HTC Hero: My Review

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I’ve been playing with this phone for the past 2 days and have since rooted 2 units to enable the much desired Android Market. As some of you may know, Android Market is not available in Malaysia due to licensing issues and according to SIS (official distributor of HTC in Malaysia), it will be made available in the near future. So, how does the HTC Hero compares with the Apple iPhone? Continue reading for my take:

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Without the Android Market, the HTC Hero will be like the iPhone without it’s App Store. To enable the Android Market, you will have to root (or in iPhone’s term – jailbreak) your device. I followed the instructions on The Unlockr which are fairly easy to follow. After rooting your device, you can then install a custom ROM to gain access to the Android Market. Click here to learn how to do just that.

Once you’re done – you now have yourself a rooted Hero where you will have access to such features like Wireless Tether, Free Games and Applications. If you wish to use your HTC Hero as a modem – you can click here to learn how. To those who are not familiar, this feature will enable internet access on your laptop using your phone’s subscribed Data Plan (Internet connection) when Wifi connection is not available. To do that – you will need to install HTC Sync software which can be found in your SD Card that came with your phone and connect your device to your laptop. At the moment, this feature only works on Windows and not the Mac. Damn you, HTC.

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I am sure most of you have seen comparison photos of the HTC Hero and Apple iPhone placed side by side. Just like the photo above, the size difference is not significant. But in actual, the HTC Hero is much smaller and has a better grip on your hand. The screen is as good if not better. Pictures and YouTube videos look sharper most probably due to its smaller size.

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Since I have not had the chance to experience the reported lag on the Sense UI, I could not comment on its improvement. But screens swipes are smooth and have not noticed any lag at all as am currently using the latest ROM from UK. I have also noted that the Malaysian sets come with a newer ROM compared to the initial batch of the phone. For people who are worried about a laggy interface, you can rest assured – it has been resolved giving a top notch user experience.

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The built-in music player is nothing compared to the iPhone. It’s pretty basic and gets the job done. But the speakers on the phone itself is super loud compared to the iPhone. The Hero will turn your album artwork into a CD jewel case. It has it’s own little “copy” of iPhone’s cover flow – but pales in comparison, visually.

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The HTC Hero is all about Social Networking. I gotta give it to HTC for making this an out-of-the-box experience. I already have all the apps I need without paying a single cent. Apps like Twitter, Instant Messaging, Flickr, FaceBook are so well integrated with one another. No longer do I move in and out of each app to read updates from my friends. Its all in one-screen, one swipe. Side note, I paid US$14.99 for BeeJive on my iPhone just to get Instant Messaging working.

Great, seems like its all good? Nope. Not exactly. I hate the Video quality of the camera. It’s jerky and low in image quality. I’ve not experienced the 3GS’s – but from online videos seen so far, I think that’s way smoother and with the capability to edit videos on the spot – Apple win hands down.

Surfing webpages and reading blogs – I came across some problems trying to focus on the part I wish to zoom in to as the Hero constantly re-flows texts on the page. Especially when you visit sites like Engadget, you’ll notice you’ll have difficulty in tapping an image to zoom in to fit the screen. Somehow, it just keep going to the text area instead of zooming in on the image. Hope there will be a fix for this soon in upcoming firmware updates.

Flash playback is over rated. No problem viewing simple flash banners on websites but still unable to display more complicated flash files with coding. Example, the traffic report here at wordpress. So, if you’re thinking the Hero will give a access to full flash sites – you may be in for some disappointments.

The camera is ok but not great. The 5 megapixels quality is better than iPhone 3G for sure – not sure bout the 3GS though. You can tap to focus and long tap to shoot. I find using the track ball to shoot is moot as it will create camera shake. To be fair, the iPhone had 2 years to improve on it’s features. The Sense UI on HTC Hero is spanking new. And yes, it does Copy and Paste out of the box.

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If you’re thinking of getting the HTC Hero, here are a few tips I would share with you. Get your Gmail, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and FaceBook accounts ready. When you switch on the phone for the first time – you will be required to provide those for a better start-up experience. I’ve did my research prior to getting my phone – hence I’ve got all those ready before hand.

If you’re getting a Malaysian set with 2-years warranty from SIS, do remember to take up the upgrade offer to a 16Gb SD Card for an additional RM100. I did a quick market price check and PC shops at LowYat Plaza are selling it at RM175 a pop. Yes, you will still get the packaged 2Gb card that came with the phone after the upgrade. If the shop say otherwise, it’s a con job.

To me, being an iPhone user since July 2007 – the HTC Hero is what the iPhone 3GS should be, but not. At this time and age, Social Networking is key and HTC nailed it.

In conclusion, I do think the HTC Hero is a very strong contender to the iPhone 3GS. But it’s like a young kid with all the passion in the world to achieve great things. The iPhone on the other hand has experience behind him. If you’re into Social Networking, get the HTC Hero. If that’s not your thing, you’re better off with the iPhone 3GS.

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7 Responses to “HTC Hero: My Review”


  1. 1 virtualess September 23, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Oh enlightened now…. I will keep my brick for a while. Saving money for something else….. and something bad….

  2. 2 BigMacky September 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    virtualess

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, pretty curious now. Kept thinking what could that be?

  3. 3 Virtualess September 23, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    don’t think about them the day will come n all evil activities will fetch their own karma

  4. 4 curry October 5, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    thanks for the rooting/custom ROM info..
    gna try it now..

    so far, HTC Hero without Android Market is just not the same..

    • 5 BigMacky October 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm

      curry

      You’re welcome. But a word of advice, don’t download MoDaCo’s latest ROM. He took out Google Map and it has been reported that its not as smooth as 2.2 (the one I linked to) on this post.

      Enjoy your new Hero with Android Market πŸ™‚

  5. 6 Normaron November 20, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Hi, I might get a new HTC Hero soon. I am planning to buy a Malaysian set with 2-years warranty from SIS, is that 16Gb SD Card for an an additional RM100 offer still available? Is this offer available on all shops that selling original HTC Hero?

    • 7 BigMacky November 21, 2009 at 7:37 am

      Normaron

      I am not sure if the offer is still valid. Its been 2 months since this was posted. Have not checked what’s being offered at HTC outlets since. πŸ™‚


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