HTC Desire Z - Raison d'etre Lost

One of the few Android smartphones with a QWERTY keypad, the Desire Z goes under the hammer.


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There aren’t many Android smartphones with QWERTY keyboards, so when HTC announced the release of the Desire Z in India, it was received with much appreciation. There’s a bit of history involved, too. The first Android handset - the HTC G1 - had a QWERTY keypad as well, and this is the first Android smartphone with one that HTC have released, since then. Things have changed, obviously, and the Desire Z brings FroYo goodness, an S-LCD screen and a whole bunch of other features to the table.

HTC Desire Z - Raison d'etre Lost

The Desire Z's many faces



Let’s see how it fares.

Design and Build Quality
The first thing you notice when you hold the HTC Desire Z in your hands is how heavy it is.  This is in no small part thanks to the slide-out QWERTY keypad. Also contributing to that is the metallic finish that the front of the phone, as well as the battery cover has.

The 3.7-inch S-LCD capacitive touchscreen, running at 480x848, adorns the front of the Desire Z and is encased by Gorilla Glass, below which the four standard Android touch-sensitive keys reside. An optical trackpad is also present. The left side of the phone houses the volume rocker and the microUSB port, whereas the right has the dedicated camera key and also the back panel release. The power button and the 3.5mm jack lie on the top of the phone. The back has the 5 megapixel camera, with the LED flash right beside the lens.

The slide-out function for the QWERTY keyboard is rather unconventional and funky. Once you start sliding out, the display gets raised onto a rubbery hinge and then drops down. It doesn’t lock down though, and the rubbery hinge is a bit of a concern. It looks like it could wear down over time, but it’s still a very cool touch.

Check out the hinge

Check out the hinge



Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t feature a front-facing camera. But that and the bulkiness are probably the only negatives in the design of the Desire Z. It looks and feels very well built. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to drop it on concrete, but it still instills a feeling of solidness.

The Desire Z has Android 2.2 FroYo with the HTC Sense UI on top. We’ve said time and again that we feel Sense is probably the best custom Android UI we’ve seen so far, and we stick to that. I hardly ever encountered any lag during the entire time I used the phone, and while the 800MHz processor doesn’t exactly make operations silky smooth, it doesn’t make it sluggish either.

That is in large part due to the super sensitive display. Even the minutest touches were captured and responded to by the screen, which led to an excellent multi-touch experience. Add to that the optical trackpad for scrolling and selection, and the Desire Z provides a very wholesome package as a smartphone.

Care for some QWERTY?

Care for some QWERTY?



Slide the keyboard out though, and the problems start cropping up. The phone does switch automatically to landscape mode (which is a big plus), but the issues start from there. The four-row keyboard, though it feels nice while typing, has a pretty poor layout. The shift and the function keys really should’ve swapped positions and the lack of a D-pad is criminal. It forces you to use the optical trackpad, which on its own wouldn’t have been a bad thing if my big thumb wasn’t hitting the damn touch-sensitive menu button right above it (on the left in landscape mode) every single time. That also makes you type with one hand most of the time, which kinda defeats the purpose of a physical keyboard. The presence of a dedicated menu button and two customizable shortcut keys are probably the only saving grace.

Overall, the OS and the interface are super as a normal touchscreen handset, but the keyboard is very disappointing.

The inbuilt music player is pretty nice, but fell short in the loudness department. Of course, I tried giving it some artificial gain using Mixzing (which also gave me the graphical EQ settings Android desperately needs natively), but just as I thought it was going smoothly, the sound started cracking.

Video playback is excellent, though. The Desire Z supports DivX and XviD, as well as H264 videos all the way up to 720p. High-profile 720p H264 videos start framing though, so maybe the processor is just a little under-powered to handle those. Otherwise, videos look and play great on the Desire Z.


Stereo FM with RDS is also present, and it sounds pretty nice and clear when outdoors.

The Desire Z has everything you’d expect from a phone in this price range. 3G (HSDPA at 14.4Mbps), EDGE/GPRS support, WiFi connectivity, 3G WiFi Hotspot capability and also DLNA for streaming media to other DLNA-enabled devices. Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP is present too.

Friend Stream is awesome

Friend Stream is awesome



There are built in apps for Facebook and Twitter, though they’re a bit redundant with Friend Stream being bundled. The widget displays updates from Facebook and Twitter simultaneously, and is a very convenient one. Obviously, the other standard Google connectivity apps like Gmail, Gtalk, Places, Google Maps, Navigation etc are all bundled too.

Misc. Features
A lot of mobile phone standards present are present, and so are extras like Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files. But what steals the spotlight here is the integration, which gives you some pretty neat features when using a desktop internet browser. If you’ve misplaced your phone somewhere, you can send it a command to ring – even if it’s in silent mode – and if you’ve managed to lose it completely, you can track it using GPS, lock it down completely or even wipe out all personal data from the device remotely.

