HTC Desire HD

We looked long and hard for flaws in the Desire HD but failed to find anything significant. This handset checks all the right boxes, with outstanding performance complementing its large, clear display.


9.6
CNET Rating
8.4
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Big, beautiful smartphone

Size matters when you're speaking about smartphones, and its neither one way or the other. Some like smaller screens and will say Apple hit the sweet spot with it's 3.5-inch iPhone screen design, but many other would prefer a little more screen real estate. Dell's 5-inch Streak has been dubbed a tablet rather than a phone by many, so where does this leave the Desire HD with its 4.3-inch screen falling somewhere inbetween?

For us, the Desire HD is spot on. The extra screen size makes text onscreen more legible, helps to display images in the gallery, and makes controlling games easier than it might otherwise be with less room for your fingers. Does it look silly when you hold to your face to take a call? We don't think so, if anything it lets you show off the attractively designed uni-body chassis.

HTC has unfortunately needed to move away from using AMOLED screen technology in its handsets due, we believe, to a shortage of AMOLED screens available. Instead it opts for a an LCD display with an 800 x 480 resolution. Next to an original Desire you can see the difference in the colour contrast, with the HD appearing more washed-out look in comparison. Taken on its own merits though, the Desire HD's display is superb, with sharp, crisp rendering of words and images displayed.

The HD sports an 8-megapixel camera with its lens position at the top and in the centre of the rear casing, dual LED photolights sit just to the side. The camera lens protrudes considerably from the back of the phone but luckily the glass is recessed to prevent it from scratching from day-to-day knocking around.

A Sense for smartphones

To talk about the features of an HTC Android phone is primarily to talk about its Sense custom software. In its beginnings Sense was a user-interface shell, a layer that sat on top of Windows Mobile and acted as a series of sexy shortcuts to different aspects of your phone. Today Sense is so much more, integrating into most of the core aspects of Google's Android system and delivering a range of usability enhancements well beyond what you can expect from rivals Samsung and Motorola.

New to Sense in the Desire HD is a enhanced focus on personalisation, evident in the new shortcut on the homescreen to this list of UI adjustments. From the Personalisation menu you can change wallpapers, scenes, ringtones and widgets, but you can also apply new Sense UI skins and notifications sound packs. Both of these new settings apply changes across the system as a whole, with the notification sound packs applying a themed selection of tones to the ringtone and the accompanying message tones.

There is also a few new HTC-built apps, the HTC Hub (for downloading free new skins, wallpapers and ringtones) and HTC Likes, a portal of Android Market apps that have achieved the HTC tick of approval. There's also new Car Panel and the Locations mapping service built-in to Sense, with pre-loaded maps for Australia and New Zealand so you won't have to wait for data to download before you can see where you're standing. Locations also offer turn-by-turn navigation for AU$8.99 for 30-days, and while this is not as attractive as the free navigation on all Nokia phones, it's still a very handy addition.

One of the key new feature in the Desire HD is the introduction of DLNA media sharing to the HTC family of phones. Sadly, this is the only part of our review where the HD fell well short of expectations. Unlike other media serving apps which establish a server and allow a compatible device, like a PS3, to browse and stream media from the phone, HTC's implementation has the user select each piece of media separately and search for a server each time. We tested this software on six or seven DLNA devices and it didn't work once. Rubbing salt in the wound, we downloaded the Twonky Media Server app from the Android Market and this worked every time bar one. This is a great idea for HTC to pursue, but it's a long way off getting it right at this point in time.

The Sense experience now extends passed the phone, with a new online web service accessible from any PC with a web browser. HTCSense.com lets users backup some of their valuable data: contacts, SMS messages, geo-tagged Footprints photos; but it also includes some important security enhancements too. Using the portal users can lock their phone down, stopping unauthorised use, or erase all data on a handset you are confident you will never have returned. You can also force the phone to ring, even if its set to silent, which is very handy for people who tell to lose their phone between the cushions on the sofa.

The only limitation to the Sense security is that the phone needs to be set to "Auto Sync" in the "Accounts and Sync" menu in Settings. If you leave this setting unchecked, and many would to extend battery life, then you are left without any way of communicating with your handset remotely.

The new benchmark

HTC combine a mean bunch of computing hardware under the glass of the Desire HD, and the results can be seen in its outstanding performance. Its 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 768MB RAM and 1.5GB of phone memory (our review unit also came with an 8GB microSD card) work together to set a new benchmark in out-of-the-box performance, clocking benchmark results three-times those we saw on the original Desire, and an impressive 57.7 frames-per-second in Neocore.

