We don’t need another Hero. Don’t worry; the Legend is no mere refresh of HTC’s first Android handset which, while amazing when first released, is already beginning to show its age in comparison to the Android 2.1 devices on the market.
For starters, the HTC Legend differs from the Hero in that it runs on a 600MHz processor that might not seem that different from the Hero but is noticeably zippier than its predecessor in both application loading time and reaction time.
The Legend boasts a 3.2-inch AMOLED screen and the clarity is really quite brilliant. I was very impressed with the TFT LCD screen on the Hero last year but this sets the bar higher – I could stare at this screen for hours (and I did whilst installing scores of apps from Android Market).
I was also impressed with the chassis: it almost fits better with Apple’s line of iMacs and Macbooks then the iPhone does, due to its unibody design with brushed aluminium finish while the black rubberised grip/rest pads on either end of the back cover will protect it from unnecessary scratches and scuffing.
Popping out the battery, SD card and SIM card is quite different because of the unibody: a catch beneath the cover must be released and then bits can be popped out or shoved in.
Comes with Éclair
The HTC Legend is also using the Android 2.1 OS (Éclair) so it has the ability to run certain apps from Android Market that older versions don’t but strangely it doesn’t seem to have the live wallpapers feature that the Motorola Android and Nexus One have. It does, however, have voice typing and some nifty new widgets.
One gripe I do have with the Android Market is that here in Ireland we are still waiting for paid apps. It’s good having free ones but you get the feeling that you’re missing out on some other quality apps.
As with all other recent HTC handsets, the Windows-based HD2 included, the Legend has its operating system overlaid with the Sense interface, which has some nice features including the weather widget, whose dynamic functionality includes clouds, rain or rays of sun moving across the entire screen.
There is also a new social widget since the release of the Hero: FriendStream pulls in activity from Twitter and Facebook into one interface and allows you to update from one central location also.
One of my favourite things about the HTC Legend is tethering: you can dump your mobile broadband dongle and hook the Legend up to your laptop via USB for internet connectivity.
Storage-wise you can fit up to 32GB on board but disappointingly it doesn’t come with any MicroSD storage – you have to go out and buy your own or else you’re limited to the internal storage of 512MB.
Like most other smart phones on the market, the Legend has a digital compass and an accelerometer plus internal GPS, and comes loaded with Google Maps.
The camera is a suitably good quality 5-megapixel and it has geotagging for all of us location-crazy phone users.
Usability and interface
The HTC Legend is a capacitive touchscreen handset but you’ll find that there are four buttons under the screen plus the optical nav button beneath. These are what you will use most to find your way around.
With a dedicated home button that switches between the home screen and a pop-out "at a glance" view of the overall five windows HTC gives you for placing your applications and widgets, there is also the menu button for access to settings plus options on changing wallpaper, accessing programs and in general acting as a contextual menu for whatever app you happen to be in at that moment.
Other than that, the back button and quick search button do what they say on the tin and the optical wheel simply slides between screens or moves between tabs and submenus.
This phone is really easy to use and you’ll find yourself getting quite attached to it. I would say go for this as an iPhone alternative but if you want the big-screen experience best wait for the 3.7-inch AMOLED screen Desire.
I found the battery life to be superior to the HTC Hero but it all depends on how many applications you turn on and how many are auto-syncing. If you want to squeeze more life from this phone then you can toggle between 2G and 3G connectivity and tweak a few other apps.
This is one of the most customisable smart phones on the market, the screen display quality is superb and it looks and feels expensive and well-designed. From someone who hasn’t seen the Nexus One and therefore cannot compare, I would say the Legend, for now, is sex on Android legs.
Price and availability
The HTC Legend is available from today 25 March in Ireland only through Meteor. It will be available to order online from today, and from Meteor stores and reseller partners nationwide from Friday 26 March. The handset will be available from €49.99 on Billpay.
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