It also includes features for call and message forwarding, backing up of contacts and messages and even allows you to send messages from your phone using your desktop keyboard! All in all, is a great addition and with all new HTC devices sporting it, it’s a nice experience enhancer.


Gotta love the metal

Gotta love the metal



The Desire Z has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. Like all HTC phones, it has quite a range of options for pictures including white balance, exposure, sharpness, saturation etc. It also has a bunch of post-processing options, which can lead to some pretty hilarious pictures.

The picture quality is very middling. It’s neither excellent nor horrible, and sits comfortably in the middle, probably tilting a little towards the good side because of the customization. Outdoor pictures are a little better than the ones taken indoors, but there isn't a very big difference.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge



The camera also supports 720p video recording which is pretty cool. I tried it out and didn’t experience any kind of framing in the video, which is fantastic.

The 1300mAh battery serves the Desire Z well, even if it is a bit out of its league when put under heavy load. Heavy usage saw the battery die out in about a day, but medium (with some music and YouTubing thrown in for good measure) and light usage saw it last two and two-and-a-half days respectively. It’s not exactly winning (see what I did there?), but it’s decent nonetheless.

Closing Comments
The Desire Z’s USP, the QWERTY keyboard, lets it down. Sure, it functions very well as a smartphone otherwise, but would you really tolerate the extra bulk if the very reason for it is inadequate? At Rs. 24,999 though, you’d expect more from your phone. If you really need that physical keyboard, I recommend waiting and watching how the upcoming Motorola Milestone 2 fares. If not, you’re better off looking at the much better touchscreen smartphones on offer in this price range.

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HTC Desire Z Specifications

A phone that lets you have it both ways The HTC Desire Z gives you a dedicated QWERT keyboard as well as a super responsive touch screen. So you don’t get lost it comes with instant maps. And in case it gets lost, it comes with HTC Sense to help find it. Its screen is perfect for browsing the web or catching up on emails. Ideal for work, and play. The best of both worlds What’s more important to you — a super responsive touch screen that lets you surf the web with a mere touch or a dedicated keyboard for quickly shooting off texts or emails? With the HTC Desire Z you get both. The 3.7 inch touch screen is perfect for browsing the web, checking your friends’ latest updates, or catching up on email. Ready to do some serious messaging? Pop open the keyboard — the keys are nicely spaced and raised for fast comfortable typing. Maps that never keep you waiting Tired of waiting - and paying - as maps slowly download? Get there faster. The HTC Desire Z delivers maps with zero wait, zero dead spots and zero data roaming fees. Have trouble knowing which way to turn when using a map? Relax. Maps on the HTC Desire Z always point you in the right direction. Need an ATM, a gas station or a quick bite to eat? With HTC Desire Z all the top spots appear right on your home screen. A phone you can’t lose (well, not easily anyways) You’re likely to become very attached to your HTC Desire Z. That’s why we had the idea to bring the HTC Sense experience online. Can’t find your phone? Use to show you that it’s under your sleeping cat. Worried you’ll miss something because you left it at home today? Use to forward your calls to another number. Frantic about personal data on your phone that’s been lost or stolen? Log into to quickly lock and wipe it remotely. All your email accounts in one inbox If you juggle more than one email account, you’ll love how you can now see all your accounts in a single inbox that automatically color codes each email by account. And don’t worry about clutter - handy email filters sort them by groups, importance, or content. Capturing the moment Until recently if you wanted quality images and video you had to carry both a camera and your phone. Not anymore. We’ve added HD video recording and a 5MP, flash camera with built-in effects (it’s like being able to swap lenses and add filters on the fly). And we’ve made it a snap to share to YouTube or to your big screen TV via DLNA.


Form FactorBar
Screen TypeS-LCD capacitive touchscreen
Screen Size3.7 inches (~252 ppi pixel density)
Screen Resolution480 x 800 pixels
Number of Colours16M


Speed800 MHz


Internal Memory1.5 GB; 512 MB RAM
Extendable MemorymicroSD, up to 32GB

Camera Features

Sensor Resolution5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels
FeaturesAuto focus and flash
Video resolution / frame rate1280 x 720
Video Recording3GP

General Features

FM RadioYes
Bluetooth FeaturesYes v2.1 with A2DP
MessagingSMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
GPSYes, with A-GPS support
USB ConnectorYes, microUSB v2.0
Available ColoursBlack

Carrier Networks

2GGSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3GHSDPA 900 / 2100


WiFiWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n


Dimensions119 x 60.4 x 14.2 mm


Media PlayerAudio formats: aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)|#|Video formats: 3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9)
Alert ToneVibration, MP3, WAV ringtones
Audio connector3.5mm


Talk Time with Standard BatteryUp to 570 (2G) / Up to 384 (3G)
Standby Time with Standard BatteryUp to 430 (2G) / Up to 430 (3G)

Miscellaneous Features

Built in ApplicationsGoogle Search|#|Maps, Gmail|#|YouTube|#|Google Talk|#|Picasa integration|#|Facebook|#|Tweeter|#|HTC Sense

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