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HTC Desire Z review

 Review: December 2010  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The HTC Desire Z adds a slide-out QWERTY keyboard to the hugely successful Desire. The result is powerhouse phone with fabulously responsive touchscreen, mind-boggling choice of business and fun apps, good camera, music player, GPS, total connectivity oodles memory. It's big beast heavy carry, battery life challenged, but for sheer power capability hard beat.

Today's best buy: HTC Desire Z sim-free, unbra ... from Amazon (£0)



Anyone who reads S21 reviews regularly will know how much we like phones with real QWERTY keyboards. So, if you take the most popular smartphone of 2010 and add a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, what do you get? Answer: an absolutely fantastic all-round stunning mobile.

And it really is that simple. HTC have taken the hardware and software of the Desire (a phone that we described as "the nearest we've ever seen to the perfect phone") and fitted a slide-out keyboard to the back. So, although the Desire Z is the same height and width as the Desire, it's a couple of millimetres thicker and about a third heavier, which might make it too big for some people's taste. But hey - look around you at all the people lugging their iPhone 4's and HTC Desire HD's around with them. Didn't you know, big is the new small?

The slide-out keyboard is great. It doesn't just slide out. It flips and folds into place with a nice action, and it's definitely a big plus for anyone who writes a lot of texts or emails on their phone. The 3.7 inch display is the same as the one used on the Desire, and responds brilliantly to the touch. The Desire Z runs Android 2.2 (Froyo) with HTC Sense, and we've commented many times before that this is the operating system of choice in 2010, being as easy to use as an iPhone, and with at least as much power under the bonnet, with a huge choice of apps. As this is more of a serious kind of phone, one app worth mentioning is Documents To Go, which lets you view, edit and create Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, plus view Adobe PDF files. The Desire Z supports Microsoft Exchange too, so is ideal as a business tool. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are available too, of course, as well as an easy to use web browser.

As we mentioned, the Desire Z shares most of the same hardware as the original Desire, including a 5 megapixel camera, GPS receiver with digital compass, music player and FM radio. There's some more memory in the Desire Z: 1.5GB built-in, plus the capacity to take memory cards up to 32GB. The processor speed is slightly slower though (800 MHz for the Desire Z vs 1GHz for the Desire) and the battery is slightly smaller (1300 mAh vs 1400 mAh), which seems like a perverse decision. Let's be honest: you're going to have to charge the phone every day in all likelihood.

So, to conclude, if you want a smartphone with real muscle, and if you have the muscle to carry every gram of its stunning aluminium-clad body around with you, then of all the phones in the expanding Desire family, the Z is the one for you. Love it for its powerful OS, its gorgeous touchscreen, its keyboard and its mind-boggling choice of apps. Tolerate its bulk and its battery life. If its too big and you don't covert the keyboard, choice the original HTC Desire. If it's still not big enough, choose the HTC Desire HD. Whichever you choose, you want go far wrong with one of the Desires.

HTC Desire Z features include:

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HTC Desire Z sim-free, unbra ...
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HTC Desire Z user reviews

Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 22 reviews:

Reviewed by emmanuel nana mbrah from ghana on 16th Oct 2014
My HTC desire z touch is working but it sticking not responding faster, also anytime am playing a game the phone will be heating,and my battery runs down very quick it can stay for a day why why

Reviewed by Kat from UK on 6th May 2012
Ive had this phone for almost 18 months now and today was the first time i had to take it in for repairs, basically the screen was going black when turned on and had lines appearing along it, so i think the cable that links the main body to the screen may have come loose or the screen is just dead.
There have been a few other issues, as said by other reviewers, ive noticed after the last software upgrade whenever i hit the home button it goes white with "htc" on it and takes 20-30 seconds to get to the home page.
Sometimes the keyboard doesnt work and buttons turn into shortcuts, ie. b goes to your web bookmarks, but this was solved by just restarting the phone, annoying i know, but it solved the problem everytime rather than take it in for repairs.
Battery life for me seemed absolutely fine, i do charge it every night, but it lasts pretty much the whole day unless im playing games solidly on it for over an hour or two, if you are experiencing battery problems, best thing to do is download a task killer app like "ATK" and set it to kill unwanted apps every 30 min, its amazing how much they can drain the power. Also try to turn brightness down, wifi and gps off when youre not using it much, for instance at work.
The only other real problem i had was with the gallery, everytime i took a pic sometimes it would disappear from the gallery completely or reappear weeks later, it can be incredibly annoying.

