Usually, I write about newly announced gadgets. Things I’m contemplating spending money on, because they’re cutting edge and boast impressive specs. I can spend hours comparing different products trying to find the absolute best fit for my needs. But sometimes it can be equally interesting to look back on a previous purchase and see if it lived up to your expectations.
Almost two years ago (and on a two-year contract), I got an HTC Desire. The Desire is basically HTC’s own version of the Google Nexus One. They manufactured Google’s flagship “superphone”, and somewhere along the line decided to introduce a slightly modified version as the Desire.
The Desire has the same 1GHz Snapdragon processor, the same excellent 3.7 inch screen, and the same dimensions. It lacks the Nexus’s dual noise-cancelling microphones, but adds physical buttons. And it became available way before the Nexus One did here in Europe.
The most impressive thing about this phone has to be the build quality. Mine looks the same as it did when I got it. You’d need a microscope to find any evidence that it’s been used. I’m using a screen protector, but not a protective case, so I think that’s pretty impressive.
Another thing I like is that it’s still fast enough. Sure, newer phones tend to have dual, or even quad, core processors, but in everyday use, the Desire still holds up. Scrolling is smooth and apps launch quickly.
The final thing I love about the Desire is the screen size. Almost all new top-of-the-line Android phones have 4.3″ or 4.7″ screens. I prefer phones that are pocketable, and the Desire’s dimensions are just right.
Despite the overall build quality, I did manage to break the on/off button last year. I spend a lot of time tying kinds shoelaces, and must’ve kneeled with the Desire in my front pocket once too often. This was fixed under warranty, and I’ve had no issues since.
The camera on the Desire was impressive when the phone first appeared on the market, but it’s been overtaken left and right, most notably by the iPhone 4S. I also suspect that during the repair I wrote about earlier, the camera in my phone got swapped along with the motherboard. The new one seems worse. I rarely use it anymore, and if I opt to get a new phone, this will be one of the main reasons.
The Achilles heel for both the Nexus One and the Desire is their internal phone memory. You can use SD cards, but the phone’s OS and some apps just need to be in the phone’s memory. And for this duo, that memory is tiny. The Desire has 576MB, a bit more than its Google equivalent, but the extra space is used up by HTC’s Sense skin and some extra apps. Mine has only a couple of megabytes left at any given time, which can be frustrating.
I’ve recently used this little hack to get a little extra breathing room, but the fact remains that you need to be picky about which apps to install. This takes away from the fun of owning an Android phone, but it’s a trade-off I may be willing to live with for now.
All in all, there’s not much left for me to desire (pun intended). Newer phones, like the Galaxy Nexus, have improved specs, but I feel no immediate need to upgrade. Considering how fast the smartphone market is moving, this is impressive to me. My wife’s iPhone 3GS of the same age feels “tired”, but the Desire’s still going strong. Google and HTC really created an excellent phone two years ago.