The HTC Desire Z gives the best of both worlds with its responsive touch screen and amply sized slide-out QWERTY keypad. Notably, having both these features doesn’t compromise the performance of either of them.
Having a slide-out keypad may give the impression that the HTC Desire Z is bulky, but it actually isn’t. In fact, we’ve had people hold the phone and not know that tucked underneath is a keyboard that runs the entire length of the phone. On the other hand, we’ve received comments that the unit is a bit heavy – though only before they find out that the phone has a hidden keypad.
As mentioned in our unboxing gallery, parts of the phone are made of aluminum, further adding to the overall solid feel. What's more, the unit isn't the least bit clunky even when the keypad has been slid out, thanks to its special hinge. The mechanism allows the screen and the keypad to be oriented at a level plane. The keys are also large enough to be enjoyed by big, manly hands.
In case the hinge loosens, our supplier has informed us that you can take the unit to their service center in Greenhills for them to adjust for free. Note, though, that this is only applicable to units bought from authorized HTC resellers.
Froyo for you
What makes the Desire Z all the more desirable is its Android 2.2 or Froyo OS. As for user experience, it’s not all too different from the 2.1 or Éclair, but the aesthetics are a lot more smartphone-y. There are many widgets to spruce up your home screen, aside from the typical icons.
To fully enjoy the Desire Z’s features – and all smartphones for that matter – one has to be on an unlimited data plan, so as not to rack up exorbitant usage fees. Even if you don't surf the Web using the phone, notifications and synched user accounts allow the unit to tap into a 3G, EDGE, or GPRS network automatically. Even applications from the Android Market can easily be updated over-the-air. Besides, it’s an utter waste investing on a smartphone above P25,000 if you don’t subscribe to a data plan to maximize its features.
Also, unsolicited advice: Don’t forget to download an app killer from the Android Market, to free up more memory while using this multitasking phone. When you feel your Android phone’s features are lagging, chances are, you’ve got many applications running all at the same time.
One of the most impressive features of the Desire Z is how it can be used as a portable hotspot. Yes, a wireless hotspot. We’ve tried surfing the Web on an iPad while connected wirelessly to the Desire Z with no issues. You can set a password for your hotspot, too, lest anyone else wants to ride on the free Internet parade.
The HTC Desire Z also boasts of added features they’ve named under the umbrella term “HTC Sense” with features we’ve listed in our HTC Desire HD review. Add to the list one of its nifty features for social media butterflies, the Friend Stream, which aggregates updates from your Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr friends in one widget.
If visuals could kill
Even if the Desire Z was affected by the AMOLED shortage, its S-LCD screen still yields rich and crisp visuals. In fact, there’s no palpable difference between an AMOLED and the HTC Desire Z’s S-LCD.
The Desire Z also comes with a 5-megapixel camera with flash. As for photo quality, they’re decent in a good-enough-to-be-uploaded-on-Facebook way, but you’re still better off with a separate digital camera. What’s interesting about the camera, though, is it has built-in photo effects reminiscent of the popular Hisptamatic app for the iPhone and iPod touch. That being said, no, Hisptamatic is not available on the Android Market – yet. A good alternative to take old-school-looking photos for Android phones is Retro Camera.
As for browsing the Web, the Desire Z's pinch-and-zoom capabilities enhance the mobile Internet experience as well. Couple that with the spacious screen and we've got ourselves one solid mobile Internet device.
Dealing with battery life
As in the case of most smartphones, battery life of the HTC Desire Z has lots of room for improvement.
There are ways, though, to cope with the battery life of this hardworking phone. First is to adjust your settings. If you can live without animated wallpapers or home screen animations, then disable them. The Desire Z’s S-LCD is bright enough, so you need not max out its brightness. Adjust the timeout of the phone as well, so no power is wasted while it’s idle.
Next, only allow notifications and automated synching from accounts that are important to you. For instance, if you don’t need to know if you’re mentioned on Twitter or tagged in a photo on Facebook in real-time, then disallow synching of these features in your phone. Or if you’re in the office the whole day, anyway, then adjust the refresh rate of your personal email on your phone to hours apart. It’s automated synching that is one of the real enemies here – aside from Angry Birds, of course.
HTC Desire Z Quadrant Benchmark Score: 1189
The Z factor
All in all, the HTC Desire Z is a formidable addition to HTC’s lineup of Android phones. Physically, not only does it look good, but it makes user experience more comfortable especially in typing emails, too, with the addition of the slide-out keypad.
But beyond the aesthetics, bundled with Froyo and HTC Sense, the Desire Z’s brainpower is a force to reckon with. With a little tweaking, plus downloading the right Android apps, and of course, a data plan, its P32,000 price tag will work hard for you.
Click here to see the HTC Desire Z in the Buyer's Guide.