back to article HTC Desire Z Android Qwerty smartphone

HTC may have been making a bit of a splash with its Windows Phone 7 handsets of late, but that doesn’t mean it’s been neglecting its Googlephone products. The Desire Z, features Android 2.2 OS, plus a slide-out Qwerty keyboard and an HD video camera. HTC Desire Z The best of both worlds? HTC's Desire Z At 119 x 60 x 15mm …


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  1. Test Man

    Aspect ratio of videos

    "However, the standard Android media player won’t stretch the film to fit the screen, which can lead to some unpleasant letterbox bars at top and bottom."

    That's cos your film will probably be 2.35:1 and not 16:9. In fact, films generally aren't 16:9 at all.

    So thank God for the media player showing it properly. I'd much rather the media player showed the film exactly as it was intended to be shown instead of either 1. stretching it vertically (making things look out of proportion) or 2. zooming into it, cutting off the sides in the process.

    Make no mistake, watching stuff in the ORIGINAL ASPECT RATIO is better than zoom-to-fit or stretch-to-fit. Borders are hardly an issue and is far better than distorting the image.

  2. Andrew Garrard
    Thumb Up

    The screen

    Just to add to this review: I had a play with a friend's one of these devices, and what struck me was that the screen appears really to have 800x480 RGB sub-pixels - *unlike* the normal Desire, which has a PenTile arrangement that some of us find annoying.

    If this had come out a year ago, I'd have got one in a heartbeat to replace my Touch Pro 2 (the keyboard isn't quite as good, even though the rest of the phone is thinner, but I'll take a phone that doesn't have a response time measured in minutes and doesn't keep using its resistive screen to answer itself inside my pocket). As it is, I'm waiting for an Android phone with nearer the Retina Display resolution (whoever does 1280x768 in a 4-5" form factor first has my money). The keyboard doesn't matter as much as it used to - Swype makes a big difference.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      But which normal Desire....

      ...are you referring to?

      The original with AMOLED screen has one pixel arrangement while the SLCD version, that came later when HTC found their supplies of AMOLED becoming scarce, has a different one.

    2. Anon the mouse

      Screen is capacitive

      I dread to think what you have touching the phone in your pocket to answer a call but the screen is Capacitive not resistive..... making me take off my gloves to answer the phone :(

    3. Rebajas
      Thumb Up

      No longer Pentile...

      The later Desire's have a Sony screen with full 800*480 RGB sub-pixels too. Possibly the same screen as this phone.

      In my opinion it made a huge difference in the quality and I hope HTC never goes back to Pentile

    4. Paul


      the motorola atrix might be more to your liking. apart from the locked moto bootloaders :-(

      just ask any milestone1, xt720 or milestone2 owners if they will ever buy another moto device!

  3. Vitani

    Hmm, interesting

    Sounds like a good replacement for my (rooted, Froyo) G1.

    A few of questions for anyone who has used this phone in anger:

    - Does the keyboard hinge last?

    - Is the exposed ribbon cable really an issue?

    - Do I have to sync my contacts with HTC, or can I continue to use Googles offerings?

    - How annoying is it having the number keys shared with letters?

    1. Obvious Robert

      Good upgrade from G1

      I got one of these to replace my trusty old G1 when they came out back in November. So far there are no issues with the hinge or ribbon cable at all, although yes it gets a little dusty but can be carefully cleaned from time to time with a cotton bud or something.

      Nearly 3 months on, and I still absolutely love this phone. 800Mhz is fast enough to make the phone snappy and handle Flash content, play Angry Birds et al, but not so fast that it burns out the battery in a ridiculous time - having a decent dedicated graphics chip helps on that score as well.

      Syncing contacts with HTC is optional, and more intended as a backup thing. The phone still uses all the standard Android/Google contacts/calendar/mail as the G1. This was a major issue for me coming from the G1, and I'm pleased to say that if anything the Desire Z handles things better than the G1.

      I have to admit that it is *slightly* annoying sharing number keys with letters. Day to day usage is no biggie, and you can lock it into Fn mode by double pressing the Fn key to enter a long number, but entering e.g. an IP address is a right pain in the backside because you have to keep switching back to normal mode to enter a dot. But on the plus side, the keyboard is so spacious, when I go back to my G1 it now it feels pokey and very cramped by comparison.

      1. Vitani

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        Thanks Robert! Sounds like a good step up. Now to find the best deal, or cheapest place to buy it stand-alone! :o)

    2. Anonymous Coward


      - Does the keyboard hinge last?

      Yes. Had my HTC Desire Z since early December. No worries. Starting to get a little gunky there, though, the same way a PC keyboard gets gunky under the keys.

