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Review of HTC Desire As Alternative To iPhone 544

Posted by timothy
from the not-exactly-a-ringing-endorsement dept.
Andrew Smith writes "My search for an alternative to the iPhone has been long and frustrating. On paper, the HTC Desire is the first serious challenger to the iPhone's reign as king of phones. But how does it compare in use? There is much good and much bad. (This review is primarily for UK readers as HTC's new handset, the Incredible, will not be available [in the UK].)"
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Review of HTC Desire As Alternative To iPhone

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  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday April 26, 2010 @01:25AM (#31981126)

    That they have excellent hardware but their long term software support is as miserable as the rest of the industry.
    Usually you get the phone, and as soon as you are out of the store, they dont see you as a customer anymore.
    If you are lucky you get one quick bugfix update, and then you wait for ages and if you are lucky you get another software update.
    The classical example this time is the HTC Hero, the top phone from them until January.
    The Android 1.6 update was promised, than they said, they were going for straight 2.0 in january, then february March etc...
    Now they have released the HTC Legend which is almost the same as the Hero except for the sensor instead of the trackball
    and the aluminium casing, it has Android 2.1, well the result was to protect their Legend sales the Hero update again was postponed
    to June. However in May Android 2.2 will be released.

    All I can say is avoid this phone like the plaque go for the Nexus 1 which will get the software updates in time for the forseeable future unless you are willing to hack your phone open and use the community as software update center.
    Actually the Hero will be my last non google branded phone. HTC has pulled the same stunt back then on the touch, and I should have been warned, now they are pulling the same stunt again with the Hero.

    As for me I will run the Hero until the end of the year and then will go straight for what Google has to offer (hopefully a non HTC Nexus2)

  • Re:From TFA... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @01:31AM (#31981154)

    Now see I don't mind apple having a quality control process for the apps. If they reject things because they are completely pointless/useless and/or they don't work properly or are very buggy, that would be fine by me, but that would get rid of the 301 flashlight apps and other junkware.

    Instead, they block apps for all kinds of reasons:
    1. Using 3G networking for things where it's "Not approved".
    2. "Confusing users" by upgrading core functionality.
    3. Using magical APIs that only Apple is allowed to use.
    4. Blocking things Apple finds racy or politically questionable
    And they charge money (the $100 yearly fee) even to be able to compile an app and load it on your own phone itself. This has reduced the amount of open source software available for the iPhone drastically, I am sure, and made things that should be free into pay apps.
    And, they force you to use their programming kit and only their programming kit, which again has reduced options for developers, and thereby users.
    Many of the approvals and rejections have also been arbitrary. Some softcore porn apps are allowed, others aren't. Some VOIP apps are allowed, others aren't, etc.
    etc.

    This has meant:
    1. Skype hasn't worked on 3G.
    2. Nothing like Skype or Google Longitude (or any navigation apps) could run in the background (thereby rendering such apps practically useless).
    3. Nothing like tethering could be made to work.
    4. Even trivial apps cost money.
    5. Google voice somehow isn't allowed.

    If they really feel something is lower quality, or bound to "confuse" users, they could simply just add an "advanced" section to the app-store. They could also just not allow such apps on the app store, but allow direct distribution instead.

    Still, I have to admit the article was interesting to say the least... "The iPhone is perfect... the HTC phone sucks... but I like it better than the iPhone".

    I'll stick with my Sharp SH941 for now. It doesn't have so much in the way of apps, but it has a great camera which can take HD video, TV, email, Suica (Wireless Smartcard), character recognition, dictionaries, etc. built in without having to buy a dozen apps anyway. The battery life is very solid, and the voice quality is great.

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday April 26, 2010 @01:32AM (#31981158)

    Problem is the rest of the industry is as miserable as HTC in this regard, Samsung, good luck to get any update after a few months, but they also have shoddy hardware usually, while HTCs is rock solid.

    Motorola, they have good hardware, and so far the track record of software support is there, but outside of the USA they pulled the DRM stunt, by encrypting the bootloader, so that the phone is basically locked down and the community is prevented to open it to flash it on their own (Note this is basically just for the Milestone, the Droid is relatively open). So what if Motorola decides not to support the phone anymore.

