HTC Desire vs iPhone 4: Smartphone showdown

The HTC Desire or the iPhone 4: Which smartphone is better?

Apple's fourth-generation iPhone, the iPhone 4, has finally hit Australia. Boasting a brighter screen, a faster processor and better battery life than its predecessors, the iPhone 4 is expected to maintain Apple's strong foothold in the smartphone market.

Check out our original HTC Desire review.

Check out our HTC Desire HD preview.

Read our definitive iPhone 4 review.

If Apple's phone leaves you cold and you're looking for an alternative to the iPhone, then you're probably going to be eyeing off one of the latest Android smartphones. HTC's flagship Desire smartphone has been on the market for some months and is proving a popular choice thanks to a 3.7in AMOLED display, a 1GHz application processor, excellent build quality and a high level of user customisation through HTC's Sense user interface.

With this in mind, how does the HTC Desire stack up against the Apple iPhone 4?

Feature Apple iPhone 4 HTC Desire Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Apple iOS4 Google Android 2.1 (upgradeable to 2.2) Draw
Display technology Capacitive retina IPS Capacitive AMOLED iPhone 4
Display resolution 640x960 pixels 480x800 pixels iPhone 4
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Camera 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging, face and smile detection Draw
FM radio No Yes HTC Desire
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 576MB iPhone 4
Expandable memory No microSD card slot HTC Desire
Dimensions 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm 119 x 60 x 11.9mm iPhone 4
Weight 137g 135g HTC Desire
Application store Apple App Store Google Android Market iPhone 4
Processor Apple A4 Qualcomm Snapdragon (1GHz) Unknown
3G networks HSDPA 850/ 900/1900/2100 HSDPA 850/2100 iPhone 4
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11b/g iPhone 4
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 2.1 with A2DP Draw
Quoted talk time Up to 7 hours Up to 6.5 hours iPhone 4
Quoted standby time Up to 300 hours Up to 360 hours HTC Desire
Adobe Flash support No Yes HTC Desire

Both smartphones stack up reasonably well, with each possessing its own strengths and weaknesses. The HTC Desire is equipped with HTC's Sense user interface and offers greater customisation options the iPhone — whether it's changing themes, backgrounds or the interface's entire look and feel, Google Android is definitely far more flexible and open than the iPhone platform.

The iPhone 4's display uses IPS technology (also used by the iPad), and thanks to its 640x960 pixel resolution it has been described as a "retina" display, with the human eye unable to distinguish individual pixels on the screen. The HTC Desire boasts an impressive (and larger) AMOLED display, but the iPhone 4 is definitely a clear winner in this category. Its screen is particularly excellent at rendering text, making reading a highlight.

The HTC Desire is larger than the iPhone 4, mainly due to the 3.7in display. Some may be irked by the Desire's plastic rear casing, but we think it looks good and doesn't detract from the overall build quality. The new iPhone's stainless steel band (which also doubles as the phone's antenna) is certainly intriguing, and, at just 9.3mm thick the iPhone 4 is one of the world's thinnest smartphones. Of course, it also suffers from widely reported reception issues when held in a certain way.

The iPhone 4 holds a slight advantage when it comes to multimedia. Both smartphones feature similar cameras, but the iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video and its iPod integration is one of its outstanding features. However, there are a number of third-party media player applications designed for Google Android, and the flexibility of drag-and-drop file transfer is a real plus for the HTC Desire when compared to Apple's reliance on iTunes.

The HTC Desire is available in Australia exclusively through Telstra. The iPhone 4 is available through all four Australian carriers — Telstra, Optus, VHA (Vodafone and 3) and Virgin Mobile.

What do you think about the HTC Desire and the Apple iPhone 4? Tell us in the comments below!

For full details on all the iPhone 4's new features, read our comprehensive iPhone 4 review.

Also check out all the angles of Apple's latest smartphone in our Apple iPhone 4 gallery.

Are you buying an iPhone 4? What do you think of the Australian iPhone 4 plans? Let us know in the comments below!

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Tags ApplehtcGoogle Android phonesmobile phonesiphone 4Google AndroidiPhonesmartphonesHTC Desire

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

Good Gear Guide




Surprised you mentioned that iPhone 4 has multitasking - isn't this imited to certain approved applications as opposed to Android which allows any application ot multitask? Also I have a HTC Desire and it supports HD recording since the latest HTC update!



The table is rubbish.. too many unknowns.

802.11b/g/n vs 802.11b/g winner = Draw .. HOW?

2.1 with A2DP vs 2.1 with A2DP Winner = HTC Desire ... HOW?

Have you ever seen a Desire or iPhone?

Some would think you got your qualifications by sending away tokens on the back of a box of Cornflakes..



Agree Sketch. If a table like this is going to be created with information that is confusing please provide an explanation and qualify your informtation. It is hard enough trying to work out a decision between phones without ambiguous information like this.

In regards to if I will get an iPhone 4, still undecided. I think I will wait until it is in Australia for a while to see how the antenna issue pans out.

Ross Catanzariti


Hi Sketch,

Both of your unknowns were table formatting errors and have since been corrected.

I have always been a Weet Bix rather than Cornflakes man though.

Thanks for the feedback.

Rohan Pearce


I can confirm that Ross is a Weet-Bix kind of guy.



