HTC Hero (G2 Touch) - HTC Hero

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Unlike the iPhone, the Hero only has a minimal amount of built-in memory available for storage, so pretty much all your files have to be stored on microSD cards. In fact, you have to have a microSD card installed for certain functions, such as the camera, to operate. The card slot is under the battery cover, but cards can thankfully be swapped without having to remove the actual battery. The phone ships with a 2GB card, but cards of up to 16GB are supported.

Despite the 3G support, there's no front-facing camera. However, the rear camera has a decent 5-megapixel resolution and boasts autofocus. Outdoor shots look reasonably good, but indoor shots are less impressive, which isn't all that surprising as it lacks a flash. The major problem with snaps taken indoors is that colour accuracy is poor leaving you with muted looking colours. Furthermore, the autofocus often struggles to focus properly in lower light. When the camera goes to take a snap, it tends to tighten up the focus and then let it slide just before it takes the shot leaving you with a blurry photo.

There's no doubting that specs-wise the Hero is definitely an impressive handset. However, as anyone who has used the iPhone will know, sometimes a phone transcends mere specs and luckily, this is also the case with the Hero. In terms of the overall user experience, the Hero is the best Android handset yet and by some margin.

There are a number of reasons for this. First off, a big boon is the presence of multi-touch support that works in a similar way to how it does on the iPhone. Android users have been crying out for this and finally it's arrived. On the Hero, you can pinch your fingers together on the screen to zoom in and pinch them apart to zoom out on web pages in the browser and pictures in the photo gallery. It works brilliantly and makes the web browser much more intuitive to use. However, one anomaly is that multi-touch zooming isn't supported in Google Maps. Instead, here you have to rely on the onscreen magnifying glass icons to control the zoom level, which is annoying.

The other big addition is support for Flash in the web browser. However, the Hero doesn't really fully support Flash. Some Flash content works, but by no means all of it, and that which does work can be a tad slow when displayed within a page - usually things speed up when you double tap on the Flash window to make it go full screen. It's also very fussy as to what video and audio it'll play. The YouTube site works fine, but BBC iPlayer streams are displayed with such a low frame rate that they were unwatchable and many other streams that we tried simply told us to update our version of Flash. Still, it works well on most smaller bits of Flash code that you'll find dotted around websites, and so does help the browser deliver a more desktop like browsing experience than say the iPhone.

And last but not least there are the 'Sense' user interface additions that HTC has brought to this version of Android. Basically, HTC has taken some of the best bits of the TouchFlo interface it has been using on its Windows Mobile devices and added them to Android in the form of widgets - small applications that can sit on their own home screen. Previous Android phones included a small number of widgets, but here HTC has added another 14 ranging from a weather widget to one that shows your email inbox, along with a number of switches for turning on and off things like Wi-Fi and GPS.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Greg17b

August 5, 2009, 5:18 pm

Is there still no bluetooth file transfer on the Hero?

rav

August 5, 2009, 5:44 pm

@Greg


I've tried to on mine and no luck. Couldn't send files from my computer to it either.

TheBoneMachine

August 5, 2009, 5:46 pm

No Bluetooth file transfer unfortunely but I've heard theres an app on the android marketplace that let's you do it.





I received my hero on Monday and so far I'm really Impressed. One thing to say is that if you are someone who can stand the occasional bit of sluggishness then the hero may not be for you. As long as you don't go crazy with the widgets you'll be fine though.

Hamish Campbell

August 5, 2009, 5:47 pm

Cool. There has been a lot of bitchin about slow downs/lag on line but was this only with preview models?





Not out here in Denmark, though the Magic is and its hardly cheaper (over the 6 month contract) than the Iphone 3GS. I'd be very interested in the Hero if it's a significant saving over the Iphone, but if not I'm gonna have to spring for the current champ.

Gordon394

August 5, 2009, 6:00 pm

@haim - no it is there. The Hero uses the Qualcomm MSM7200A chipset and an ARM11 based CPU which is much slower than the Cortex A8 seen inside the Palm Pre and iPhone 3GS which makes it laggy by comparison. That said, the Hero is much cheaper than the 3GS and the lag isn't much worse than on an iPhone 3G.

Ed

August 5, 2009, 6:05 pm

One thing to add here is that while the iPhone may be the best user experience, the more open platform of the Hero is a significant boon - the addition of a MicroSD slot alone is a huge bonus.

Gordon394

August 5, 2009, 6:08 pm

@Ed - agreed though I'd counter argue that given the vastly superior array of third party applications in the iPhone App Store it may be a more closed system but it offers far greater variety. Horses for courses...

Hamish Campbell

August 5, 2009, 6:15 pm

Is the sluggishness only really noticable when having many applications open?





Perhaps we are seeing why Apple has not allowed background tasks?


Of course the CPU differences will show up so its not the whole story.





I'm keen to see the pricing here, could well be the phone for me.

morsch

August 5, 2009, 6:31 pm

Huh. I just ordered a Nokia 5800, but I can still return it for about a week. I'll have to think hard about whether this is worth it. It's still a LOT more expensive than the Nokia, though, about EUR 450 versus about EUR 200. And the 5800 also has the trifecta of features -- UMTS, Wifi and GPS.

xbrumster

August 5, 2009, 6:57 pm

have to pop into shops to have a feel. looks slightly thicker than my liking.





