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HTC Inspire 4G - Review


HTC Inspire 4G - Review

The HTC Inspire 4G features a 4.3 inch touch display, 4GB of internal storage with an 8GB microSD card, 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and is powered by a 1GHz processor with 768MB of RAM.The device is available in the U.S. through AT&T and runs Android FroYo with the HTC Sense UI on top. The Inspire 4G along with the Inspire series is expected to be updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

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The internationally available HTC Desire HD has been rebranded as the HTC Inspire 4G for AT&T, featuring the carrier's HSPA+ network. Priced at just $99.99 on contract, HTC hopes to win over its customers with a reasonable price attached to what seems like a very decent device.




Design

The HTC Inspire 4G is almost identical to the HTC Desire HD in Europe. It boasts some fantastic premium materials combined with that solid HTC construction, but it doesn't particularly attempt to differentiate itself in any away aside from the AT&T branding we’re presented with. Regardless, its unibody aluminum exterior is still exciting to hold which is complemented nicely with its spotted soft touch surfaces. Not only is it sleek (0.46”) enough to hide away in a pocket, but its weight (5.78 oz.) is more than accepting enough considering its overall metallic feel. The handset offers the same design elements found on devices like the HTC HD2, HTC EVO 4G and the HTC HD7.

The handset features a generous 4.3 inch touch display with a 480 by 800 pixel resolution which is common on smartphones these days. The display offers sharp visuals, high details and acceptable viewing angles.

Below the display you will find capacitive touch buttons, which are made visible in the dark though their backlighting. However their placement does tend to cause some occasional unwanted presses.

On the left edge, we’re presented with a thin looking volume rocker than barely sticks out to offer a reasonable amount of distinguishability. Sadly though, not only did we have difficulty in feeling it out, but we’re not too thrilled by its stiff feel when pressed. Moreover, the same can be said about its dedicated power button on the top side of the phone.

Meanwhile, we find the 3.5mm headset jack, microphone, and microUSB port all located on the bottom portion of the handset. Unfortunately, we’re somewhat bummed by the fact that the Inspire 4G lacks a front-facing camera – especially when it boasts “4G” in its name; indicating the faster than normal 3G data speeds we’re all too accustomed to seeing at this point.

In the rear, we find its 8-megapixel auto-focus jutting out from the surrounding area – which does make you wonder it comes into contact with the surface when the device is resting on its back. However, the concern is lessened since the lens is actually recessed further down from the surrounding area. Additionally, we find its dual-LED flash and speakerphone notch perched close-by.

Removing the battery cover on this device can prove to be cumbersome. In fact, removing it will completely kill power to the handset since its basically completes the circuit. The microSD and SIM card slot is also hidden under a separate cover, which is much easier to open.

Hardware

The HTC Desire 4G is powered by a second generation 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon MSM8255 processor combined with 768MB of RAM. This should result in some smooth overall performance with the device.

You get 4GB of internal storage and HTC has been kind enough to include an 8GB microSD card for added storage. If you need more, you can always add up to 32GB of microSD storage to your handset.

Being the quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GSM and dual-band (850/1900 MHz) UMTS device it is, global travelers will have no problems taking the HTC Inspire 4G with them on their escapades. Although it’s highly touted for its HSPA+ connectivity, which is indicated by the “H+” icon in the notifications area, we aren't thrilled by the speeds it obtained during our testing. Generally speaking, it manages to get average speeds around 1700kbps down and 150kbps up – which by contrast aren’t fantastic by any means over the speeds we've experienced with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. If that’s the case, then it probably justifies why the handset lacks a front-facing camera – especially for a 4G branded device. Lastly, the HTC Inspire 4G packs on other connectivity items such as 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, aGPS, and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR.

The Desire 4G manages to squeeze less than a single day on normal usage out of the handset on a full charge, but it at least provides enough juice to get through an 8-hour working day. Light users should be able to get a solid day out of it, but heavy users will want to bring along a spare battery or charger.

