The HTC Desire Z is the sleek Android slider that’s got business on the brain. But how does this capacious Google-backed blower measure up under closer inspection? Read our full review and find out now.
There’s just no escaping the fact that HTC’s phones get better and better. The HTC Legend is one of the sleekest phones ever made and the Desire Z really isn’t far behind. It’s a stunning slab of brushed metal and rugged grey plastic, with a sharp ‘Z’ slider action.
Fire it up and you’re immediately taken aback by the speed of the thing, not to mention blown over by just how intuitive HTC Sense really is. And that physical QWERTY really does help this particular Android effort stand out from the crowd.
The look and build of the Desire Z is nothing short of magnificent. The original Desire’s teflon-coating was ok, but it never felt like a design-led iPhone rival. This really does.
From the chrome accents to the rock sold quality of the whole thing, it just screams class. The slider’s Z design (hence the name), is inspired and never feels clunky. The keyboard slips out in one smooth motion and unlike rival efforts, you don’t fear that one day the lower half of the phone will come away from the screen. That said, the keyboard itself does take some getting used to. The isolated keys are excellent, but it took us a while to get to grips with spreading our hands so far across in order to hit the central buttons.
In fact, we often reverted to the excellent virtual keyboard (of which more later). That’s a minor quibble though, and a personal one regarding physical keyboards on phones. The Desire Z’s screen is gorgeous and bright, its overall build fantastic.
While Android 2.2 is perhaps the Desire Z’s number one feature, we’ll come to that when we discuss software. In terms of hardware, the camera is a serviceable 5 megapixel effort, with good controls and easy scene selection. Pics are ok for posting on Facebook and Twitter, but do feel a tad grainy in bad light, even when using the in-built flash. As ever though, sharing snaps is easy thanks to Android. HTC has made a point of baking plenty of features into its cameras and the Desire Z is no exception.
This is no compact replacement, but then what hone really is? The 720p HD shooting mode is also smart and produces sleek and excellent videos, which look great played back on the WVGA panel. It’s not quite as good as the Samsung Galaxy S’s version though, but only real camcorder fanatics will be able to discern any real differences in quality.
The Desire Z is all about Android 2.2. While older HTC phones have struggled in getting the update thanks to issues with HTC Sense compatibility, everything here is present and correct. For starters, the virtual keyboard is amazing, better than any other version we’ve used, on Android and iOS, and certainly on Symbian. It’s assured and fixes mistakes instantly.
The browser now looks and feels much sharper and quicker and its Wi-Fi hotspot skills are nothing short of revolutionary. It couldn’t be easier to set up and share and means you’ve effectively got a MiFi in your pocket. HTC Sense remains the very best Android skin going, and although it’s known to hamper updates, we just can’t do without it.
As with all Android phones, set-up is a five minute doddle and aggregating content to your homescreens is so easy even your Nan could do it. HTC is showing all other Android OEMs how it’s done. The Desire Z is amazing.