    Sony/Ericsson, they are still to new in the Android area, but given their track record, I do not have high hopes.

    LG... shoddy hardware, and given LGs track record I would not have high hopes either to get a good customer support out of them

    Acer... they just pulled the screw your existing customers by not supporting them stunt on the Liquid One. While having good hardware, the phone is a no buy.

    So all I can say is, if you want Android, opt directly for Google, that is the only chance of being not entirely screwed by the manufacturer. Android itself is excellent, but the phone makers try hard to carry over their advertise sell and run businessmodell from WinMobile days.

  • Re:From TFA... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Monday April 26, 2010 @01:55AM (#31981258)

    Don't you think, that the reason iPhones are close to perfect, is because of the super-tight approval process.... Not only in the App Store, but also in the build and design of it.

    Having experienced the App store approval process and used an iPhone. Absolutely not to the first point, and a resounding yes to the second point (the build and design of the OS and phone).

    The OS, UI and tight design (not tight controls on apps) are what sets it apart.

    There are no tight controls on app quality, quite the reverse (just look at all the terrible apps on the store), but there are bizarre, inconsistent, constantly changing controls on app functionality/use.

  • by dybdahl (80720) <(kd.lhadbyd) (ta) (ofni)> on Monday April 26, 2010 @02:13AM (#31981336) Homepage Journal

    I use a Google Nexus, almost equivalent to the Desire, and I can recognize the battery drain. However, after a few weeks, the phone easily holds a day - probably because "moderate; use" is really "let's see what this device can do; use".

    Also, some apps are written badly and consume a lot of power when in the background. If you are experimenting a lot with your phone, chances are big that you have installed one of these. There are two solutions:

    1) Uninstall the bad apps.

    2) Use a tool, like task killer, which can kill the bad apps when the screen turns off.

    Additionally, if you are always online, and have enabled wifi, it will consume power. Quick solution: put a wifi on/off widget on your front screen, and keep wifi off under normal use.

  • Battery life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Monday April 26, 2010 @02:15AM (#31981342)
    Battery life is appalling. With moderate use I have to charge the Desire twice each day.

    That's about what I get with my iphone using bluetooth and frequent mp3 playback. Annoying, I'd agree. But I think it'd be far less so in a device where I can just swap the battery out.
  • by Zoidbot (1194453) on Monday April 26, 2010 @02:29AM (#31981406)

    I don't think there are too many.

    I had a 3GS until it went wrong. I now have a HTC Hero, and it's better in every respect. Most importantly, I control what applications are on there, where I get my music from and what my device can run (the fact I can install APK's locally, means there is NO central app control, which is a good thing).

  • Re:The reality is... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday April 26, 2010 @02:43AM (#31981468)

    I know this is going to come as a shock to you so brace yourself. Not everyone wants/likes the iPhone.

    So comments like yours and from the article are really only from YOUR opinions. Now brace yourself for another shock, people have different opinions!

    For example, some people like to walk rather then take the bus. Now sure walking is slower and less convenient, but yet people still do it. That doesn't mean however that it is better or worse then taking the bus or a car.

    Sometimes you don't need to demand someone justify every minute detail in the hopes of advocating someone to switch to your favourite thing. If the guy prefers the android phones then just let him be and accept that not everyone likes the same things you do.

  • Re:It's great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Monday April 26, 2010 @02:56AM (#31981518)

    Just RTFA.

    >Many functions require a press of the menu button to bring up a list of
    >options, whereas on the iPhone there would be a button on the screen.
    >This extra step makes the Desire feel a little cumbersome.

    The thing is, on the Desire you have a widget for almost everything, so you don't even need to open the application. It's just there. You just need to navigate to the correct home screen.

    I just wanted to add to that:
    The menu button feels different from the iPhone when you're first switching, but I love it now. When i pick up an iPhone, *it* always feels more cumbersome to use. "Menu" is a very intuitive concept, and I like that more than having to keep every possible function onscreen on the iPhone, which is itself cumbersome. Or, many iPhone apps end up implementing a "Menu" icon onscreen, but those will all be in a different place based on the UI design. On Android, "Menu" is always in the same place, and since its always there, UI designers don't feel like they have to put icons everywhere for things, they can just use "Menu" without worrying about making a cumbersome UI. I think its better personally. But as I said, it feels awkward coming from iPhone OS... but that goes away.

