HTC announces another Android handset, the HTC Hero

If you are in the market for an Android based handset, but felt that the HTC Dream and Magic didn't have the features you desired, the new Hero announced by HTC might just be the one for you.

Earlier Android devices lacked some pretty important features, and HTC is looking to make up for it by incorporating them into the Hero. Some of the highlights of this device are:

  • First Android handset with Adobe Flash out of the box:
    The Hero is, according to HTC, "the first Android phone to ship with support for Adobe® Flash® Platform technology". What this means is that you can finally view most flash based content, such as streaming media, without the need for third-party applications.

    According to David Wadhwani, vice president and general manager, Platform Business Unit at Adobe, "the new HTC Hero represents a key milestone for Android and the Flash Platform. With close to 80 percent of all videos online delivered with Adobe Flash technology, consumers want to access rich Web content on-the-go."

    Head here, for a demo of Flash on the HTC Hero.

  • New user interface, the Sense UI:
    HTC is known for employing their fantastic TouchFLO interface on Windows Mobile smartphones, such as the HTC Touch and Touch Pro, to make Windows Mobile much more intuitive. Useful applications and rich animations are also thrown in to make the interface more appealing to the user.

    Although the Android OS is pretty intuitive on its own, HTC decided to try its hand at recreating the TouchFLO interface on it. They call this new interface the 'Sense UI' and features many of the popular widgets, applications and rich animations found on the TouchFLO interface.

    For those currently using the Dream or Magic, HTC says that they will make the Sense UI available to them soon.

  • Capacitive touch screen that supports multi-touch:
    This is something that users have been clamouring for on the HTC Dream and Magic. Android can handle multi-touch, but the feature is disabled due to the risk of infringing Apple's patents. Since the Android OS used in the Hero is heavily modified by HTC, and due to the nature of these modifications, the device does not come with a "with Google" tag found on the HTC Dream and Magic.
  • Teflon coating and oleophobic screen:
    The HTC Hero features a Teflon coating on its white coloured model and a oleophobic screen. These coatings help combat one of the more serious problems handset users (both touch and non-touch devices) face, finger print smudges. The oleophobic coating on the screen used on the Hero is more or less similar the one being used on the recently announced iPhone 3G S. In fact, Gizmodo thinks that the quality of the materials used on the Hero might have surpassed those used on the iPhone.
  • 3.5 mm audio jack and a 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus:
    The 3.5 mm audio jack is one of those features which many feel should have been included in earlier handsets, but weren't. But it is better late than never as HTC finally incorporates the standard headset jack on the Hero, allowing you to utilise your own pair of headphones without using an adapter or a proprietary pair of headphones. The camera specs have also been bumped, with the new Hero rocking a 5 MP camera.
Here are the Hero's other specs:
  • HSPDA with up to 2 Mbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds
  • Quad band
  • Wi-fi
  • Bluetooth
  • 3.2 inch, 320X480 resolution screen
  • External USB port
  • GPS with digital compass
  • G-Sensor
  • SD Card slot
The Hero runs on a Qualcomm® MSM7200A™ 528 MHz processor with 288 MB of RAM.



As for pricing, interested parties can get the device for for free with a contract from T-Mobile UK. However, there is no word as to which mobile operator will carry the device in the United States.

The HTC Hero will face some competition from Samsung's I7500 Android handset.

Update: According to rumors, HTC Dream and Magic users may not be able to get into the Sense UI action after all, due to some licensing issues.

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45 Comments

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Looking at it, it seems there is a small noticeable amount of choppyness in the UI. Not as silky smooth as i'd like it to be. Maybe the Hero 2, so to speak, would be just right.

Looks like a neat architecture to me: finally breaking through Andriod's default GUI (As a Windows� user, I'm entitled to be savvy of all the eye candy!) and still keeping itz core! 5MP w/ auto-focus, what more can you ask for? (Consider it as a Smartphone and not a Cybershot� and you'll not miss the flash) Itz got the add-ins (GPS, Digital Compass (yeah, ryt) and G-Sensor) that make it complete on the outside. 'twas high time smartphones got thier 3.5mm jack and of course, the oleophobic screen.

Looks like we're nearing a non-WM, yet intuitive to the Sense UI generation of HTC smartphone more sooner than "with Google"!

HTC hero looks nice. The audio jack is an improvement, as are the camera and the teflon coating. But that's it. It's still pretty much the same hardware as HTC magic and dream. I have an HTC magic and I love it, but there could be some improvements. Light and proximity sensors would be a good addition. That whole being a java based platform, certain apps feel sluggish. Some apps dont have this problem, or it doesnt always happen, and it actually makes me wonder how the virtual machines in android work.

Interesting.

But unfortunately most credible tech sites have stated that Android can 'handle' multi touch, but isn't implemented.

The source you have cited may have a point, but it isn't a credible source.

I am not saying that it should be ignored just because it isn't a recognised site, but as a news poster, I ought to be getting sources that an average reader can trust.

However, I thank you for pointing this out.

This is the one phone that might actually get me away from my G1. While Flash is cool and all the HTC UI for android can not be beat. Been running a ported version of the hero rom on my g1 and I love the thing. Only thing I do dislike is not keyboard reguardless of having a osk which it does. Sometimes the keypad comes in very handy when hacking out G1's.

