Going Hands on with the Android Based HTC Legend

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HTC announced and started shipping the Legend in Europe earlier this year. Well, it’s finally arrived on North American shores and we have been putting it through the paces to see how it stacks up. The HTC Legend is current available in Canada from Bell and Virgin Mobile. While there’s no official word from HTC, it’ is expected that a US carrier will be adding the Legend to their line up. Bell and Virgin are selling the exact same phone – there are no external carrier markings on the device and the specs are identical. The only difference you will find between these two carriers is the price of the phone. Bell is asking $399 for the device without a contract, while Virgin (a discount carrier owned by Bell) is asking $349. I found the choice pretty easy to make and saved myself $50. :)

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When it comes to hardware specifications, the HTC Legend is not considered one of these super-spec’ed devices that are currently hitting the market. However, the Legend has it where it counts, especially when you think about the price point of the device.

  • Processor – 600MHz Qualcomm 7227
  • Operating System – Android 2.1
  • Memory – ROM: 512MB / RAM: 384MB
  • Display – 3.2 inch AMOLED touch screen / 320×480 HVGA
  • Network – HSPA/WCDMA / 850, 1900 MHz / Quad-band GSM, GPRS, Edge
  • GPS – Internal Antenna
  • Camera – 5 megapixel camera with auto focus and flash
  • Bluetooth – 2.1
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g
  • Battery Capacity – 1300 mAh
  • Dimensions – 112 x 56.3 x 11.5 mm (4.41 x 2.22 x 0.45 inches)
  • Weight – 126 grams (4.44 ounces) with battery

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If you’re looking at those specs and think they sound familiar, you would be right. The Legend is almost exactly the same as the HTC Hero. There are 3 differences when you run down the specifications page – 1) Processor, 2) Memory, and 3) Android version.

The processor on the Hero is a little slower at 528 MHz, but I don’t think it’s enough that you will notice it. I found the Hero had more than enough power to do everything I wanted, and the Legend is no different. For memory, the Hero has the same size of ROM memory – 512MB. The amount of RAM has gone from 288MB on the Hero to 384MB on the Legend. Again, not a big difference. Google has been pushing hard on Android, and this difference is a significant one; the version of Android on the Hero is 1.6 – on the Legend it’s 2.1.  There has been a number of improvements between these versions. All things being equal, you’re better off with 2.1 over 1.6.  In this case, things aren’t even close to equal as the Hero is older, has a slower processor with less memory and it costs more.  So the choice is simple – Legend!

Sometimes the specs doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about a device. The Legend may appear to be very similar to the Hero, but there is a number of differences outside of that spec sheet, so enough with the spec sheet.

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When you look at the Legend you can’t help but notice the beautiful screen filling the front of this device. It’s an AMOLED screen offering brilliant color while using less power. I’ve been using the HTC HD2 for months and I was under the impression that the HD2’s screen was amazing. It is, until you see the screen on the Legend. I just wish the Legend had a 4.3 inch screen like the HD2. :)

The picture above shows the HTC Legend (Left) beside the HTC HD2 (Right). Both devices are set to max brightness and have the same image loaded as the wallpaper. The difference between the colors on these devices is crazy.

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The Legend has a body unlike any other device I’ve used. It’s made from 1 solid chunk of aluminum, so the front, back and sides are all connected in a solid body. To change the battery, insert your SIM, or MicroSD card, you need to remove the bottom black plastic cap. Once removed, you need to lift the clear plastic guard that holds the battery in place in order to gain access. Despite the small opening, everything fits nicely and is easy to insert and remove.

There is no trackball or 4/5-way navigation button on the front of the Legend. At least not the typical navigation controls that we would normally find. The Legend has a neat optical sensor to handle all your navigation needs. In much the same way as the optical sensor on your mouse can sense which direction and at what speed you are moving the mouse, the optical sensor on the front of the Legend will sense your finger sliding over it and react accordingly. It works a lot better than the touch pad style sensor used in some older devices.

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I was expecting better battery life out of a device with a AMOLED screen, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It seems like all manufacturers are looking to do is give enough power for the average user to make it through a day. For me, the battery on the Legend is no where near as good as the HD2, or even the Hero. There are lots of different factors between these devices – processor speed, network speed, number of push email accounts, operating system and version. Even with all the differences I was able to easily get a full day out of the HD2 and the Hero. That’s not the case with the Legend – it’s usually on critical by the time the day is over. To be fair, I’m pushing the device pretty hard on a daily basis, but that’s no different than how I used other devices. For the average user, the Legend battery would make it through the day without a problem.

