Review: Believe in the sign of Z


I’ve been waiting for HTC, Motorola, Samsung, or any android phone makers to come out with a worthy replacement for my HTC Dream. The dream was one heck of a phone. It was very hackable, and I’ve been running dozens of custom ROM on it. Also, one notable trait of the Dream that I like, is that the phone is equipped with a complete set input devices, from touch screen and G sensor,  to physical keyboard and trackball.

HTC Desire Z

Enter the HTC Desire Z. The phone runs HTC’s Sense UI on top of  Android 2.2 on an 800 MHz Qualcomm ARMv7 processor. Yes, it’s not the speediest of ARM processor, but hey, it gets the job done 🙂 I really can’t say anything bad about the performance as it runs everything that I throw at it at a very acceptable speed. I do notice that the address book stalled if you open it when it’s doing a sync with facebook. My solution: turn off facebook address sync, I don’t need it anyway.

In a sense, the Desire Z is a complete mirror the Dream, just juiced up a bit to handle today’s mobile computing load. Just like the Dream, it’s equipped with a physical keyboard, a very comfortable one I might add. It also sports a trackpad in place of the Dream’s trackball. And just like the Dream, it has a quite unorthodox design of storing the physical keyboard, known as the Z-hinge. Instead of sliding in and out, the upper part of the phone goes up a little bit, revealing the keyboard underneath, and then goes down, and rest at the top of the keyboard. Pretty neat.

Trackpad
The awesome 4 rows keyboard

One cool thing about the Desire Z is that you can use it as a mobile wireless hot-spot. And, unlike some phones out there, the hot-spot is in infrastructure mode, not ad-hoc, so you can hook up another android device, such as my Archos 70it to it.

The screen is gorgeous, but only if you’re indoor, as the screen is barely readable under the sun. My Nokia E52 is way better on this department.

Battery life is okay. Just like most of today’s smartphone (save for Nokia’s extremely underrated symbian smartphones) A single full charge won’t last a day, but at least it’ll stay on until you get home and plug it to the charger. It can share a micro-usb cable charging with my Nokia E52 and Blackberry 9700 at the office 🙂

A lot of complain regarding the Desire Z are about  the design of the Z-hinge. You’ll see lots of video on youtube about how the screen part of the phone will dangle freely when you hold it upside down. Well in practice, yes, using the physical keyboard while the phone is upside down will be near impossible. Me? I just switch to the virtual keyboard 🙂

Well, overall:

The good:

  • Myriad of input methods, I am especially fond of the 4 rows keyboard and trackpad
  • Gorgeous S-LCD screen
  • Android 2.2 or Froyo, and Flash support
  • Responsive, despite using only a 800 MHz processor
  • Mobile wireless hot-spot in infrastructure mode
  • Sense UI

The bad:

  • The screen is barely usable outdoor
  • Battery life is not exceptional, but actually quite good for an android phone
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