HTC Hero review

It's the latest handset to feature the power house that is Android, but does this HTC device live up to its name?

HTC Hero on Orange

It's hard not to get excited about Android these days. After anti-climatic smartphones a plenty of late, it's the current golden child, save for perhaps the corporate mainstay the BlackBerry, or indeed the business rebel the iPhone.

So, when HTC announced the latest in its Android-based line up back in June, we were looking forward to getting our hands on it to see if it lived up to expectations.

The handset is available in a number of guises. In its regular form, users can get it in black or white, while it's also available from T-Mobile under the moniker G2 Touch. Orange has also released the handset in a special graphite-coloured form. It's the latter that we managed to get our hands on to review.

Good looking, so refined

In the main, this is a very aesthetically pleasing handset. It looks not dissimilar to the minimalist approach taken by both the G1 and HTC Magic. And that's no bad thing.

In doing so, HTC has packed in a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 pixel screen in a lightweight (135g) and fairly svelte (112 x 56.2 x 14.35mm) form factor. It's not too heavy or too light and there's a reassuring weightiness in the right places without the handset feeling too flimsy or too bulky.

The back of the white version of the Hero is Teflon coated and the screen appears to be oleophobic so as to prevent the dreaded touch-screen finger marks. While it fared well compared to its peers, the HTC Hero is not impervious to grease.

In fact, there are very few design niggles. The first would be the lip'. On first glance, it makes it look as if the phone has been broken as a result of an incident with an Indiana Jones-style closing door. On closer inspection, the bendiness is entirely intentional.

If you have a larger than average head, this would perhaps be ergonomically advantageous, but for the average user it's a bit, well, annoying although HTC reckons it puts the microphone nearer to your mouth, we'd not overly convinced.

Minimalism

It took us ages to work out how to increase the volume. Then we realised that the button we previously thought was the gateway to unlocking the phone's back casing was actually the volume control.

The SD card too, is minimalist by design, hidden as it is beneath the casing. Other than the usual HTC Android navigation suspects (home, back search et al), the only other hardware feature of note is the introduction of a 3.5mm headphone jack, something that was missing from the HTC Magic. However, the bundled headphones are not really any use if you have average to small ear canals.

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