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HTC Desire Z


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#1 seasonic

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 19:22

Today I’m going to be reviewing the HTC Desire Z (This phone is similar and looks like the T-Mobile G2 in the US and the CDMA version is the HTC Merge ; The codename for this phone is Vision)

NOTE BEFORE HAND: IF YOU HAVE A UPDATE NOTICE WHEN YOU FIRST GET THIS PHONE DO NOT UPDATE IT IF YOU ARE INTO THE ROOTING SCENE OR WOULD LIKE TO TRY A ALTERNATIVE ROM. THE UPDATE UPDATES YOU TO 2.2.1 BUT IT ALSO INSTALLS A FIRMWARE WHICH CANNOT BE ROOTED AND/OR S-OFF. IF YOU HAVE DONE THIS ANYWAYS, FEAR NOT AS THERE IS A DOWNGRADE ALREADY AVALIABLE

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Specs:
Cost: 364€
Networks: 900/2100 HSPA/WCDMA, 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM
Dimensions: 119 (Height) × 60.4 (Width) × 14.16 mm (Depth)
Weight: 180 g
OS: Android (2.2)
CPU: Qualcomm MSM7230 800 MHz
RAM: 512 MB
Removable storage: microSDHC (SD 2.0)
Battery: 1300 mAh Lithium-ion
Display: 3.7-inch (9.398 cm) 800 × 480 WVGA Super LCD
Input: 4 row QWERTY slide out keyboard and capacitive touchscreen
Camera: 5 megapixels with LED flash
Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.1, Micro-USB, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, A-GPS
Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, digital compass, proximity and ambient light sensors
Accessories included: SanDisk 8GB microSDHC Class 4 card, microUSB cable, in ear earphones with foam protectors for your ear, and USB to AC charger adapter.
Other: HTC Sense

Usage of the phone: 1 week

Differences between the HTC Desire Z and the T-Mobile G2

Although phones look alike there are differences. The first one I want to point out is one I intentionally left out of the specs: The internal storage.

The internal storage on the HTC Vision is different on both of its main models. This phone is advertised as having 4GB (G2) and 2GB (Desire Z). Most of the models being sold now do have that physical storage but contain only 1.5GB that can be used by the user. I’m going to sum this up as it can get pretty boring....

SanDisk (the guys that provide the emmc on the Vision) partitioned half of the emmc to be used as a system partition. This can only be done once. The benefit is improved performance while cutting half of the space. More information: http://forum.xda-dev..._missing_2GB.3F

The phone
The phone actually feels pretty good in the hand. The weight makes it feel solid rather than heavy. I expected that I would notice the weight but actually not at all. Got sort of use to it as if it was natural.

The back cover that covers that battery is made of metal and gives a nice touch to it. Makes you want to touch the phone :p There are moments when you get "confused" on if to open the keyboard towards the left or the right but in a second, you can figure it out.

The buttons on the phone are so so: Most, if not all, could be a bit ticker and stick out more. Some music applications allow you to hold the volume up/down buttons and skip songs. After a week and heavy music listening, I still have trouble finding the up/down buttons. The front captive buttons (Home, Menu, Back and Search) are so so to touch but this does get better with practice and getting use to the phone. I find myself naturally knowing now how to use them.

The micro-USB connector is horrible. I feel it can be a bit more open to give more "wiggle room" to plug it in. Once again, this is related to the button problem: Too thin to notice it with feel. Related to this, the microUSB cable is bit short for when charging the phone.

The battery
Battery life is decent. You can’t expect anything from a smartphone. On a 100% charge that lasts from 7:50AM to about 3:00PM: Using from 8:00AM to 9:00AM Winamp or Angry Birds, then from 9:00AM to 1:00PM, Wi-Fi on scanning but not in use, random power button presses which turns on the screen, then from 1:00PM to 3:00PM Winamp and/or (more now) Angry Birds, I finish at 3PM with about a 53% charge.

The screen
The screen is great. I was pretty impressed with it. Nice colors, great brightness, videos are amazing, etc. It is a fingerprint magnet but this is only noticeable when it is off.
This is my first touchscreen phone (I do not like them). The screen is VERY responsive (sometimes too but later on that) and it feels very natural to use the phone this way. That being said and not because of this phone, I still do not like touchscreen phones. I’ve played around with capacitive and resistive screens, iOS, Symbian, Maemo, Android, Blackberry, etc. and I still do not like touchscreen phones. One of the many reasons I got this phone was because it had keys(board).

The OS
My previous smartphone (That was my previous previous phone; I current had before the HTC Vision a dumbphone) was a Nokia E70 with Symbian. Symbian has nothing to do here. Android kicks its ass in I believe every aspect possible in the phrase "kicks its ass". It’s just that amazing.

I’ve used Symbian in the past and what you can do with the OS is incredible. Granted, at the time Symbian was boss and there wasn’t any software market around but still.