I bought HTC Desire about a month ago and it's a GREAT phone! So for all those tired with iPhone that's the best option.



I have purchased Iphone 4 very disappointing not a business smart phone does not sync to do lists, can not set private appointments lags well behind Blackberry when it comes to standard business features



iPhone is the only phone that can record video in 720p? Incorrect. You might want to update the information as 2.2 or "froyo" has enabled the Desire's ability to record in 720p. How is the memory issue a win for the iphone 4? Having REMOVABLE memory would be seen as a plus as far as I am concerned, being able to wilfully plug your memory card into anything as opposed to what apple will only allow you with their proprietary systems. You also neglected to mention the onboard RAM the devices have and finally, how is ios4 better than 2.2 ? A more customizable operating system is preferable to one that you can marginally tweak anyday.

I own a 3gs and previously a 3g however apple have had their day and played catchup for too long now. The retina display as far as I am concerned is their ONLY improvement on the device.

Sounds like the pcworld fellas need to spend a week with each device and do an ACTUAL comparison, as opposed to what they are reading off the back of the packaging. Having used both devices myself I can quite safely quallify that the Desire is the better phone of the 2, but only just.



I found the table interesting but not a useful comparison between the two phones.
I own an Android and have played around with other peoples iPhones. I feel the important differentiation factors between the two devices were not in your list, and often the comparisons in the list where not fair comparisons.
For example Apple app store vs the Android app store in not really a like for like. The reason being you are not limited to the Android app store in the same ways you are with apple. With the Desire you can access external websites with additional apps, to say nothing of the fact you can run java and flash on the phone itself.
In addition the pure customisable freedom, especially taking the use of widgets into account on the desire needs to be considered with any comparison between the phones.
But the biggest difference between the two devices that I've seen is the ease of use and full integration of the Desire with social networking, vs the iPhones simple app approach.
It is hard to explain the difference, it’s easier to show someone (which I can’t do in a comment). The desire seamlessly integrates with gmail(and the other google apps), twitter, facebook, myspace, flickr, exchange and the like. It binds them into the core function of the phone.
Yes I know the I phone has apps for all of those things, but the result in the iPhone feels fragmented and after the seamlessness of the Desire can be quite frustrating to use.
This integrated approach results in a phone that is a perfect communication device, a tool that changes the way you communicate with your friends.

Or to put it another way the key selling point for the iPhone is the app store and itunes, the key selling point for the desire is every web 2.0 website worth its salt.

Ultimately any like for like comparison would fail I guess, any the phone at there core are very different devices, the iPhone seems to be an ipod with a phone in it, while the desire in a phone with the web 2.0 ecosystem integrated in it.




Regarding the social networking aspects of the Desire and it's integration with the OS, I think the word your look for was datacentric. I agree, it's a brilliant feature. Linking phone contacts to Facebook accounts and having additional missing data such as birthdays etc merged in automatically is awesome. From what I read, the new Windows Mobile 7 OS will take a datacentric approach as well.

By the way, this comparison is quite misleading? You mention the upgrade to Froyo but failed to compare the phones with this in mind?! With Froyo (Android 2.2) the Desire supports 720p and 802.11n. It's always had the hardware, it just needed an OS to utilize it. Not sure also why the Iphone won the display battle over AMOLED either? Sure it's got a better resolution but that was in a separate category? As far as I know the next revision Iphone will be moving to super AMOLED which is a fair indication of Apples stance on what is the superior technology...



I had a drag race against a iPhone 4 and the desire won everytime. The iPhone mite look better but it doesn't go better and I still got 2.1. HTC rocks.



I wanted the HTC Desire to work for me, unfortunately the compatibility of the native mail app with my companies mail server (Kerio Connect, using ActiveSync) prevented me from switching from my iPhone 4 to the HTC Desire.

I used the Desire for about a week, I really liked it, there are so many plusses, the ability to drag and drop files, the openness of the OS, the industrial design, while it does not look like a museum piece like the iPhone 4, it is more comfortable in your hand, and more useable on a day to day basis. I found there were so few weaknesses, poorer battery life, and only g wifi.

The HTC Desire is a fantastic phone, and if it were not for its weak exchange support it would be my choice!



im gettin the desire and just goto youtube and they will givew you any answer you need when it comes to selecting phones kbecause i was debating against the motorola milestone



my HTC came with an 8 megapixal camera way better phone aswell



all these idiots know nothing about phone!!!!



well... I own both.. and the iphone4 absolutely craps all over the htc desire...speed..apps...everything..



zzz thats rubish, the htc desire pwns the iphone 4 on web browsing, and suposedly the iphone has the best web browsing in the world zzzzzz



I got Iphone 3G & my partner has a iphone4. I see very little dif between them. Although i like many of the iphone features, as a phone i think theyre no where near my old Nokias. So, i am looking to upgrade in the coming months. I use it for work & play. At work, its frustrating. Things like the calender entries for appointments not having lines for addresses or contact numbers and not having a one touch of a number to call it if i am running later for an appointment. The worst feature that has cost me much business is its stupid mechanical switch to disable the ringer! There are many more frustrating features...and there are a number of ones i like. Can the HTC manage word documents or excel files/edit? Do they tie in with outlook? If anyone out there is up to speed with this subject id like to converse direct.

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