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Thursday
Jul152010

Review: HTC Legend on Virgin Mobile

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The HTC Legend, which is available to Bell and Virgin Mobile subscribers, is an Android 2.1 smartphone with a sleek  Aluminum unibody shell, a bright AMOLED screen and a new optical trackball that doesn't actually have a ball. What it does have is character, style, speed and all the best the Google's mobile  OS has to offer in a small and fun to use form factor. Check the jump for a slideshow and more information on the HTC Legend.

Available now from Virgin Mobile ($80.00 on a 3-year-plan or $349.99 for 30 fay plan). Bell loyalists can get the HTC Legend for $80.00 on a 3-year-deal or cash it out for $400.

The HTC Legend looks completely different from anything HTC has done before. It does have similar shape as the HTC Hero, but that's it. Looking at this sleek beast of a phone with its strudy but lightweight unibody aluminum construction and precise industrial design, one might come to the conclusion that Apple designed it and not HTC.

The design references are just too strong. Hues of matte black rubber encased in the brushed aluminum frame that's been milled to perfection, the rounded edges, perforated speaker grilles and even the glossy black border surrounding the screen are all quintessential Jonathan Ive of Apple touches. This phone feels incredible to the touch, lightweight yet rigid. One thing that bothered us was that our review unit already seemed to have a few nicks and minor scratches on the aluminium rim which simply means while it is sturdy, it isn't immune to getting scratched and dented...no phone is.

 

All-aluminum phones are a rarity mostly because of the cost but also because that lightweight and rigid metal is known to interfere with the radios. The HTC Legend has quad-band GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, an Internal GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi (b/g only), accelerometer and compass; that it can manage all those antennas within a tight aluminum enclosure is nothing short of an engineering miracle. We did experience WiFi to be spotty at times in comparison to a "mostly plastic" iPhone 3GS and a Motorola Milestone but that is to be expected.

An added plus is that the HTC Legend runs on the sweet looking Sense UI that offers up useful widgets and updates for news, weather and social media all atop of the Android OS, its like the best of both world’s really.

 

To top it all, there’s that AMOLED screen, which is crisp, bright and clear and manages to play back video impressively. The HTC Legend is a gorgeous phone that’s functional as well and showcases a bold approach we wish more handset makers would take. 

In terms of performance, we were actually amazed at the HTC Legend's speed in navigating through applications and widgets. We tested it alongside a Motorola Milestone (which has  a similarly clocked processor at 600Mhz but less RAM) and the HTC Legend was just so much faster that it made the Milestone feel kludgy and awkward. Running searches, accessing webpages and invoking Google Maps took half the time on the HTC Legend than it did on the Motorola Milestone. It made even the iPhone 3GS feel a bit dated.

Call quality and signal availability was good to excellent around Toronto and that's because Virgin Mobile actually uses Bell and Telus's large  HSPA network. We were also impressed by the loudness and quality of the built in speaker for handsfree calls and playing back music as well.

The camera is 5 Megapixel autofocus with an LED flash and is one of the better cameras on a smartphone we've tried this year eclipsing even the one on the Nexus One in terms of speed. It also has better than average low-light performance. As for the optical trackball, it is a mixed bag. It does work as advertised and totally replaces the trackball of previous devices but seems overly-sensitive. We found that we interacted directly with the screen more often than twiddling this imaginary trackball which seemed to save us time.

The HTC Legend is an impressive smartphone all around. We hope HTC continues the aluminum unibody construction in their upcoming models, it would be amazing to see something in the 3'7-4'0 inch size that has all the best qualities of the Legend. If you're into Android, want HTC's Sense UI plus are in the market for a lightweight smartphone with a bright screen then the HTC Legend is recommended. It is really an evolution of HTC's line which evolved from the Magic and the Hero but which brings some of the cooler features of the Nexus One and the HTC Desire into a tight and truly capable little package.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

References (2)

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