      - Is the exposed ribbon cable really an issue?

      Not so far.

      - Do I have to sync my contacts with HTC, or can I continue to use Googles offerings?

      Use Google's offerings. DO NOT USE HTC SENSE (online services). I did and I was horrified when HTC instantly suggested "friends" that were also using HTC phones. I felt my privacy extremely invaded and instantly deleted my HTC online account. Don't make the same mistake I did.

      When the Desire Z came out it had a MASSIVE SMS sending problem - the phone would sit for whole minutes before sending a SMS. It f$#@ed me off no end. Fortunately, before I threw the phone at a brick wall, HTC sent a system update out on Christmas day. Now SMSs get sent in 1-6 seconds.

      - How annoying is it having the number keys shared with letters?

      Not annoying at all. Keyboard isn't the best but it's not that bad either. Unfortunately HTC are taking their sweet time adding symbols accessible from the keyboard. Before Christmas you couldn't even specify the caret.

      BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH THIS PHONE IS LACK OF A HANG-UP BUTTON. You don't realise how serious this is till you try and hang up and find yourself having to navigate a touch screen. Imagine you're in a car, driving, and the brake function is a small button somewhere on your GPS touch screen. You wouldn't drive a car like that, would you? Now would you risk your mistress coming out of the shower during a phone call to your wife without the ability to suddenly and reliably hang up?

  4. cheesey_toastie

    HTC need to learn... Battery life is king!

    I have a Hero - everyone I know with a Desire says the same thing - we need a battery that lasts 2 days. There is no point in owning a smart phone that needs to be plugged in every 8 hours - I need to be able to leave the house and know I'll still have a working phone at 1AM to ring a cab!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The battery *does* last a couple of days on my Desire, courtesy of Juicedefender/Ultimatejuice. Out of the box, it's about half that, of course.

      Android is a bit slack on power management. It's not an HTC issue, it's all Android phones, so I am not sure where "HTC need to learn.." comes from. That's a bit like saying that "Dell need to learn", because IE has horking great security holes.

    2. Steve Evans

      Re: HTC need to learn... Battery life is king!

      I must admit that the battery life is my only concern about this phone, unfortunately people buy so many of those damn fruit themed phones that barely make it past 4pm before crawling towards a USB port that battery life doesn't appear to be high on the agenda for the masses.

      1. batfastad
        Jobs Horns

        Battery does last 2 days

        I have background data, mobile internet, GPS and all the auto-sync stuff turned off... and only turn it on when I need it. Most of the day my phone's sat in my jacket pocket anyway.

        But yes, all the advances in battery tech just get wiped out by hardware vendors packing (often redundant for 90% of the time) processing power into machines.

        Still a brilliant phone though.

  5. PaulR79

    A day of heavy use is GOOD!

    I was surprised to see near the end that the reviewer mentions barely getting a day of heavy use from the phone. I'd put that as a good point for the phone as some other brands will not make it a day with moderate use. With that said I wish that battery technology could advance at the same pace as other technologies so a day of heavy use keeps barely gets the phone to 50%.

    Overall I like the Desire Z but I opted for the Desire HD for the larger screen. I miss the hardware keyboard sometimes but putting my old Motorola Milestone (also a 3.7" screen) next to the DHD it looks a lot smaller. The Desire Z does have the better graphics chip of the two phones which seems odd to me but there you go.

  6. Sam Liddicott

    I've since departed HTC

    I've been an HTC fan for years, but their instistance on locking down the kernel/boot-loeder has driven me into the arms of ZTE.

    And at these prices, versus less than £100 for a ZTE blade (with no physical keyboard) I don't miss HTC much - which is a shame, because I want to miss them, at least for old times sake - I reall LIKE the company HTC.

    Still, that's competition for you, and now it's 3 cheers for ZTE

  7. Gilbert Wham


    I've found the battery pisses all over the battery in my G2. And having a proper QWERTY keyboard again is a constant joy.

  8. rfdparker2002

    Research would be Common Sense

    "HTC handsets are never pure Android, since they always have the company’s Sense user interface running on top, and they’re all the better for it."

    Nope. Ever heard of the HTC Dream (branded as the T-Mobile G1 in the US and UK), the Nexus One, or - something that might've been more topical to notice - this very device (generically known as the HTC Vision) was sold in the US with stock Android as the T-Mobile G2? But you'd be right in saying _most_ HTC handsets today are shipped with Sense, but hopefully that'll maybe change with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), at least to increase how fast users get updates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not sure who's being pedantic here... or the author.

