“Hero lacks the glamour of Apple’s iPhone, but more than makes up for this with its smooth user interface, downloadable applications, fast web connection and constantly improving Android operating system”
Hero: odd looks but good features
Your name says a lot about you, supposedly. So perhaps it’s little wonder that HTC dubbed this phone Hero – a name that implies it’s the ultimate smartphone or, simply, the ultimate iPhone alternative.
But does Hero live up to its name?
Looks, some might say, aren’t Hero’s selling point. The phone’s chin juts out before its touchscreen and ruins the device’s side-on profile. The white plastic body also means Hero lacks the allure of Apple’s super-sexy iPhone.
Aesthetics aside, Hero is a great little smartphone that owes most of its functionality to Google’s Android operating system (OS).
It’s worth remembering that because Google periodically releases software updates for Android, Hero’s usability and features will improve over time – the phone’s technical specifications allowing, of course.
A perfect example of this is Hero’s 5Mp camera. While adequate for snapping friends in the pub or dogs in the park, an Android software update will never do anything to overcome the camera’s lack of a flash that often resulted in dark images during my review.
Much like the iPhone, Hero’s main selling point is its applications – or apps – which are downloaded through Android’s App Market.
Plug Hero into a PC over USB
Although App Market pales in comparison to the iPhone’s App Store – both in terms of quantity and quality, I loved using the Layer app on Hero.
Layer - an augmented reality technology - takes control of Hero’s camera to display the locations of nearby shops and services. As I swung the camera around pop-ups for Starbucks and pizza restaurants appeared onscreen, for example.
Hero’s touchscreen responded accurately and quickly to my finger taps, while the four shortcut keys below proved handy for quickly accessing the phone’s main menu and telephone keypad.
The point of Hero’s trackball was always a mystery to me, though. It can be used to cycle through web browser windows, but I often accidentally knocked it with my thumb and ended up on the wrong page.
Typing on Hero’s glass surface was a pleasurable experience because the phone vibrates each time the virtual keypad is pressed.
This made for more accurate typing than is possible on Apple’s iPhone, although the fat fingered among you may find Hero’s keypad layout a little too cramped.
Hero can simultaneously run multiple apps (a process known as multitasking), so I could surf the web while streaming music to the phone over Spotify and dip in and out of Skype conversations.
Apps helped improve otherwise dark images
Speaking of music, albums are stored onto Micro SD memory cards because Hero doesn’t have any integrated storage. The card’s stored underneath the phone’s back cover, which proved annoying when I needed to remove it.
Audio playback through the industry standard 3.5mm headphone jack was clear, rich and relatively noise-free.
My overall feeling about Hero was that the more I used the device, the greater the number of cool/quirky applications I discovered and the more I liked the device overall.
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