The thing that bothers me about the HTC phones is the Qualcomm chipset isn't quite powerful enough for what is running on my phone. It's a shame they havn't looked at some of the newer ARM chipsets, say the cortex that's int he iPhone and Palm Pre (I believe)

My X1 from Sony Ericsson feels really slow at times, although admittedly that's probably alot to do with windows mobile. It seems to suffer from really bad floating point and graphics performance.

Now if Verizon had something like this I wouldn't have just switched to AT&T.

Spent an hour at the Verizon store because I was due for a phone upgrade and most of the phones there were junk or outdated. They *just* got the first generation touch diamond and it isn't even in their stores yet.

Maybe by 2014 or so they'll start carrying Android handsets.

"Android can handle multi-touch, but the feature is disabled due to the risk of infringing Apple's patents."

Ermm...no. The Android devs have said there is no multi-touch (API) for Android because it's not a priority for them at the moment but if anyone writes a good public API for it, they'd be willing to consider including it.

zer0day said,
"Android can handle multi-touch, but the feature is disabled due to the risk of infringing Apple's patents."

Ermm...no. The Android devs have said there is no multi-touch (API) for Android because it's not a priority for them at the moment but if anyone writes a good public API for it, they'd be willing to consider including it.

Unofficial roms out there DO support multitouch. I've read that multitouch is achieved by overloading some method in the API. And I'm pretty sure I also read that the people behind android had a multi-touch-enabled version of the browser that chose not to release.

If this was going to come to Vodafone in the UK, I would definitely have got it...what an incredibly intuitive interface

After the mess of hardware bugs that was the HTC Dream/Magic from Rogers I don't think I would ever purchase another HTC handset again.

Lexcyn said,
After the mess of hardware bugs that was the HTC Dream/Magic from Rogers I don't think I would ever purchase another HTC handset again.

what hardware bugs?

Julius Caro said,
what hardware bugs?

The Dream was modified to not include the onscreen keyboard

The White dream has a problem with the key backlight and until they allow apps to control the backlight the keyboard is almost unusable in certain lighting conditions.

The curve is actually a requirement for an Android Phone. Same as the Track Ball in the center.

I think that yes it may be annoying for the pocket and not sure how case's and holders will handle the curve, but it does make sense for placing the microphone closer towards your mouth and also will save scratches on the screen and stuff from face down on the table as the screen couldn't touch the table at all.

Not 100% sure on the Android requirement (not actually valid with this as no "for Google") but I thought I read that somewhere and also look at all other Android phoes so far. All have the Tilt at the bottom and the trackball.

PS: So much for Googles "Open" OS platform. Why can't HTC make a new UI and some modifications (that seem to work well) and keep the Google Licensing.

If it wasn't open then they wouldn't be able to modify it...But by heavily changing it, it is no longer the vanilla codebase that Google supplies and so whacking on a google logo may be detrimental to google if the changes HTC has made don't work properly or whatever. Maybe there should be a powered by android logo?

What might happen is if HTC share their codebase then sense ui could become part of the vanilla android codebase...

eangulus said,
PS: So much for Googles "Open" OS platform. Why can't HTC make a new UI and some modifications (that seem to work well) and keep the Google Licensing.

Google's licensing has nothing to do with the openness of the platform. Anyone can make an Android device without Google's involvement (and several companies are), but Google has every right to stipulate how its trademark is used. Completely different issue.

DomZ said,
If it wasn't open then they wouldn't be able to modify it...But by heavily changing it, it is no longer the vanilla codebase that Google supplies and so whacking on a google logo may be detrimental to google if the changes HTC has made don't work properly or whatever. Maybe there should be a powered by android logo?

What might happen is if HTC share their codebase then sense ui could become part of the vanilla android codebase...


So it would be more like getting Ubuntu, modifying it, then not calling it ubuntu anymore cause of too many changes. Still Linux but not Ubuntu Linux.

Still an Android Phone just not a Google Android Phone.

eangulus said,
The curve is actually a requirement for an Android Phone. Same as the Track Ball in the center.

any reference for that claim ?! The curve is an HTC design it has nothing to do with Android. The new MyTouch (also Android phone) does not have the curve.

eangulus said,
All have the Tilt at the bottom and the trackball.

All ??? there is only one Android phone (G1) released so far. MyTouch and Hero will be 2nd and 3rd. Samsung a close 4th. Half of those don't have the curve... again are you just making stuff up ?

It supports Exchange. I'd buy it now if I could. Buying unlocked from the UK is kind of pricy, I see some high prices, 779 :(. I do see one in the 500s.

Anyone know a good place to obtain one if I did indeed want one?

Contract as a place, or as in wait until it reaches the US, switch providers to T-Mobile or whoever is going to get it and enter a contract?

Intelman said,
Contract as a place, or as in wait until it reaches the US, switch providers to T-Mobile or whoever is going to get it and enter a contract?


Yea, wait for the T-Mobile contract. It will probably be like $200 USD with a 2-year contract. Pretty good deal. But if you're in the UK, then idk if T-Mobile has or does contracts there, I know nothing about the UK.

It looks really nice, but I'm not sure I like the curve at the bottom. Seems like it would be really unconfortable to carry around like that. Interface looks nice though.

Marshalus said,
It looks really nice, but I'm not sure I like the curve at the bottom. Seems like it would be really unconfortable to carry around like that. Interface looks nice though.

HTC calls it 'personality' :P