Wednesday, December 22, 2010


After years of reading reviews, I guess this is my turn to write one.

This is a review of the HTC Desire Z

Essential specs:

Android 2.2 w/ HTC Sense UI
5 Megapixel w/ Auto focus and single LED flash
Video capture up to 720p @ 30fps
480 X 800 SLCD display
1.5 GB user accessible storage
Expandable external storage MicroSD (non-hotswappable aka slot is underneath the battery)

First up, a hardware overview.

The photo doesn't do the screen justice, seriously.

The screen is gorgeous. I have yet to see a Samsung Galaxy S but I've played with the iPod Touch 3, 4 and iPad. The screen on the Desire Z is on par if not better than the iDevices mentioned. Specifically it's better than the iPod Touch 3.

The pixels are so indistinguishable that I had to use the same macro procedure used to take the 10 sen coin congkak to snap this shot. Full size here (5MB big so gotta wait yeah...).

The phone is a side slider with a 4-row QWERTY physical keyboard. Personally I don't fancy the keyboard. Just don't like it. I primarily use it to key in passwords. I've read reviews that say it's the best keyboard on a phone, but meh, not feeling it.

EDIT: After about 2 months of using it, I LURRRRVVVEEEE the physical keyboard.

Another feature of the phone is the Z-hinge that gives the phone it's name (supposedly). Doubts have been cast on the hinge as to it's durability.

The hinge was known to be loose and the pieces of the phone separate when held in a compromising position. By my experimentations, I've concluded that the tilting angle for the hinge to close on itself is 45 degrees to the vertical. But it isn't really a problem as you gradually learn how to use the phone as intended by the manufacturer. They even issued a statement (scroll to the part where they review the hinge) saying that it is a design intent.

The touch-sensitive trackpad doesn't seem to serve much purpose besides moving the cursor around when you want to correct a typo. Even for that application sometimes I use the iPhone-esque magnifying glass thing to navigate the cursor. Custom ROMs have exploited this and have enabled trackpad wake so you can wake the device by clicking the trackpad. Nice.

EDIT: Only to know it's used to navigate in recovery. Nice.

My iPod friend said the square magnifying class is "cute". Bugger...

The camera sucks. Period. The default settings applied too much noise reduction that made it look like a pile of poo. After some tinkering (thanks to a thread on XDA Developers) I've got the NR disabled and pictures start to look nicer. HTC phones are not known for having a good cameras anyway so I'll leave it at that. I do appreciate the dedicated camera shutter button at the side though.

The loudspeaker is reasonably loud for media purposes. No compaints there.

GPS locks reasonably fast. Indoors (specifically in my room) for GPS Test to obtain the coordinates took about 1 minute 20 secs from a cold start (w/ accuracy to 15 meters). Outdoors it took a mere 20 seconds to obtain a coordinate lock. It was slightly cloudy as the rain has just stopped, but with visible clouds.

WiFi holds on to the signal great. In my room, locking on to my house's WiFi is faster on the Desire Z than my laptop. Sad, isn't it? However at my campus, it does take a while to connect to the WiFi signals there. I checked the signals with WiFi Analyzer and the channels overlap each other like nobody's business. Thing is an iPod connects fine while it takes at least 5 minutes of going 'Connecting' and then 'Disconnected' and repeating itself on this phone to obtain the IP address.

I must say, however that the WiFi channels at my school are as overlapped as *insert something that overlaps a lot*. One SSID will have 3 channels that overlap each other. I totally understand if the phone has problem picking out which channel to connect to. I solved this by connecting using the built-in WiFi connect function in WiFi Analyzer.

In terms of battery life, I say it's pretty standard? 16 hours with moderate GPS and WiFi usage. According to JuicePlotter, the battery drains 20 percent for every hour of WiFi usage.

There's this turn-over-to-silent function that works pretty well. It doesn't un-silent if you turn it over again though,

Now to software overview:

Launcher Pro, yo.

The phone is silky smooth. Scrolling from homescreen to homescreen is buttery smooth. Though sometimes after using the browser or playing games for some time when you return to the homescreen, it does take a while to load it up, but that's about it.

Browser wise, scrolling while fully zoomed out on the stock browser does present jitteryness, but no checkerboard whatsoever. Zoomed in however presents smooth scrolling (though sometimes a bit of jitteryness is felt). Jitteryness is solved by installing an alternative browser like Dolphin HD, and some patience to wait for the page to finish loading.

This is in contrast to an iOS device (this includes iPod touch 3 & 4 and iPad, no privilege to play iPhone yet) where smooth scrolling is available right after the page starts showing up, but you scroll around and checkerboard shows up. Even after the page finishes loading, the moment you scroll too fast for the browser to catch up, you'll see checkerboard.

Stock browser in tab switching mode.