      Those phones you mention are all manufacturered by HTC for someone else, hence their customer doesn't want the sense software on them.

      HTC phones made by them for them include it.

  9. spegru

    Series 5?

    Is this really the replacement for Psion's Series 5 that I'd been hoping for?

    I've been planning an upgrade and am torn between this one and the Desire HD

    Bigger screen vs Keyboard......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Psion Series 5

      It'd be great if it did double up as a Psion replacement.

      I suppose the real question is whether "Apps" are any substitute for the real "programs" one could run on a Psion.

      Does anyone know?

    2. RegisterThis


      I know that debate of bigger screen vs. keyboard - something I am working through!

      I used to think the physical keyboard was essential for typing, but it really seems as though swype makes a massive difference in the speed for typing on virtual keyboards closing the WPM gap on physical. Of course you still have to look down as obviously there is no touch typing ...

      The bigger thing driving me towards the larger screen now is the fact that as I get older, I think my eyes are not quite as good as they used to be :-)

      A 3rd element of my dilemma is battery ... big screen smartphones need to last 2 days with moderate to heavy use. I am coming from a Nokia E72 and the biggest gripe I always have from my iPhone toting colleagues is battery life ... to the point that they occasionally even borrow my phone to make calls when they are travelling to preserve the little battery they have left to receive calls.

      It really is ridiculous and the makers need to put higher capacity batteries in these things ... even if it costs more! No point having the kit and having to nurse the very thing that should be helping you live an easier life ...

  10. Jim Coleman


    Is Android's GUI really so shite that HTC have to re-skin it like they did with Windows Mobile?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Jom Coleman

      Wow, looking at your post history it's obvious that you really have a bug up your ass about Android. What gives? Did nasty Google nick your dinner money or something?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, but if they didn't people would go play with them in Carphone Warehouse and wonder what the difference between the brands was. Just like Nissan, Vauxhall and Renault all make the same van with a different face.

  11. Bristol Dave

    Looks like a good replacement for...

    my N900.


    1. carl 10
      Thumb Up

      N900 vs Desire Z

      I replaced my N900 with the Desire Z beginning of December. Definitely the right decision. Useability compared to the N900 is miles ahead and it "just works" unlike Nokia's recent buggy offerings.

      The keyboard is far superior (although slide-out mechanism feels less solid) and the screen although technically only marginally bigger feels significantly larger. The touchscreen implementation is on another level. Overall it just feels like HTC have really worked on the detail unlike the N900 which Nokia seemed to casually throw out seemingly unrefined.

      The only features I missed from the N900 were the built in 32GB memory, FM transmitter (although a rarely used gimmick for me) and the camera on the N900 is probably a bit better, although slower. I suspect the N900 was a little bit more willing to play a wider selection of DIVX/AVI files but then the Rockplayer app seems to solve this when compared to the built in video player.

      For web use, e-mail, mp3/media play, gallery and of course the ridiculous amount of apps available on Android (compared to the N900's fairly small set of largely "work in progress" apps) the Desire Z is a joy to use and the touchscreen is far more enjoyable to use than the "keep stabbing your finger til it registers" N900 version.

      The N900 was probably the last Nokia I will own after several happy years with a (much-loved) E90. Nokia seem to have really lost their way, but anyway... You won't regret switching from the N900.

  12. npupp 1


    Anyone know if that's an under-clocked 1GHz SnapDragon or a true 800MHz processor?

    1. Obvious Robert


      No, it's a newer generation Scorpion processor, not a SnapDragon. As I understand it, 45nm as opposed to 60nm in the SnapDragon, more efficient on power and capable of running things just as well at the lower clock speed. Plus the newer chipset includes the Adreno 205 GPU, which (I've read) is 3 times faster than the GPU in previous SnapDragon chipsets.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Mentioning rockplayer reminded me that there is an earlier free version of this call DemoPlayer with pretty much the same functionality.;attach=760;PHPSESSID=cc2bd94c151ee48fed5029c5861607a1

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The getting-quieter-when-you-pick-it-up feature isn't new, the original Desire had that at launch.

  15. Sampler

    Good Battery Life

    Compared to a Desire.

    I upgraded to a Desire from a Touch Pro 2 when I saw the way MS were taking winmo (or not taking 6.5 anywhere) but missed the hardware keyboard so sold it and bought a Z for about £50 difference so not bad.

    Managed three days of what I'd call moderate use out of it last week, wifi on most of the time, apps syncing and lots of friendstream checking whilst commuting (which is a five-six hour round trip).

