Yeah, sure, you're waiting on T-Mobile's myTouch 3G (with Google!) to hit retail outlets, but you're really curious about how the other half is living. And you know darn well that in the age of InterWebs and Blogospheres, one opinion is never enough.
You've seen John's videos and read his full-length review, and now you're ready for another take - and yes, some dogfight videos - on HTC's new Flagship Android phone, the aptly named Hero. HTC sent us one Hero to test and review for a few weeks. John got it first since he's our resident Android expert, and went to the launch in London and all. But then I pulled rank and made him send it to me.
Hero arrived on my doorstep Saturday morning, and I've been using it as my personal phone for the past few days. My thoughts?
- Like John says, the virtual QWERTY is fantastic. Better than the stock Android keyboard by a long shot, and arguably better than iPhone's. Why? Two reasons: Multitouch and autocomplete. Multitouch makes two-thumbed typing much easier than G1/myTouch's single-touch system, and HTC's done a bang-up job of customizing the software that powers the keyboard and the autocomplete/correct system. I'm having some issues with accidentally hitting the period key when I'm reaching for the Space Bar with my right thumb, but in general I'm loving the virtual touch type experience on Hero, despite the fact that its screen is noticeably smaller than iPhone's.
- The Hardware is really nice. I like myTouch 3G because it's nice and light and plasticky in a fun, colorful way. I like Hero because it's solid and luxurious feeling without being overly heavy. The display is maybe a wee bit small for power users, but it also makes the device small enough overall for easy one-handed use.
- Multitouch display + trackball = awesome
- Yes, there's a lag. HTC's "Sense" UI is chock full of cool widgets, but the more I use the device the more widgets I'm turning off and deleting from the seven - count 'em, seven - home screens. The lag still persists. HTC says they're working on software optimizations to ease the slowness, and mine is not a retail unit. But still, it's too bad that the slowness detracts from the neato design and features running wild through Sense.
- Speaking of neato, the "People" app is super neato. Logging into a Google account pulls your calendar, contacts, and GMail info from the cloud like on any Android device, but Hero goes one better by linking to Facebook and Flickr accounts, too. I hate going to Facebook.com these days, but linking Hero to my FB account lets me see my friends' photo and status updates, and event info (like birthdays) in the context of my phone's address book. That's super cool.
- 3.5mm headphone jack FTW! Yeah, myTouch comes with a dongle, but I hate dongles. I loaded some music onto Hero's microSD card and plugged it into my car stereo and the aux jack of a radio in my house without the need for any adapters.
- Web browsing is better on Hero than G1/myTouch because of multitouch. But the browser doesn't render quite as quickly as iPhone's browser does (they're both WebKit-based, hence the comparison). I'm trying to track down a Palm Pre for more comparisons.
- I absolutely hate the stock Android GMail app. HTC's included Mail app is better - it's like the Mail preview in TouchFlo 3D, but backed by a simple but effective full-on app.
- I'm having some issues with the phone losing my home WiFi network when it goes to sleep. I haven't yet investigated, but it's not a problem I've had with the myTouch 3G I'm currently testing.
- Hero's music player is pretty nice. Better than the stock Android player, and I like that I can control music play back via touchscreen controls when the rest of the display is still locked.
Alright, that's enough for now. Back to testing. Dogfights, full reviews, and all sorts of other stuff Hero and myTouch 3G coming soon. Stay tuned.