The interface on the Desire HD is everything we’ve come to expect from HTC and Android. A comprehensive setup guide takes you through the various steps of adding a Google account, setting up email, how to use the keyboard, transfer your data from your old phone, and set up an HTC Sense account. The Sense account allows you to sync your contacts from gmail and exchange accounts, download extra HTC apps and widgets, access your phone remotely (for stuff like locating it when lost and finding it on a map), and sharing stuff with friends who also have HTC phones. You can also just skip most of the setup and get straight into using the phone.
Once at the desktop you’ll find the familiar HTC approach of having seven screens arranged horizontally that you can slide between and add multiple apps and widgets to. Along the bottom there are shortcuts to the main menu, the dialler, and the personalisation menu. The latter lets you change wallpapers, rearrange the items on your homescreens, add folders for apps, and also change notification sounds. With HTC Sense’s improved look and feel, it makes this phone look stylish and feel practical right from the off.
What’s more, the sensitive and accurate touchscreen combined with this phone’s 2nd generation 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor means it feels really nippy with really smooth responsive menu transitions and animations. It’s still not quite as slick as the iPhone, or Windows Phone 7 for that matter, but the gap is small enough not to concern. Likewise the touch sensitive buttons on the front are quick to respond, leaving us without any worries over the loss of physical buttons compared to the original Desire.
All HTC’s signature widgets are present like its combined weather, time and date app that is on the homepage by default. You’ll also find the FriendStream which shows you a feed of all your Twitter and Facebook friends’ updates. Sadly you still can’t actually use the app to reply to a message and must open the full apps instead, but it’s still a useful addition.
A rather more significant addition HTC has made is seen when editing text. Hold your finger down over the text and, just like on the iPhone, a magnified area pops up allowing you to more easily see where you’re placing the cursor. Release your finger and you get Select and Select All options for highlighting text for copying and pasting. It’s very nicely done.
As we often find with Android phones, the wealth of features and information on offer can be a little overwhelming sometimes and result in long unwieldy lists of options. It’s in this regard that we’ve often held iOS in higher regard as what it can do it does in a more simple and intuitive manner. This also seems to be the route Microsoft has taken with Windows Phone 7 and is what we liked about WebOS. If you like to take control, though, you’ll love routing round the Desire HD.