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HTC Hero / T-Mobile G2 Touch Android smartphone review

Review by Russell Jefferies on Tuesday July 28, 2009.

htc hero · android reviews · smartphone reviews · htc news · android news · smartphone news · russell jefferies

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HTC's latest Android handset, the Hero, features a newly tweaked interface that is part of HTC's 'Sense' initiative. The new interface allows a user's information to be brought directly to their fingertips, much like HTC's TouchFlo 3D does for the Windows Mobile platform. Upping the ante, HTC have also included a 5 megapixel camera and 3.5mm headphone port on the Hero, allowing it to rescue us from boredom, as well. Read on to find out whether HTC's latest handset really is a hero, or if it's a zero.

Physical Aspects

The HTC Hero is a rather striking handset, currently available in either white or graphite color schemes in the UK, with a characteristic 'kink' in its body, giving it a distinctive chin at the bottom. In the UK, the color you get depends on the network you choose. Orange UK are exclusively offering the graphite version, whereas T-Mobile UK are offering the white/silver version that we have, but are calling it the 'G2 Touch'.

Being the white version, our handset has the matte white finish that is coated with Teflon to help keep it clean. However, ours had pink marks on it straight out of the box, and ones at the HTC release event were tarnished as well, so it clearly doesn't make the phone dirt-proof, just dirt resistant. The graphite version doesn't have this coating, but due to the back and bottom area being black, it doesn't actually need it. One curious side-effect of the finish on our white device is that the phone feels as if it's made of a ceramic material.

The Hero is, by today's touchscreen handset standards, a pretty average-sized phone, and measures in at 112mm x 56.2mm x 14.35mm (4.41in x 2.21in x 0.57in). It appears slimmer than it actually is, due to heavily sloped edges that also make it feel nicer in the hand. It's not exactly a lightweight, at 135g (4.76oz), but it feels quite robust. The first thing you'll notice about the HTC Hero, aside from the chin, is its 3.2" capacitive touchscreen(INFO) display that has a HVGA resolution (320 x 480 pixels). Bright sunlight legibility is pretty average with this display. Above the display is the earpiece grille, which has an ambient light sensor on one side and a notification LED on the other.

The are only six hardware buttons on the device, not including the clickable trackball or the volume rocker. The call send, home, menu, and call end buttons are all lined-up below the display on the silver fascia of the phone. The search key and back key are both contained within one larger button that resides on the chin of the phone, next to the trackball. The trackball itself is located dead centre in the chin and has the ability to illuminate for notifications, usually unleashing a barrage of flashes for a new message or incoming call.

The rear of the Hero features the lens for the device's 5 megapixel autofocus camera, although it's still missing any sort of flash, which is a shame. The rear is otherwise pretty spartan, with only a couple of holes for the loudspeaker and the lanyard fixing. At the bottom of the handset is HTC's ExtUSB/mini-USB port for charging and data, plus a microphone pinhole. Atop the device is just the 3.5mm headphone port and a small slit for removing the rear cover with a fingernail. The rear cover will need to be removed for access to the microSDHC(INFO) slot that is hidden beneath. The left side of the phone features a large volume rocker that is pretty much flush with the side of the phone, and the right side is completely bare.

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Simon @ 9:35:38AM EDT on Tuesday July 28, 2009

Brilliant article Russell, and has well and truely sealed the deal on wether or not I get this phone.


Adam @ 6:21:42PM EDT on Tuesday July 28, 2009

Just a small update to the review. T-Mobile ones will be black leaving the white ones to be unlocked only at this time.

N @ 7:16:36PM EDT on Tuesday July 28, 2009

very very good review best review thats on net...5 star all the way

midtoad @ 9:15:12PM EDT on Tuesday July 28, 2009

another great phone ruined by a crappy camera and poor video. It's actually considerably worse than last year's Nokia 5800 XM in many ways, as the latter has an LED flash and VGA video at 30 frames/second. (And the even older N82 has 5 MPx and *xenon* flash).

Buyers who want a good camera will have to lean instead towards the Samsung 7500 Galaxy. For everyone else, they may be swayed by HTC's excellent Sense UI (I love the Facebook integration with contacts, and full import of Google contacts and calendar). It will be hard to choose!

Switchbitch @ 11:02:56PM EDT on Tuesday July 28, 2009

Great review. Good to see you're not on Apple's payroll like Engadget :)

myla @ 6:07:18AM EDT on Wednesday July 29, 2009

im a die hard htc fan. planning to sell my htc touch to buy this new one.

DROOPED!! love it!!

