The HTC Legend isn’t just the successor to the excellent HTC Hero. It’s also one of the phones at the centre of the legal storm between Apple and the Far Eastern phone fiend. With a unibody metal structure and a post-paintjob HTC Sense on board, this is a mobile determined to destroy the iPhone.
The question is, has HTC once again come a close second, or does the inclusion of the all-new version of Android, 2.1, take it beyond Cupertino’s efforts?
Heave the HTC Legend from its box and you’ll be nothing short of amazed. This is indisputably the most gorgeous phone since the original iPhone. We’ll skip over the fact it’s taken the world and his wife over three years to land a punch on Apple by saying that the unibody frame makes it look astonishing.
Juice it up and the all-new version of HTC Sense, now featuring a social networking aggregator know as Friend Stream, as well as an Apple Expose-like addition dubbed Leap, makes the HTC Legend one of the easiest smartphones to use, as well as one of the most beautiful to behold.
The HTC Legend’s design is its calling card. The aluminium body gives it a real heft that’s only let down somewhat by a black plastic casing around the 5 megapixel camera and its flash. This isn’t wilful negligence. The 3G inside needs that plastic covering in order to work. However, it’s something HTC could have perhaps made a neater job of. There’s no denying the unibody idea is straight out of the big book of Apple design. But pull this phone out down the pub and we guarantee your mates will stare in awe. It really is that good.
It’s no lie in saying this is a better looking slab of mobile gadgetry than the iPhone, until iPhone 4.0 lands at least. Another neat design quirk is the battery flap down the bottom. Rather than pulling the phone apart, you simply lift off the rear end to slip in the battery, SD card and SIM. It’s something we think all phones should aspire to.
Key features on the HTC Legend are the 5 megapixel camera and the changes made to the onboard software skin, HTC Sense. The latter’s new Friend Stream is peerless, pulling together your favourite social networks including Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, and serving up updates in one place without you having to hop into a widget or onto the web. To set it up just add your login details when you first start up the phone.
News Reader and Leap are also winners. The latter is at the heart of Apple’s complaints about HTC, using pinch to zoom to show all seven home screens in one place, allowing you to tap in and choose the one you want. It’s so similar to Apple Expose in OS X Snow Leopard it’s almost embarrassing. News Reader is basically Google Reader for mobile, giving you RSS access from the home page.
As mentioned above, HTC Sense is perhaps the biggest draw on the HTC Legend. But the basis for this is the marvellous Android 2.1 software. Previously, the Google Nexus One (also made by HTC), was the only phone with 2.1 onboard and the Legend is one of the first phones to get the latest edition with a skin on top. It all works stunningly.
Extra account support in Gmail almost makes corporate mail redundant, Goggles is ace and the added speed and stability take it well past the current iteration of the iPhone OS.
Those familiar with HTC Sense will know just how easy it is to get to grips with. The new extras make it even more straightforward, especially Leap. Perhaps the HTC Sense’s only true failings are the trackpad and hard key arrangement. While the trackpad is fine per se, it’s hardly necessary, as the touchscreen is so good to use.
Likewise, the hard keys are ordered bizarrely, with the home button in the middle, which confused our thumbs no end. It feels like either the trackpad or buttons should have been left to the way side.
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