Phone of the show – HTC Legend

February 16th, 2010 | by Alfred Siew

HTC and Vodafone folks showing off the new phones

In a show where new gizmos stare at you from every corner, HTC this morning just launched what looks like the best phone here at Mobile World Congress, with a Hero-like Android phone called the Legend.

I say ¨Hero-like¨because it is shaped like a Hero, but has a new aluminium unibody that is sleek yet strong enough to withstand knocks (the HTC folks did a drop test at the launch here). What´s more, there´s a new version of HTC Sense thrown in, so the user-interface is actually more friendly than Google´s Nexus One.

We can say now we had a hands-on previously with the Legend, but did not write about it because we didn´t want our source to lose his/her job! We were impressed then, and we are impressed today at the launch of the device.

The HTC Legend - niceFirst, the unibody. There´s a hell of a lot of work put in this, we understand, because aluminium prevents cellphone signals from going in and out of the phone. What HTC did was to place the antenna at the bottom – near the mouthpiece – and transmit out of a plastic part at the bottom (the black portion). This is also where you slot in your SIM card.

The touch and feel is top class on the Legend. Like the Nexus One, also made by HTC, the finish is smooth and the metal – cut from one block of aluminium – has the premium feel. No faux metal here.

Running Android 2.1, the Legend will also please many Android fans. And out of the box, it supports pinch and zoom, a feature that the Nexus One only recently provided an update for.

So overall, how does the new Legend compare with the Nexus One, which many goondus here are nuts about?

To start off, the Legend has an excellent AMOLED screen, so contrast and colour are as good as on the Nexus One. There´s also the excellent HTC Sense, which includes a Friends stream that basically keeps all your conversations  – social media, e-mail and SMS – with each friend on a single screen. Nifty.

The hardware, though, might lose some to the Nexus One, especially if you are a hardware specs geek. The screen resolution is 320 x 480 (The Nexus One has an amazing 800 x 480), the display is 3.2 inches wide (N1= 3.7 inches) and the processor runs at a speed of 600MHz (N1= 1GHz).

But if you are more into the experience than the specs, the Legend is surely not far off. I´d say HTC Sense is a hell of a lot better than the “Google experience” on the Nexus One, which includes rarely-used voice search capabilities and turn-by-turn navigation, which is still not yet available in Singapore.

For a closer comparison to the Nexus One, there´s the HTC Desire, also launched today. No fancy unibody here  – just a simple, Nexus One-like look. It also sports the top-end specs of the Nexus One – 800 x 480 screen, 3.7-inch display and 1GHz processor. It even weighs 1-gram lighter on paper!

 HTC Desire - does it not look like a Nexus One?

Still, among the three phones from HTC today – there´s also the HD mini, essentially a smaller version of the Windows Phone-based HD2 – I´m still most impressed by the Legend. This, for me, is the phone in this year´s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Few may have heard of HTC a few years ago, but this time, these folks from Taiwan are really upping the game, not just in the industrial design, but with the experience offered by software such as HTC Sense and the Android 2.1.

Going by the phones launched here, HTC looks to be the one to beat this year.

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