    Also not cumbersome? A Back button.
    -Taylor

  • Re:The reality is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thegrassyknowl (762218) on Monday April 26, 2010 @03:20AM (#31981626)

    So comments like yours and from the article are really only from YOUR opinions. Now brace yourself for another shock, people have different opinions!

    Here's another opinion. As someone who _had_ an iPhone and went back to a $50 Nokia I'll tell you the iPhone is junk. It's shiny, polished junk.

    * The battery life was woeful when you're actually using it as intended. I was lucky to get a day out of the thing and I used it as an ereader for about an hour during my daily commute and a phone casually.
    * It's not compatible (enough) with earlier iPod connectors/interfaces so my iPod capable car stereo won't work with it. A lot of other iPod capable stuff either failed or whinged at me. The phone quite often whinged too. Here's news Apple - if you use a "standard" connector on the thing then support it; don't change the damn internals and then tell the phone to whinge the thing on the other end is too old.
    * It's locked down - you can only buy applications that Apple approve. If you jail break it you lose warranty, and on 3GS models the ability to reboot the fucking thing.
    * There is no pr0n (well there is, but Jobs is in denial that Safari can be used to access pr0n).
    * It crashed and froze up more often than not.
    * I couldn't save anything in it that Apple doesn't want me to. That includes the videos/photos of my son that came attached to a series of MMS. They were forever trapped in the phone and I had to ask the sender to email me instead.
    * I can't send files via email/MMS that Apple doesn't want me to. I can't send that hillarious video that I just received to anyone else because it _might_ fuck over some record company somewhere.
    * I was stuck using iTunes to sync the address book and calendar. What kind of shit is that? Some people actually don't want to use iTunes. Apple won't expose those things in a standard way so I can't just use SyncML or something similar.
    * The app store is full up with absolute garbage, low quality apps. There's an app for everything where "app" is defined as half-arsed P.O.S and "everything" is defined as {lim x->0 (1/x)}. Finding good quality software was difficult. A lot of the apps blatantly lie about their capability and you don't find out until you've paid for them.
    * Apple is reportedly known to stiff app developers.
    * Glass screen is uber-fragile; I know of several people who have managed to break them even when being mostly careful. It's such a common occurrence that a lot of insurance policies won't cover it anymore.
    * Bluetooth is a joke. Can't even transfer files with it. Apple's answer... use email or MMS. What if I'm sitting right next to the person and want to save some data charges? Nope. Use email or MMS.
    * Apple seem to pander to the big telcos about ripping out features. For example it wouldn't let me download large (>5M) files over my data plan, even though I paid for a certain amount of data and wanted to use it as _I_ saw fit, not Apple. What if I need a 15M file right now this very instant and I'm nowhere near a WiFi connection? Nope, I'm S.O.L just because Apple says so.
    * No VoIP... what's with that? It's my phone, and if I want to use VoIP over my carrier's IP network then so be it. Don't tell me I can't. To top it all off, my carrier was a Skype partner and I could use Skype quite happily on their network (they encouraged it). Nope. Can't do that on an iPhone because Apple said so, even though my particular carrier is ok with it.
    * Did I mention the battery life sucks?
    * Apple doesn't seem interested in fixing any of the shortcomings that practically no other phone has, because they are all shortcomings that force you to reach out into data and call charges land even when you really don't need to.

    The three things I don't like about my $50 Nokia are the lack of a QWERTY keyboard (a standard addition to many smart phones now), small screen size (again, fixed on modern more expensive phones) and the fact it's slow and limited in memory (also fixed by every other smart phone). Other than that, one of the cheapest non-smart models of phone kicks the shit out of an iPhone any day as far as I'm concerned.

  • Re:The reality is... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday April 26, 2010 @03:36AM (#31981682) Homepage Journal

    I've never met an Apple product owner who didn't try to recruit me.

  • Re:It's great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzRoy (602691) on Monday April 26, 2010 @03:42AM (#31981708)

    I replaced my iPhone with a Desire just a few weeks ago. It has taken me a little while to get used to it. I forgot about the existence of the hardware buttons and would expect all functionality to be available on screen via a touch, like the iPhone. I'm quickly getting past that though, and I don't think either system is better or worse than the other, just different.