Other than these issues its been a brilliant smartphone and a good introduction into android for me, it certainly beat my N97 which had countless issues.
The case itself was brilliant, i loved the metal backing and edging, ive lost count of how many times ive dropped it and aside from some scratches on the metal edge its been fine, even the screen is perfect (aside from the moment!). It is a little on the heavy side but at least that meant less chance of forgetting it!

So aside from some software issues and the screen going kaputt on me after 18 months this is a good mobile, especially for those who loathe on-screen keyboards.
Am considering about upgrading to either HTC One X or Samsung 3

Reviewed by paul reid from uk on 25th Mar 2012
I have a HTC desire z, and hate it. The logic baffles me. The touch screen is slow, and unresponsive, it reboots after 5 to 10 mins of surfing. Battery life is poor. Email system is poor, it says that it has checks your account, but there are still messages on the server. The location services never work. The sat nav is poor. I shall never purchase an HTC again....back to Nokia ps I have used it for 12 months and still hataoe it

Reviewed by Nathan from Scotland on 27th Jan 2012
Absolutely awful phone. Have had nothing but trouble since I got it. I'm at the end of my contract now and am going for the Sensation XE next. For me the phone did not feel as though it was built well at all. The hinge felt very weak to start with. So many software glitches as well. Tried wiping it and restarting etc and its no use. The screen had a yellow tinge for a couple of days once as we. Tried restarting and was just about to phone Orange when I tapped the screen in a certain way and it was all fine again. Battery life is ridiculous as well. Now getting to the stage where I am charging it twice a day. It cannot cope with much usage either, as when you exit an app and go to the home screen, a white page comes up with the green HTC writing and it says loading for about 30 seconds. This only ever happens when connected to WiFi or 3G. Having read the other reviews it feels like my phone was put together last thing on a Friday afternoon just before home time at the factory where it was made. Just a plain rubbish phone. Sad as it had such potential.

Reviewed by Clinton Blake from England on 11th Dec 2011
This is a sturdy reliable phone. Responsive with a clear screen. This is the work horse of the desire line up. practical to use. type documents , texts and e-mails. against - is its weight when compared. but once you have it you get used to it. it is strong with metal and not plasticky like other phones

Reviewed by Geraldine from uk on 26th Nov 2011
I think this phone is great- I had a Blackberry Bold 9700 but I wanted a larger keyboard and screen. Now I have sorted my email on the Desire Z it is actually better than the Bold as I can file all my work and home emails if I want to from the phone. Really fast browser and large screen I love the free useful apps- I am not an App fan as my partner is crazy for iphone apps but as a practical tool I find my HTC desire Z perfect ! Waiting for case to arrive and in the meantime keeping it in a different bag as it is a slippery object which I do not want to drop and scratch.

Reviewed by MMI from Pakistan on 4th Sep 2011
Hi Nick from England. I have had the Desire Z for 7 months. Have you tried by going inyo keyboard shortcuts and removed the shortcuts? I did a version upgrade and it automatically added 3 shortcuts(hotkeys) B for browser, G for Gmail and one more. Easily deactivated though. Good luck. Shame though about the battery life. Feel now should have gotten the Torch, better email client :) Still a top top fone

Reviewed by Nick from England on 23rd Aug 2011
Had the phone less than 7 months and have been told to send it for repair for the 3rd time! Loved the phone to start with but getting tired of not being able to use the keyboard (different buttons jump to different things e.g. b takes me to the internet). Would say go with the Samsung Galaxy S. No external keyboard but a beautiful phone to use and the screen is massive so the on screen keyboard is incredibly easy to use!

