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XDA Phone Review: HTC Desire HD

HTC’s probably most popular smartphone at the moment is the Desire HD. It combines the hardware of the HD2 with Android Froyo, making it an incredible good-selling device. But is it really worth the money for powerusers? Check out our review to find out! And in case you missed it, here is our HTC HD2 review and some more general information about the XDA Phone Review series.

Performance
Many people think that the Desire HD is basically just an HD2 with froyo, without any hardware updates. When you take a look at the model numbers of the processor and the GPU, the changes might not seem to be extraordinary, but in reality, the Desire HD performs much better than the HD2. The combination of the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 and the Adreno 205 GPU really seem to do good to the overall performance of the phone: stock ROM benchmarks results are 58 fps in NeoCore, and around 1900 in Quadrant. Compare this to phones of the same release date, the hardware definitely seems to be pretty good: it beats the Nexus S, Motorola Droid 2 and Droid X  in the Quadrant benchmarks. Note that these tests have been made on stock software.

The Desire HD offers a pretty sleek “unibody” design with the aluminum body. However, there is one disadvantage of this: the battery is actually quite small. Comparing the 1230 mAh to the competition, you will notice a pretty big difference with the 1390 mAh of the Motorola Droid 2 and the extraordinary 1500 mAh of the Nexus S, it’s definitely a bit on the small size. And then, we didn’t even talk about the battery-hogging 4,3″ LCD display and the extra performance that needs extra battery juice. In practice, some people find the battery results to be not that bad, though there are many people complaining about battery life.

Software
HTC didn’t change much to the actual Sense UI on the Desire HD. They did however add some really interesting features that make use of the internet connection of the phone: they launched HTCSense.com making it possible to access your phone through your computer’s browser, but also to synchronize data with your personal online account. We’d like to spare you the details, as they can be found anywhere.

A quick browse through the Desire HD forums show you that there’s lots of development going on. There are many ROMs available, and the Desire HD development community is pretty healthy. If you don’t want the HTC Sense software on your Desire HD and really want to enjoy the stock Android experience, you can simply flash a custom “vanilla” ROM, but this is probably nothing new for you. You can get the CyanogenMod 7 Gingerbread ROMs, and you can choose from several kernels, some of which allow you to overclock the phone to 1,5 Ghz. Since the Desire HD is a pretty new phone, we look at the Desire’s development and we think that this development will continue to stay for a while.

Is this a phone to consider?
The Desire HD really shows you that HTC is doing a great job with their smartphones. They’re able to deliver good performance and software that attracts a lot of people. But there are  a lot of new phones coming soon, often offering even better hardware. If you’re on Verizon, it might just be a better idea to wait for the HTC Thunderbolt and for AT&T the HTC Inspire 4G. But there’s much more. At CES, the first phones with the Tegra2 chip were being announced. If you wait one or two months, the first devices will ship out with this new technology:  the  Motorola Atrix 4G, Droid Bionic and Shadow. LG is releasing the Optimus 2X, and at the Mobile World Congress we are likely to see even more phones like these. We do think, however, that these phones will get less support on XDA, so that’s really something to think about. The Droid 2 for example doesn’t have many ROMs yet, and when we compare non-HTC phone development with HTC phones, we really notice that HTC phones are much more popular.

So, is the Desire HD worth to buy at this moment? The hardware is decent enough to keep up with the competition, and could be seen as outstanding. At CES, manufacturers have promised a lot of good stuff, with the Tegra2 being shipped out soon. So if you want even better performance – perhaps for a Honeycomb port, who knows – it might just be an idea to wait a little longer. On the other hand, the Desire HD is massively supported by developers on XDA, and the overclocked and hacked kernels really make the performance of the phone even better. We guess we’ll leave the choice up to you.

We’re constantly trying to improve the content of our XDA Phone Review articles. We’re still trying to find a good way to cover all aspects that are important for powerusers. Let us know how you think about these reviews in the comments below, critics and suggestions are very welcome!

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