Aesthetically, you might want the battery/memory cover to be hewn from aluminium too, but it needs to be plastic to enable proper transmission of the various wireless signals used in the phone – a solid metal chassis would severely hamper these signals. Indeed, this was one of the reasons the original iPhone apparently had bad reception and why the iPhone 3G changed to an all plastic back. However, we had no such problems with the Legend, even in our office that has particularly poor reception. Call quality was also excellent, though the loudspeaker is a little weedy.
Another area where HTC has created an immediate wow factor is the screen. Upon initial inspection, it’s ever so slightly wobbly surface and flexibility lead us to believe it was plastic rather than glass (thus my comment in the video) but we’ve since checked with HTC and had it confirmed as being glass, so it should be very scratch resistant. At 3.2in diagonally, with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, it’s not the biggest or highest resolution screen, but it is superbly sharp. It’s also an AMOLED screen rather than an LCD one, so is completely unaffected by viewing angles and is incredibly vibrant. In fact, it’s so vibrant that photos can sometimes look unnatural with reds and oranges looking particularly radioactive – the TrustedReviews logo, for instance, looks completely wrong. For the most part, this won’t be a problem as you’re unlikely to need the Legend for colour critical work. Another plus point is the pure black that results from the lack of any backlight bleed, which means video and games look superb. Previous OLED screens we’ve looked at can struggle in direct sunlight but this one seemed to cope very well. All told, this is an exceptional screen for viewing.
The screen is pretty good when it comes to touch-sensitivity, too, thanks to its capacitive touch-sensing as opposed to the less responsive resistive type. This does mean it can’t be used with gloves or a stylus but for everyday phone use it’s the best choice. It also supports multi-touch so you can pinch-to-zoom on photos and in webpages and you can theoretically type super fast. However, while the touch-sensing works quite well, we did have a couple of issues.
The first is that the screen is rather narrow when held in portrait and this can make typing uncomfortable. Even though it’s only 5mm narrower than the iPhone screen, and the icons for each key are almost exactly the same width, the Legend feels more cramped resulting in more mistakes. Obviously, if you’ve got smaller fingers and hands this may be less of a concern but certainly none of us in the office have particularly large fingers and we all noticed a difference. Furthermore, HTC has modified the keyboard to constantly show the secondary function of each key and we think it makes them more difficult to read.
The other problem is the interface in general. While Android has a very capable touch interface, it doesn’t quite have the finesse of the iPhone OS. Take scrolling through a list. On the iPhone, it feels completely intuitive with the list responding exactly as you would expect if you were physically interacting with it. However, on the Legend, it’s not as slick and you’re made to feel that your movements are being interpreted ”and then” output on-screen. Likewise the pinch-to-zoom gesture doesn’t quite zoom at the rate you expect given what your fingers are doing. Individually it’s small-fry but collectively it results in an interface that is simply less appealing to use everyday.