Mobility

Review: HTC Hero

If you're in the market for an Android-based smartphone that can connect to Exchange, Google, and just about every other service available, the HTC Hero may be for you.

Smartphones are a dime a dozen, and if the product name of your phone doesn't start with the letter i, you know you are beginning your life as an underdog. That doesn't mean your phone has to live its life in the shadows of the big Apple. In fact, for many business users, Android-based phones are an even better option than the iPhone. One such phone is the HTC Hero, which is offered by Sprint here in the States. This phone offers everything the iPhone does and, in some cases, more.

Specifications

  • Cost: $179.00 USD (with a contract)
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM 7600 @ 528 Mhz
  • OS: Android
  • Memory: 512MB ROM, 288MB DDR RAM, 2GB microSD memory card.
  • Display: 3.2" 320x480 HVGA @ 262K-color TFT LCD touch-sensitive screen.
  • Network: Dual Band CDM A2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO/1xEVDO Rev A
  • Where to buy: Check out the HTC for retailer information.

Who is the target market?

The HTC Hero is for anyone looking for a solid entry in the Android-based phone market, with a better form factor than the Droid. (Unlike the iPhone and the Droid, the Hero sits perfectly in the hand no matter how you are using it.) The Hero is a phone that allows you to stay in touch while on the go and even using ActiveSync to connect to your companies Exchange server.

What problem does it solve?

The Hero allows you to easily stay connected to both business and social contacts in multiple ways. With an outstanding interface (thanks to the fusion of Android and the HTC Sense UI), the Hero makes using the Android OS a seamless, user-friendly experience.

Standout features

  • ActiveSync Exchange support
  • Thousands of applications available on the Android Market
  • Tethering support
  • Easily connect with Google features such as Gmail and Google calendar
  • Screen widgets keep information at your immediate fingertips
  • 5 Megapixel camera
  • Bluetooth 2.0 support
  • Replaceable battery
  • Check out this HTC Hero photo gallery

The initial impression shouldn't deceive you — this phone is as comfortable to hold as it is to look at.

What's wrong?

There are two major problems with the Hero. The first is the underpowered hardware. No matter how you spin it, the Hero still has hardware that is less than stellar. Even though the Android OS tries to circumvent this by being an efficient OS, the lack of power shows itself now and then. The second issue (which will be resolved soon) is that of battery life. In the 1.56 version (the current firmware), there is an issue with the built-in messaging application not going to sleep when not in use, which significantly drains the battery. HTC has stated that the 2.1 update will resolve this issue. It better, or Hero users may migrate to another hardware.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you are looking for an Android-based smartphone that can connect to Exchange, Google, and just about every other service available, the HTC Hero may be for you. And with the included QuickOffice, your Hero can really be your office on the go. If you do make the plunge, be on the lookout for the updated firmware that is supposed to drop mid-2010.

User rating

Have you deployed an HTC Hero? If so, how would you rate your experience? Take the poll and then compare your rating to what other TechRepublic members think.

Get smartphones tips and news in your inbox TechRepublic's Smartphones newsletter, delivered each Thursday, features tips on how to deploy and manage smartphones in your enterprise, product reviews, news updates, photo galleries, and more. Automatically sign up today!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

Editor's Picks