HTC Desire on U.S. Cellular

It took half a year, but, finally, the HTC Desire has come to America. Announced at Mobile World Congress in February 2010, the Desire -- codenamed the Bravo -- brought an all-new interface -- Sense -- to Android 2.1, all tucked into a phone that essentially is the Nexus One, with a few tweaks.

Come Aug. 27, the HTC Desire will be available on U.S. Cellular, with its 1GHz Snapdragon processor, Sense UI -- and the new SLCD touchscreen, which replaces the AMOLED screen that's seen shortages of late. Is it worth the wait? Find out, after the break.

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U.S. Cellular HTC DesireThis is going to be a slightly abbreviated review. We've covered HTC Sense at length (read our initial review) and have reviewed it on a number of phones (HTC Aria, Evo 4G, Droid Incredible, HTC Legend). And aside from minor tweaks, Sense is Sense, and it's Sense on the Desire.

What you get with the Desire is basically a Nexus One with Sense, physical buttons, and a trackpad button instead of the trackball. Really, that's about it, as far as noticeable differences go.

OK, that's not entirely true. The U.S. Cellular version of the Desire has a 3.7-inch SLCD touchscreen (at 800x480 pixels) manufactured by Sony, instead of the Samsung AMOLED screen seen on the original version of the Desire, Nexus One and Droid Incredible. The reason for the change, quite simply, is that Samsung has had problems keeping up with demand for the AMOLED screens, leading to major shortages and backordered phones. So, HTC made the switch.

Using the SLCD Desire on its own, you likely won't think anything of it. Colors are well-reproduced, though there's still a slight bit of banding on gradients, but definitely less than the Nexus One. Put the SLCD Desire alongside a Nexus One and its AMOLED screen, however, and differences are a little more apparent. Colors are a little softer, more muted. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll trade softer colors for less banding.

HTC Desire with SLCD (left) and the Nexus One with AMOLED
Desire with SLCD (left), and Nexus One with AMOLED

Take 'em both outdoors, and, well, sunlight is sunlight.

In your hand, the Desire and Nexus One feel nearly identical. There's a an extra facet on the side bezels of the desire, giving it a slightly less rounded feel. But unless you're looking for it, you probably won't even notice.

HTC Desire (top) and Nexus OneHTC Desire (top) and Nexus One

The physical buttons are a nice change, given that the Nexus One's capacitive buttons have had a bit of an accuracy problem -- you'd need to tap slightly above where you'd expect. I find the Nexus One's trackball to be a little more accurate in selecting text than the trackpad, but that might just because I'm more used to it.

Missing from the Desire are the charging contacts on the bottom bezel, so you won't be using your Nexus One desktop dock or car down with the Desire. (Actually, it fits in the car dock, but just barely, and you won't be charging with it.)

HTC Desire (bottom) and Nexus OneHTC Desire (right) and Nexus One

Under the hood you have a 1GHZ Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM. Surprisingly, the phone is only reporting about 123MB available, which really isn't that much. That'll burden be lessened slightly once the Desire gets an Android 2.2 update and you can move apps to the SD card, but still, it's surprisingly low. The phone comes with a 1400mAh battery rated at up to 5 hours' talk time.

HTC Desire (left) and Nexus One

The Desire has a 5MP camera with autofocus. The video camera records at VGA (640x480) resolution by default, though you can up it to 800x480 or 1280x720 for better quality.

HTC Desire (left) and Nexus One

U.S. Cellular hasn't loaded too much of its own software on the Desire. There's a Telenav-powered navigation app (in addition to Google Maps), the My Contacts Backup app, Tone Room Deluxe (a stub app that takes you to a U.S. Cellular Ringtone repository) and the ubiquitous (but still pretty worthless) City ID app. The other usuals -- Facebook, MySpace, Peep (HTC's Twitter app), Quick Office and all the HTC widgets are there.

So should I buy the U.S. Cellular HTC Desire?

If you're on U.S. Cellular, it's kind of a no-brainer as to whether to get the Desire, or the Samsung Acclaim, its other Android phone, especially with a data plan that starts at $30, and available tethering.

The hardware isn't next-generation, but neither is it long in the tooth. What you're getting is a sleek, speedy phone with one of the newer versions of Android, and HTC's slick Sense UI. And for most people, that's going to be just fine.


Reader comments

HTC Desire review (U.S. Cellular version)


Damn I remember when I wanted this phone ---- Heck it was only a few months ago lol... But now after a Hero and an EVO its pretty meh. I want Special Services and Apps to take advantage of my Snapdragon especially different APPS for Video Chat + anything else I can do with my front facing camera. I also want a one stop shop(Im looking at you google) For Music and Video Downloads (NATIVE!!!)...... and Battery life.

That too much to ask?....

Wait whats that I smell? Gingerbread?

So since US Cellular is CDMA2000, same as VZW, can I buy this phone unlocked and run on Verizon? US Cellular does not serve my area :(

If you're on Verizon why don't you just get the HTC droid incredible? It's practically the same thing (same form factor) but you get 8 gigs of internal storage instead of 512MB found on the desire and nexus one. Plus you get an 8MP camera instead of a 5MP.

Except that the Desire has a 1400 mAh battery while the Incredible has 1300 mAh. Does that make a difference? Not sure, but smart phones always require lots of battery power, and if you use your phone's data or multimedia capabilities heavily or can't charge it all day while at work it's something to consider.

HTC - Desire Specs
HTC - Droid Incredible Specs

The Desire got way better with 2.2 (or at least mine did). It'll probably get even better with Gingerbread, as from what we've heard so far it meets the hardware requirements. Interesting times ahead!

I was excited about the HTC Desire coming out with US Cell and then I did some of research and found out it would be wiser to get the Samsung Galaxy S in fall.

Desire vs. Samsung Galaxy S Specs comparison -

Demonstrates how the Super AMOLED is viewable under direct/indirect sun
light -

Shows HTC Desire has major issues with multi touch tracking where
Galaxy S has no problem -

Samsung Galaxy S outperforms all other smart phones in gaming benchmark -

The only reason I post this here is at the end of the article they state if someone should buy the Desire, and my answer would be - no wait for the Samsung Galaxy S.

The Galaxies look great but hey have two fatal flaws, imo. No flash on the camera and no notification lights. The flash on the camera is important to me because I use it as a flashlight on a daily basis. They are odd omissions from an otherwise spectacular phone.

Is the US edition different from the European version. I have a European version and the differences are:

* 567 MB RAM
* FM Radio

Desire has it all over any Galaxy. The Desire is one hell of a phone. I have the Nexus One rooted and jacked. Besides the Nexus One IMO the desire is the 2nd best device made right behind yes you know the Nexus One. You don't realize what the Nexus iis capable of until you own, root and jack it up. What a monster.
This new G2 has me all worked up, maybe I might have to put the Nexus to bed while I take the G2 for a test ride.

U.S Cell Desire does not have fm radio but who cares with Pandora and Slacker. This is the best phone on the U.S. Cell at least right now. I can get the Desire and have the minimum stats for gingerbread or have an inferior os like BlackBerry. I moved from BB and it was the best thing i've done.