HTC Legend 

HTC's February press event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was a double coming-out party -- it brought us the new version of the Sense user interface, and it also brought us the HTC Legend.

The Legend is the follow-up to the venerable HTC Hero, which was the first Android phone to feature Sense. After the break, we take a look at the Legend and its slick new hardware revision.

First things first: In case you missed it, here's our official sit-down hands-on with the Legend.

And now ...

Hardware

HTC Legend

Hold the Legend in your hand, and you're greeted with one solid device. And there's good reason for that, as it's cast out of a single piece of aluminum. There's little to no flex in the body, and it just feels good.

HTC Legend unibody

The back of the phone is a nearly uninterrupted piece of metal, which wraps around the sides and back onto the face of the phone. The signature chin is still there (though that will be new to those of you in the United States who are used to the Sprint Hero), though it's ever so subtle and doesn't look as out of place as it once did. Maybe we're just getting used to it. The official Vegas line has the Legend at 4.41x2.22x0.45 inches, weighing in at 4.44 ounces.

HTC Legend

The other major design improvement, in addition to the unibody bit, is that the trackball has given way to a trackpad. Though in addition to helping with acute movements of a cursor (that's about the only reason we need it), it's ringing by a physical button. Again, it's not something we use all that much. But from a design standpoint, it's much more svelte than a trackball, and it all but eliminates moving parts that can break down.

HTC Legend

Four physical buttons -- home, menu, back and search -- remain on the face of the Legend. HTC made a conscious decision to go with physical buttons rather than capacitive as found on the Nexus One and Droid, saying they wanted that tactile experience. Also note how the back and search buttons are physically connected. That's another HTC trademark on this device (and can also be found on the Desire).

HTC LegendHTC Legend

Other basic hardware of note: A standard microUSB port on the bottom bezel (hey, manufacturers: We'd love it if you'd come to a decision on which way the port faces), volume rocker on the left bezel, and 3.5mm headphone jack and power button on the top bezel. On the rear of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, as well as the speaker.

The touchscreen, while at 3.2 inches (and 320 pixels by 480 pixels) isn't as large or as high-resolution as the Nexus One (3.7 inches), Evo 4G (4.3 inches) or Motorola Droid (3.7 inches), is of the AMOLED variety -- that means capacitive touch, pinch-to-zoom, better battery life and vibrant colors. The bottom line is that it holds its own, even at its smaller size.

Unibody and the battery

HTC Legend

Interesting side effect to having a phone created from a single piece of metal: There's no way to do the traditional battery door. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the bottom back inch or so of the Legend is plastic cover that pops off (straight down). There's a little plastic flap that holds everything in place. And from there you can get to the SIM card slot, microSD card (which is tucked way up in there) and battery. The battery's a 1300mAh unit that's rated on paper at up to 440 minutes talk time and 560 hours standby time on 3G. In our review unit, the battery slid out quite easily. But there's also a little red slider than you can use to help it along.

HTC LegendHTC Legend

Another interesting design aspect is that an antenna is housed in the battery slot cover, as evidenced by two metal contacts.

What's under the hood

The Legend is and Android 2.1 (Eclair) device, with HTC's Sense user interface on top. [Ed. note: Watch our hands-on video and read our full review of Sense here.] It has 512 megabytes of storage and 384MB of RAM, plus a microSD card slot capable of housing up to 32GB of addition memory.

You processor nerds out there will be disappointed when you hear that it's not running the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. But -- and we asked about this -- this 600MHz Qualcomm proc in the Legend is more than enough to power this size phone, with its smaller screen. The full 1GHz processor just isn't necessary. Apps open without any effort, and transitions in the Sense interface are smooth.

For connectivity, the Legend we reviewed supports 3G data speeds up to 7.2Mbps. It's not yet announced for release in the United States, so it's lacking the U.S. 3G bands (but you can still use it on EDGE). For the rest of the world, it's quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and dual-band HSPA (900/2100MHz).

