The HTC Desire received its official blessing today, addressing two things that had been gnawing at us regarding the current king of the hill, the Nexus One: What would it have been like if it had HTC's Sense UI? And is there a more elegant solution than a trackball?
The Desire answers both of those things -- and then some -- with the introduction of an all-new version of Sense running atop Android 2.1.
That sound good? Click through for the details.
For all intents and purposes, the HTC Desire -- heretofore known as by its codename, Bravo -- is the Nexus One. Same 3.7-inch capacitive AMOLED screen at 480x800 pixels, same 1GHz Snapdragon processor, with only a minute difference in size.
The most obvious change is that the trackball has been excised, and replaced by an optical trackpad. But it's more than that. The black dot in the center of the silver circle is the actual trackpad, ringed by a physical button. An elegant solution to a nagging problem on a keyboardless phone. And the button itself is ringed with concentric circles, a nice attention to detail.
While we're in the Southern Hemisphere of the phone, the four buttons at the bottom also are physical -- not capacitive as on the Nexus One. That's going to make pressing them a more conscious decision, and make them less prone to accidental touches.
But the buttons suffer from a growing problem with Android in that they're out of order from sibling devices. On the Desire they run, from left, Home, Menu, Back and Search. That differs from the Nexus One and Motorola Droid, and returns to the layout of the myTouch 3G, another HTC device. While most Android users aren't likely to hop from phone to phone the way we do, that lack of consistency breaks the continuity of the Android experience.
Other key physical traits:
- An ever-so-slight chin. It's almost imperceptible.
- Five-megapixel camera with autofocus, flash, face detection, widescreen shooting and geotagging.
- 3.5mm headphone jack.
- Standard microUSB connection.
- Digital compass.
- Proximity sensor.
- Ambient light sensor.
- 1400mAh battery.
Software and the new HTC Sense
And the other big break from the Nexus One is the addition of the Sense user interface. Whereas the Nexus One is Google's baby, this one is HTC's, and they've brought their best stuff to the table.
The e-mail client in Sense has been greatly improved, and there's a new e-mail widget, bringing any and all of your e-mail accounts into a master list. There's now an agenda view for the calendar. The clock and weather widget now goes full-screen.
The browser also has seen improvements. You can now long-press on a word or whole paragraph and manipulate the text. Look it up in a dictionary or Wikipedia. Or send it directly to Google for translation to another language. It's all built in and quickly accessible.
Bad news for those of you hoping for an American release -- the HTC Desire is a European/Asian device at the moment, sporting the 900 and 2100 bands for 3G. It will be available in March.