Zack Soden @ 10:58:47AM EDT on Wednesday July 29, 2009

i wish is would have the slide out QWERTY keyboard like the G1, and that they got rid of that stupid "chin" at the bottom? why is that even necessary? guess im just gonna have to get a MyTouch 3G...

Keen @ 11:24:26AM EDT on Wednesday July 29, 2009

Wow! That was a great review of the Hero/G2. Even though it doesn't have flash or great video quality, I'm still gonna buy it because I really like htc and love google. Plus I really don't like the Iphone!

Capt_gadget @ 1:38:35PM EDT on Wednesday July 29, 2009

I got my iphone the very first day it came out in the UK and then upgraded to the 3g last year. My t-mobile phone is an HTC TyTn 11, and that contract runs out on the 6th of August. I have seen this phone in action and I can categorically say that THIS is an iphone killer! In fact, I will not even bother getting the iphone 3gs- I'm getting this on Thursday and that'll be it for me!

Maine @ 5:52:02PM EDT on Wednesday July 29, 2009

Does this version of Android include a Google Calendar? I would want the phone's native calendar to be the same as my online Google calendar, and editable both ways with instant sync. Is that how it works on the Hero?

nickstang @ 12:33:31AM EDT on Thursday July 30, 2009

great job from houston tx...cant wait to get this phone i got the g1 right now but cant wait to get this one


Russell Jefferies @ 3:58:04AM EDT on Thursday July 30, 2009

Thanks for the feedback everyone, as for the chin - HTC say there are a number of reasons for it.
1. It's a distinct design feature - you instantly know that any phone with a big chin is a HTC Android phone.
2. It protects the screen/trackball/buttons when its led face down on a flat surface.
3. It fits the curvature of the face better when you're talking on the phone.
4. It fits in the hand better.
5. It sets the phone aside from all other phones, as it instantly looks different.

Personally, I really like the chin. Without it the handset would be just another bland slab, like many other touchscreen handsets.

As for the Calendar, yes it is indeed sync'ed to Google calendars, and I'm pretty sure it syncs both ways, if memory serves me correctly.

Thanks all!

Mike @ 5:07:30AM EDT on Thursday July 30, 2009

That is the best review I have ever seen and in proper English as well. Engadget could learn a lot from you as regards being unbiased.

Scottyab @ 11:00:04AM EDT on Thursday July 30, 2009

Great review cheers, how would you rate it speed wise compared with the iphone 3g / 3gs [chnaging menus, loading apps etc]

htc_fan @ 11:34:23AM EDT on Thursday July 30, 2009

I just got my htc hero-white, and I must say I was pretty impressed with it right away. The buit was solid, feels good in the hands, and the software is amazing. Two thumbs up from me!

Russell Jefferies @ 1:14:17PM EDT on Saturday August 1, 2009

Hi Scottyab, the Hero can be a little slow when you first wake the screen if you have lots of widgets on the home screen, because it updates them all, but after this it's pretty quick. Perhaps not quite as fast as the iPhone 3GS, as the processor is 528MHz, as opposed to the iPhone's 600MHz, but you also have to remember that the iPhone can't multitask at all and its photos are smaller in size because the camera is only 3mp. Therefore, things like scrolling through photos etc will be quicker on the 3GS, I expect.

All of this is an educated guess though, as I've only briefly used a 3GS, so I can't make a totally informed comparison of their speeds.

The best thing for me to conclude, is that the Hero is 'fast enough' except when it has an occasional slow down when updating widgets. This may be sorted in future updates though.

Don Taylor @ 6:50:47AM EDT on Monday August 3, 2009

An excellent review: lots of depth, properly balanced, proper English, no gushing nonsense. Has helped me decide that this phone is about right for me (camera isn't important for me, staying in contact in a range of ways is).

Don Taylor @ 8:32:47AM EDT on Monday August 3, 2009

An excellent review: lots of depth, properly balanced, proper English, no gushing nonsense. Has helped me decide that this phone is about right for me (camera isn't important for me, staying in contact in a range of ways is).

Sodeezy @ 3:52:34PM EDT on Monday August 3, 2009

any word on the release date for T-mobile? i like it, but dont want to wait any longer for a new phone. Im already planning to but a myTouch 3G.

Sodeezy @ 5:33:27PM EDT on Monday August 3, 2009

by T-Mobile i mean T-mobile USA. when does it come to the US?

MacSkwizzy @ 3:31:31PM EDT on Tuesday August 4, 2009

yeah i second that question Sodeezy...when does it come to the U.S.???

Alex Williams @ 4:00:39PM EDT on Monday August 10, 2009

Thank you for the wonderful review, looks like I have my phone selected when I have my upgrade in a month or 2 :)

davyb123 @ 9:46:37AM EDT on Thursday August 13, 2009

I am wondering the same thing. I was set on buying the My Touch. When does this come out in the US? Is TMobile going to be the carrier in the US?