Looks fab, well donw HTC

rav

August 5, 2009, 6:59 pm

Ok so just read the review. Firstly, well done on the real photos!





Had mine for two week and really love it. There is a little lag here and there but then that's the price of multitasking, which I'd rather have than not. Also noticed that a lot of it seems due to the apps/widgets you install as after a hard reset mine was once again flying. Having come from WinMo the whole OS seems lightning fast in comparison!





I know the app store has loads more choice but the market's been fine for me so far. The apps not being restricted in their functionality is what wins it for me. Really lets you tweak the phone just the way you like it.





Great review!

Gnormie

August 5, 2009, 7:00 pm

@ haim


It only really shows that being able to have 7+ widgets updating live really needs more power then the Qualcomm processor it uses, but for such a cheap contract phone it really does look very good :)

HarryGlass

August 5, 2009, 7:32 pm

Why do HTC have the Sense UI as a customisation and not as an application? Free or otherwise, surely if people with the G1, Magic or whatever other Android phones come out then they could also taken advantage of the new features this brings. I know people have ported Sense to those phones, but it'd be nicer to go an official way - plus it'd also be more 'open' as Android should be. Is there a technical reason they've not gone this route?





I'm still going with the Samsung i7500 which is out this week on 02. Better camera, 8GB internal memory and AMOLED screen.

BballTom

August 5, 2009, 7:35 pm

Mine is coming tomorrow, can't wait!

rav

August 5, 2009, 8:15 pm

@HK


I think sense refers to the whole UI and not just the homescreen and widgets. They've customised a lot of other things in the OS like the dialler, contacts apps, mail client, facebook and flickr intergration. I assume the widgets could be released on the market like any others but all the other customisations are way more than just skin deep and probably involve a lot of under the hood changes. Although obviously I'm no expert.

lukealexander

August 5, 2009, 8:35 pm

I inferred from your review text that you think the HTC Magic has a resistive touchscreen. In fact it also has a capacitive model.

Martin Leventon

August 5, 2009, 9:00 pm

@HK I agree its annoying that the additions HTC have added are unavailable for other android phones but as it isnt a google experience phone they are free to do as they wish. I am personally hoping that someone like Samsung will have a android phone released by the time my contract with the G1 ends.

Simon

August 5, 2009, 9:55 pm

Any chance of a video review? I'd like to see some of the UI in action.

m memmory

August 5, 2009, 10:28 pm

Been awaiting this phone for ages. Having read the reviews online from other sites have all said some nasty things which I reckoned was just down to the not having final hardware.





Just put in my upgrade order with Orange and, thanks to T-Mobile, got a nice deal too :)

Chris Beach

August 5, 2009, 11:27 pm

Some of the other reviews mentioned that the Hero didn't have enough memory to run the multiple widgets comfortably? Did you find it slowed down at all when you 'used' them all?

Geek in Training

August 6, 2009, 12:15 am

Is it just me but is that chin looking more and more attractive! Great review, guys. Is there going to be a video review as well? Also, any word on the difference between the Orange and T-mobile offerings? What about the quality of music and video playback? Rather than just taking aim at the 3GS, HTC has stolen a march on the Samsung i7500. Distinctive styling and more reasonable contract options make the better specced i7500 look a bit bland and expensive if the rumoured O2 pricing of free with a £44 per month 18 month contract proves true. I hope O2 and Samsung haven't priced themselves too highly as the i7500 seems to tick all my boxes but the wait is killing me. As I'm also on Orange I might follow m-memmory's lead and haggle for an even better deal.

HarryGlass

August 6, 2009, 12:22 am

@ramania


Yes I suppose they have done more than just skin it. It probably digs under the hood of Android; though that in a way is a worry. It could make things unstable & some apps might not work at all. Some people have also said it slows it down.





@Martin Leventon


You mean like the Samsung i7500 I mentioned... :-)

Greg17b

August 6, 2009, 1:52 am

I had the Hero on pre-order, and then cancelled when it was delayed yet again, as it no longer coincided with me going on holiday.





I'm glad I did now, as it seems this phone really needs Snapdragon. To my absolute horror, today I went out and got a 3GS instead. I'm currently updating it as I speak, but it will be interesting to see how it compares with my overall expectations of what a smart phone should be.

Runadumb

August 6, 2009, 2:23 am

In person this phone is no where near as ugly as I thought it was, actually looks nice.


I just cant get past the fact that Touchflo does most of this in a similar way and the hardware is last years tech. Signing on for 18 months only to watch snapdragoon and tegra devices come out in a few months/weeks would break my little geeky heart.





Good work HTC you have gained alot of attention with this, now release the real version before christmas.





Cheers

Keithe6e

August 6, 2009, 10:32 pm

Looks nice, even as an IPhone3g user I'm tempted. Only issue I have with HTC is how there hardware becomes obsolete, eg. The original HTC came out after the first IPhone, but even if you've got the original IPhone your still getting Apps & Upgrades. With HTC it's more of, what you see if what you get, next year we'll have a newer model, so tough.

comments powered by Disqus