Smartphone showdown: HTC Hero vs iPhone 3GS

Has the Google Android-based HTC Hero got what it takes to challenge Apple's iPhone 3GS?
Can HTC's Hero challenge the iPhone?

Can HTC's Hero challenge the iPhone?

The Google Android operating system is still in its infancy. However, HTC's latest smartphone, the HTC Hero, looks like it's got what it takes to challenge Apple's iPhone 3GS.

Featuring HTC's all-new Sense interface, the big appeal of the Hero lies in the fact that its focus is very much on the user. As HTC's Australian and New Zealand marketing manager Anthony Petts explains, the technology in HTC's smartphones isn't the key focus.

"We are very much focused on UI, technology is second place and the specifications are left until last," explained Petts. "The HTC Hero is very much about making it yours and from a customisation perspective a person can make the device anything they want."

This level of customisation is common place in smartphones running the open-source Android platform, and the closed environment of the iPhone OS means it's somewhat of a chink in Apple's armour. For example, full level multitasking isn’t currently available on the iPhone, and third-party applications supporting push have only been available just recently.

In anticipation of HTC Hero's launch in Australia, GoodGearGuide was lucky enough to get a hands-on sneak preview of the HTC Hero before its release (which will be "between now and October"). So, how does it stack up against the iPhone 3G S?

Design

The HTC Hero is slightly longer and thicker than the HTC Magic. Don't be fooled by the press images though: the Hero is slimmer and more compact than it looks. Although the angled design has raised a few eyebrows, it impressed us. The microphone is closer to your mouth when you're on a call, and the design is distinctive. Both the HTC Hero and the iPhone 3GS come in white and black versions. Despite the improvements to the HTC Hero’s design, it doesn’t quite match the iPhone. The iPhone is unmistakably sleek, stylish and well built.

HTC Hero

The angled part of the HTC Hero’s body houses the trackball and navigation keys.

Display

The HTC Hero features a 3.2in TFT touch-screen display, which is slightly smaller than the iPhone’s 3.5in screen. Colour, clarity and viewing angles are similar and we really didn’t notice the smaller size when using the Hero. Both of these smartphones use capacitive touch screens (so a stylus isn’t required) and both support multi-touch technology, allowing users to pinch and squeeze the screen with two fingers to zoom. The iPhone 3GS has an oleophobic coating on the display to help make fingerprints and smudges wipe off easier, while HTC has confirmed the Hero will receive a similar “screen protection coating”, even though the exact type hasn’t been confirmed.

HTC Hero

The HTC Hero’s 3.2in display is slightly smaller than the iPhone 3GS', but the different isn’t enough to detract from the overall user experience.

Operating system

The iPhone 3G S naturally runs Apple's proprietary iPhone software. A big part of this is the App Store, offering access to tens of thousands of applications, all specifically designed for the iPhone. The iPhone OS is also lauded for its ease of use and design, and it's not hard to understand why. These days, a great phone is just as much about its software as its hardware, and the iPhone is a great example of this.

Competing directly with Apple’s App Store is Google’s Android Market. The Android Market is still only in its infancy so it's hard to compare to the App Store, but there is great potential for improvement and a wider range of apps. The Android OS allows multitasking, and there is much more scope for personalisation and customisation — not only from an end user's perspective but also from a developer point of view.

User interface

Using the iPhone feels natural; transitions between screens are superb, animations are excellent and the overall ease of use is outstanding — and all of this has only improved with the iPhone 3.0 software update. The iPhone 3GS also features a faster processor than the iPhone 3G, making it the fastest and most responsive iPhone yet.

The HTC Hero will certainly give the iPhone a run for its money, though. Live widgets are one of its impressive features. The Hero has seven home screens available that can be accessed by swiping your finger left or right. You can have the native Twitter client on one screen, the clock and calendar on the other and your e-mail on the next. Because they are all live widgets, there is no need to open applications to access them.

HTC Hero

The HTC Hero has seven fully customisable home screens that house live widgets. These include contacts, calendar, clock, Twitter, music, e-mail, messages and stocks.