Android 2.2.1 with HTC Sense (I updated thinking I would not need to root until a few months) is amazing. Great experience with great features. Pretty fast as well for a 800 MHz While on the subject, any dualcore phone right now is a gimmick seeing as the Android provided on phones, the kernel does not support dual core so you will see little to no improvement. The speed boost with Ice Cream Sandwich for dual core phone will be huge though.

I believe HTC packs in some of the best "add-ons" when it comes to Android and I believe it’s worth it buying a HTC rather than a x company if they have the same features. Not only that, this phone will receive Android 2.3.3 with HTC Sense in May-July.


ROM
This deserves I believe a special section :)

I had to root/s-off my phone because Android 2.2 with HTC Sense had one of the WORSE audio experiences I have ever heard on a electronic device. The quality was so-so but the volume was low on the 3.5mm jack. I cannot stand low volume. I even thought about returning the phone but the OS was just too amazing :p I had to root/s-off it the second day I got it, thing I wasn’t too happy about.

I did it (with a few hiccups, including one where my phone wouldn’t turn on; I had to pull out the battery) and decided to go with the community praised Cyanogenmod 7 (Android 2.3.3).

I’ve been running it since I installed it and so-so; It fixed the volume issue but lost some basic features (autofocus, DNLA, etc.) which I think should be in a top ROM. Also the screen is more sensitive it seems. Nonetheless, the features in Cyanogenmod 7 are GREAT and better than stock Android. 2.3.3 is fast (do note HTC Sense slows some things down) and I believe everyone should go with 2.3.3, with or without HTC Sense.


Connectivity
My reception is actually notably lower. I’ve read this on various smartphones such as other Androids and the laughstock of iOS but wow. It flakes: 1 seconds you are with 4 bars, the next you have 1. I’m investigating now a radio update.

Same thing in the 802.11 area; This is worst as with every device that has 802.11 that I’ve had here in my room (the router is next to me in my room) I’ve had perfect reception. Here, the same thing as my network connection just worst as it sometimes goes to 0 bars directly. Again, I’m investigating a radio update and will update if I see a improvement.

The Bluetooth is OK. Standard even though the OS (or ROM) doesn’t support certain standard things.

MicroUSB is usual. Good speeds, although it is a Class 10 card. Your device may vary.

The GPS is pretty good; I’d think the best out of all the connectivity. I have used it with the A-GPS help and most times with 802.11. But pretty impressed with it.

Call quality
The quality on a call is standard. No improvement over the dumbphone or the E70. Maybe louder but that’s it.

Skype was amazing though. I was actually pretty impressed. ALOT better than the E70. Usual Skype breakups but when the signal was clear, DAMN. They need to rollout WiMax now and have everyone on IPv6 and only using Skype/SIP :p

Keyboard
The main feature of the phone right? Possible the phone I most use as well for, well, everything almost.

It takes time getting use to but once you get the hang of it, it feels pretty good, although my E70's keyboard was better. The reason: 5 rows. 5 rows is needed without a doubt. Numbers, which is one of the most things used on a phone, are in the QWERTYUIOP section and require you holding a Fn key and then the letter. Granted the Fn key is on both sides but still. But like said, once you get the hang of it, you can type pretty quick. The rest of the keys pretty much with Fn have anything you need from ! to euro.

The keyboard (if the phone is viewed straight on, trackpad being on the bottom) pops out to the left so, sorry lefties. The slide out is not actually a slide out: This has been reviewed many times so I’m not going to explain it: Basically it does a Z to put it in place with its hinges....

The hinge
This is a heated debate all over the place. Users complaining their hinge is loose and the keyboard just falls out.

What I can confirm is that most users are missing a brain: The keyboard is perfectly fine and natural. The keyboard doesn’t fall out. You need to apply a force to make it pop out. If you are on your bed with your head completely flat and the phone is open with the keyboard out it is FALSE that the display will fall and close on you, doesn’t matter how you hold the phone. While writing this I have again tried this on my bed and there is no way I could get the display to fall and the phone to close by itself.

Camera
This is something I haven’t tested too much. Took 2 pictures. One pretty decent, the other too. One video also pretty decent. If I can, Ill update this section.

The LED flash, as on the Desire, is strong. Too strong maybe. You'll see in dark pictures a "white glow" and most people will close their eyes because of a flash so strong.

Media

From the phone
Two problems here: The picture I wanted up upload I cant remove some personal information from it and the video I wanted to upload, got uploaded in Standard Definition, so If I have time Ill get back on that.

Of the phone

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Screenshots
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Overall

Over all, I’m pretty satisfied with the HTC Desire Z. It has its shortcomings but that’s common with all phones. If you want a touchscreen phone with a QWERTY keyboard, number issue aside, I think this is the one to get without a doubt. Android is what really makes this phone shine.

