It’s been over a year since HTC gave us a QWERTY messenger. But they still have it in them obviously. The Desire Z is a solid smartphone package with premium finish and a keyboard to be proud of.
Of course, the hardware is just one side of the coin. With the latest Android v2.2 Froyo inside and the updated HTC Sense UI (with remote services via HTCSense.com), there is hardly anything missing. They’ve even added Xvid and DivX video support (about time, really) – not to mention the HTC exclusive fast boot.
There are plenty of smart messengers out there, but only two of them enjoy Android Froyo – the Motorola MILESTONE 2 and the Samsung Galaxy 551.
The Motorola MILESTONE 2 costs about the same as the HTC Desire Z and offers a similar set of features. In case you’re undecided about those two, we guess you’ll have to pick the right interface for you – HTC Sense or MOLOBLUR.
The Samsung Galaxy 551 will be about 130 euro cheaper and that’s fair we guess: it doesn’t have the fast processor, the high-res screen or the storage space. It’s expected to be released this month, so if the Galaxy 551 catches your eye you’ll have to wait a bit.
Looking for Droid messengers further afield, the fancy Motorola BACKFLIP and the smallish Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro are some options to consider too. Both handsets are at least half the price of the Desire Z and feature good mid-range specs. The BACKFLIP’s biggest problem is the outdated Android 1.5 OS, which is already due for an E'clair release but only stateside. The X10 mini pro has already been updated to 2.1 Eclair (worldwide), but it will probably never get Froyo.
If a full hardware keyboard is your next phone’s key ingredient, we’d better step outside Android and broaden the search.
Over at Symbian, we find the Nokia C6-00 and the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro. Both phones cost about 230-250 euro and have great messaging and solid imaging.
At the Symbian high-end, the Nokia E7 is emphatically in charge. It should be released around the end of the year, on the same OS as the bestselling N8 – Symbian^3. There is no word on pricing yet, but it shouldn’t be more expensive than the Desire Z.
And before we run the credits, there is one more phone that comes to mind – the HTC 7 Pro. It looks much like the Desire Z and has matching specs but it runs Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 7. It’s yet to be released, but its pre-order price tag is about 600 euro, which is at least 70 euro more than the Desire Z. But then again, if you are into trying out WP7 with a QWERTY control board, you’ll have to wait a few weeks.
Android 2.2 Froyo is a natural fit for the Desire Z hardware and delivers excellent user experience. The Sense gets better with every new release and continues to be one of the best custom UIs to date. The Desire Z also offers a great QWERTY keyboard, HD video recording and extensive video codec support. It looks like a great package and sure acts like one most of the time.