There's also Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR on board, which means you can do wireless stereo playback of music.

Camera

The HTC Legend shoots still pictures at a full 5 megapixels (2592x1728) and VGA video at 640x480. And for being a little phone, it's a half-decent shooter.

HTC Legend Camera testHTC Legend Camera test

HTC Legend Camera testHTC Legend Camera test

Video recording is smooth, though the mic can get a little overwhelmed if there's any wind.

HTC provides nice software with its cameras. You have a bevy of options, including brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness adjustment, and you can go to grayscale, sepia, negative and other effects on the fly. You also can turn off the shutter sound, which may or may not be legal where you live. Either way, it's a nice option.

Other software odds and ends

Again, see our review of Sense for the overview. But other items of note:

  • Nice clock and desk clock apps.
  • FM radio (must have headphones or speakers plugged in to work).
  • The browser is Webkit-based and supports some -- but not full -- Flash. There's a fairly good chance that the average user wouldn't notice. It renders pages nicely, scoring 93 out of 100 on the Acid3 test.
  • QuickOffice is included.
  • The GPS acquires location quickly. (This isn't even something we have to think about anymore, for the most part.)
  • Phone calls over EDGE were fine. Assume they'll get better on 3G.
  • HTC's custom on-screen keyboard remains one of our favorites.
  • The rear speaker is a little tinny but should be plenty loud for your tastes.

Conclusion

From left, Xperia X10, Nexus One, Legend, Droid, Devour

So who's gonna want the HTC Legend when the likes of the Desire and Nexus One are out and about? Maybe you want Android and HTC Sense but just don't need as much phone as you'll get in 3.7 inches. (Hey, we don't understand it either, but whatever.) The Legend is a nice compromise. You get all the power of Android and Sense, in a smaller package. It feels great in the hand, it looks great with the unibody construction, and it feels like it could last forever.

Nexus One, Legend, Droid, X10

That said, things can at times feel a little cramped in the 3.1-inch screen. That could just be us being used to the larger screen of the Droid and Nexus One, and the monstrous size of the Evo 4G, and your mileage may vary.

But if the price is right, you don't need a physical keyboard and you don't might a slightly smaller screen, the Legend might well be the right phone for you.

 

Reader comments

Review: HTC Legend with Android 2.1 and the new Sense UI

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Compared to other phones coming out these days, this phone is all design, and a little weak on the performance side... But I still love it! I wouldn't ditch my Droid for it, but it's definitely a right step in the direction of design that HTC and other companies should be taking.

Does anyone have any idea when this phone might be coming to a U.S. carrier? There were the rumors that Sprint was going to get it, and then nothing, does anyone have any idea at all?

Tell me what the big deal with this phone is ?? Same ol same ol HTC stuff , nothing that I gotta have ?? Why would anyone drop a Hero to get this ?? Far better phones out there than this thing. I dont get it ?

Lots more RAM.
Overclockable processor.
Better 2.1 that we will ever see on our Hero.
It's not a 2 pound 5" brick that tears shirt pockets.

Because this phone is in the first place for new customers.

This would be my first android device if I were buying new phone now. I can't have slate like Desire in my pocket, cause Im not fatty and use hiphop jeans.

better design
better screen
better performance
...
and good value/price than any phone

Why you asked like that, I don't get it :|

Maybe this, maybe desire...
It would be nice to see a comparison between the Legend and the Desire. Is the 1Ghz processor as much better than it sounds and what about the screen size?

HTC Legend will be a great smartphone and much better than the Hero. However, it has AMOLED display and only 600MHz processor. In contrast, Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10, Google Nexus One, and HTC Desire offer 1GHz Snapdragon processor for faster performance. HTC Legend Review

I noticed that you have different screen setting for work, play etc with the new Sense UI...can you assign different ringtone for different screens? Like general ringtones for a work screen and custom ringtones for a weekend or play screen?