Things to point out:
+ Keyboard
+ Screen
+ Skype quality
+ Android
++ HTC will provide Android 2.3.3 with HTC Sense in May-July

Thing that are not so pretty
- Internal storage space
- Keyboard (number issue)
- Stock 3.5mm volume
- Connectivity flakes

7/10

Any questions or any other part that wishes to get reviewed will get answers :) There are two main reasons that there aren’t more pictures of the phone (or pictures from the phone): My digital camera is crap and I received the invisibleSHIELD I ordered for it about 2 weeks ago today and I installed it so it’s in its process. If there is an overall desire to view pictures, I’ll turn it on as it’s dried I think and just has some things which I EXPECT will go away in 2-3 days.


#2 timsweb

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 16:53

Android 2.2.1 with HTC Sense (I updated thinking I would not need to root until a few months) is amazing. Great experience with great features. Pretty fast as well for a 800 MHz While on the subject, any dualcore phone right now is a gimmick seeing as the Android provided on phones, the kernel does not support dual core so you will see little to no improvement. The speed boost with Ice Cream Sandwich for dual core phone will be huge though.


Im fairly sure this is untrue, the Android kernel does currently make use of the dual core processors and they are certainly not "gimmicks". Don't quote me on this though, it is just what i have been told and read elsewhere.

#3 OP seasonic

seasonic

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 17:15

Im fairly sure this is untrue, the Android kernel does currently make use of the dual core processors and they are certainly not "gimmicks". Don't quote me on this though, it is just what i have been told and read elsewhere.

3.0/3.1 Honeycomb

3.01 latest release.
Based on Linux kernel 2.6.36
On 22 February 2011 the 3.0 (Honeycomb) SDK was released for tablets. This is a tablet-only release of Android. The first device featuring this version, the Motorola Xoom tablet, was released on February 24, 2011.

Changes include:
Optimized tablet support with a new virtual and “holographic” user interface
System Bar: Quick access to notifications, status, and soft navigation buttons available at the bottom of the screen.
Action Bar: Access to contextual options, navigation, widgets, or other types of content at the top of the screen.
Multitasking: Tap Recent Apps in the System Bar, to see snapshots of the tasks underway and quickly jump from one app to another.
Redesigned keyboard: To make entering text fast and accurate on larger screen sizes with greater accuracy and efficiency
Copy/Paste: Simplified, more intuitive.
Browser: Multiple tabs replace browser windows, form auto-fill, and a new “incognito” mode allows anonymous browsing.
Camera: Quick access to exposure, focus, flash, zoom, front-facing camera, time-lapse, and more.
Gallery: View albums and other collections in full-screen mode, with easy access to thumbnails for other photos.
Contacts: New two-pane UI and Fast Scroll to let users easily organize and locate contacts.
Email: New two-pane UI to make viewing and organizing messages more efficient. The app lets users select one or more messages.
Support for video chat using Google Talk
Hardware acceleration
Support for multi-core processors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_version_history#3.0.2F3.1_Honeycomb

Anyways, thats for another thread, not this review one :)

#4 Shaun N.

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 09:28

Good review, but MOAR pics!

#5 dolby71

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 10:19

I have no idea why they use that "flat" USB connector


Micro-usb is the standard connector nowadays.
The main purpose is that whenever you switch phones, you won't have to dispose of your previous charger.
Something about the environment. :)

The hinge
This is a heated debate all over the place. Users complaining their hinge is loose and the keyboard just falls out.

What I can confirm is that most users are missing a brain: The keyboard is perfectly fine and natural. The keyboard doesn’t fall out. You need to apply a force to make it pop out. If you are on your bed with your head completely flat and the phone is open with the keyboard out it is FALSE that the display will fall and close on you, doesn’t matter how you hold the phone. While writing this I have again tried this on my bed and there is no way I could get the display to fall and the phone to close by itself.


wait a couple of months, and I dare you to say that again... I have my Desire Z for maybe 3 months, and the hinge is already much less powerful.

#6 OP seasonic

seasonic

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 10:57

Good review, but MOAR pics!

Ill try but my digital camera is crappy so dont expect anything great :)

Micro-usb is the standard connector nowadays.
The main purpose is that whenever you switch phones, you won't have to dispose of your previous charger.
Something about the environment. :)

True. I forgot about that being the Micro-USB plug. Ill update it.


wait a couple of months, and I dare you to say that again... I have my Desire Z for maybe 3 months, and the hinge is already much less powerful.

Ive had it for a week and I already notice it less powerful but in no moment does it just "fall" like some users say from day 1.

#7 Ian Wilcox

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 10:58

Cant say i like the look of that phone

#8 OP seasonic

seasonic

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 13:02

Updated with pictures :)

#9 +Wannes

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 14:08

Nice review. Congratulations!

#10 OP seasonic

seasonic

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 17:13

Cant say i like the look of that phone

I believe I misunderstood you but

Do you like the look of the phone

or


Do you NOT like the look of the phone


?

#11 +virtorio

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 02:10

I believe I misunderstood you but

Do you like the look of the phone

or


Do you NOT like the look of the phone


?


He does not like the look of the phone.

#12 OP seasonic

seasonic

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 21:52

He does not like the look of the phone.

While it is true that this model comes only in one theme, I guess you cant please them all :)