Smartphones

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.

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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.

8 comments
joerocket!
joerocket!

Unfortunately, Android devices do not support many critical security features for MS Exchange. This is a deal breaker for many IT organizations.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Processor Qualcomm? MSM7200A?, 528 MHz Operating System Android? Memory ROM: 512 MB RAM: 288 MB Dimensions (LxWxT) 112 x 56.2 x 14.35 mm ( 4.41 x 2.21 x 0.57 inches) Weight 135 grams ( 4.76 ounces) with battery Display 3.2-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 320x480 HVGA resolution Network HSPA/WCDMA: * 900/2100 MHz * Up to 2 Mbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: * 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (Band frequency and data speed are operator dependent.) Device Control Trackball with Enter button GPS Internal GPS antenna Connectivity Bluetooth? 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets Wi-Fi?: IEEE 802.11 b/g HTC ExtUSB? (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one) 3.5 mm audio jack Camera 5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus Audio supported formats MP3, AAC(AAC, AAC+, AAC-LC), AMR-NB, WAV, MIDI and Windows Media? Audio 9 Video supported formats MPEG-4, H.263, H.264 and Windows Media? Video 9 Battery Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1350 mAh Talk time: * Up to 420 minutes for WCDMA * Up to 470 minutes for GSM Standby time: * Up to 750 hours for WCDMA * Up to 440 hours for GSM (The above are subject to network and phone usage.) Expansion Slot microSD? memory card (SD 2.0 compatible) AC Adapter Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60 Hz DC output: 5V and 1A Special Features G-sensor Digital Compass Protective Coating * Treated with a layer of polytetrafluoroethylene Although your pic looks like the inferior model: http://www.htc.com/www/product/hero/product-tour.html

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

download a task manager that kills tasks when you turn the screen off, direct from the Android marketplace and for free!

Mr_Tech
Mr_Tech

I own the GSM version and I reckon it's a great device. The UI is simply awesome. Unfortunately I have to charge it every second day (at night). I try to run only necessary widgets on my desktop otherwise I may have to charge it every day. As soon as the battery drops to 30%, you better charge it. The sad thing is, by the time HTC releases the 2.1 firmware update and fix the messaging app, our batteries would have already been worn out due to frequent charges so we would need to get a new battery to start over to truly take advantage of this. I have turned off Weather widgets, RSS News Services, stock market widget, deleted my pop account hoping to squeeze more battery power. Final impression? The HTC Hero is an awesome device, I love it, it's great, it does what I want. Pros: - Beautiful UI (Sense UI) and Beautiful Hardware Design - Beautiful Widgets on Desktop - Thousands of apps - ActiveSync and POP Email support - Ability to install non-market apps - 7 home screens - External speaker sound is acceptbly loud and crisp - Soft keyboard is very user friendly with multiple predictions Cons: - Battery drains quick (hoping to be fixed with 2.1) - Pinch & Zoom is sluggish/sticky (due to underpowered hardware I believe) and scrolling through web pages sometimes is sticky/sluggish. Either con or pro: - Soft Keyboard

arellias
arellias

I know Cellular South is a regional carrier, but, their customer service at least tries to be helpful, doesn't rip you off($80 unlimited everything plan FTW), and has the same coverage map as Verizon Wireless. Plus, the phone is cheaper there($99 w/new 2 yr contract).

jlwallen
jlwallen

G-Man, Thanks for pointing this out. I got the specs off the box from my phone and it looks like they have changed - or else there was a mis-print on my box. ;-) Jack

.Martin.
.Martin.

so your calling me smart? :p

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