Tabs management of the stock browser sucks. Yes there's the fancy pinch-out-and-see-tabs thing, but that took too many taps. Dolphin HD has the tabs at the beginning of the page and after pressing the menu button, so switching tabs is a better experience on an alternative browser like Dolphin HD.

Dolphin Browser HD. Awesome tabs.

Gaming wise, so far all the games that I've played ran smoothly. No rooting required to install apps from the APK package from the SD card. My iPod friend even said the screen smoothness (this is while playing Angry Birds), I quote, 'comparable' with an iPod.

Not much comments on HTC Sense UI coz I installed LauncherPro right after I got the device. I do particularly like the full-sized Sense Calender and Agenda widgets.

As far as multitouch is concerned, 4 is the maximum number of points the screen can track. Doesn't switch positions like how the Nexus One and original Desire did. They do switch if I place them very very close to each other.

I don't actually know where to place this, but the soft keys work well for me, so far.

The fast boot thing that HTC has advertised for the Desire Z and Desire HD are actually hibernate functions. It's not exactly a full boot. Pretty useful for turning off a phone temporarily. A full boot takes about a minute or so.

RRP now is RM2299 and yes, it's exactly the same RRP as the Desire HD. WTF, right?

That's it for the review. Anything you want to ask just comment below.

EDIT: Added stuff previously not possible to be done by stock phone. Hehe...


fEast91 said...

That's yours?
How much did you buy it for?

fEast91 said...

BTW, basically all iOS device operates quite similarly to each other, except for the version. If on of the iPods you tested has the same version iOS as the iPhone 4, its virtually the same.

Foo said...

lol dun ask price la. I bought it overpriced. Talk about price also sakit hati.

Yeah wasn't sure about iPhone coz I cannot directly compare since I honestly haven't tested it as comprehensively as an iPod (of which my friend has one). Honesty ma. Haha. An iPhone is an iPod with phone functions anyway.

fEast91 said...

Owh ye ke?
Hahaha, so then normally market price how much lor?

Yeah basically all iStuff has that kind of thing. BTW, the carrying/holding an iPhone 4 is like handling a glass brick; 1 slip and say bye2 to duit :p

Also ever tried Nokia N8?

Foo said...

It's RRP-ed at RM2299.

Nope not yet try N8. I know the hardware rocks on that thing but the OS and UI totally sucks. Used symbian before, never going back.

fEast91 said...

Haha, my old friend, that's where everyone misunderstood. Yes, the Nokia 5800 XM version is shit (along with those of N97(mini) and the likes) but S^3 (the N8's) is a vast improvement over them!
Of course, its still not as slick as Android or iOS, but the 2 months I'm with it, its a pleasure, and won't drop it for anything (well if its FREE, then we'll talk).

Still, maybe I'll pump out my review of it after exam's over; exams over here, in winter to boot, is kinda like cold frozen hell.

fEast91 said...

Also to note, the UI sucks (compared to Android and iOS) but the core OS is not. Its the technical bits that make me still stay with Nokia.

fEast91 said...

Sorry for the fan-blurb lol.

Foo said...

lol from what i've seen on reviews, it's pretty much the same thing as a 5800, just with an AMOLED screen.

IMO symbian is a dying OS. It used to be at the top, but it's dying a slow and painful death at the moment.

Maybe some day I'll get to play with the N8 and get to make a direct comparison.

fEast91 said...

Oh god please don't go that way. I've read countless people where people said that, but I still not see it.

Honestly, I try not to make an enemy out of you lol (j/k), but really screenshots and US tech-bloggers opinions does not do it justice.

fEast91 said...

Oh BTW Happy Holidays! :D

Foo said...

lol I used to use a symbian and got fed up with it. My friend went through 2 symbians and he's also fed up with it. I have 4 more friends using symbian, 1 is using an android as a main phone, the other 3 are thinking of changing.

If nokia makes androids, I'll happily buy a nokia, but not a symbian.

It makes no sense that I buy a 2k android phone when a Nokia flagship device is selling at less than 1.6k. It came down to OS. The days of symbian are numbered. Even the symbian foundation is close to closing down.

Lol no enemies made. Just doing some tech preaching. Afterall the N8 has the backing of a global sales that exceeded iPhone's. That's a huge testament to the phone.

Happy holidays to you too!

fEast91 said...

Lol, true. Anyways as tech enthusiasts this is really enlightening to find out that a close friend of mine is into phones as much as I do. Sometimes its so lonely when only among friends, we know the real deal behind em, and of course the Interwebs lol.

Well gotta study for exams, maybe we'll be in contact again soon if there are ever another chance. Happy holidays kalau tengah cuti, good luck kalau tengah exam!

Foo said...

lol there're a lot more lurking around us, waiting for us to ask their opinion.

All the best with your exams!