For the past couple of weeks, I've been playing around with the HTC Hero. The US guys reviewed it way back in July, and while I don't disagree with anything in that review, there are still a few things worth mentioning about the Android phone now that it has finally hit Australian shores. 1. Where's the Proximity sensor? Every single time I finished a phone call, the screen was blank. I didn't know if I was still connected or not. Mostly I was, and had to press a button to turn on the screen, then press the hang up button. This phone needs a proximity sensor.
2. Optus and their mother fracking App Market block Hardly the fault of the phone, but I was testing using an Optus SIM card, and couldn't purchase any paid apps. That's frustrating to the nth degree, and with the only workaround to either switch providers or flash the ROM, there are probably going to be a few disgruntled customers who buy this without doing the proper research.
3. HTC Peep - a mixed bag I love the fact that the HTC Twitter app, Peep, will convert smiley faces to little Android graphics. But I hate the fact that it doesn't include any replies unless the reply tweet starts with your username.
4. Music/Video is a bitch to get onto the device This was mentioned in the US' review, but seriously - I know iTunes has become a bit bloated in recent versions, but it still shits all over having to drag and drop your music and videos, especially if you've got a lot of music to copy over. On the plus side 3.5mm headphone jack! 5. Despite the fact the phone's always connected, it doesn't always update. The Hero supports Exchange email, and automatically refreshes Twitter. Yet I'd often find things would come through on my PC much more quickly, and with the Twitter app I'd have to manually request a refresh despite having it set to automatically do it every 15 minutes. The exception was Gmail, which was blindingly efficient as expected.
6. What about data? I was testing the Hero using my iPhone's SIM, so I had no worries about data usage. But considering the Hero is being sold outright, and it's designed to drag information down from the web in real time in the background (like weather and Twitter, for example), the data use could pose a problem for some users who don't get a decent data plan with their phone plan.
Yet despite these things, the Hero is easily my second favourite handset ever. Some of its functions - like intelligently managing your contacts with your Facebook contacts, email ease of use and the whole Sense UI - are fantastic. As an alternative to the iPhone, you can't get much better (in Australia at least). Just don't use an Optus SIM card...