HTC Legend review: A Hero becomes a Legend
GPS navigation lacks voice-guidance
The HTC Legend comes with a built-in GPS receiver. It was able to achieve satellite lock in just over two minutes without the A-GPS assistance which isn’t too bad at all.
Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and of course makes an appearance on the Legend as well. Its voice-guided navigation version, the Google Maps Navigation is available only in the US, but the rest of the world is in no luck here.
Out of the preinstalled apps on the HTC Legend, Google Maps is the only one to make use of the built-in digital compass. But if you'd like a real dedicated compass application, you can easily download one from the Android Market for free.
You can still plan a route and track your current location so it is better than nothing but you still have to rely on network data for downloading the map info. Unfortunately, the pinch-zooming was unavailable in Google Maps and you will have to live with the on-screen controls and double-tap zooming.
The Street View mode is supported in Google Maps and it’s probably the most fun part of Google Maps - it gives you a 360-degree view of the surroundings where it’s available. When the digital compass is turned on it feels like you’re taking a virtual tour of the location.
There isn’t another preinstalled navigation application, so if you want one, you will have to visit the Android market and pick one yourselves.
Android Market knows no slowdown
HTC Legend comes with a common HVGA display and runs Android 2.1 so the Android Market has quite a lot of stuff to offer for it. With the number of applications growing by the hour and no low-res restrictions, the choice of apps is quite impressive.
The structure of the Android Market is quite simple – featured apps on top and above them, three sections (Applications, Games and Downloads). There is also a shortcut up there for initiating a search.
The Applications and Games sections are divided into subsections (e.g. Communication, Entertainment etc.) so you can filter the apps that are relevant to you. Of course, there is also an option of displaying them all at once, but you will probably need days to browse them all that way.
Searching is very easy – just tap the search button, type what you’re looking for (e.g. “navigation”). From then on, it’s pretty easy to choose – each app has a rating, a short description by the author, user comments and screenshots.
There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and with the most vital ones covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.) the gap to the market-leading AppStore will hardly be felt.
Of course, 30000 or so apps is nowhere near what the iPhone users have at their disposal but no one actually installs thousands of apps so you will probably find what you are looking for here too. Besides the Android market is the one with the largest percentage of free apps across all platforms.
The HTC Legend has the tough task of filling the shoes of what was considered the best Android handsets. What makes this task even harder is the fact that the Hero lost its top-shelf status just before its successor was announced.
The HTC Desire, Google Nexus One and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 are now battling it out for a spot at the top of the Android food-chain and the HTC Legend has been relegated to the mid-range segment where fierce competition arises.
In theory the HTC Legend puts enough new stuff on the table to justify its existence. More RAM, faster CPU, AMOLED screen and aluminum unibody all sound like perfectly good reasons for an upgrade. The Android 2.1 is hardly a factor as the Hero's own Android 2.1 update is just around the corner. We will let you decide for yourselves if the rest of the upgrades are worth the price premium but both devices seem like a decent deal at this stage.
If you are looking to step outside the Sense UI world, you might also want to check out the Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica. Admittedly target at a bit younger audience than the Legend it comes at a lower price for a similar package but lacks the shiny aluminum case, which might or might not matter to you.
If it has to be AMOLED then the Samsung I7500 Galaxy is even willing to throw DivX and XviD support to the mix. Again it's not quite the looker but offers a viable alternative to those wanting to save a few bucks but do insist on those deep blacks that only OLED screens can provide.
Of course, the Android fans wanting the ultimate performance will have to dig deeper in their pockets and reach for one of the abovementioned trio - HTC Desire, Google Nexus One and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10. The three 1GHz Snapdragon-powered handsets have the speed and plenty of it. Plus you can pick between an 8 megapixel snapper and an AMOLED display.
There are also some HTC Legend alternatives outside the Android world. For about the same kind of cash you can get an unlocked iPhone 3G and sacrifice some hardware power for access to one of the richest mobile AppStores and all the consequent fun. You can also wait a few weeks for the HTC HD Mini and have a taste of the Sense UI running on WinMo 6.5.
So the HTC Legend certainly has a competitor or two for its place under the sun, but it looks well prepared to tackle them. With the Android platform expanding as rapidly as nothing else we have seen before, chances are there will be enough customers out there for it.
It will probably fail to achieve the iconic status of its predecessor, but that is a task given to the HTC Desire. However reaching a similar amount of sales is on the cards, which leads to better support for the owners, which in turns makes the HTC Legend an even better deal.