Home' LAPTOP Magazine : November 2010 Contents SMARTPHONES
It's not just the major carriers who are getting the
latest Android smart phones. U.S. Cellular, the
sixth largest carrier in the country, has landed
the HTC Desire. Thanks to its Nexus One design
origins, 3.7-inch Super LCD screen, and fast 1-GHz
Snapdragon processor, it's a strong device---when
you can get a good signal.
Like the Nexus One, the Desire has a 3.7-inch
screen and rounded edges. Turning the phone over
reveals the 5-megapixel camera surrounded by a
silver oval edged in red, much like the Evo 4G.
The Desire features the easy-to-use HTC Sense
keyboard, which has just enough haptic feedback
without being jarring. Typing in portrait mode is a
little cramped. An auto-correct dictionary is usually
helpful, if occasionally overzealous. For example,
it took several tries to spell a name properly.
The optical touchpad worked well and came
in handy for taking pictures and starting up video
The Desire features an 800 x 480-pixel Super
LCD capacitive touchscreen that's sharp and bright.
However, outside on a sunny day, the display is a
little difficult to see.
Featuring Android 2.1, the Desire has seven
customizable home screens. Pinching the screen
or pressing the Home button twice shows all of the
screens at once. The HTC Sense UIjazzes things up
with widgets for news, stocks, Friend Stream, etc.
We really like the easy on/off switches for Wi-Fi,
GPS, Bluetooth, and Airplane mode.
Packing a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU,
512MB of RAM, and 512 of ROM, the Desire was
definitely snappy---sometimes almost too snappy;
photos went by so quickly as we scrolled through
them that it was hard to tap on the one we wanted
Unfortunately, the Desire rarely showed full signal
strength despite our using it at numerous locations
in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, all of which
are within U.S. Cellular's 3G coverage, according to
the company's maps. Completely loading the full web
pages of CNN.com, NYTimes.com, ESPN.com, and
Laptopmag.com took 37, 33, 22, and 36 seconds,
respectively. On average, the Evo 4G took 20 to 30
seconds less per page on Sprint's 3G network. As
expected, loading the same four sites over Wi-Fi
took considerably less time. The Desire displayed
both CNN.com and NYTimes.
com in 14 seconds, ESPN.com
in 10, and Laptopmag.com in 12.
Gmail is king, but you can add AOL, Comcast, Ex-
change ActiveSync, or other POP3/IMAP accounts.
U.S. Cellular bundles a few apps: My Contacts
Backup (online contact storage), City ID (displays
the city and state of incoming calls), Tone Room
Deluxe (a ringtone store), and Your Navigator
Deluxe(navigator powered by TeleNav). Of course,
there's always the 80,000-strong Android App
Marketplace. (U.S. Cellular currently offers a $20
credit with the phone.)
A 5-MP camera is de rigueur these days, and the
Desire ups the ante with a flash and touch focus-
ing. But while the camera took pictures quickly,
the results generally looked over-saturated. The
phone records video in 720p but defaults to VGA
(640 x 480 pixels). In both resolutions the video
was similarly oversaturated.
The speaker was loud and distortion-free, but
tinny. Calls sounded crisp.
In our LAPTOP Battery Test, the Desire's battery
lasted an average of 5 hours and 4 minutes, which is
just slightly below average for Android phones.
If you decide to pick up the HTC Desire and
are interested in a National plan (with no roam-
ing charges), we would recommend the National
1,000 promotion package for $49.99. This includes
1,000 minutes of talk time, unlimited nights and
weekends, and unlimited mobile to mobile.
For the Wide Area plan, which covers large parts
of the Midwest as well as some coastal locales,
we recommend the Wide Area All You Can Call
with Unlimited Text and Pix for $69, for unlimited
nights, weekends, and mobile-to-mobile minutes.
However, when traveling outside the coverage
area, you will be subject to $0.69-per-minute
U.S. Cellular also offers a unique service called
Battery Swap. If your phone's battery is dying and
you're far from an outlet, you can stop by any U.S.
Cellular store and swap out your dead battery for
a fully charged one. This free service is limited to
four swaps per month. The company also offers
Overage Protection service, which will send you a
text message if your voice minutes or text messages
are nearing their monthly limits.
For Midwesterners who don't travel much and
are looking for something more compact than the
Droid X or the Evo 4G, the $199 HTC Desire is a solid
choice. It's easily the best smart phone offered by U.S.
Cellular, and it's speedy to boot. However, the net-
work's coverage leaves something to be desired.
---Meghan J. McDonough
U.S. Cellular answers the call for a sleek Android phone while
packing in plenty of speed and a vivid Super LCD screen.
HTC $199 (with two-year contract
and $70 mail-in rebate)
CPU:1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD 8650
Operating System: Android 2.1 Data: 1xRTT,
EV-DO Rev. A RAM/ROM: 512MB/512MB Display
Size/Resolution: 3.7 inches/800 x 480 GPS:
Yes Wireless: 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
with A2DP Camera: 5 MP Talk/Standby Time:
5 hours/10.6 days Ports: 3.5mm headphone,
microUSB Size: 4.7 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches Weight:
Speedy 1-GHz Snapdragon processor
Bright and rich Super LCD screen
Solid design with soft-touch finish
U.S. Cellular's battery swap program
Rarely had a full signal
Camera images oversaturated
Odd design choices
LAPTOP | November 2010
Oddly, HTC designed two buttons
on the left of the optical trackpad,
but only one on the right.
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