HTC Desire HD review

The Desire's successor finally lands but is it an improvement?

The definitive HTC Desire HD review
The definitive HTC Desire HD review

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The HTC Desire HD comes complete with a couple of mapping options – considering how long the Taiwanese firm has bet big on Google Maps, offering its own option seems a little counter-intuitive.

We'll start with Google Maps that comes loaded on the Desire HD automatically - in our eyes it's a complete package anyway.

HTC desire hd review

You get the easy to read interface we've all come to expect, where you can search the maps for whatever you like - businesses, landmarks and addresses.

You can also add in other layers, like Transit Lines (the Tube, for instance) Traffic and Wikipedia entries for things nearby.

Weather has been added to Live Wallpapers, so you can not only see where you are at all times, but also work out the weather too. We couldn't make this work in the UK when we played with it, but then again looking out the window achieved the same thing anyway...

The GPS lock was pretty quick, taking around 5-6 seconds from cold to work out where we were. It's not the fastest, but seemed to hold our connection when we were using the phone as a sat nav.

Google Maps comes complete with integrated and free sat nav, and on this massive screen it's tip-top - you can easily see where you're going and it's very easy to poke the screen when you need to get a little more information.

Navigation actually gets its own little icon on the home screen, and will get you wherever you want to go - and tell you the traffic conditions too. It still relies on data streaming, which is a bit of a downside, but it's great for a free offering.

Voice search is offered on the HTC Desire HD, after a mysterious absence on the Desire, and it works well here too. Ask the phone to 'Navigate to that place with the Rosetta Stone' and you'll be taken to the British Museum (if that's where it is).

It's not a necessary touch, but it's pretty accurate providing you have an even dialect and speak clearly.


So after the wonder of Google Maps, we're unsure as to why HTC has decided to put its own locations platform on the HTC Desire HD as well.

HTC desire hd review

In association with TomTom, the theory seems pretty clear - making money, as while the maps are free to download, you have to purchase premium navigation, traffic and speed cameras.

Admittedly you can't get the latter with Google Maps, but that has the advantage of being free - we assume HTC is all about choice here, although it can be a little confusing.

You can tag pictures with location data and use them as bookmarks to navigate to, but that's as far as the usefulness of the applications goes in our opinion.

Despite offering up categories such as Shopping, Eating and Leisure for nearby suggestions, there was nothing on show no matter where we tried the service - and this was in London, so we can't imagine how it will react it the furthest reaches of Bury or Bognor Regis.

HTC desire hd review

There's a car panel mode here as well, which gives the opportunity to have even larger icons, but with no information in most of the categories, it's a little redundant.

Like we said: cool that you can download the whole of the UK to the phone to save data (although it takes up nearly 500MB of space, which may be a problem for some people with smaller memory cards or using a lot of media) and elements like helicopter view, which shows your route ahead and being able to take calls when navigating aren't enough to convince us that this is any better than Google Maps.

We'd wager it's not going to be too long until Google comes out with a caching option as well - we assume it's currently some sort of licensing deal at the moment, but it seems like a sensible thing to do in the future.


The HTC Desire HD comes with an inbuilt GPU to handle the heavy graphical processing on screen, and it works really well in our eyes.

HTC desire hd review

Football games look superb on the phone, and racing options like Raging Thunder offer up a decent motoring experience, although we'd like to see some that properly test the powers of the HTC Desire HD.

HTC desire hd review

Of course, it's the casual gaming that HTC wants to attract too, and the likes of Angry Birds and Teeter both perform admirably - the former especially as it's so high-res you can see the birds' faces change colour as they fly towards to targets.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.