Multimedia

The iPhone's iPod integration is one of its outstanding features. Music and video playback is simple and easy, and the iPhone 3GS adds video recording and MMS messaging. The HTC Hero has a slight edge over the iPhone, with a 5-megapixel camera (though still no flash). It is one of the first HTC smartphones to feature a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. About time! We had a quick play with the Hero’s music app and it looks impressive, even if it will be hard to top the iPhone’s iPod integration and ability to synchronise with iTunes.

HTC Hero

The HTC Hero’s music application looks impressive and, as it's a live widget, music can be played directly from the home screen with a quick swipe of your finger.

Features

The iPhone 3GS and HTC Hero have very similar specifications. Both phones are 7.2Mbps HSDPA-capable, both have GPS, Wi-Fi and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The iPhone holds a slight advantage with options of 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, though there is no external storage slot. On the other hand, the Hero has just 512MB of internal memory, but a microSD card slot theoretically allows 32GB microSDHC cards to be used. Neither of these smartphones offers FM radio capabilities, though the iPhone does offer TV-out with the purchase of an extra cable accessory.

A feature not available on the iPhone is scenes, part of HTC’s Sense UI. A scene is basically a configuration of the Hero’s home screen: users could have a scene for work, where they could have e-mail and calendar widgets on hand, and a scene for home, where music, photos and weather could be used.

Who do you think will win the battle between the iPhone 3GS and the HTC Hero? Tell us on the PC World Forums.

For more information on all things iPhone, visit our iPhone Centre.

Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

Good Gear Guide
Topics: Apple, HTC Hero, Google Android, iPhone, smartphones, iphone 3g, iPhone 3GS

Comments

Martin

1

HTC Hero Review

Thanks for the review of the HTC Hero. I do need to ask - how much use did the phone get in your hands for this review? I am in the market for a new smartphone. It's a toss up between the iPhone 3GS, the Nokia N97 and now perhaps the HTC Hero.

I need to know how it actually performs as a phone. What is its screen like outside in bright sunlight, how easy is it to navigate menus, set up features, download and install programs and media (songs, video)?

Finally, the fact that it isn't stuck using something like iTunes surely must be a positive. I find itunes to be a resource hog and restricted in what I can do with it. For example, I believe that if I get an iPhone then I can only synchronise it with one PC. I have a laptop and a desktop machine, so they both need to be able to share the same Outlook data. I currently do this by sync'ing a HP iPaq PDA running Windows Mobile Ver 6.1 to each machine. I don't think that I can do that with the iPhone. But I can with the Nokias, and I need to know if I can with the HTC. Unfortunately you didn't cover that in the review, which is a huge omission.

Regards

Martin

Juan carlos

2

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HTC Touch Pro ..........$400usd
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Apple iphone 3G 16gb........$300usd
Sony ericsson C905.........$500usd
Nokia n96 16gb...$400usd
Sony ericsson xperia x1..$400usd
Apple iphone 8gb.....$300usd
Nokia n95 8gb.......$300usd
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GSM Quadband
2 hours talk time
Size: 61 x 39 x 13.9 mm
Weight: 84 grams
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PACKAGE CONTENT Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte.

Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte Quadband 3G 4GB UMTS Mobile Phone
BH-803 Bluetooth Headset
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh (BL-4U)
Carrying Case
Data CD-ROM
Device Handsfree
Desktop Charger
Travel Charger
User Manual
Bluetooth Headset

We make shipment via Ups and Fedex shipping company 2days

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3

For sell apple iphone 3gs $350usd, Blackberry bold and storm

BONANZA BONANZA BANANZA BONANZA BUY 3 GET 1 APPLE IPHONE

FREE ???

Brand New FULLY SIM UNLOCKED 8GB/16GB Quad-Band Apple iPhone –

Tested working with T-mobile and any other GSM network, also with

Youtube and every features working!

