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back to article HTC Hero Android smartphone

HTC is currently balancing its prodigious smart phone output between its long-established Windows Mobile series of handsets and those running Google's Android operating system. The Hero follows the G1 and the Magic in HTC's Android line-up and comes with a fistful of updates. These include a new user interface, multi-touch …

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Good review

Re: the keyboard, people should check out the newly-released TouchPal keyboard on the market, it's much better than both the HTC and the standard Android IMEs.

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FAIL

Features removed in the UK

BUYER BEWARE- The magic has loads of features removed by the UK networks. I'm betting the same will happen with the Hero.

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Happy

Boom

Does it explode like the iPhone?

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(Written by Reg staff)

@AC

Since the iPhone doesn't explode, the answer is surely 'no'.

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@Buyer beware

Erm, no, the Magic does not have features removed by the networks, it's a Google-branded phone and therefore has to pass various strict guidelines and has to have a particular ROM installed. If anything, the Hero has a bunch of non-Google-supported extras which mean that potentially it'll take longer to get ROM updates (e.g., Donut) because HTC may have to spend more time testing on the Hero than on Google-experience devices.

If you're referring to the discrepancy between

http://www.htc.com/www/product/magic/product-tour.html

and what comes on, say, a Vodafone HTC Magic, then it's exactly as I describe; the Exchange Sync and other features are HTC proprietrary add-ons which are not certified as part of a Google Experience device. For example, Google are developing their own Exchange Sync functionality (rumoured to be part of Donut), rather than use HTC's reportedly hacky implementation.

Oh, and if you're going to post scaremongering tosh like that, you should at least

a) give some details (i.e., what features are removed)

b) give a link to sites with more info and

c) not post as AC.

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I got one

It's a cracking phone, but you need to remove the touchflo gubbins to get the performance up to par. A bit of tweaking and it's faster than the 3GS for most things. Unlike the iphone however media playback is an afterthought, for example the media playback isn't gapless, so bear that in mind when purchasing.

The background apps and notifications are fantastic and the reason I gave the iphone to the missus. Also even though the app store has 'less' in sheer numbers, it makes up for it in breadth and depth. For example one app runs as a service and copies your SMS messages to your gmail account with a special label. Also there are real alternative browsers and the sync with your google account is amazing. I can't imagine Apple allowing any of the above on their app store, lest it leave less room for fart apps.

Well recommended, but like the iphone make sure it's right for you.

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Incorrect assumption

"where they're awkward for right-handers to reach – rather than being spaced evenly around the trackball."

This is incorrect. Putting the buttons on the right makes it easier for you to use them when you're right handed as the device is touch screen people tend to hold touch screen devices with their left hand, the buttons are therefore within thumb distance, and the right hand is used for pointing at the screen.

There's tonnes of research to support this.

I'd say it does make it difficult for left handers to use though.

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@[AC] Features removed in the UK

Erm, like what?! I haven't found anything not available (other then US only items on the app market). Sure networks block a few apps, but generally, everything works.

A friend has the Hero - again, everything is working on it.

Good review. The phone is really like a magic ver2, or a g1 ver3. The HTC interface is really nice, although I prefer the vanilla android; but I hope some of the sense features are ported into donut/android 2.0

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Happy

Introducing...

Jay Leno: The Phone.

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Sounds like it's getting there..

My next phone will be Android-based. I will probably wait another iteration or two for them to iron the slow response. I would also prefer it if they dropped the camera functionality as I prefer to use a proper camera and can barely recall the last time I used a phone's camera.

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Usefulness of the 'chin'

Having dropped my new Hero in the pavement over the weekend I can confirm that the chin is very good at stopping the screen hitting flush onto concrete.

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@Features removed in the UK

Can you tell us what features were removed on the Magic?

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Saw this phone last week...

...a mate of mine runs a very popular smart phone site and I got to play around with it for a bit.

Works nicely but the graphics did seem a little sluggish to my eye. Just needs a little more power or tweaking. Looks and feels nice and plain too, which is a compliment. I hate jazzy, crowd pleasing phones.

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@Buyer Beware

What sort of features? I've got one of these and all the features, including MS Exchange (removed from other models I know) that were mentioned in the review are present.

