HTC Hero review: Born to rise

GSMArena team, 06 August 2009.
Pages: 12345678910»

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Introduction

In the beginning there was G1: the frontline trooper, the mean machine, the expendable GI. Elsewhere, in the HTC discourse, it was hope and vision. Well, it seems the dreamer's Dream is coming true and someone there is really proud with what they've done. HTC Hero is perhaps the most advanced Android to date. And the OS is probably the closest the competition has ever come to the iPhone's touchscreen revelation. The bold lines of the HTC Hero are just a hint at its superior hardware and when it comes to homescreen kit and widgets, it definitely has an edge even over the iPhone.

HTC and their Hero are finally bringing the fledgling new Android OS up to speed and up to par. Not that a Hero is badly needed to save the day for either HTC or the Android OS, but inspiration is always welcome. Having made their name in Windows Mobile, HTC probably most appreciate the creative break from the Microsoft mobile OS that's become a habit (and a curse) for them. It would be too much to call it a plan B, but after all business is propelled by competition - even if it's household.

HTC Hero press photos HTC Hero press photos HTC Hero press photos HTC Hero press photos
HTC Hero press photos

Designwise, the HTC Hero brings even more style to the Android family. Breaking with the full QWERTY heritage but keeping the trademark angled chin, the Hero continues the tradition of slim full-touch phones much along the lines of HTC Magic that we also recently reviewed.

But today's story is a Hero's tale, and you can bet we've got one here to inspect. Let's kick it off with a rundown of the key specs and the main letdowns that we've found so far.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps
  • Heavily customized (in both graphics and performance) Android OS v1.5 (Sense UI)
  • 3.2" capacitive touchscreen of HVGA resolution
  • Qualcomm MSM 7200A 528 MHz CPU, 288 MB RAM
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with video recording
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and GPS receiver
  • Trackball navigation
  • Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate and turn-to-mute
  • Digital compass for automatic navigation of maps
  • Multi-touch zooming in gallery and web browser
  • Standard miniUSB port for charging and data
  • Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP)
  • microSD card slot with support for up to 8GB cards (2GB one included)
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Direct access to the official Android repository
  • Web browser comes with Flash support
  • Smart dialing
  • Tethering support right out-of-the-box

Main disadvantages

  • No video-call camera
  • No FM radio
  • No camera flash, dedicated shutter key or lens cover
  • Camera features are a bit outdated
  • CIF@15fps video recording (352 x 288 pixels) is below par
  • No TV-out port
  • No voice dialing
  • Flash video playback is laggy
  • No DivX or XviD video support
  • Poor MP4 playback performance - barely watchable in video resolution above QVGA
  • No Bluetooth file transfers (not without rooting)
  • No proper file manager (not without rooting)

The HTC Hero is hitting the shelves in two main colors - white and brown. The white is said to have the supposed advantage of some sort of super duper Teflon coating. No, it won't cook more healthy food for you but should keep away dirt and fingerprints alike.

The brown variety purportedly doesn't have this kind of coating, but we can't really comment on that having not seen both paintjobs. No matter what color you choose however, the frame around the display is finished in very classy brushed aluminum.

HTC Hero HTC Hero HTC Hero HTC Hero
HTC Hero live studio shots

But if it so happens that black's what turns you on, the HTC Hero borne on the T-Mobile waves, a.k.a. T-Mobile G2 Touch, has only recently been announced and it's got that delightfully exclusive black armor.

Well, black, white or brown, we sure plan to have the Android reveal its true color. We got the white-clad Hero to test and, as you can guess, we're more than eager to jot down all the little bits and pieces that make it stand out of the Android crowd.

Heroes are made and unmade in the blink of an eye but telling their story right sure takes longer. So, there we go - follow us to the hero's chamber…

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