Impressions on the HTC London Event
As you heard by now, HTC has announced in London two new phones, the Desire HD and Desire Z (“z” or “zee”, you can say both apparently). The sexy handsets will be available from most European carriers starting around mid-October. While we don’t have a word yet on the Desire HD, we do know that the Desire Z will be hitting T-Mobile USA as the G2.
Along with launching these new handsets, HTC also detailed the new and upcoming HTC Sense. This HTC Sense update came with a web site (HTCsense.com) from where you can control your phone over the air. You’ll be able from the interface to save and read your SMS, create your own themes. More interestingly you will be able to control your phone if it is forgotten, lost or stolen. This is a great set of tools, you can make your phone ring for example to find it or send a message to be displayed on the screen with your details if it is lost. SMS, contacts, HTC Sense themes, ringtones can be backed up on the web site as well. Sadly, the new HTC Sense back-up is missing a photo and video solution, so you will not be able to have one place to store everything. You will have to rely on different services (Picasa, Flicker, YouTube,…).
Overall, HTC didn’t make any big noise about the technical specs of both phones. Their respective specs are good but nothing outstanding compared to the competition. They made it clear that the intended customers for these are not us, geek or Android fanatics. No, their target are the people who haven’t made it yet to the world of smartphones and are still carrying “just” phones. They are looking to convert.
Smart move from HTC, as there is a huge number of potential customers. They have planned on a very large (40% larger than the previous one) marketing campaign to promote the phones and show what HTC Sense and HTCSense.com can bring to the user’s everyday life. They might, but won’t have to, mention Android or Google but really they just need to show people what can they do with a smartphone (like Apple’s Facetime ad). One example, you can send photos or video directly to your DNLA comaptible TV, no need for a cable and if your TV is not compatible, they’ll have an accessoirie (Media Link) to help, a little box connected to your TV.
Google Maps is installed on the phone but HTC have also included their own mapping application called HTC Location. They tried to solve one of the issue of Google Maps and the navigation, if you are not on your provider network (out of range or roaming), you can’t use Google services. HTC worked with Route66 on this app in which you can download complete maps (for free) in the device. You can also purchase Navigation for a period (30 days, 1 year or for life) by countries. It is usefull, if for example you go on holiday, you can get the map of the country for free and, if you think you’ll need it, buy by credit card directly from the app the navigation option for the period you’ll be away. On paper, it is a good idea to buy just what you need but there are already free offers from the competition, Google but also Nokia’s Ovi Map in the segment HTC is targeting. I would suggest then to throw some freebies to potential buyers. See photos in the gallery below for an example of prices, I can’t confirm if these will be the same once the phones will be released.
On the Desire HD, HTC has included a very well done ebook reader called Reader. The HD’s large screen is a great asset when it comes to reading text. This reader has been developped in partnership with Adobe and will give access to books from Kobo. There are already plenty of other options on the Market for ebook reading (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) but the features in HTC version would help. For example, they make is easy to select text, to anotate, search definition or translate a piece of text.
Are these 2 phones any good?
Yes, they are great phones. The Desire HD is well designed, the aluminium construction makes a solid phone. HTC Sense and all the apps I’ve tried are snappy, it has Android 2.2. If I could have one bad thing to say, it would be to mentioned the lack of front facing camera but then, there are not really that many apps to use it. By the way, there is an auto-portrait mode in the camera app but I am not sure how it works. The Desire Z is as per the G2 a great update of the old G1. The Z hinges, as HTC called them, are very snappy, you might be worried to get a finger cut when closing it (it could not happend!). The keyboard is pleasant to use, even with large fingers like mine. Again, the only bad thing I would say about the Z it would be about the small trackpad, it would take someone time to get used to it.
To conclude, two nice phones and improvments for Sense to give HTC the tools to grab pieces of market own mostly by Nokia. No wonder, the competition tried to crash HTC’s party. They should be afraid, because these two phones, to be released right in time before the Holiday Season, are going to be a success, maybe a little one for Android, but a big one for HTC.