Totally agree with this review by the way. The UI is great and although the temptation is high to install loads and loads of widgets (slowing the phone down), it is still a really good alternative to the iPhone and apps like 'Shop Savvy' which scans barcodes and allows you to check online and local prices quickly will impress your mates if you feel that need :-)

Last note, once you get over the novelty of trying all the widgets and apps, use a tool like 'Taskiller' to stop the processes you are using and the phone does perk up a lot!

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The UI looks pretty...

...but why waste about a third of the screen space by sticking an email in a small box in the middle of the screen? Seems odd.

Unless you can touch it again to make it full screen or something.

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Great phone (after Treo 650)

Personally, I find the phone (Orange Contract) fast and responsive, particularly after a Treo. Battery life is a little short (a day of intensive usage or 1.5-2 days otherwise) but not terrible and I have ordered a spare battery for periods when I may be away from a charger for a day or more. And it comes with a full complement of features and does not appear to have any removed. There are no restrictions about installing signed (from the Android Market) or unsigned applications (from websites).

I find the on-screen keyboard surprisingly good - better than the hardware version on my Treo - although this is partly due to an effective predictive text / autocorrect function which deals with most of the errors I make.

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Got one now (T-Moby G2 Touch)

I've had the Hero (rebranded on T-Moby) for a week or so now, and it's a nice phone, and felt the review was spot on. Main gripes are a slow processor, and stupid portrait keyboard, and no way to calibrate the screen?

Other than that, loving it, wanting to splash a little cash on the market, but nothing caught my eye yet! No idea how they charge, does anyone know?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

"BUYER BEWARE- The magic has loads of features removed by the UK networks. I'm betting the same will happen with the Hero."

Such as?

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Spot on

I've had the HTC Hero (branded the G2 touch on T-Mobile) for just over a week now and agree with the reviewer. Really does need more RAM, especially when using the messaging widget which can become laggy if you have a long conversation by text.The flash player is OK, still not 100% but a step forward. Whilst the web browsing is pretty much everything you could want from a mobile phone. It does require a reboot every couple of days to speed it up a little bit, but appart from that its a great phone. All of the services listed in the review were on the handset that I recieved from Tmobile.

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Great phone but,...

calling it "Hero" is a terrible idea. Why not call it the 'Little Dick", or the "Wannabe", the "Sado", the "this will make everyone like me" or the "Better than you" - (all real looser names). The phone is great but in the west, the name is laughably lame.

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Sync software

The Android sync software is on the included MicroSD card, at least it is when coming from T-Mobile UK.

@AC - got a link for the features removed from Magic?

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Don't see the lag??

I'd had T-mobile's version of the Hero for the past week and I haven't really came across much lag except for a noticable half second when flipping the orientation from portrait to landscape or vice versa.

One of the first things I did though was download a task manager from the Android market to let me easily clear "closed" programs that were still using the CPU. It's amazing the number of programs that stay running even after being "closed" don't know if this is a Sense UI thing or an Andriod thing.

Coming from an N95, the phone is fantastic but the camera is rubbish and lack of a flash really is a pain.

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hoping...

to get one of these in september for free lol

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Sync

The HTC Sync app (and the full manual) are included on the SD card.

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Too.... "chinny"

The chin alone completely sways it for me. I put my phone in my trouser pocket and there is no way that chin will look normal.

I'm hoping that the samsung i7500 Galaxy (due to be released this week) is a more pocketable way to get an android phone.

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@Tony Smith

You _are_ familiar with something called 'Google' ?

Try it. Plenty of references to exploding iPhones, and not all of them were in mid-hack at the time

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Grenade

@Boom - Exploding phone - cool!

They don't explode, but you might be onto a worthwhile feature. Obviously with remote activate - if some little scrote knicks your phone, you can send a detonate signal.

If he's using the phone, you get some instant justice (through hand removal - he'll never steal more than two of THESE phones!), if it's in his trouser pocket, our thieving lowlife had better say goodbye to his two best friends.

Brings a whole new meaning to 'hotline'.

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Jobs Horns

I do love it!

The is a good reason for the chin - if the phone is ever face down, the screen can't get scratched... that and it feels "snugger" in the hand...

