The Desire Z is one of HTC’s latest Android offerings, which sports a 3.7” super LCD capacitive touch screen and slide out QWERTY keyboard. The Desire Z is approximately 2.38” (wide) by 4.69” (tall) by 0.56” (thick). The touch screen has a resolution of 480 by 800 WVGA and has pinch-zoom capabilities.
One of the first things I noticed about this phone was its weight, since when you first pick it up, it seems a lot heavy than most smartphones on the market. The Desire Z weighs in at around 180g; however while sliding open and typing on the phone, the heaviness is quickly forgotten. One of the reasons for the added weight is the solid design of the device.
The phone is covered in a light grey brushed aluminum bezel, while the front of the device sports four touch key backlit shortcuts for Home, Menu, Back, and Search, as well as an optical trackpad for navigation. The shortcut buttons are very responsive; however the trackpad does not feel as smooth or comfortable as my trusty Blackberry.
SIDE NOTE: With the trackpad on the bottom of the device, I often found my finger sliding off the device when driving to scroll down through various menus – slightly annoying.
When it comes to the hinge and keyboard of this device, my opinions were inconsistent and inconclusive. Initially, I felt that although the hinge was an innovative aspect of the phone, I was uneasy about the durability of the hinge. Often times, the hinge felt loose and unstable while sliding the keyboard open. Even when in the closed state, it never felt like the hinge was fully in the “closed” position. However, as I continued to use the device, these feelings started to weaken and my experiences became more enjoyable. Another reason for a more enjoyable experience was the keyboard. This blacklit, QWERTY keyboard contains smooth, rubberized, and elevated buttons which are generously spaced apart for even the largest of fingers. Even though the buttons are nicely spaced out, the keyboard still gives off a compact and sleek feel. (See a video demo of the hinge test here)
SIDE NOTE: When the screen is slid above the keyboard, the keyboard is fully visible and accessible, while the screen is fully locked in place, without worrying about the screen crashing down on your fingers.
The back of the phone houses a battery cover and 5MP camera. The camera comes with a nice, bright flash, and the quick processor allows the camera to almost instantly auto-focus, record, etc. The Desire Z’s camera is also capable of 720p HD video recording, geotagging, face detection, and has other built in effects including depth of field, vignette, etc. The battery cover is easily removable by sliding down a small button on the back, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to see this. On most of my old phones (LG Dare, Samsungs, etc.) and even my current Blackberry, I spend numerous occasions trying to slide the batter cover on and off by lining up specific groves, while praying that I did not send my device flying across the room.
The HTC Desire Z boasts a CPU processing speed of 800 MHz, Android 2.2 (Froyo), 3G+ (HSPA+) capabilities of up to 14.4 Mbps (download) and 5.76Mbps (upload), all while being powered by a 1300 mAh battery with up to 590 minutes of GSM talk time, and/or 430 hours of standby time.
In order to use this device, you must navigate using the touchscreen, and I must admit that it is one of the fastest and most responsive touchscreens I have ever used. It was easy to navigate through the device, messages, apps, etc with the pinpoint accuracy of my finger. Even typing on the virtual touch keyboard was fast and impeccable.
The battery life did not exactly match the specs given by HTC but was very reasonable considering messaging, phone calls, web browsing and application activities. Therefore, the battery life can be taken “as advertised”, especially since almost all phones across various manufacturers cannot reach their apparent “specs”. I was also unable to hit the 3G+ speeds that HTC advertised. I live in Toronto and was operating on the Bell Mobility Network, and using the Speed Test app, I was able to hit around 5-6 Mbps (download) and 2-3Mbps (upload) consistently. The Desire Z also has Bluetooth 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate, with support for A2DP wireless headsets, FTP and OPP file transfer, in addition to IEEE 802.11 b/g/n WiFi capability. The phone also comes with an 8GB microSD card, which is capable of storing and installing apps thanks to Froyo 2.2 support.
This being my best HTC and Android device, I must say that I was quite impressed with the user interface and navigation experience. The HTC Sense UI is very clean, and well structured, while also coming pre-loaded with many apps and features to serve the vast majority of mobile users’ needs. The FriendStream feature allows the user to pull data from their various social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) into one common view.
The Mail app handles emails very well, and offers support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, POP3, and IMAP. The emails are handling in a nice UI with the ability to quickly send or receive an email at anytime. The Messages app allows the user to quickly send and receive text messages using the slide out keyboard, or a virtual touch keyboard on the screen (depends on user’s preference). Threaded conversations are supported.
The Browser on the Desire Z is very fast and loaded complicated sites such as tsn.ca and mobilesyrup.com with ease. The pinch-zoom support is very handy and gives users the ability to zoom anywhere and anywhere.
Another offering from HTC is the ability to backup all data, contacts, messages, pictures, etc. through registering at their website, www.HTCSense.com. Through registration, you can also sign-up for tracking, in the event your phone goes missing.
Other features/apps include:
• FM radio (headset required as antenna)
• Voice Recorder
• News Reader
• Adobe Reader
• WiFi Hotspot
• Separate App Store for additional purchases
Overall, the HTC Desire is a great phone from top to bottom. The sleek and durable design combined with the elegant and user friendly interface make for a great device and gift idea for the upcoming holiday season.
The large screen with touch capabilities makes using the device very enjoyable since there is little fuss. Videos and maps are clear and vivid on the 3.7” screen and the slide out keyboard allows for convenient user input.
The HTC Desire Z is currently available with Bell Mobility in Canada, under the following pricing structure:
• $499.95 (no term contract)
• $474.95 (1 year contract)
• $449.95 (2 year contract)
• $129.95 (3 year contract)