Reviewed by Russ from England on 9th Jun 2011
Good phone easy to use , got for the key board as im not keen on using toutch screen but the screen is easy to use cos of its size . One big negative is battery life im not a big user but phone will not last more than 20 hours so giving it a 4 star rating

Reviewed by John from UK on 16th May 2011
Niceeeeee but get a battery upgrade! it comes with a 1300mAh battery but you can get a 2400mAh battery from amazon for £10 which doubles it or more++

Reviewed by Salloo from England on 30th Apr 2011
First off let me explain why I'm giving it 4 stars and not a 5. The main reason I bought this phone other than wanting a good Android device was the keyboard. I think most people would go for this for the same reason. However, I've had this phone for quite a few months now but I have not used the keyboard at all since the beginning (first couple of weeks). I think the on-screen keyboard is superior. I found it difficult to type on the keyboard. It takes too much effort and a lot of practice. It requires a lot of attention because of the feel and positioning of the buttons. A lot of people text without needing to look at the phone. Habit I picked up with my previous phones (K750i and K770i). Yes, on-screen keyboard makes that difficult anyway but you can without needing to give it 100% attention. The other reason for giving it a 4 is the camera. I'm used to using a digital camera and most pictures I take are 5 megapixel shots. The camera on the Desire Z takes horrible pictures. I'm just glad it has a feature where you can delete a picture taken almost straightway because you'll use it quite a lot as they often come out bad. There aren't many options with the camera mode either. Now for the positives. I had an Orange San Francisco for a short time so I got a taste of Android before but the 2.2 on the Desire Z is pretty incredible. I know the 2.3 update is coming soon on all the HTC Desire phones, but even if it didn't I would be pleased because it already boasts so much. It is easy to use. It's very fluid even when multi-tasking. It has endless customization options. You can customize 7 screens and bring them all up by pressing the home button twice. The phone is heavy mainly due to the keyboard I guess but I am glad it is a good build as I've dropped it a few times and nothing has happened. The battery life is good. In a day I call for about 3 hours, text quite a bit, check emails and spend some time on the internet and Twitter (mostly over mobile internet) and I put it to charge in the night. WiFi connection is excellent in the home and I often find myself going to the phone instead of switching on the PC for certain things because it's more efficient. It has a good web browser and email and other web related apps such as Twitter, eBay, Cricinfo etc. I have had no problems with making a call and texting is a breeze with the touch-screen keyboard. One problem I've had when my phone has been on silent is that sometimes I get a text but I don't realize even when the message button is on the home-screen. The Market is pretty good. I have never paid for an app but I frequently download, try, keep or delete apps. There are plenty of free good ones. Summary: Like all phones, this phone has its flaws (unfortunately it's the keyboard on this when it should be the highlight) but the good far outweighs the bad. Is it worth buying? I don't regret it. I really like it and it offers everything I could ask for. I don't go through many phones. This is only my 3rd (not counting the Orange SF). I can imagine making good use of it and HTC's track record of supporting and updating their products when new phones are always coming out is a big welcome.

Reviewed by chris from uk on 13th Apr 2011
As a serious hard core pda Psion (3a,c and 5), Palm and then Nokia (6310i with Palm, E90, E75) techy user I was very reticent about the jump to this phone. After a few days I was loving and hating it. After a few weeks I am loving it. Take the time to understand what apps you need for you, how to stop the phone doing stuff you don't want (to save battery) and fill the cracks with more apps (Android is growing so fast the usability is still slightly behind - but the apps make it up...)...and bingo - it does EVERYTHING I have asked of it (except screenshots unless I 'root' it which I won't do yet). My phone now changes profile as walk in my door, syncs contacts and calender over the internet with my outlook, syncs multiple email accounts, provides access to my server via telnet, sync my passwords and bookmarks with my desktop and generally does the business with a bright large screen. The only drawbacks are: 1) it's use as a hard-core phone. For example I've added an app to vibrate (very short) to tell me a call has ended (because I was never sure!)...and because its software driven it's a bit slow when I want instant response from a phone. It can't do that. 2) It's Google centred. OK so I started using my Gmail account more but I don't like the way google maps does its own thing and I have to keep stopping it running in the background, despite having turned off location services. The Nav software is OK but this hidden stuff drives me nuts, drains battery and slows the phone. Stop it please google! I have a little widget (icon on my home screen) that lets me turn the brightness down instantly. This saves a lot of battery as the main user is the big screen. If I was using it out and about as a heavy user I would have to carry a spare battery. For light use it makes it through the day; as long as hungry services and wireless, GPS etc. are turned off (which off course I do automagically when I leave home using my profile app - Profile Valet). I could talk forever on this phone - it' s a joy to own and to use. I do wish that the phone features were more responsive. They should have absolute priority over all the other apps so it doesn't slow at the critical moment. Its better than 3 stars but less than 4 due to battery and phone features being slow at times. So I give 4!

