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HTC Desire

In smartphone terms, the HTC Desire is positively geriatric. We first reviewed it in April 2010, and since then a whole army of pretenders to its throne has emerged, including the all-conquering Apple iPhone 4.
The passage of time has been kind to this former champion, however. It’s been upgraded to Android 2.2 on all networks apart from 3, and this gives it a new lease of life. It completed the SunSpider benchmark in seven seconds, and loaded the BBC homepage in the same time, contributing to a browsing experience even slicker than before. It’s ultra-responsive, too. Build quality is pretty good; the 3.7in 480 x 800 screen is scratch-resistant and the finish reasonably hardy.
Feature-wise, it’s still up there with the best. Under the hood is a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, backed up by 576MB of RAM. The supplied 2GB microSD card is a little disappointing, but you can replace it easily enough if you need more space. Battery life is among the best.
As with all HTC’s Android phones you get the excellent Sense user interface, complete with its superb social-networking update collation, contact and photo-sharing facilities, but it isn’t exactly the same as on the Desire I and HD. We missed the recent apps menu that appears at the top of the notifications menu, although the absence of the Route 66 navigation software was less of a pain.
On the negative side, the 5-megapixel camera is little more than acceptable: pictures often look a little soft and washed out, and it can’t hold a candle to the iPhone A or Nokia N8′s camera. It does have autofocus, face recognition and touch focus features, plus a single-LED flash that isn’t too overpowering. We’re not big fans of the Desire’s onscreen keyboard either, although you can download an alternative from the Android Market. The Desire’s big advantage, though, is its bargain price. Now it’s been out a while there are some truly stunning deals, and this makes it not only one of the best all-round smartphones in this test, but also remarkable value. Even the Motorola Defy can’t beat it.

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