    First the iPhone does feel more polished than the desire. Part of that may be because of familiarity, but other things, like my gmail account not showing up with the HTC mail widget is just annoying.

    Other things though are much much better. Widgets are fantastic. All the information I want if available on the phone's 'desktop'. Multi-tasking! It's great! The best experience I had was something really simple. I recieved an email with a link to google maps. Touching the link opened up the maps application. I was able to navigate around the map and then clicked the back button. Because Android allows multi-tasking clicking back left the map and put me back into my email on the mail app exactly as I left it. That may sound trivial, but I think it's a major improvement over the iPhone. It's the way any device should work.

  • Re:The reality is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:31AM (#31981976)
    So do "normal" people! Cases in point I've been asked about THIS WEEK:
    "Huh? My PC died. Why can't I copy the music off it to another?"
    "Huh? Why doesn't it work with my new car's head unit? I got the top of the line VW one with phone integration?" - no decent bluetooth control, and no remote SIM support, and no chance of a fix
  • Re:The reality is... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Targon (17348) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:14AM (#31982836)

    I think the big issue is the whole 'functionality before hype' argument. Electronic toys are all fine and dandy, but so much about the iPhone is based on hype, rather than on how good it is. This is why they can't give the iPhone away in Japan, because without the hype, the iPhone isn't really all that great compared to the competition.

  • 1 out of 2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jscotta44 (881299) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:43AM (#31983092)

    Google Voice was denied by Apple, from what I remember. However, I don't recall the reason–don't know if a reason was ever given. That is Apple's fault.

    Google Maps with Navigation, that is Google's fault. They are the ones that have denied iPhone users that opportunity.

    On a slightly different, but very related issue, it is funny how the people here often rail against Apple's managed platform, but not against Google's very aggressive collection of user data, for their own uses with Android. Very interesting and very funny to me.

  • by sarhjinian (94086) on Monday April 26, 2010 @10:18AM (#31984722)

    The problem is that some of the problems aren't "day one" or even "day 30" bugs. They crop up after weeks or months of use, or when you try to use an application that depends on something that's broken. Sometimes they're related to security issues.

    With Windows Mobile that was embarrassing: phones would ship with broken add-on apps that would leak memory or crash, problems like SMTP timing out would corrupt your mailbox, time zones being out of date, etc. For a personal user this might not be an issue: for a business it was really irritating. It was made even more galling because WM had an OTA update feature that, in all the phones I saw, was never, ever used, and outside of Symbol, Intermec and the like, the state of these handhelds software stability is terrible.

    Even more amusing yet was how, even when your handheld saw an update, chances are your carrier wouldn't bother to deploy it. That was just so awesome.

    Android is going exactly the same way, and for exactly the same reason: the same troglodytes are making and supporting the hardware. This is wholly different from RIM, Apple or (to some degree) Nokia.** If there's a bug in those platforms, those companies seem to have the will to get updates out in a timely manner and, generally, free from carrier reticence.

    Complain as you will about Apple or RIM not being "open", but at least they seem to consider the end-users to be their actual customers. The reason the hacking communities are so strong in WM and Android circles is largely because the OEMs consider that carriers to be their customers; their offerings may as well be closed for the pathetic level of support they offer.

    ** Rogers in Canada, unfortunately, doesn't offer updates from Nokia's devices. This is why my E71 would have been stuck at an old and rather buggy firmware version, rather than any of the six or seven versions since that Nokia released

  • Re:The reality is... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobDude (1123541) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:10AM (#31985394) Homepage

    I'm not sure why people say this.

    I recently purchased my first android phone. People say that it is 'open'. But, people say a lot of things.

    My phone isn't open. It's very much locked down. If I want to delete an application like 'Sprint Nascar Cup' - I can't. It won't let me.

    If I call up Sprint customer support and ask them how to delete it, they tell me it's impossible. I know, because I asked. It can't be done.

    'Rooting' the phone is possible; but it violates your warranty, it forfeits your right to customer service, and comes with some risk of bricking your phone. If you are willing to take that risk; how is that any different from what is available with the iPhone?

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