The all aluminum body on the Legend had me concerned about cellular reception and if it could be as good as the Hero or other HTC devices. Overall, I’m finding the reception to be pretty good. However, spots where I would normally have 1 bar I’m finding that I have none. Occasionally I will find that I don’t have a data connection at all. HTC’s other devices like HD2 and Hero didn’t have these blackout spots. But don’t confuse this with poor or slow connections.  I’ve had some great speeds on upload/downloads – far better than I’ve seen on other devices. It just appears that the low end of cellular reception isn’t where other devices have been.

All things considered, the HTC Legend is a great device – from the AMOLED screen, to the super fast HSPA network speeds, from Android 2.1 to HTC Sense, from a solid aluminum body to a 5 mega-pixel camera with LED flash. There’s lots of goodness in the Legend and you simply can’t beat the price – $350 Canadian (~$339.45 USD).

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.

  • http://twitter.com/mobilejaw/status/18602089098 MobileJaw

    Going Hands on with the Android Based HTC Legend – http://tinyurl.com/28npf2n

  • http://twitter.com/miketemporale/status/18603677590 MikeTemporale

    Great device with NA 3G for the price ! RT @MobileJaw: Going Hands on with the Android Based HTC Legend – http://tinyurl.com/28npf2n

  • Dave Evans

    Well done Mike!

    I’m beginning to wonder about the latest round of Android devices and battery life. You talk about poor battery life on the Legend. Recently I reviewed the Liquid E and found it had poor battery like, and I just packed up my new Experia x10 to send back because the battery life is totally unacceptable. Today I turned all radios off, including the phone, and left it sitting on my dresser. In twelve hours of total non use it used 50% of the battery. This after doing an firmware update that doubled the battery life from out of the box.

    Now I have no phone…..well…I could use my old Diamond, if my wife doesn’t catch me slipping it out of her purse, or my old Touch if my daughter
    doesn’t take her eyes off her new boyfriend,and catch me….ok, so there’s the top draw of my desk that might have a phone or two. But none of them compare to the new Desire. Any bets on its battery life?

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    Thanks Dave. :)

    Sorry to hear that you sent the X10 back. I’ve heard that the battery life actually gets better after you charge it a number of times. Sounds stupid, but that’s what I’ve seen from people that have one.

    I haven’t really heard anyone complain about the battery life on the Desire. So I would expect you should get a full day from that.

    We can’t have you running around without a phone. I wonder what I can dig up for your to play with until the next review unit comes around….

  • http://twitter.com/darrenhumphries/status/18683145688 Darren Humphries

    RT @MobileJaw Going Hands on with the Android Based HTC Legend http://bit.ly/anWPfs

  • Dave Evans

    Thanks Mike. My hopes and probably a good chunk of wishful thinking are with Telus releasing the Desire REAL soon.

    You mentioned about people saying there battery life improves over a period of time. Although some “experts” say this isn’t true, I wonder if the software used to measure and report battery life become more accurate after a bit of use? Seems logical doesn’t it?

    My concerns with battery life on the Desire are raised now because of the switch to the LCD screen. OMELED screens are reportedly much easier on battery use, so I`m wondering if this might have an effect. HOPEFULLY I`ll soon know. ;)

    Dave

  • Dave Evans

    AMOLED…..dang I really need to start proof reading posts before I hit submit…not after. ;)

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    I don’t expect it to be too long before the Desire becomes available. Typically they don’t go talking about the phone too far in advance.

    AMOLED are better in terms of power requirements, however putting it on full brightness will still suck a fair amount of power.

  • http://www.bornmobile.co.il Helio D.

    Mike, regarding battery life getting better after some loads, this is a regular thing on Lithium batteries. They get more flexibility after 5-6 charges, and from that point on are on their maximum.

    Regarding the battery life, my new Desire has just enough to get me to the end of the day. I would expect it to get me a little further than that so that I would have some spare for days of heavy phone usage.

  • Dave Evans

    Thanks for the battery info Helio. Glad to see you picked up the Desire.

    I picked up a Hero to hold me over for 2 weeks (14 day return policy) Hopefully the Desire will land before or not long after that.

    Dave

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    @Helio – Well, with the SE X10, the battery life is nearly double after 30 or 40 charges. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. My co-worker was on the verge of returning it but held out and now the device makes it the day without a problem. That’s a significant difference from when he first got it.

    @Dave – the Hero is nice. We’ll get you something to use before time runs out on that. ;)

  • Dave Evans

    I can see I’ll be cleaning your basement sooner or later Mike. :)

    I think my x10 had something wrong. It shouldn’t go dead in 24hrs with all radios off. If the Desire wasn’t coming I probably would have given it a better chance.

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    When my co-worker first got the X10, with all radio’s off it was using about 40% of the battery in 3-4 hours. He as charging it a lunch to make it through the day. Now, he has no problem getting through a day with it.

    The X10 is nice, but so is the Desire, so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.