Camera

The Desire 4G comes with an 8 megapixel autofocus camera, which takes satisfactory images outdoors during the daytime – though, color production is slightly on the cooler side. In fact, it’s even more prevalent with shots taken under artificial lighting, but it’s still more than agreeable thanks to the amount of detail it’s able to capture. Unfortunately though, there is a conspicuous amount of noise evident in photos taken in low lighting conditions. Furthermore, the flash tends to make things look over-exposed – not to mention casting a yellowish hue as well. Despite its reduced output in low lighting conditions, we find using the HTC Inspire 4G more than forgiving in taking photos that you’ll want to remember.

You also get 720p video recording, especially since it’s regarded as a high-caliber handset, but don’t expect much out of it. Sadly, there is just way too much evidence of artifacting which tends to make the overall recording look pixelated. Although we weren't expecting to find continuous auto-focus, it does offer the functionality of touch focus, but it doesn't necessarily aid in making the outcome better – despite its ability to shoot at the smooth rate of 28 frames per second. And finally, audio recording is on the mute side which ultimately makes it sound muffled.


Software

The HTC Desire 4G comes with Android 2.2.1 Froyo out of the box accompanied by the latest version of HTC's Sense UI. Sense offers an overall enhancement to the stock Android experience and stands out with its distinguishable digital clock widget. Most of the new features can be found on HTCSense.com – its web connected experience that uncovers some unique functionality. After registering for an account, you’re presented with some useful functions at your disposal – like automatic backup, the ability to make your phone ring, or completely wipe the device remotely in the event it’s lost or stolen.

With Sense on the HTC Desire 4G, you can personalize the homescreen and add icons without a long-press of the homescreen. Instead, just tap the paintbrush and palette symbol on the bottom left of the homescreen - very intuitive. There are plenty of pre-loaded HTC widgets which are very functional further improving usability. For those of you who want a list of HTC Widgets, in alphabetical order - your wish is our command: Bookmark, Calculator, Clock, FM Radio, Friend Stream, HTC Likes (app suggestions), Locations, Mail, Messages, Music, My Shelf (ebook shelf), Navigate, News, People, Photo Album, Photo Frame, Search Anywhere, Stocks, Sync All, Tips for Home, Twitter, Weather.

Tap the "Phone" button, centered in the bottom of any one of the 7 homescreens and the dialer is pulled up. This works wonderfully, enabling you to numerically enter a name (i.e. Tom as 246), with the device displaying it instantly.

The HTC keyboard continues to make sense and is undoubtedly one of the more useful on-screen keyboards out there. In addition to the healthy amount of real-estate provided, we experienced relatively few errors in speed typing while using either its portrait and landscape keyboards. Not only does it offer a ridiculously responsive experience, but we adore the quick input of numbers and punctuations by simply executing a long press on the associated button.

The Gallery app on the HTC Inspire 4G as it lays out content in the typical grid-like formation in portrait, while turning it to landscape, switches it to a camera roll like carousel. With photos, there is a finite set of editing tools available, such as cropping or rotating, but there are additional after-effects that you can apply on them as well.

The Music Player comes with some nice improvements. Even though we’re presented with the same look in portrait, tilting the phone to landscape presents a full blown Cover-flow like interface that effortlessly allows you to swipe between albums. Sadly, the audio quality from its speaker is on the shrill side when no equalizer option is enabled, but even after enabling Dolby Mobile or SRS enhancement, it still doesn’t particularly come off as being too pleasant to the ear.


Conclusion

The HTC Desire 4G provides AT&T customers with a their first taste of a high-caliber HTC device that’s sure to inspire customers with its equipped performance. The most impressive part about the Inspire 4G is its right out of the gate on-contract pricing of $99.99. In fact, it boats plenty of value for the dollar since it’s chocked full off inspiring hardware under the hood to satisfy even the most demanding users out there. As much as we’d love to see this become common with other high-end smartphones, we know it’s simply wishful thinking at this point, but we’re sure that customers will be inspired by it nonetheless.

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