    Negative points though (as the review above seemed fairly generic HTC Android fare) are:

    Daft positioning of the USB port on the side meaning you have to get a sideways dock but the HTC Sense homescreen doesn't rotate like other apps do unless you pull the keyboard out. I figure it's on the side to allow it to be docked with the keyboard out but not sure how many users would actually do that vs having it in.

    Although good the Keyboard seems like a step back to my TyTnII rather than the frankly excellent keyboard the Touch Pro2 had (kaiser and rhodium for those who follow HTC names).

    I'm sure with the imminent release of front camera supporting Android handsets that this line will be refreshed and then hopefully they'll whack the superior keyboard on it - though I'm not going to hold my breath.

    Only other thing is a niggle and that is the flash can be a little overkill, especially on nights out in the pub where everyone looks like they could've extra'd on most haunted.

    Nice to see the return of a dedicated camera button, even if it doesn't launch the app by pressing which I suppose stops it going off in your pocket.

    Had it about three months now and not got the usual phone envy I get, pretty much everytime I get a new handset they release one I want but the Desire Z is still king of the roost as far as I'm concerend - and having a non-operator branded handset means I only have to wait for HTC to send me 2.3 (as promised) and not wait for the airtime provider to dick about with it and load up a load of 360 nonsense :D

  16. Steve Evans


    I've been looking at the Z for a few weeks now... Renewal time finally coming up... This looks like it is the phone my Nokia N97 should have been.

    The N97 hasn't been too bad. The battery life is pretty good, usually long enough for me to misplace my charger before needing it again (2-3 days). Unfortunately its GPS sucks so bad it can't keep track of a moving vehicle reliably enough to be use the free turn by turn navigation Nokia dish out!

    What has really put me off Nokia after 10+ years is their unwillingness to admit the faults (scratching camera lens, faulty GPS, buggy firmware), and the crazy delays even non mobile network supplied phones suffer waiting for firmware updates in the UK.

    If that wasn't bad enough, a post I made to give them constructive criticism on the Nokia discussion forum was pulled by a moderator for "disrespecting" Nokia... I think if there was anyone being disrespected in this relationship I don't think it was the big company who got the money for the phone.

    So roll on next month, I'll be hitting the phone shops, playing with the Z, and then ordering online (like I wish I had with the N97) so the UK distance selling regulations will let me fire it straight back within 7 days if I see the slightest hint of it not measuring up... That Z is going to have the toughest 7 days test it's ever likely to see.

    Oh, and on the subject of keyboard ribbons, I wouldn't worry. The N97 has exactly the same, and one thing that has never been any problem has been the keyboard and ribbon cable.

  17. Leona A

    Nice phone

    So 4 months after its UK release 'da Reg' gets around to reviewing it.

    I have been awaiting the release of this phone since I saw a few 'leaked' pictures of it, way back in the summer.

    I have read problems about the hinge, to the extent, that on XDA Dev, there is a forum thread about how to repair it, this does not sound good for build quality or durability, does it?

    If you buy a new phone these days, you have to buy it on a 2 year contract, thus, you got to believe that the phone you are going to get, will actually last that long.

    I agree 1 days life out of a battery is pathetic, I couldn't be doing with that, my old XDA Stellar (HTC Tytn2) lasts 4 days, on a 2 year old battery, as others have suggested, there are ways of increasing the battery life via apps, shame they don't fit bigger batteries though, maybe after market ones will appear at some point.

    I didn't know that HTC had locked down the boot loader, that is not good, but then HTC do send regular updates? Motorola have done the same, though they're update policy seems quite dire by all accounts.

    I am undecided on what I am going to replace my ageing Stellar with, has to have a physical keyboard as I can not use on screen keyboards, might wait to see what Nokia come up with, at least you know that those are built to last!

  18. Rob Davis

    Camera lens window protection, NFC via microsd

    1) As a happy HTC Desire Z owner I would suggest some sort of protection for the camera lens window, as unlike say the Nokia N82, there is no protective slide-door. See the question about this that I started and answers for this here:

    "Protector for camera lens window on HTC Desire Z? (protect from scratches)"

    2) NFC - near field communication, for Oyster-card style micro-payments. This is possible on the HTC Desire Z and other microsd capable phones with a custom NFC on microsd, see a question I wrote here - and answer from someone who worked on such technology for banks:

    "Add NFC functionality (like Nexus S) via SDIO standard in microsd to non-NFC phones?"

    So if you like the HTC Sense UI and want a real QWERTY keyboard on an Android 'phone, then you might prefer the HTC Desire Z rather than the Google Nexus S, as the microsd NFC completes the Desire Z functionality to be comparable with the Nexus S - and being on microsd it is upgradeable to better technologies as they arise.

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