Since about 3/4 of a year now I’m the proud owner of an Android powered smartphone: I decided to go with HTC’s Desire which is kind of a rebuilt of Google’s Nexus One (which was also manufactured by HTC). It’s been a while since it’s first appearance so naturally there are already newer phones available succeeding the “original” Desire. And of course there are already plenty of reviews available on the net - but however, those are my two cents. ;-)
The Desire comes with a nice big touch screen which draws a very clear and brilliant picture (it might be hard to read in open day light, though). Due to it’s fast CPU the navigation around the different menus is quite speedy. HTC enriched the default Android OS with it’s “HTC Sense” user interface and some of the default applications where replaced by HTC’s, like the mail client for example. As I don’t know a “standard” Android I can’t say much about the differences… My HTC Desire came with Android 2.1 (aka “Eclair”) installed but soon after the release of Android 2.2 (aka “Froyo”) HTC provided an OTA update.
In short, those are the Desire’s PROs:
- open Android OS
- clear and brilliant display (480 x 800 Pixel, WVGA)
- fast CPU
- a lot of apps available via Android Market
- extensible memory via microSD (max 32GB)
- plays ogg encoded audio files out of the box
Those are the only two CONs I found so far:
- limited internal memory of 512MB (but only around 130MB free for additional apps)
- limited battery running time (you’ll need to charge at least every two days)
The integrated 5 MB camera is OK for taking some quick pictures but don’t expect too much. As I switched from MP3 to ogg/flac encoded audio files, I really appreciate the default media player playing ogg encoded audio files - a feature a lot of hardware players are missing!
To really benefit from Android OS a Google account is mandatory. If you do not already have one, register here.
As mentioned above, the two shortcomings of the phone are it’s short battery life time and the limited internal memory for installing additional applications from the Android Market. What can you do about this?
Well, with Froyo came a new feature which lets you copy apps from the internal memory to the memory card. This is quite helpful, but there are two drawbacks: 1) not all applications support this feature and 2) usually some parts of the application stay on the internal memory (i.e. Google Earth still blocks 16MB of internal memory). But still it helps saving space!
It seems the main energy consumers are the display and data connections. In order to tame the latter I found a nice app called BatteryFu. Together with APNdroid it limits data connections to a defined interval (both applications are available free on Android Market, whereas APNdroid is ad-supported, pro version available). I set the connection interval to one hour and the duration to three minutes. So, all syncing (mails, address book, calendar, Twitter, whatever…) is done every hour only. This seems to save pretty much energy as the battery now runs almost twice as long as before!
One of the big features of Android powered smartphones is the great amount of applications available via Android Market to pimp your phone - and most of them are free. Of course there are good and there are bad ones… I’d suggest reading the comments carefully! However, there are a few apps which I think are quite useful and work very well on my phone:
- filemanager: ASTRO (ad supported, pro version available) in combination with ASTRO Bluetooth Module and ASTRO SMB Module
- excellent ssh client: ConnectBot
- FTP client: AndFTP
- VNC viewer: android-vnc-viewer
- picture viewer (incl. Picasa, flickr, Facebook, etc.): JustPictures!
- password manager: KeePassDroid, maybe in combination with:
- file sync: Dropbox (of course Dropbox account requiered!)
- view phone status on PC/Mac: Remote Notifier (requires Windows/Linux/MacOS client software from here)
- manage Logitech’s Squeezebox server: Squeeze Commander (costs a few bucks, requires Squeezebox server)
- video player: VPlayer (2,25 €)
- manage your Wordpress blog: WordPress
- scrobble your music: Last.fm
Depending on your needs there are a lot more useful applications available, just have a look around - but keep an eye on the available internal memory.
As already mentioned, the HTC Desire has some extra HTC-home-made software on board including a nice weather/clock widget. When unlocking the screen it shows some animations reflecting the current weather situation. It’s just a nice peace of eye candy.
One thing which drove me nuts at the beginning was adding new ringtones or notification sounds. I found the solution here, so just create three new folders on the external memory:
SMS Alerts: /sdcard/media/audio/notifications
Alarm Alerts: /sdcard/media/audio/alarms
Put your sound files in there and you’re ready to activate them!
I really got used to the features of my phone and like it a lot. If you need a new toy, give it a try! ;-)