One of the handsets that the Android community in India has been eagerly waiting for has been the Desire. True it's been here, in an unofficial capacity for quite a while now, but for those who prefer the company bills and warranties, it's officially here now. I'm very appreciate of the readers who sent in their experiences of using the HTC Desire, it helped take into account long time usage and issues while I conducted my own testing. Here's what I Think.

Form Factor
I'm not going to go into detail again about the design, but I will say that I found the handset to be a comfortable device to use and carry. The one thing that I was not very happy about was that it comes with very limited on-board memory and no hot swap for the MicroSD memory card. The optical trackball does add a bit of versatility to menu navigation and most importantly gives you an option from smudging the screen with swipes and such. I much prefer the tactile buttons to touch sensitive versions on HTC devices so that’s another one up for the Desire. The display is clear and crisp (except in direct sunlight where you'll need to adjust the brightness level) with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution (3.7-inch).

The USB/Charging port is placed at the bottom (always a good place) with the 3.5mm handsfree at the top near the screen lock/power key. Volume keys are on one side. I would have preferred a dedicated shutter release button for the camera instead of having to use the trackball, but I got over it.

Here’s what some our readers say about the design –
I am using the Desire (Factory Unlocked GSM version) for the last two months. I chose it over Samsung Galaxy S because of its metal casing (much sturdier than the Galaxy), it’s Sleek, easy to hold in your hand and has a sturdy casing. It also has a great screen with vibrant colors and good responsiveness to finger gestures.- Deb

Yes, there are some small issues like screen going washed out in direct sunlight…but that is with most of smart phones… hence it is not a very great deal. – Prakhar

Features and Performance

HTC's Sense UI and pretty much all else runs as smooth as warm chocolate sauce running down a cool scoop of ice cream. There's no lag evident while navigating the menus, accessing heavy apps or the accelerometer when it switches orientation. Multitasking was also a seamless task. I had about 5-6 apps running at a time and still got all the speed I needed to do mundane tasks. The integration between your social networking accounts and the phone book contacts is definitely one the best when compared to other Android operating systems. Linking contacts to their social networking ID is almost automatic with a few stragglers here and there. Even with those, the UI gives you quick link options.

The OTA update to Froyo is out there already and does add quite a bit of additional functionality to the device however don’t expect any seriously outstanding additions that would blow your mind. Simple stuff and a slightly smoother running experience are part of the deal though.

Our readers had this to say –
There is only 512 MB space for apps. Though Froyo allows you to shift some apps to the SD Card, only few apps are compatible with this feature plus widgets do not work from SD Card. I often get the low space alert and have to delete some apps to continue. – Deb
At the heart of this powerhouse is 1Ghz Snapdragon processor which supplies the unit with unmatched prowess. Amazing usability with HTC Sense UI, no lag in changing screens or opening applications.- Meethal

One drawback in the Desire is the absence of a second MIC for Voice Cancellation. Very much needed in today's time. – Kanwar Brara

I think it's about time HTC cracked a deal with one of the companies that develops or provides audio engines for mobile handsets. The native player is just about adequate. I have no complaints about the quality of sound, but the decibel level should have been a little louder and I always prefer being able to adjust the audio to my personal preference. Thankfully The Android market does have a few alternatives to the native player. Videos, if converted right, look superb on the well lit display. The black levels are brilliant and viewing is very comfortable form any angle. Again I say, HTC should simply tie up with DivX and spare us the time consuming effort of having to convert videos to suite the phones, either that or provide us with software.

The FM radio also functioned adequately. Reception was not too bad in most places but almost zero while commuting. The voice recorder on board was quite an asset. It was able to clearly pick up vocals from a distance of over 2.5 feet.

Some readers had this to say –
Connect a good quality (like Creative EP630) earphones and you get a great quality music…it puts iPod to shame. – Prakhar

The Desire is well equipped for connectivity and thanks to Froyo one more addition was provided – 3G sharing via Wi-Fi so your handset becomes a Wi-Fi hot-spot for your laptop or any other device. Bluetooth with A2DP and USB 2.0 are part of the more standard options of connectivity. With Flash capabilities and Flash Player 10.1 the web experience just got upgraded to First Class. The browser performs brilliantly and you'll end up with as good an experience as using your laptop.

Social Networking in the way of Facebook for HTC Sense, FriendStream, Peeps for Twitter and Plurk, which HTC still seems to think is catching on, are on board. Updates can also be viewed directly from your phone book. News and weather widgets are provided so you know just what's going on and know just when to carry an umbrella respectively. Emailing from an Android handset is quite an easy task from set up to adding attachments and getting Push Mail or accessing your Microsoft Exchange accounts. Photos and videos also have a share option that will allow you to send media directly to any of your social network accounts or email addresses.

For GPS you'll have to suffice with Google Maps or download/install a third party application. Location based services like Places, Footprints for geotagging images with notes etc. and Google Latitude have also been preloaded onto the Desire.

GPS is great for use both with built in Navigation app and Google Maps. – Deb

Misc. Features
What's a very handy feature to have is the App Sharing application that's now pretty standard with HTC devices. It allows you to send applications via Bluetooth to other handsets. All basic applications like a stopwatch, world clock, timer, alarm, calculator and a calendar that syncs with Facebook’s for birthdays and other events and your Google account are present. A read only version of QuickOffice and Adobe's mobile PDF reader are also provided.

The 5MP camera comes with an LED flash. Its features include touch focus, face detection, a few scene modes, Brightness, contrast and sharpness adjustment, white balance and of course geotagging. The lack of a dedicated shutter release for the camera can sometimes make capturing images just a little uncomfortable. It can autofocus on its own and you simple have to press the optical trackpad to capture. It's simple, sure, but the dedicated key just makes holding the handset a little easier.

Image quality is quite impressive as 5MP camera phone's go, but the camera did seem to have wee bit of a problem focusing on objects closer to it (Macro), at least the ones you wanted to focus on.

Thanks to the Froyo Update you’ll now get 720p video recording as well.

About the camera a few readers said –
Very good camera with flash – the flash also doubles as a torch light in times of emergency. – Deb

Camera can be better. – Arun8gb

The camera is awesome and now with video recording in HD – Joshua

Unfortunately the battery life is the one major peeve I have with an otherwise more or less issue free device. After about 2 weeks of usage I was quite annoyed that I had to charge the handset practically everyday. After watching a single movie (2 hours) on a full charge, the battery was almost bone dry. Perhaps it could be an issue with this particular piece and I do hope it is, otherwise it takes the rating down considerably in my book. There was also the issue of heating up when used for long periods. I had the same problem with the Wildfire and a few other HTC devices. This seemed to be a generic issue and a few colleagues felt the hot sting of the handset when they used it in the same way.

Some of our readers had this to say about the battery life-
It's an unbelievable phone, I’ve been using it for the past 4 months now and I can’t think of anything that I would change, well except for the battery; it lasts for around 24hrs irrespective of your usage. After I’ve installed Froyo, it’s been even better. – Joshua

The battery life is barely acceptable … it lasts only about 8 hours of heavy usage. So if you are the kind who is mostly on the road, beware.- Deb

The Bottom Line
Aside from the battery problem, the Desire is a brilliant handset. It works like a charm and is capable of providing users with plenty of fluid functionality for all purposes. If it wasn't for that darn battery heating up and draining so quickly (a very generic issue according to readers), I would go straight down to the store and snatch this one up. For the price tag of Rs. 27,000, the HTC Desire, with its only flaw is still a handset worthy of consideration in the Android segment.   

Thanks to all the readers who sent in their feedback and experiences.

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