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HTC Desire Z Smartphone Review

By on December 14, 2010
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The HTC Desire gets a keyboard.

Good: SenseUI & HTCSense.com and Zippy performance
Bad: Big and bulky, No Arabic
Price: AED 2500
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

The upgrade to Desire not only brings hardware changes but also an upgrade to HTC’s SenseUI- its custom skin for Android which I think is the best UI for anyone looking for something other than the stock look of Android. The Desire Z and HD phones also gain HTCSense.com service which, in a nutshell, offers somewhat similar services that Apple does with MobileME. I’ll plug-in HTC’s official blurb here as it nicely defines what HTCSense.com is capable of.

“People can easily locate a missing phone by triggering the handset to ring loudly, even if it is set to silent, or to flag its location on a map. If the phone’s been lost or stolen, users can remotely lock the phone, forward calls and texts to another phone, send a message to the phone to arrange its return or even remotely wipe all personal data from it. HTCSense.com makes it easy to setup a new HTC phone or access archived mobile content such as contacts, text messages and call history from a PC browser. People can also customize their phones with exclusive HTC content like wallpapers, HTC scenes, sounds or plug-ins.”

I checked out HTCSense.com after registering the Desire Z and sure enough, it picked up my contacts. I could also make the phone ring from HTCSense, even when it was set to a silent profile. For some reason though, HTCSense.com did not pick up missed calls or test messages from my phone and the HTC hub kept crashing on me. Other than these services, HTCSense also has themes and ringtones for your mobile which I had no issues downloading and applying to the Desire Z.

The SenseUI update brings some nice additions with it as well such as landscape mode for the home page. Other minor changes include hearing the different volumes of beep when you change the volume on the device and your favorite stream showing twitter/Faceboook updates of your favorite contacts. I also noticed that your appointments show the weather on that day which might not be useful in the UAE but probably is in other parts of the world. One change i did like is that moving the cursor to a desired location is now a bit like the iPhone where you touch and hold your finger and everything around it zooms making it easy to move your cursor exactly where you want it to

New additions to SenseUI include Locations which is basically a GPS application that pre-downloads data- good if you travel and don’t want to pay expensive data roaming charges. HTC also revamps the camera application that allows you to add effects to your pictures.

Strangely, although the keyboard has Arabic printed on it, there is no support for reading or writing Arabic on the Desire Z. The letters in Arabic language are displayed as stand-alone instead of joint and there was no way of changing the typing language to Arabic. Android doe not have built-in support for Arabic but there was no 3rd party app either to support the language or RTL.

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About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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