The HTC Hero is not as pretty as its predecessor, the HTC Magic. It has a chin that juts out, which isn’t as noticeable when in use. It weighs 135g, has dimensions of 112×56.2×14.35mm, which isn’t too big or too small and a decent screen size of 3.2 inches.

It’s the first Android-based handset to offer multi-touch capability, support Adobe Flash and offer the HTC Sense experience, which is more of a design experience that allows the user to customise the look and feel of their phone.

The Hero is widget-ready, and offers seven customisable home screens. In essence, the phone is pretty much useless without being connected to the internet. This handset was definitely made with the business person in mind and would be most cost-effective if taken out on a contract, with a data bundle.

From a consumer and prepaid point of view, having seven home screens is a bit ambitious. If on prepaid and using the Hero, your credit will be sapped faster than international bandwidth on a Friday night. Within two days, R60 worth of credit was gone. The weather on the main home screen updates in real time, automatically, which was probably the cause of it depleting so quickly.

Setting up Google accounts like Gmail, Gtalk and Calendar is fairly straightforward. Switch the phone on for the first time, and you’re prompted to log into various accounts ranging from personal e-mail to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

There’s also one-touch access to the Android Marketplace that has loads of free downloadable content, ranging from useful applications like Facebook, WikiMobile and YouTube, to rather pointless ones like an LED Scroller, DailyHoroscope and Pull My Finger.

With most smartphones, battery life is an issue. The HTC Hero just about lasts the day. It makes a huge difference logging out of applications that aren’t necessary from a cellphone, like your IM client.

Screen: 3.2 inches (81mm), 320×480 pixels
OS: Android 1.5 with HTC Sense
RAM: 288MB
ROM: 512MB
Memory: expandable MicroSD (in the box)
Camera: 5MP with autofocus
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, HSDPA, 3G

Written for Digital Life January 2010.