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MWC 2010: HTC Launches Android 2.1 Legend & Desire

Gordon Kelly


MWC 2010: HTC Launches Android 2.1 Legend & Desire

We thought HTC might have a strong Mobile World Congress - and thankfully, we were right. Confirming numerous rumours that have been doing the rounds in the build up to MWC, today HTC showed us two premium new Android handsets and I must admit: I'm extremely impressed with both of them.

HTC Legend

This is the handset which has been most leaked up until today. I'd signed an embargo, so kept quiet but can now reveal this follow-up to the Hero is a real cracker.

The first thing you'll notice is the finish. Carved from a single block of aluminium it feels luxurious, much like a hybrid between the first generation iPhone and a MacBook - but with carefully placed rubber grips, so it feels solid and doesn't slip in-hand. The lower of these grips can also be removed to swap out the battery (a nice idea Apple?). The controversial 'chin' is still present, but slightly reduced while there is a move to an optical trackball with a surrounding ring that acts as a physical button.

Aside from the redesign, the first thing you'll notice is the move to a gorgeous AMOLED 320 x 480 capacitive, multi-touch display, while there's a speed boost to an ARM11-based 600MHz CPU. Elsewhere you'll find a 5MP camera with LED flash, HSDPA/HSUPA, WiFi (b/g), GPS, a 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Omissions? Still just 512MB of onboard storage.

Equally important, is the jump to Android 2.1 which brings about an overhaul of the company's popular Sense UI. Major changes include the ability to split contacts into groups and separate them by widgets, a 'Friendstream' which integrates Facebook, Twitter and Flickr updates into a single stream and the ingenious 'Helicopter View' which gives a live overview of all the homescreens when you use the pinch gesture on any one of them. This is likely to become a popular thing for owners to fiddle with in idle moments!

Touchdown? Either late March or April and I expect it to outsell hotcakes.

HTC Desire

I said in my MWC Preview that there would be a rush of Nexus One clones and that's exactly what we have with the HTC Desire. In all fairness, HTC built the Nexus One so it isn't overly surprising. Consequently, like Google's handset the Desire has a similar look and uses the same 3.7in AMOLED multi-touch display, a Snapdragon chipset with 1GHz CPU and matches the connectivity, optical trackball and camera with the Legend.

Sadly it also copies the minimal 512MB of memory, but despite this does have one huge weapon: Flash Lite 4. Consequently video plays happily without the need for external apps and, contrary to what Apple preached with the iPad, this is the best mobile web experience to date.

Lastly the Desire will also carry the same Android 2.1 and Sense UI enhancements as the Legend, though notable additions I didn't mention earlier include the implementation of much requested 'list views' for email and calendar entries and a clever browser tweak whereby selected text can quickly be searched for in Wikipedia, an online dictionary or sent to Google translate. Personally I think this should be implemented in SMS and emails too, something HTC liked as an idea.

Availability? 'Q2' is all HTC would say, but this is one smartphone it looks well worth waiting for.

Sense UI

Lastly some Sense UI news and HTC has confirmed to me that both the Hero and Eris will be getting updates to Android 2.1 rolled out over the course of the next month. Availability will depend on networks accepting the upgrade, but hopefully they will use common sense. Hopefully...

(Note: the picture above features the Legend, Desire and HD Mini for comparison's sake)

Update: T-Mobile and Orange have confirmed the Desire will be coming to their UK networks. Given the lustworthy nature of these phones I'd expect to see most networks take a keen interest.


February 16, 2010, 8:09 pm

I need a speadsheet comparing the Legend & Desire. I'm fed up with my Samsung Galaxy and would sell the bleader and take a loss and get one of these instead. They look lush.

snoop 7

February 16, 2010, 8:12 pm

A solid line up from HTC, I am liking Desire a lot. Nexus one is fighting a losing battle even before it is launched in the UK. I am sure operators will price tariffs far cheaper than Google is likely to via Vodafone when it launches in Spring 2010.

Tariq Pugh

February 16, 2010, 9:35 pm

Dear Zune Phone / Series-Phone-7-Windows-whatever...

You know how earlier I said you were beautiful, and smart, and mature, and had a wonderful body? You know how i said I'd wait for you, I'd wait until the end of the year if necessary?

...well, erm... sorry, I found someone else.

Yours truly, Tariq x


February 16, 2010, 10:45 pm

@Tariq, so much for Valentines day!

It'll be interesting, HTC are one of MS's main partners, yet they are providing one of the best overlays for Android (and WM6). But it's that overlay that gives Android it's main social skills and makes it to an extent competitive with Windows Phone 7. It'll be intertesting to see how HTC develop it over the year towards the launch of MS's new OS. Are they angry that MS have said "no customisations" for WP7 and will put more effort into Android and Sense or are they happy to play both sides of the fence? Either way it seems win-win for HTC, it's going to be a good year for them, happily in both MS and Google camps.


February 17, 2010, 12:57 am

So the Bravo is now the Desire, shame the rumoured 720p video recording isn't there. The new sense UI looks great but I don't regret my Nexus One purchase one little bit.

Lord Comben III

February 17, 2010, 1:15 am

Yay! Contract runs out in april and HTC have deliverethed in the form of the desire (shame it does not look as snappy as the legend though)

Big Rich

February 17, 2010, 10:36 pm

I quite like the look of the Desire but wary to buy as I've had a Nexus One for a week and sent it back today due to problems with the touchscreen, I hope that the Desire doesn't have the same issue


February 22, 2010, 4:54 pm

I desire the Desire!

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