Android HTC Desire – 6 Weeks On

I have had my HTC Desire for about 6 weeks now, using it as my only phone. I also use it only with pre-paid cards. No nasty surprise bill for large downloads accidentally coming via data charges instead free from WiFi!

After you turn it on the first thing that strikes you is the ripple effect from a water scene of reflected trees with yellow and orange autumn leaves floating around. Cool. Drag your finger down the touchscreen to activate it and your are met with the digital clock, weather details and your eight favourite apps (after you have set them up, of course. The top left hand corner contains notification icons you have set to let you know if there are any new emails. If there are any, just click on your app – probably set to be on the opening screen, and you are reading your email within seconds. So much quicker than turning on the computer and waiting for it to boot up, then clicking on your browser, clicking through the compulsory news/advert pages to finally get to your email.

Here are my 6 favourite apps:

Hapi podcatcher: For my mp3’s. I listen daily on my way to and from work and use an FM modulator to listen via my car radio. It took a bit working out how to set up a playlist (only found out a few days ago – just play a download for a few seconds and it gets added to the player i.e. the playlist – you can move them up or down once they are there. Thanks to John at the Hapi podcast homepage for this tip).

Email apps: Yahoo and Gmail – I’ll count these as one app. Instant email. No need to use the browser.

Weather: You can add lots of places and flick from one to another by a swipe of your finger. With the colourful and informative interface, it gives my 7 year old and I a nice topic to talk about over breakfast, keeping track of our relatives spread over the globe.

Opera browser: You can easily save a page to read for when you are offline.

Astro File Manager: Very useful so you can check where your files are. Surprising that you have to download a file manager as there isn’t one as standard.

Flashlight: Great for lots of occasions when you need just a bit of extra light for a few seconds. Quite powerful.

I also like the calendar app which syncs with my Google calendar and the voice recognition software. I am sure with a bit of practice it will be faster than my typing. Quite a few reviews state the battery doesn’t last a day. When I first got it, that seemed correct, but now it easily lasts a day as I’m not experimenting all the time with battery draining apps. Two areas where it beats my old Nokia E71 is the camera, which takes good quality pictures, and the ability to run mp4 videos smoothly. When I bought it, it ran on Android 2.1 so the phone didn’t have voice recognition capability. But now it does with 2.2. With Android you can be sure that your operating system will be updated as far as your hardware will allow. With other phones, the operating system you have may well be the end of the line with no significant upgrades to look forward to.

On the negative side, Google Maps has either become corrupted or at least no longer works the way it did. I was out of WiFi range when I was using it first, but it still did a great job of showing me where I was and where I needed to go. Now, unless I am using it via WiFi, there is no map layer. The navigation (satellite control ed)still shows me where I am – but it is a bit pointless when the screen is just a grey background with squares. The Nokia was great in this respect as I could download Google maps and use them where I needed them – on the road, away from and internet connection. I have downloaded Rmaps and MapDroid as an alternative.

Another disappointment is the rotation of the screen. It is only done automatically, and often, it just doesn’t want to change from portrait to landscape regardless of how much shaking or turning I do. Worse is the fact that there seems to be no way of rotating it manually. There should be a swipe movement that changes it if it doesn’t automatically change.

One last thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the apps have no “close switch”. Apparently they will stay on until the operating system decides to close them. This has the advantage of being very speedy at going back to a recently used app, and, if the and designers are to be believed, doesn’t drain the battery unduly. It makes sense to make full use of your RAM memory while not using up much CPU power and thus prolong battery life.

My overall impression though is that it is a great smartphone to own and I couldn’t see myself not owning a touchscreen from now on.

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