Reviewed by Matthew from England on 27th Feb 2011
Awful phone! Battery life is dire and the hinge feels weak.

Reviewed by jason from Yorkshire on 31st Jan 2011
I found the phone rather hard to navigate at first but after a couple of hours it was a breeze. With regard to battery life i found it an issue until i downloaded the Advanced Application Killer. This little app will shutdown any background running app and save your batteries live by about 90%. The only other niggle is the speaker phone quality. It's a bit soft and tinny. But other than that, awesome.

Reviewed by Duncan from UK on 13th Jan 2011
Have owned a Desire Z for over a month, and am very impressed. Pre-purchase, I was concerned about three things: battery life, flimsy keyboard hinge and processor speed. In use, none of these are an issue. Battery life? I switched off the always-on mobile network and use APNDroid / Tasker to periodically connect and sync mail. I now get 72 hours between recharges with moderate call and SMS use. Not as good as my Blackberry 8900, but I certainly don't need to charge every day. That would, honestly, have been a deal breaker for me. Flimsy keyboard hinge? No, the phone is built like a tank, and I simply cannot get the keyboard to pop out unintentionally. Processor speed? The whole UI experience is fluid and responsive, and I've never encountered lag that I'd attribute to the processor. My only niggles are related to Android or the HTC Sense UI; the stock music and video players are clunky compared to the BB software (who'd have thought!?). And Android, by its very nature, is a relative sandbox compared to the walled gardens of BB and Apple ios. As such, a homepage containing "wizards for new user dummies" would be useful to, for example, hand hold a new user through importing contacts, setting up email accounts etc...These wizards exist, but are buried in the Apps page amongst bloat by HTC and carrier stuff. Bottom line though - beautiful phone, just be sure to switch off mobile networks to see a feasible battery life.

Reviewed by Roisin from UK on 1st Jan 2011
Got this phone a few weeks ago, battery life is not that good if i'm honest, and with too many apps it can get slightly slow. But it's an amazing phone and i love it! :]

Reviewed by James Bathera from UK on 15th Dec 2010
I had this phone for about two week and found it to be the best from HTC.Do not be disheartened by the processor speed as there was no difference from HTC Desire with an added advantage of Sense II and free navigation around the world and also better than Desire HD in terms of battery life and portability. In short it is the best smart phone for the moment.

Reviewed by Mark from UK on 6th Dec 2010
You mention above - The processor speed is slightly slower though (800 MHz for the Desire Z vs 1GHz for the Desire) - I asked HTC about this and I was told that the Z has a Qualcomm 7230 processor in place of the 1 GHz snapdragon processor which is just as fast. I do not have this phone but i will get it asap. My rating will have to be based on research.

Reply by Mobile Phones UK from UK on 6th Dec 2010
Certainly the device responds very quickly to the touch and seems to be just as fast as other Android devices - quicker than most, in fact.

Reviewed by Martin from UK on 2nd Dec 2010
Great phone let down by the battery. It is very easy to use and apps load quickly. The battery life is a joke – I am not a heavy user of the phone but can’t get a full day’s usage out of the phone, I spend more time charging the phone that using it!

Reviewed by Simon from UK on 1st Dec 2010
Had my phone a few weeks now and its great, really nice and easy to use phone.

Reviewed by Guv from UK on 22nd Nov 2010
Some sick phone. It harddddddd. Got bare apps . Get it dont think about it.

Reviewed by Guv from UK on 22nd Nov 2010
Excellent phone. Get It.

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