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@samo, recalibrate the screen

Settings -> Locate & text -> Touch input -> Text input -> Calibration tool.

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RE: Missing "Features"

I'm presuming the person means missing hardware? The Magic on Voda was missing 90mb ram compared to the HTC branded phones? I'm presuming thats the crippled you mean?

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Time for Apple to update iPhone

Think Apple need to update the iPhone and allow customisable home screens and not just a screen with lots of icons on it. I think that is the Hero's biggest selling point.

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HTC need to work on their software

interesting that folks are noticing that the TouchFlo stuff on Android slows their phone down. I had a TouchPro/Fuze/Raphael and thought it was sluggish and underpowered until I worked out how to disable TouchFlo and now it's a great phone (replaced their UI with another 3rd party shell... while I like the capabilities of Windows Mobile it's not that pretty!)

Looks like HTC need to get their software/UI folks really taking advantage of the hardware that (apart from camera and battery life) seems to be pretty good

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Had mine for a few days now...

Really like it - the chin is unobtrusive (thank goodness), and the interface pretty slick.

Yes it pauses occasionally, but it's a mobile device, not a quad core PC. I'm really very happy, but would like to be able to use multiple google accounts (at last count I had 4 apps accounts and a personal one).

I'd also like a decent agenda applet - which can hide various calendars on request, but those are minor niggles.

Major thumbs up from me (especially as it cost me rather less than £400 :)

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mate of mine got one the other week

I took a look at it and have to say it is a very nice phone indeed. This made me seriously think about getting a non-Nokia handset for the first time since 2004 (although, in saying that , Nokia also helped with that choice).

The build quality is great and the way the phone just works is awesome. Unless more details emerge on the Nokia N900, then an Android based handset will be the way I go when it comes to upgrade.

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Happy

Exploding iPhone

Tony, here is some literature for your peruse!

- http://news.spong.com/article/18810/Apple-Attempts-to-Silence-Exploding-iPod-Girl

- http://www.hackint0sh.org/forum/f127/4019.htm

- http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/mix-lobby-exploding-iphone-sony-amazon/11323

- http://thebatterytimes.com/2009/04/06/exploding-iphone-battery/

So is your iPhone the 3GS?

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(Written by Reg staff)

@AC

One of the stories relates to an iPod allegedly exploding. Two others relate to iPhones blowing up while their owners were messing around with the device's internals. The fourth centres on a secondhand iPhone 2G that no one knows what the previous owner(s) did with it.

No swallows, no spring.

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@Tony Chandler

"..but why waste about a third of the screen space by sticking an email in a small box in the middle of the screen? Seems odd."

If you don't like it, you can change it. The level of customisation and the large choice of widgets to display things like, email, texts, weather, RSS etc on the 7 home screens is one of the big selling points of Android! :-)

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re: the Jay Leno effect

I have a G2 Touch aka the Hero and the "chin" has no impact at all in terms of fitting in jean's pockets - I can't really notice the chin at all.

I don't really find the phone sluggish either.

It gets a definite "thumbs up" from me.

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@ Lutin & Android market crap

"The chin alone completely sways it for me. I put my phone in my trouser pocket and there is no way that chin will look normal."

So no "are you glad to see me" jokes for you then :-)

I just did a look at the app market for Android, you know, as a potential customer like me would - I can browse through the App store on iTunes no problem. It tells me (I quote) "For a comprehensive, up-to-date list of the thousands of titles that are available, you will need to view Android Market on a handset."

Well, that's a 100% fail for this concept then - I'm not going to install an emulator just because someone doesn't grok "open". Pathetic.

And I have some apps I bought for the iPhone (I had a company one for a while) so I guess I'll just stick with that and buy a 3GS iPhone, or maybe wait to see what the next iStuff is (I'm OK with a dumb phone if I could have an active tablet, so I hope that's what's coming).

I'm all for new and open, but the above approach is not helpful. The iPhone works for me, I'm willing to put up with some deficiencies as long as it does what I need it to do - although I will give awards to app developers that are bright enough to offer options NOT to use the accelerometers so that you can turn the screen a bit without having to suffer it turning.

I'll try again in a year - that's roughly my renewal time. Missed opportunity IMHO.

