Hands on:

HTC Desire HD

March 16, 2011
HTC Desire HD alongside the original HTC Desire.
HTC Desire HD alongside the original HTC Desire.


The Desire goes large, but is it too much to handle?

I’m a big fan of the HTC Desire. I’d say it’s the best Android phone to date, thanks to the combination of sleek hardware, plenty of grunt and the slick Sense UI interface. The recent update to 2.2 Froyo made it even better. I’m obviously not the only one who’s impressed, as I reckon I’ve seen more Desires in the wild than all the other Android handsets combined. If you want the bells and whistles of the iPhone, but without buying into the Apple ecosystem, the HTC Desire is probably the phone for you.

HTC has always had a thing for extra screen real estate – from the mammoth iMate JasJar to the chunky HD2 and hefty HD7. So it’s little surprise that it followed up the Desire with the beefy Desire HD sporting a generous 4.3-inch display. The new Desire HD is available exclusively on Vodafone and 3 for a few months at $59 per month, which will frustrate some Android fans unless they’re prepared to buy it outright and unlock it. It’s only 900/2100Mhz compatible, not 850MHz, so Telstra Next G customers can only use it on Telstra’s 2100MHz metro networks (although these are due to be switched off next year).

I know I wouldn’t jump ship from Next G to Vodafone just to get my hands on a new phone. I’ve never experienced major problems using my Vodafone USB modem, but I’ve heard too many horror stories to risk the switch. As with Optus, I think it will take Vodafone a while to earn people’s trust again.

Getting back to phones, as you can see above the Desire HD looks like a big beast sitting next to the original Desire. It’s 8mm wider and 4mm longer, which doesn’t sound like much but is quite striking. Imaging a big brawny footballer with wide shoulders standing next to your average Joe and you get the picture. The fact the Desire HD lacks the Desire’s sexy curves adds to the effect.

The Desire’s four physical buttons and optical trackball are gone in favour of touch-sensitive buttons. This might concern those who’ve used the unresponsive touch-sensitive buttons on the Google Nexus, but I haven’t experienced any sluggishness using the Desire HD’s buttons. The Desire HD’s physical volume and power buttons are less prominent than the Desire, which some people will find frustrating (although personally I find it’s too easy to nudge the Desire’s power button and accidentally lock it).

The Desire HD is only 29 grams heavier than its predecessor, so not enough to notice the difference when it’s resting in your hand or sitting into your pocket. It’s not so wide that it’s uncomfortable to hold, although I reckon I can get a safer grip on the original Desire. The Desire HD is actually 1mm thinner but this doesn’t allow for the camera lens, which protrudes further on the new phone.

The Desire HD’s extra screen real estate comes in handy if you like to read on your phone. The screen resolution is no sharper than the original Desire at 480×800, but the extra room certainly makes text easier on the eyes. If you’ve been contemplating shelling out for a 7-inch tablet for reading newspapers, blogs and books on the train, it’s worth evaluating whether something like the 4.3-inch Desire HD or 5-inch Dell Streak strikes a reasonable compromise which lets you get away with carrying one device rather than both a phone and tablet.

Rather than utilise the original Desire’s AMOLED display, the Desire HD features an LCD screen. The slight blue tinge of the Desire’s AMOLED display is gone and the contrast and viewing angles have improved. The trade-off is that the LCD’s colours aren’t as vibrant, so everything looks a little washed out if you’re used to the Desire’s vibrant display.

Using Peter Costello below as a reference point, the stripes on his suit are easily lost on the Desire. They’re much clearer on the Desire HD and not as easily lost when you change viewing angle. Unfortunately the skin tones look a little washed out on the Desire HD, while they’re a bit overblown on the Desire.


Of all the phones I’ve tested with this photo, the iPhone 4’s Super LCD screen still comes out best. It’s whiter whites also offer the best contrast when reading, to the point where I’d still rather read on the iPhone 4 than the larger Desire HD. The screen glare on the Desire HD is also as terrible as the original Desire to the point where you’ll struggle to use it in bright sunlight. Sorry Android lovers, but that’s another point to Apple’s wundergadget.

Of course the Desire HD’s beauty isn’t just skin deep  As for my initial impressions, I’d say the Desire HD’s larger screen size means it’s not a no-brainer upgrade from the Desire (while the Desire was a no-brainer upgrade from the Hero). The 4.3-inch screen takes some getting used to, as does the washed out display. Unless you’re particularly frustrated and after that extra optical inch, the Desire HD may not be the droid you’re looking for.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply