HTC Desire Z Review

The HTC Desire Z is a rather interesting creation packing both a high resolution touch screen with Android and a slide out full QWERTY keyboard.  This is the handset known as the T-Mobile G2 over in America, not to be confused with the T-Mobile G2 here in the UK which was the HTC Hero.

This review device was kindly loaned to us by Vodafone UK who also stock this on Pay Monthly contracts and is free from £35 a month including minutes, texts and data use.

The HTC Desire Z has an impressive set of specifications which include

  • Android 2.2 OS (upgradable to 2.3)
  • 5 Megapixel Camera
  • HSDPA 14.4mb/s
  • HSUPA 5.76mb/s
  • Bluetooth, WiFi & GPS

The HTC Desire Z is a great all-round Android phone running 2.2 FroYo, with HTC Sense UI on top giving you all the extras which HTC are known for.  There is also a slide out QWERTY keyboard which is one of the best on a mobile device and there is a unique hinge used for the opening and closing of the screen.  A 1300mah battery comes included in the box which will get you through a good day of use even with internet browsing but you will need to charge the phone ar night time to make sure you are ok for another day of use in the morning.

The front of the Desire Z has at the top a large speaker grill for when you are in phone calls, the large 3.7 inch screen with a resolution of 000 by 000 pixels which is great for web browsing and for viewing photos and videos.

Below the screen is the normal set of keys found on Android phones and these are capacative touch buttons so not physical keys.  Here you find HOME, MENU, BACK and SEARCH which work in any menu you are in for different features.

Below these buttons is a single optical navigation pad like seen on recent BlackBerry phones and this is used to navigate through the different homescreens, menus and options on the phone.  However with the large screen you might find you never actually use this part of the phone.  There is also a hidden feature you cannot see until it kicks in but surrounding the pad is a square light which flashes on and off when you have things like missed calls, texts and emails.  Very handy to have and easy to notice when on your desk.

The back of the phone has the back cover which holds the battery, SIM card and MicroSD card, there is a 5 megapixel camera with single LED flash and the speakerphone.  The camera is unfortunately not one of the best and the single LED flash does very little to help when in real situations when a flash is needed.

HTC Desire Z ReviewHTC Desire Z Review

The camera on the Desire Z is there for snapping quick photos on the move when you need but you would not want to use the Z for your main camera use, the final images unless perfect lighting come out slightly washed out with colours looking off at times.  If you try taking a picture indoors this is where the lack of decent flash really shows and you get a very poor quality grainy image.  However as great as their phones are, HTC have never been known for their impressive photography on mobiles, mainly their high reputation is down to build quality and design.  The Desire Z is fine for the odd photo here and there but not for holiday snaps.

The bottom of the phone has the small microphone used when in calls and also you can see the two parts of the hinge mechanism.

At the top of the phone has  the 3.5mm headset jack as seen on the Desire HD which is great for using everyday headsets not just the one you get in the box.  Although the Desire Z is not what you would call a media focused device, having applications like LastFM or Spotify with a good headset does make the multimedia experience on the Z enjoyable

The left hand side has the volume up and down buttons which when used in calls controls the speaker volume and when used in the main screen controls the ringtone volume and also puts the phone into vibrate and silent mode.  There is also the MicroUSB port which can be used for charging the phone as well as plugging in the phone to a computer for tethering as a modem or data transfer.

The right hand side of the phone has the camera button which is a nice addition and something missing on a lot of touch screen phones these days.  It means when you hold the phone in landscape the camera button is perfectly positioned for snapping that perfect shot or starting the video recorder.  Just behind that button is the little switch which is the catch to release the back cover.

The keyboard of the Desire Z is actually very good.  The keys are well spaced out and large enough to be practical when typing long messages out, even though there is a good on screen keyboard 99% of the time I found that I was using the QWERTY keys.

As much as I want to love the Desire Z with it’s really nice screen, up to date 2.2 Android OS running the latest version of HTC Sense, Good camera for snapping on the move and super fast internet connection the one let down I found from this phone was simply the hinge used was far too loose and weak.

HTC have a great reputation for build quality on their devices and although both parts of the hardware do feel well built it almost felt like the hinge design and build was an after thought.  On looking at various websites online this seems to be a common issue mentioned by a lot of people which is a shame.

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However do not let that put you off the Desire Z, it has far too much going for it specification and feature wise to be held back by a simple loose hinge.

As with the Desire HD, the Desire Z has the ‘fast boot’ mode which is supposed to allow near instant on use even if you have turned the phone off and on using  an unbranded handset this works very well.  However what Vodafone have done is add an extra screen to the fast-boot mode of their logo which delays the startup by a good few seconds, nothing major but it is noticeable if you have used both an unbranded and a branded phone.

If I was to give the Desire Z a score out of 10 overall I would give it an 8.  The great work done by HTC to get not only a great screen but paired with a great keyboard and the fastest speeds seen on a mobile phone here in the UK make it future proof and a long term investment. No network here supports those speeds yet but it is nice to know when we do you have a phone here which will not need upgrading.  Plus when you use as a modem over WiFi which is built into Android 2.2 you get a great modem too.