Last night we attended the gdgt live in Austin event and got to spend some quality time with the new HTC Desire and Legend. These phones have been extensively played with and captured on video, so there is not much left that we don’t already know about them.
The Legend feels awesome in the hand with its aluminum unibody design. I’ve been unofficially told this device will land on Sprint (and maybe a few other U.S. carriers) and we expect it to be a huge hit. The Legend runs Android 2.1 with HTC’s Sense UI, but it is geared towards the mid-range audience based on its specs. Certain features of Android 2.1 (like live wallpapers) will not be supported on the Legend because of its hardware limitations.
The Desire and Nexus One are basically the same phones with a few minor changes. The Desire features Sense UI, small RAM boost, optical trackball, and FM radio while the Nexus One has stock Android 2.1, extra noise cancellation mic, multicolor trackball, capacitive buttons, and special coating.
Having played with both phones, I would opt for the Nexus One for one simple reason. It is supported by Google and will be the first phone to receive new Android updates. I also prefer the physical trackball and enjoy the special coating of the N1 (vs the plastic of the Desire).
Since both phones are virtually identical, their firmwares can be swapped out. The Nexus One will be the more hackable device because it is sim unlocked and has an easily unlockable bootloader. We have already seen the Sense UI ported to the Nexus One and I’m sure someone will port the stock Android 2.1 to the Desire.
Speaking of the Sense UI, it really is fun to use. I could see myself using it over the stock home. The animated widgets are beautiful and I found the pinch zoom homescreen (Leap) was a joy.
Thankfully, HTC has made it relatively easy to turn off Sense UI if you wish to return to the stock Android homescreen. To demonstrate this, we filmed a quick video. Users can still access the HTC live wallpapers, but the HTC widgets will not run on the stock home.
We expect the U.S. carriers to announce launch dates for the Desire and Legend at the upcoming CTIA show later this month. In the mean time, head over to the official HTC product’s page to further explore both phones.