Emaill address: htg888@live.com

HTC TOUCH HERO.......$400USD
Apple iphone 3gs .$350usd
LG touch screen mobile GD910 clock.........$400USD
BlackBerry Storm 9500.....$350usd
BlackBerry Curve 8900 ...$300usd
Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte..$600usd
HTC Touch HD ..........$500usd
HTC Touch Pro ..........$400usd
HTC Touch Diamond ...$350usd
Samsung omnia i900.....$400usd
Apple iphone 3G 16gb........$300usd
Sony ericsson C905.........$500usd
Nokia n96 16gb...$400usd
Sony ericsson xperia x1..$400usd
Apple iphone 8gb.....$300usd
Nokia n95 8gb.......$300usd
Ps3 60gb.............$300usda

LG touch screen mobile GD910 clock Specifications:

GSM Quadband
2 hours talk time
Size: 61 x 39 x 13.9 mm
Weight: 84 grams
Bluetooth
Touch Screen
Water Resistant
3G with HSDPA support

PACKAGE CONTENT Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte.

Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte Quadband 3G 4GB UMTS Mobile Phone
BH-803 Bluetooth Headset
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh (BL-4U)
Carrying Case
Data CD-ROM
Device Handsfree
Desktop Charger
Travel Charger
User Manual
Bluetooth Headset

We make shipment via Ups and Fedex shipping company 2days

deliver worldwide.
If you are interested in buying our product contact us via

Email address: htg888@live.com

juan carlos

4

For sell apple iphone 3Gs $350usd

BONANZA BONANZA BANANZA BONANZA BUY 3 GET 1 APPLE IPHONE

FREE ???

Brand New FULLY SIM UNLOCKED 8GB/16GB Quad-Band Apple iPhone –

Tested working with T-mobile and any other GSM network, also with

Youtube and every features working!

Emaill address: htg888@live.com

HTC TOUCH HERO.......$400USD
Apple iphone 3gs .$350usd
LG touch screen mobile GD910 clock.........$400USD
BlackBerry Storm 9500.....$350usd
BlackBerry Curve 8900 ...$300usd
Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte..$600usd
HTC Touch HD ..........$500usd
HTC Touch Pro ..........$400usd
HTC Touch Diamond ...$350usd
Samsung omnia i900.....$400usd
Apple iphone 3G 16gb........$300usd
Sony ericsson C905.........$500usd
Nokia n96 16gb...$400usd
Sony ericsson xperia x1..$400usd
Apple iphone 8gb.....$300usd
Nokia n95 8gb.......$300usd
Ps3 60gb.............$300usda

LG touch screen mobile GD910 clock Specifications:

GSM Quadband
2 hours talk time
Size: 61 x 39 x 13.9 mm
Weight: 84 grams
Bluetooth
Touch Screen
Water Resistant
3G with HSDPA support

PACKAGE CONTENT Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte.

Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte Quadband 3G 4GB UMTS Mobile Phone
BH-803 Bluetooth Headset
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh (BL-4U)
Carrying Case
Data CD-ROM
Device Handsfree
Desktop Charger
Travel Charger
User Manual
Bluetooth Headset

We make shipment via Ups and Fedex shipping company 2days

deliver worldwide.
If you are interested in buying our product contact us via

Email address: htg888@live.com

James

5

HTC Hero review

I liked the review.

For entertainment centric users the Iphone 3GS wins hands down, but it falls short as a business phone due to poor syncronisation with MS Office. Whilst there are a huge number of 3rd party apps on itunes, the reality is that 99% are not of merchantable quality. The aboriginal saying "something nothing" sums up most itune apps

As to the HTC Hero, I think it has an exciting future because it's quality and open architecture will encourage innovation, initially in the business phone market. Look out MS and Palm. Although large companies and Government wont take it up because of security issues created by having a camera.

Anonymous

6

"iPhone does offer TV-out with the purchase of an extra cable accessory".So does HTC. "Neither of these smartphones offers FM radio capabilities" HTC does has some FM capabilities.And the music app is impressive. Type a name,album or artist and download for free.

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