't go wrong with either.


October 21, 2010, 10:30 pm

That was a strange review in my opinion. You only listed fault except when you praised it for having 3G and wifi, which is like praising it for having an ON button. The size is not quite as good as the iPhone, the interface is not quite as good as the iPhone or Windows 7, the call quality, the finish, camera and the flash is not quite as good either. It sounds amazing.

Maybe I read the review completely wrong.


October 21, 2010, 10:40 pm

Personally a bit too big for me, but looks like a lovley device. Would be nice to have the HD video actaully in HD :}


October 21, 2010, 10:42 pm

I had a play with one and I am sold. The wife has the iPhone 4 and while I was keen to get one, I heard reports about dropped calls etc and have been waiting for the Desire HD to arrive. I thought I'd be put off by the large screen but you soon get used to it and it makes reading on it a breeze. I have mine on order, just waiting for delivery ....


October 21, 2010, 10:48 pm

@mikki: Wouldn't fit on the website if we did. Click through to youtube and you can see it full size.

@Jonas: I was wary of this but ultimately I've got to tell it like it is. On every front the Desire HD is very good, but not the best but on average (size notwithstanding) it is the best or at least as good as the best. In contrast, the iPhone, for instance, does some things exceptionally well (screen, interface, call quality) but is let down by really fundamental limitations like the lack of flash, the closed nature of the platform, and its price.


October 21, 2010, 10:50 pm

This phone is a monster, and i love the aluminium one solid body,

this is probably the best smart phones on the market.

HTC is really true brilliance

i think im gonna save some money and buy this monster!


October 21, 2010, 11:02 pm

Bit confused too. Sounds like the original Desire should be top of the tree since it's practically the same phone but without the unnecessary extra size. Is there anything that distinguishes the HD over it?

Looks like we've reached the point where many smartphones are now great and it's just personal preference. Everything else aside (apps, hardware, build quality) I just perfer the way Android works but you can't go wrong whichever you pick. For example I love that the keyboard has the symbols as I find it so much quicker than switching to a symbol view. Horses for courses.

Hope HTC are rewarded for their efforts with some great sales.


October 21, 2010, 11:04 pm

@Ed It's still only available to play in 480p maxiumium.


October 21, 2010, 11:04 pm

I'm surprised the design got 10/10 with that gap. Small niggle I know but it won't take long till dirt and general crap gets places it shouldn't. HTC dropped the ball on that one. I do also wonder about the camera as generally HTC camera's suck.

Shame my pathetic small girlish hands makes a device like this a little to big for me (not that i'm currently in the market). Last time I tried a phone that large was the HD2 and thankfully the size put me off which lead me to Android after being on WM from the beginning. Dodged a bullet there. Will try this out just to see how it feels in my hands.


October 21, 2010, 11:40 pm

The camera's aperture changed incrementally rather than gradually in the video. Can HTC fix this with software update?


October 22, 2010, 12:13 am

I don't understand why battery life these days has been relegated to a footnote in a mobile phone review.

Ideally I'd love to buy a desire HD, but battery life is pretty important to me -- as it is for, well, basically everyone else (as far as I know). Once upon a time, if a phone had "alarmingly poor" battery life it would be guaranteed a lukewarm verdict. As it is - as much as I hate apple's walled garden, myriad dogmas and general lack of OS tweakability - I have to say the iPhone 4 is looking more attractive.

Then again, there's the price, the build quality, the antenna problems...


October 22, 2010, 12:22 am

Wait... wait... the default battery life is 8 HOURS!?

Are you freakin' kidding me? Nice but functionally useless.


October 22, 2010, 12:25 am

Now you've confused me. This looks awesome but I had just made up my mind not to settle for something without a hardware keyboard (It's not about the typing, its about the screen space while typing).


October 22, 2010, 1:12 am

@Ed - I find it interesting how sentences like

"Ironically, what immediately strikes us about the Desire HD is not a positive thing but rather how big and heavy it is"

"it really does feel bulky and to our minds pushes the limits of what we'd consider comfortable and practical"

"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"

results in a full 10/10 score for Design.

