Review: HTC Desire Z

By Branko Miletic

So, let’s see, you want an Android-based phone. You want a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard. And of course you want a phone will all the bells, whistles. Now you could spend hours, days or even weeks downloading squillions of web pages on various new-release handsets – or you could just go out and get yourself a HTC Desire Z.

Well, that was easy – now what’s for lunch? Jokes aside, HTC’s new Desire Z ticks so many boxes that picking this unit as your new smartphone is pretty easy. However, there are a couple of caveats.

HTC, as you may know, is one of those companies that does things the smart way, which is great when you design consumer tech, but more so, it is also a company that understands what the consumer not only wants in a mobile phone, but needs as well.

The Desire Z is made with the ‘Z-hinge’, which slides out the keyboard-nearly flush with the bottom half of the handset. The keyboard itself is not as hard to use for those that have grown up with touchcreens and moreover, if you are a Nokia QWERTY smartphone user, the Desire Z will be a pleasure to use – especially as you will no longer have to suffer with the Symbian OS.

From a user’s point of view, the Z has it all – mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google, Contacts, Calendar, Games – the list goes on- and did I mention the speed? HTC could easily rename this handset Speedy Gonzalez because it’s fast at doing just about everything.

Under the hood, Android’s 2.2 OS running and processor running at a respectable 800Mhz purrs along nicely and the 8Mb of memory means that you have a lot of pictures to take with the 5 megapixel camera before you need to stick in a microSD card.

The 1.5Gb of internal memory plus 512Mb of RAM are useful when multitasking with this phone and coming in at whisker over 180 grams.

Now for the caveats I mentioned earlier- and unfortunately one of them is a biggie. First, the 5 megapixel camera is not something I would email home about – sure it’s OK, but these days phone cameras are starting to rival point-and-shoot snappers, so maybe this is something the boffins at HTC could look at improving.

But the biggest faux pax is the battery life. Why oh why phone designers don’t understand that battery is the limiting factor of all electronic devices is beyond me and furthermore why phone makers insist on quoting battery life figures that are so far from the truth is also perplexing.

This is not only a HTC issue, it’s an industry-wide problem – but quoting a 6.5-hour talk time, which is not too far off the truth, and then in the same breath claiming a 430 hour (or 18 days if you like) standby time, which is way off the mark, is massively annoying. Sure if you switch your Desire Z off between phone calls this may turn out to be true, but who on earth does that?

Note to HTC’s engineers, marketers and management – THIS SIMPLY IS NOT TRUE!

This  adds an unwanted spoiler to what essentially is one of the best smartphones on the market – one that if you eliminated would possibly consign the likes of Nokia and their QWERTY- Symbian gas guzzlers to the dustbin of mobile phone history.

Now that I have that off my chest, lastly, another positive is the outright cost of the HTC Desire Z – around $699- which is both comparable and respectable to its many competitors.

Pros: speed, the slider design, the Android 2.2, low weight and easy to use QWERTY keyboard
Cons: camera and the battery life

3.5 Shacks out of 5