HTC launches new Desires, adds online service

HTC has unveiled a brace of Android 2.2 smartphones, the Desire HD and Desire Z, alongside an upgrade to its Sense user interface and a new online service
Written by Charles McLellan, Senior Editor

HTC has launched two new Android 2.2 smartphones — the Desire HD and the Desire Z — both of which feature an upgraded HTC Sense user interface.

HTCSense.com was also introduced at the company's London event on Wednesday. The web-based service that allows people to manage and customise their 'phone experience' from an HTC handset or internet-connected PC.

John Wang shows off the HTC Sense photo

John Wang, HTC's chief marketing manager, shows off HTC Sense and the new HTCSense.com service. Photo credit: Charles McLellan

HTC chief executive Peter Chou made a tantalising reference to "upcoming Windows Phone 7 devices from HTC" during his opening remarks, but no further mention was made of Microsoft's new mobile OS, despite much anticipation on rumour sites.

The new HTC Sense interface includes 10-second power-on, improved email handling via a single inbox, enhanced camera and video features, plus a series of improvements to the mapping experience. Called HTC Locations, these include quicker cached online map delivery, automatic map orientation via a single tap on a compass icon, and better interaction with incoming phone calls.

"With HTC Sense, you don't move the map, the map automatically moves for you," John Wang, HTC's chief marketing officer, said.

The new HTCSense.com online service allows all text messages to be captured to the cloud, where they can be searched for from a PC. In addition, if a phone is mislaid in the house, the owner can log into HTCSense.com from a PC, click a 'ring' button and have the handset advertise its location (even if the device is set to silent). If the owner is at work and has left the phone at home, the device can be set to forward calls to the office number. If the phone is lost, it can be remotely locked and a message set for a finder. In the last resort, the owner can remotely wipe a lost or stolen phone.

"No longer are we just putting a phone in your hand," said Chou. "We are extending the HTC experience beyond the phone."

The first of the two Android 2.2 smartphones, the 164g Desire HD has a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels. It is powered by Qualcomm's 1GHz 8255 Snapdragon processor, and comes with 768MB of RAM and 1.5GB of internal storage, which is expandable via a microSD card. It has an 8-megapixel camera with dual-flash and supports 720p HD video recording. For wireless connectivity, there is HSPA, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1.

The Desire HD will be available from mid-October from all major mobile networks except O2. HTC's UK country manager Jon French declined to comment on O2's omission, beyond saying "that question will be answered very shortly".

The Desire Z has a 3.7-inch super-LCD touchscreen, an 800MHz Qualcomm 7230 CPU, 512MB of RAM, 1.5GB of internal storage with microSD expansion. It also includes a 5-megapixel camera with flash and the same HSPA/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity as the HD model. At 180g, it is heavier than the Desire HD, thanks to a Qwerty keyboard that emerges via a 'pop-hinge'.

The Desire Z will be available from Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U. No pricing details were available at the time of writing.

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