Jrome @ 12:41:03PM EDT on Thursday August 20, 2009

I like the phone features except u can't flip the phone to text think I will stick with the G 1..................

Gary @ 4:46:26AM EDT on Friday August 21, 2009

Had my G2 Touch for 5 days now.
Well built very clever bit of kit let down by questionable reception & camera and awful video.
May well be returned to tmobile at the end of the week

Mark @ 4:39:41PM EDT on Saturday August 29, 2009

great article. thanks a lot! looked all over the net for an article and im glad i found this one

shez @ 11:59:13AM EDT on Friday September 4, 2009

great review. Does this phone have a copy and paste function? I'm really torn between this and the iphone 3gs. Which would you say has the fastest internet browsing speeds?

Charlie @ 3:07:34PM EDT on Wednesday September 16, 2009

i know this may seem a silly question as im not really an expert on the latest phone, but my friend has the G1 and it is only compatible in terms of bluetooth with another G1. does this apply to the G2 also? please could someone let me know? email adress- xxcharlottexx2k6xx@hotmail.com

andyb56 @ 8:22:04AM EDT on Monday October 5, 2009

The G2 could be a great phone. However, as of the 5th October 2009 there is a major lag issue that is failing to be resolved by T-mobile. T-mobile a currently lying and deceiving customer promosing the update, which never arrives. This is after nearly a month after the official release from HTC. Checkout the Uk T-mobile website under the forum section to see the anger of current customers. Advice get the unlocked HTc Hero or Orange version of the phone to get a truely great version of the phone.

kingcobra2010 @ 9:45:53PM EDT on Thursday October 29, 2009

Before you buy any phone think long and hard. Do you want a phone that is old tech (iphone) and the only reason you buy it because your friends have one. Or do you want to be the first phone that will impress your friends and will than likely be the standard after people realize its functionality. When the palm pre was released, it was only meant for business persons. The main reason there were complaints because the phone was bought by people who did not need the pre's functionality and expected a iphone feel. Do not get me wrong. Iphone made the scene and they brought a lot to the table. Now, however, they have not progressed & they have locked out possible functionality because of greed. It reminds me when I was a pc guy (ever since I finished with the vic 20 and commodore 64) but then I changed to mac. Win 7 was the last windows operating system I used because it is just crap (even though more people use windows does not mean it is good - mac is definitely better now). I still use xp for some of my older programs. Just like the iphone was good then but now it just does not meet the standard (more like a teenagers phone now). If you are still using the iphone, then your just letting life pass you by. Once the palm pre gets the flash 10 working on the phone, then it will be more of a dual purpose professional/teenager phone. I can see teenagers playing flash games on the pre while also listening to music, looking at flash trailers of movies while there out with there friends to see what they will watch after a test/dinner, etc. I speculate that once flash hits the mobile pda/netbook/phone market, palm pre will surely be the winner. The droid will run flash just like the winmo phones -> very very slow if your multitasking flash. See example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a47Z-A81HOU. If they used the droid phone to show off flash the same way -> the film would have been laughable (droid does semi multitasking and definitely can not multitask resource hog programs like flash). Droid definitely would have either crashed or your system would start to look like it is in slow mo. If you have a winmo phone you probably know what I mean when i say slow mo. If you want a very good phone, then get a palm pre because in the near future I suspect everyone else will be using the pre if they can weather the misinformation about the phone.

Kris_USA @ 1:50:35PM EST on Monday December 28, 2009

Wow! Thank you very much for such a detailed review. I've been looking/waiting for years to find the best smartphone that would satisfy me. I've read a lot of reviews, articles, and written information, and I have to say this review was so informative that it answered all my questions and resolved any doubt or fears I had for purchasing a smartphone. The pics were great! HTC should be thanking and rewarding you, if they aren't already. And may I compliment you on your writing skills and grammer. I am truly impressed and grateful. Again, thank you.

Russell Jefferies @ 11:40:10AM EST on Sunday January 17, 2010

Thanks Kris! Well, HTC thanked me, by letting me borrow an HD2 over the xmas period. That too, is a great phone - better than the Hero/G2 for web and YouTube, but the Hero has a better app store. I'd be torn between them if I was buying right now. Thanks everyone for reading!

tadpolebuckshot @ 6:58:04PM EDT on Saturday September 25, 2010

this is NOT the G2

About the author

Russell Jefferies
Russell Jefferies reviews mobile phones for MobileBurn from his home located in Bristol in the United Kingdom.

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