Care to elaborate..?


October 22, 2010, 1:29 am

@JK: While I feel the size is excesssive, for some people it will be exactly what they want. Accepting that, the design has few flaws. It was a close call to mark it lower due to the few things that did come up but considering quite how much nicer it is than any other device on the market, aesthetically, I decided to go with a 10. As always, though, the scores are only a guide and we always encourage people to actually read the review to get a full understanding.

snoop 7

October 22, 2010, 1:32 am

Nice review. One problem - on page 3 phone numbers of people within your contact list are being displayed. I am sure people on that list do not want prank calls : )


October 22, 2010, 1:50 am

Cheers, will fix in the morning.


October 22, 2010, 1:53 am

@JK Maybe the design is for how it looks, what material they used,

In my opinion only the One piece Solid aluminium body makes it 10/10 for the design.

I tested this phone in a store (it was not turned on), despite the huge size its very comfortable in my hand.

I agree with Ed this phone deserve a 10/10 for the design only because of the solid body build quality which no other phone has made.

Luan Bach

October 22, 2010, 1:53 am

@Ed, Did you have problem with the proximty sensor as reported by a number of people on the Android forums ? I've got mine on order with Vodafone and wondering if the problem is really widespread.


October 22, 2010, 2:17 am

Would have liked to have seen comparisons with the Nexus One. Since moving to the Nexus, iPhone is dead to me, but I'm always looking to upgrade and I'd like to know if the Nexus has a successor here.


October 22, 2010, 2:20 am

I've been using the HD2 with 4.3" screen and running both WM and Android 2.2. The screen is enormous and would never go back to anything below 4" but saying that I would not go anything bigger than 4.3" as the phone becomes too big to hold properly and possibly not fit in some pockets.

Web browsing in landscape mode is a pleasure. You don't have to scroll left/right and text is still legible. Movies really do pop out Streaming footy live is a joy! Once you use a screen of this size for at least a few weeks you'll find it hard to ever go back to something small as a 3.5".


October 22, 2010, 1:24 pm

Hmmmm.... That was an odd review as others have mentioned, maybe a bit too much emphasis on the negatives? I too am confused about the design getting 10/10, with the issues you've noted, it isn't perfect and therefore the score should reflect this.

I actually like the front of the phone, but the back looks messy and the camera sticks out of the body on a handset that size already? That's a no for me.

The handset itself seems great and when my contract is up on my iPhone 3GS, it will certainly be a consideration. (Assuming this is still the latest handset when my contract is up early next year!)

Although if I'm patient, I might wait until Apple release the iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be called, maybe iPhone 4GS), because with the problems they've had with the iPhone 4 (admitted too or not!), Jobs will be looking to absolutely nail the next model!


October 22, 2010, 1:53 pm

Will you be posting an updated video review once the Desire HD is returned from HTC with the new firmware?

Geoff Richards

October 22, 2010, 2:29 pm

@rav "Looks like we've reached the point where many smartphones are now great and it's just personal preference."

I think you're right. I had a quick play with the Desire HD in the office and I was surprised at how nicely weighted it felt: neither too hefty, given it's size and on-paper 30g+ extra mass vs iPhone 4 or regular Desire, nor too light which was our original impression of the svelte Samsung Galaxy S.

Personally, I like the big screen but then I'm new to smartphones. Ed has owned various iPhones for years and is firmly rooted to the single-handed thumb-browse, hence his criticism that one can't reach the entire screen.

On the other hand (if you excuse the pun), I find it natural to use two hands, and the extra width makes typing on the (larger) on-screen keyboard easier / more accurate for me. It still fits in my jeans and the bigger display makes watching video more enjoyable.

I still LOVE the sharpness of the iPhone 4 screen, and while the SLCD of the Desire HD isn't as vibrant as the AMOLED on the Galaxy S, at least it doesn't suffer from the "Pentile Effect" that bothers me so much on those displays.

Geoff Richards

October 22, 2010, 2:29 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention, you can compare specs for the Desire HD and many other models on our Mobile Deals site: http://mobile-phone-deals.t...

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