For the last new months I have been itching for a new phone. As much as I appreciate new tech, I have been holding back from stepping into the Smartphone realm for a personal phone for a couple of years. The reason being the cost of Data and tethering and the lack of competition just have not been worth the investment. The last year however has seen the release of the iPhone 4, Blackberry 9800 (Torch), and a fistful of high-end Android phones. The latter group tends to run the mature Android 2.2 Froyo OS.
My preferences are simple: a hardware keyboard and a large screen. I enjoy blackberry for work, but don’t like their screens and applications. I own an iPod Touch, and never enjoyed Apple’s interface and lack of customization. Although Apple has made it very easy for me to find applications and download music, the lack of features and customization of their products make them boring. My connected life runs through Google’s products, I use Calendar and Docs for school and my email is handled through Gmail, naturally I am going to head towards Google’s own mobile system.
So what Hardware should I use? I’ve been asking myself this for months. The Motorola Droid has stood out for me. It reminds me of the 70’s with its lines and colours, the downside is that the only provider here in Canada has it locked into 2.1 and full of crap-ware. Paying 65$ for a gig of bandwidth and only 200 minutes didn’t appeal to me either. Holiday season rolls around and prices go up, I hold out longer, almost setting for a Nexus One. When looking over HTC online I discover the Desire Z, or G2 in the US. Is it here? Yes. So I goto Best buy and try it out…
This is my first HTC phone. Holding it feels solid but it is a little heavy. Certainly with the additional keyboard there is some bulk there, but there is some security in that. It is also sexy, curvy, and with its grey matte finish it does not show where it has been touched. In the store I fell in love. It is not a slider, but it swings open supported by 3 metal hinges with plastic covering. The keyboard is okay. It is back-lit, has knobs on the F and J keys to help you find your way around the keyboard, it is a little cramped if you have big fingers but all smart-phone keyboards are like this. Unfortunately for me, my hands cannot find a comfortable position to type quickly and I find myself swinging around the bottom and sides of the keyboard to reach some keys. Another draw back is that if you are laying down or holding the phone vertically with the keyboard open a light tap will lift the screen from its secured position and will swing towards the keyboard. It isn’t a huge concern and with some adjustments you never have it happen to you except the first few times using it.
Software wise, Android 2.2 with Sense is very fast and animations are very smooth. The screen may not be as nice as the Galaxy S but colours and text are smooth and vibrant on its WVGA screen. Performance only suffered when watching Flash movies or animations in the Webkit browser, otherwise Youtube functioned well.
Battery life is okay. I can use it regularly to check emails and surf during a 12 hour day and not have it sit below 15%. This really depends on your habits. A lot of video will cut that pretty quickly. If you’re like me and text a lot, listen to music and do the occasional surfing on the road then you’ll be fine for a the day.
I want to get into Froyo and Sense but I honestly need more time with the phone and exploring features. Right now, it syncs well with my Google Account and plays very nicely with Facebook and Twitter. If I have some more time I ll explore the phone’s features and take some pictures to accompany a better review.
As an Overview:
- Solid Aluminum design
- Android 2.2 with Flash 10.1
- Backlit keyboard
- 5.0 MP Camera with LED Flash
- Fast Software
- Thick, especially with a case. Heavy.
- Flipping keyboard is too easy, and sometimes gets in the way
- Battery life could be longer
- Included earphones seem cheap.
Overall I have been impressed with this phone. It isn’t as sleek as the iPhone 4 but I am happy with the design. A lot of people find the hinges troubling, but the design seems sound and it doesn’t wiggle or feel too loose, it is easy to flip but that is seems like a design issue. Only time will tell how reliable they are. Android 2.2 is fantastic and has everything a Smartphone OS should have. I will update this entry as I find issues and take a few pictures.