In the real world these benchmark results equate to seamless navigation of the homescreens and menu, and swift loading all apps, even 3D games. Video plays back nicely, we tested a 720p XviD file using Rockplayer and the results were really exciting. The 8-megapixel camera is hit-and-miss depending on the environment, it's fine in good light with a steady hand, but we had comparatively little luck shooting in low-light with the flash.

If all of these features — the big screen, the fast processor and the suite of connectivity available — sound like a recipe for poor battery life you'll be pleased to know the Desire HD is at least on par with the vast majority of smartphones. We saw a day-and-a-half between charges with a push email account active plus web browsing and moderate calls and messages. HTC has also built a new "power saver" feature into the HD, allowing you to configure services which will automatically switch off at a pre-determined battery level, a level which is set to 15-percent remaining charge by default.

Overall

We looked long and hard for flaws in the Desire HD, and with the exception of the media server, we struggled to find anything significant. This handset checks all the right boxes, regardless of whether you put business before pleasure, consider gaming a top priority or are looking for a strong handset to create and consume media. Social networkers will find the Friendstream app handy, and if you don't like it you have a dozen alternatives to choose from on the Android Market, including the excellent Tweetdeck app. If you want a reliable smartphone, one that excels at everyday use and offers a swell of extras, and one that offers an unparallelled range of customisation, the Desire HD should be at the top of your list.



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JaredO1 Facebook
10
Rating
 

JaredO1 posted a review   
Australia

just reached the half way point on a 24 month contract on this phone. i'll let the rating i've given it speak for itself

its.me
9
Rating
 

"Doesn't get a 10 because of the speaker!"

its.me posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Everything but the speaker volume!

The Bad:Speaker volume

I've had this phone for nearly 10 months now, and I really don't understand all the problems some of the below people seem to have. I've had none of those.
Well, apart from my only complaint being the lousy loudspeaker volume - even at full volume I sometimes find it hard to hear. With headphones - no issue.
Perhaps those who're having issues are installing crappy apps that make the phone do strange things? Doesn't do any of the bad things 'techdipu' says it does.
I've never had the bluetooth drop out. Remembers all my settings, doesn't forget.
I find the web browser very easy

 

daze62 posted a comment   
Australia

I've had this phone for ten months and it still makes me happy I have it. Just showing how fast phone tech moves, when I got it, it was the most hi-tech phone going and it's no longer available on a plan.
Mind you, I wouldn't be so happy if not for XDA developers. Tricks and tweaks have made this phone perform so much better than stock.

OmarS1 Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Best phone out there but not without its disadvantages."

OmarS1 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Native Flash, massive screen and Android.

The Bad:Terrible bluetooth and sound quality.

Ive had the Desire HD since December 2010 and its been an awesome ride. Fully customisable if your a bit of a geek with some help from the fellas at XDA dev and the Flash support means you can accomplish absolutely anything over the web if need be while travelling. Only issues are the miserable bluetooth which constantly cuts out from your A2DP headset or from your cars head unit. Also the sound quality is quite disappointing. So if your a bit of an audiofile go the Iphone but for everything else go the Desire HD.

 

N_K133 posted a comment   
Australia

I am looking at this phone can someone tell me what apps use the most battery?
Eg If I used the phone for facebook, the occasional internet search, SMS and calls would it be worth chucking a micro usb cable in my bag? I always go to school with my MBP so I can easily charge it

poisondart10 Facebook
10
Rating
 

"best phone ive had!!"

poisondart10 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:very fast, impressive features

The Bad:syncing data with old phones

i upgraded to the HTC Desire HD a week ago now (from using a nokia N900) and i found the transition to be rather easy, the setup on the Desire HD is extremely easy, its a very simple phone to use, awesome features and a excellent camera, definitely recommended!

many people whine about the battery life of this phone, but i spend most of my day on the phone, calls, facebook, music etc and i still manage to go home with approx 20% battery life, you just need to turn off the battery draining features.

techdipu
1
Rating
 

"Bad battery life, bad browsers, often doesn't remember settings, awful"

techdipu posted a review   
Singapore

The Good:Good Video Camera

The Bad:Bad battery life, bad browsers, often doesn't remember settings, awful

I had an iphone and wanted to get a android device, HTC was supposed to make the best Android and their Desire HD looked really appealing. SO bot it for around 800SGD and made the biggest mistake.

Here are the few of the bads-

1. If you are out on a street and look at the map which I have to do a lot, within 30mins the phone will be dead from full battery life. And in stand by mode even I dont us the phone I will have to charge it twice everyday to keep it on. Most often it turns itself off and people can't reach me.

2. The browser is clumsy, it doesn't render pages right and the touch operation is awful. To fill in the text field of a form it does all funny things.. it will tey to zoom in to that specific field and will not zoom back, if you try to move around with touching the finger it will take you in a blank space of the browser, it will not do automatic screen rotation even after shaking the device for 2-3 times, if you think you had enough it will not close after tapping the home button many times!

