HTC Desire Z review

HTC's next Android wunderkind wanders in sporting a QWERTY keyboard

The definitive HTC Desire Z review
The definitive HTC Desire Z review

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The HTC Desire Z is full of applications and services to help accessorise and improve the performance of the phone, and many of these make it a real pleasure to use.

We always want to be wowed when we first turn a phone on, and that's another thing HTC has taken care of with the Desire Z.

There are a couple of new things that HTC has added with the new Sense UI that really make a difference here, such as the HTC Hub: is a place to get elements that totally overhaul your handset - from widgets to new messaging sounds; it's all here and free.

HTC desire z review

This also requires an HTC Sense account, offering all manner of extra elements, and most are presented in cool, swipe-friendly thumbnails that show off the power of the inbuilt GPU we referenced a few times earlier.

Downloads are swift and easily viewed - if you buy one of these phones use this function as soon as you can to try it out, and you'll feel like the link between cloud data and your phone has never been closer.

The other new offering is HTC Likes, which is a collection of applications that HTC is promoting from the App Market - but with this portal there are descriptions, comments and likes/dislikes (including those from your HTC Sense friends) to let you know how popular the app is in real time.

Here are our picks of the applications HTC has added to the Desire Z out of the box - and we're pretty impressed with some of them.

Flashlight - this is exactly how is sounds, and we only wish there was a home screen widget for it. Offering three levels of brightness, it uses the LED flash on the rear of the phone to create a handy torch.

HTC desire z review

News and Weather - this little widget shows you the local weather in your region (although the HTC Weather widget is also excellent and does the job a little better) as well as local news.

HTC desire z review

With an easy swipe system and various categories to choose from, this is a really good place to keep up with what's going on in the world of politics or what Cheryl said/did/tasted like on X Factor this week.

Reader - We were going to put in a little diatribe here about how we thought the screen was probably a little small for the Reader application as we were downloading the Avid Reader scene you need to activate the app.

But then, despite the new scene popping up on the Desire Z, there was no reader application, and no bookshelf either. It's really disappointing, as on the HTC Desire HD it's a really good offering.

3.7-inch screens aren't too small for such a thing, as the Desire can handle books fine on the Aldiko e-reader... sadly you're going to have to go down the same route here.

However on the Desire Z it's not the best as the screen is a little bit small for reading a full novel - even the Desire HD struggles with it, and that's got nearly an inch on this phone's screen.

SoundHound - This is a Shazam-style application, but one that goes one step further - you can hum and sing and lalalalala a song into the phone and it will try and identify it.

HTC desire z review

Utterly pointless for 90% of songs you can't remember (you very rarely can remember the name even if you read it) and it can be a little inaccurate - but it's a fun way to ridicule your mates down the pub.

However, you only get 5 free tries per month (five less than with the HD), so don't go overboard too soon.

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.