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HTC Desire: The Verdict

Posted by on 20 June 2010

Long before the term ‘smartphone’ was invented, I knew I needed one. I was always lugging around an organizer of some sort and I’ve always wished there was a faster, more efficient way of keeping track of my appointments, phone numbers, and other frequently used data. And I’ve always thought perhaps there was some way of incorporating all that in my mobile phone.


The first smartphone I ever owned was a Palm Treo. I loved its fast startup, its stability, its ability to switch from one program to another with ease. But then the screen got damaged and I couldn’t get a replacement for it. So I bid goodbye to my Palm Treo.

Then I had a Dopod 838Pro. It was big and heavy like a small brick but it had WiFi, bluetooth, and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a combination of features that no other smartphone had at that time. It had a great dialing feature — I’d dial the first few numbers or letters of a person’s name and the Dopod 838Pro would give me suggestions that matched those criteria, either by number or by letters. Unfortunately, it ran on Windows Mobile, which meant extremely slow startup and constant unexplained freezing.

You can imagine my excitement when the iPhone was first unveiled. Long before it reached Malaysian shores, DH somehow managed to secure one unit. So if you look closely at my unboxing video at the portion where I was putting in the SIM card, you’ll notice that there’s a small cut-out on the SIM. That was to accommodate a wafer-thin SIM-like device that I had to put in together with my SIM just so I could use the iPhone with my local number.

How I loved the iPhone’s slim profile, its crystal-clear screen, and the almost magical way with which one can pinch and swipe to zoom in and out and browse images and documents. But I hated the absence of an onscreen keyboard, made worse by the iPhone’s pathetic predictive text feature. And its 3-megapixel camera is such a disappointment with its grainy images.

Hence, despite the introduction of the iPhone 3Gs, I stood my ground and resisted the temptation to join the iPhone bandwagon. That’s because the camera is still crappy. And so is its built-in predictive text app.

Then came the unexpected opportunity to try the HTC Desire. I deliberately avoided reading any review so as not to taint my perception of the phone. Nor did I read the manual — it’s my litmus test for user-friendliness. And you know what? I was blown away by the phone’s features. By its speed. And its stability. And its user-friendliness. I only opened the manual once and that was merely to double-check the method of opening the cover because it felt kinda stuck and I didn’t want to risk breaking it.

The HTC Desire is not perfect, as I wrote in a previous post. But there are so many things about it that I love.

1. I love its intuitive text input system, which is a thousand times better than the iPhone’s. I send text messages in English, Malay, Indonesian, Cebuano, Tagalog, French or a mixture thereof and it remembers the new words that I use. It even remembers which words I use most often. Somehow, it almost always gives the most logical word choices even as I type just the first few letters of the word. And even though I misspell my words, it’s uncanny how it can suggest the word that I actually intended to type in the first place.

2. I love its uber-cool People program that allows me to link my contact’s details from Facebook, from Gmail, from everywhere…then lists in separate tabs all my emails, calls and text messages for and from that same person. Perfect for refreshing my memory about someone just before a business meeting…and for stalker-type folks ;)

3. I love its gorgeous screen that elicits gasps and wonder for its crystal-clear images and for its wondrous but battery-draining live wallpaper feature.

4. I love its intelligent dialing capabalities, a carryover from its Dopod 838Pro days. All I must do is type in the first few numbers or the first few letters of the name of the person whom I want to call, then it gives me a list of possible contacts who match such criteria.

5. I love its 5-megapixel camera, which can switch from still camera to video camera almost effortlessly; whose settings I can tweak to my heart’s desire — contrast, brightness, saturation, sharpness, white balance, ISO, metering mode, self-timer, focus mode; for giving me the options to have my photograph in grayscale, sepia, negative, solarize, posterize. The camera’s not as good as the one in my Nokia N82…but very, very close.

6. I love its removable battery, which means I should be able to buy a spare one somewhere.

7. I love the fact that it comes with a MicroSD card, from which I can get the contents via USB card reader. External memory is always good, just in case something happens to the phone *knock on wood*.

8. I love its smooth integration with Google — emails, contacts, calendar.

9. I love its amazing visible pattern security system in lieu of a password. And I love even more its backup plan: when I forgot my visible pattern, it gave me the chance to unlock it by logging on to my Gmail account.

10. I love its seemingly magical way of auto-adjusting the width of the text when I zoom in and out as I browse the internet.

All in all, the HTC Desire is a great device for someone who values practicality over branding, for someone whose job can benefit from the HTC Desire’s Calendar, calculator, Quickoffice and numerous productivity apps, for someone who wants his/her online life simplified — Twitter, Facebook, email, browsing the Net, sharing photos online. The HTC Desire is beauty and functionality in the same package. Yes, there are some compromises — that’s why I call it ‘great’ instead of ‘perfect’.

And so my two-week test drive of the HTC Desire comes to an end. Thank you, Maxis, for giving me the opportunity to take part in this amazing social media marketing experiment. It’s been a real blast. Should you need my services again, you know how to find me ;)

As for all of you who have been following my blog from the beginning, thank you for putting up with my HTC posts. I realise they’re not the usual topics usually covered here but gadgets ARE close to my heart and, just like any other gadget geek, whenever I get a new toy, I just can’t help but talk about it for weeks on end. That’s how I ended up writing mostly about the HTC Desire during the entire review period instead of writing such articles in between my usual posts. My apologies for that.

For whatever reason you are reading my blog right now, I hope you’ll find yourself entertained with this short feature film that I worked on during our usual two-hour lunch break last Friday, which I edited Friday night and most of Saturday morning under the watchful eyes of my most unforgiving critics — my children. (‘Feature film’ sounds so much more exotic than ‘short movie’ right?) Enjoy! :)

Ahh, my Desire… how can I possibly live without you now, after having known what life is like when you’re with me?

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