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Flame

Re. "exploding iPhones"

" The fourth centres on a secondhand iPhone 2G that no one knows what the previous owner(s) did with it."

Firstly, phones don't explode: batteries do. Lithium and water react violently and extremely exothermically. *All* the major mobile phone manufacturers, including the likes of Sony and Nokia, have had reports of exploding phones. There's a damned good reason why Lithium-based batteries have "Do not dissassemble, puncture, crush, heat or burn" notices printed on them (and in a nearby user guide) in big, easy-to-read letters.

From the articles I've read on that incident, the iPhone seemed to be giving serious problems long before the battery failed, including high-pitched squealing noises and a blurry screen. These are rather blatant symptoms of something being very, very wrong with the device.

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Anonymous Coward

Quite nice. Room for improvement

It's HTC's custom widgets with their aggressive update and processing policies that are the main cause of performance problems. Their alternative home-screen (TouchFLO) with only standard android widgets and short-cuts performs about the same as Android's standard one, and it's easy to switch between them. All in all I'm quite happy with it. It's a giant step performance-wise compared to my old Nokia and Ericsson smartphones.

My wish-list for improvements include:

1. It should be built to IPX7 standard (shock + waterproof). I'd like to use it as a replacement for the GPS on my mountainbike, and for hiking.

2. AMOLED would be a huge advantage on a phone. Simple status-display applications (gps tracker/speedometer etc) that need to disable the screen-saver could then be designed to use very little power as only the illuminated pixels draws significant power.

3. Proper camera optics with min 3x optical zoom should become standard on this type of devices.

4. The GPS-receiver is currently the biggest power drain (next to the screen) on a phone like this. Run a simple tracker, and the battery is empty in a few hours. There are new GPS-receiver chips in the pipeline which draw only about 1/50 of the power the current circuits use. Those should be available for such devices in a year or two.

5. A more powerful CPU would be nice, but only as long as it flexible wrt power consumption and workload.

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Position of zoom/return buttons

By the way, for those questioning the position of the buttons, it actually makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that the Android platform supports landscape mode when you turn the device. The landscape mode will result in the trackball on the right-hand side, with the zoom and 'back' buttons placed above it, for convenient pushing with the thumb.

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Looks really nice..

I'm an iPhone addict but that looks really nice...hopefully the software gets optimized or the CPU/RAM gets upgraded in the next version....competition is goood :D

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proper WiFi

when oh when is the Android stack going to offer proper WiFi support - viz a viz WPA2 Enterprise ?

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Go

@Paul E

Thanks a bunch, for some reason i was expecting it to be under "display settings, not buried 6 million menus under locale and text... Silly me :)

seriously though, thanks :)

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Troll

The reason it's called hero...

@Sarah Davis, have you seen my Hero?

</sarcasm>

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@Fred Flintstone - browsing for apps

It is a bit gash that Google's own Market website only allows you to browse about 0.1% of the apps available for Android. But you can browse them all here: http://www.cyrket.com/ and even get an RSS feed of new/updated apps as they become available.

It really is about time http://www.android.com/market/ was updated with full app search though. I've raised this with the UK Android Advocate, but I think they're concentrating resources on improving the Android OS rather than satellite stuff like the website.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Sean Keeney

Quote: "Also there are real alternative browsers and the sync with your google account is amazing. I can't imagine Apple allowing any of the above on their app store, lest it leave less room for fart apps."

There are many real alternative browsers for the iPhone OS on the App store already if you can be bothered to look, one of which, iCab Mobile, is much superior to anything else out there on any other mobile platform (including Mobile Safari). Seriously, if you are going to post FUD at least pick an app or category where Apple is failing with the App Store, such as Google Voice, tethering apps, etc.

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Grenade

Android market browser

If you want an up to date look at the android market, and search for stuff with a web browser, you use http://www.cyrket.com/ IIRC this is something one of the android app developers came up with a while back.

I am in the middle of a G1 contract although it is running really happily with the android developer phone software on it. I see they have fixed my only bugbear with the G1 in the hero: the lack of a headphone jack. As long as there is an android phone available with a full 3.5" headphone jack and not the craptastic 2.5 or extended mini usb thing I will definately get another one.

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