3. Doesn't remember the settings of face book. email, alarm or weather... and as it turns of frequently, I have to keep doing it several times a day... and its a new phone 1 month old.

4. The video recording looks impressive but don;t expect to understand what its saying.

I can go on an on.. but anyone planning to buy this.. think again.. especially if you held an iphone before.

 

The_Guru posted a reply   
Australia

WOW....
Hater hatin' on this.
I got rid of my Galaxy S2 and iPhone 4S for this 2 year old phone because it leaves them for dead.
A little battery management is all that is needed to get 3 days out of this.
If your usage kills the battery, carry a spare, it only takes a few seconds to change.
How would you have survived the 90's when a good battery at full charge, on standby only lasted 8 hours?????
Work with the phone, don't just do the hater thing, any moron can do that.
It does rate better than a 1, like add a 0 to the end of it ... 10

 

The_Guru posted a reply   
Australia

WOW....
Hater hatin' on this.
I got rid of my Galaxy S2 and iPhone 4S for this 2 year old phone because it leaves them for dead.
A little battery management is all that is needed to get 3 days out of this.
If your usage kills the battery, carry a spare, it only takes a few seconds to change.
How would you have survived the 90's when a good battery at full charge, on standby only lasted 8 hours????? Yes, I am aware that the 90's have been and gone, just sayin' ......
Work with the phone, don't just do the hater thing, any moron can do that.
It does rate better than a 1, like add a 0 to the end of it ... 10

JustinM1 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Biggest POS Phone I've ever had!"

JustinM1 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Screen size and clarity, browser.

The Bad:battery life! Sends text messages on its own, bluetooth doesn't work.

Currently on my 2nd Desire HD, after getting a replacement unti due to first one sending out all my imported text messages back to my contacts, apps crashing constantly (HTC ones, not downloaded ones) and further issues after upgrading from android 2.2 to 2.3. Now the new phone repeated the text message saga after the 2.3 upgrade, the blue tooth will connect to my car, then drop out after 5 mintues, requiring me to delete the device then reconnect, only for the same thing to occur. Wi-fi is hit and miss at times, and the battery life is more like battery death. Then there are the issues with reception, call drop outs etc etc. Biggest mistake I've ever made with a phone! And to think I used this review to make my decision about which phone to get!

nibar39
8
Rating
 

"Great Phone, only had one problem"

nibar39 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Screen size, app store, video playback, video camera

The Bad:volume control

Very happy with phone, but... 3rd time i opened sd cover i snapped the volume control, was just a very flimsy piece of chrome plated plastic, now i have a piece of stick tape holding it in place, haven't had chance to see if i can get replacement.

But the phone is awesome, facebook, yahoo messenger, angry birds everything i need

Krankynanna
8
Rating
 

Krankynanna posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Screen size (makes most other smart phone users jealous) Android 2.2, HTC sense with free mobile locator and data wipe.

The Bad:Camera poor in low light/indoors and a little to hard work out settings for camera..

I've had this smart phone for 7 months. Dropped it twice with no ill effect. Customising screens is fun and easy. HTC sense is great to use esp the 'free' find my phone, remote lock out, data wipe and disable phone features.
Camera 8MP is great in natural light and overcast days but poor in low light/indoor shots. I have taken some great macro shots that even impressed a professional photographer. I never worked out how to get the flash to work??
Screen size is perfect for games. I found the size of the phone not too hard to handle after having palm sized phones. I have small hands but I managed okay.
There are some pre installed apps that I found not useful like stock market, celebritycharts that like to keep running in the background. It's bad enough we stuck with mobile phone carriers un installable apps. I installed Advanced Task Killer to help with this battery draining issue.
I found the speaker sound and quality not that great compared to the Sony Ericsson's Walkmans I've had. Overall I am very happy with this phone, it lived up to it's name and certainly gave the iphone a challenger. I would recommend this phone.
Finally I also would like to recommend the following apps, Lookout, Advanced Task Killer and 3G Watchdog as musts for any Android phone.
I do not recommend Vodaphone network but that's an whole other story.


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User Reviews / Comments  HTC Desire HD

  • JaredO1

    JaredO1

    Rating10

    "just reached the half way point on a 24 month contract on this phone. i'll let the rating i've given it speak for itself"

  • its.me

    its.me

    Rating9

    "I've had this phone for nearly 10 months now, and I really don't understand all the problems some of the below people seem to have. I've had none of those.
    Well, apart from my only complaint ..."

  • daze62

    daze62

    "I've had this phone for ten months and it still makes me happy I have it. Just showing how fast phone tech moves, when I got it, it was the most hi-tech phone going and it's no longer available on ..."

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