HTC Desire Z - The A to Z of an Android

Launch SRP: S$718

Overview & Design

The A(dvent) to D(esign) of an Android

Who remembers the very first Google Android device? If the HTC Dream comes to mind, then you're absolutely right. And it hasn't been that long, when we reviewed it back in May 2009. The first Google Android device was nothing to shout about. Plagued with battery mileage and usability issues, the Dream wasn't exactly a dreamboat for those who have been waiting for Android to come into the market.

With more than a year of research and development, there is a new successor to HTC's QWERTY-based Android device. Tagged as part of its Desire lineup, we were introduced to the HTC Desire Z when it made its debut in London just one month ago. Beyond the device, the Desire Z was introduced with a full package, from the new HTC Sense, to the supporting online service known as, and most importantly, a brand new form factor that matches its Z naming convention.

If we had to find one word to describe the Desire Z, here's our pick - hefty. This sentiment was shared by many in our office, with the word "heavy" popping up frequently in their initial impressions. This isn't surprising, given that the Desire Z weighs at 180g, making it one of the heaviest Android devices in the market. While it might have a slight disadvantage in keeping itself light and easy, we realized that the unit has a much slimmer profile compared to the Dream.

Some might find the hefty weight to be the deal breaker for the Desire Z.

Sharing the same screen size as the HTC Desire, the Desire Z comes with a slightly thicker profile at 14.16mm.

The overall feel you'll get from the Desire Z is a very well refined device with much thought put into its design consideration. Perhaps, if the Desire Z had omitted the metal from its borders and rear, it might have shaved off substantial weight. But to do so would remove the premium and solid feel of the device, a trade-off that we're willing to live with.

The metal materials along its border and the rear adds a solid feel to the overall handling of the Desire Z.

Unlike the earlier Android devices under their portfolio for 2010, the Desire Z has a noticeable change when it comes to physical buttons. HTC traded the physical buttons in favor of a touch sensitive option. What is the glaring issue here? Once you start tapping away on the screen, especially at the lower portion, you might miss the mark and hit the Back button by accident. This became a source of frustration for us when we exited apps prematurely.

We would have preferred physical buttons (as seen on the HTC Desire, left) instead of four smaller touch sensitive buttons on the front panel.

Part of what makes the Desire Z, well, that desirable is the inclusion of a physical QWERTY keyboard underneath its 3.7-inch SLCD display. As mentioned earlier, the Z moniker is plugged for a distinct purpose - a Z-hinge that raises the display, pushes it sideways, with a final landing position to lock the display down. Conventional slider form factors often require both our index fingers (as a fulcrum) and thumbs to exert sufficient opposing force to slide the display. The beauty of the Z-hinge design is that it doesn't require any strenuous effort on your fingers, just a slight push pops the display up and reveals the physical keyboard.

Thanks to the Z-hinge design, popping the display out to reveal the QWERTY keyboard is an easy affair.

With the display locked in position, you can see how slim the Desire Z is, even with the QWERTY keyboard.

Doing so reveals the 4-row QWERTY keyboard, and do we have a lot of comments (both good and bad) for this. To give you a better idea of this specific feature, we share the details in our upcoming Features page.

The Good
Slim profile even with QWERTY keyboard
Sturdy build
Good tactile feedback from keyboard
The Bad
Low battery mileage
Need to familiarize with keyboard layout