HTC Legend £380

8th Mar 2010 | 13:32

HTC Legend

Taking Android to the next level - Apple should be scared

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Definitely one of the favourites for phone of the year already - Android has finally come of age

Like:

Excellent UI; Nice battery input mechanism; Speedy browser; Responsive keyboard; Stellar design

Dislike:

Average battery life; Friendstream and Peep slow to update

HTC Legend: Overview, design and feel pt 1

After the success of the HTC Hero, the Taiwanese firm is back again with the first of its duo of Android 2.1 phones, the HTC Legend.

Featuring a full aluminium chassis and high-res OLED screen, as well as the latest version of Android from Google, HTC is clearly looking to jostle its way to the front of the best-selling phone queue with the HTC Legend and Desire.

The HTC Legend features a sumptuous unibody aluminium chassis - taking more than a few visual cues from the MacBook range, and refining the lines of the HTC Hero to produce a sleek and very aesthetically pleasing phone.

Despite being one of the first mobile phone releases of the year, the HTC Legend is likely to end 2010 as one of the best looking devices, with the silver aluminium frame sitting very well in the hand.

Also read: 15 best mobile phones in the world today

However, there is one slight problem with aluminium chassis - if you leave it in your pocket with keys or coins, it scratches up pretty easily. We're not overly looking forward to having to mention this when we return the review unit...

If you're one of those that like to put a phone in a protective pouch, then there's definitely a case (sorry) for doing so with the HTC Legend.

HTC legend

The 3.2-inch screen has been beefed up as well - while it's the same size and resolution (HVGA) as the one used on the HTC Hero, the bezel has been reduced to give the impression of a wider screen.

And the display itself is now an OLED, rather than LCD, screen. This not only gives incredible colour reproduction, but also displays stunning contrast ratio thanks to not needing a backlight (which also helps with the overall thickness of the phone).

After some reports of the Google Nexus One (also produced by HTC) performing poorly in direct sunlight, that's not the case with the HTC Legend.

HTC legend

As long as you don't have the screen brightness turned down to the lowest setting, it's perfectly easy to use the phone even in sunny climes.

The frame and display aren't the only aesthetic improvements either - the overall layout has been upgraded to make this phone stand out to those browsing prospective handsets in shops.

HTC Legend: Overview, design and feel pt 2

The trackball has been replaced with an optical trackpad, which looks kind of futuristic (and a little Terminator-like - we're glad it doesn't glow red...). This makes HTC Legend look a lot more refined, and also reduces the risk of the trackball failure, which is a common problem.

HTC legend

As reception enthusiasts will know, a metallic unibody design isn't the best for getting mobile signal, which is why HTC has crafted a little slide-out panel to get the battery and SIM card in to the unibody design.

A little rubberised segment sits behind the lip, and using a cute little hinge mechanism, the battery slides nicely into the phone, with the SIM and MicroSD cards following it in with a little click.

HTC legend

While we're loathe to constantly draw a comparison, this kind of attention to design is something we haven't seen from anyone bar Apple - we challenge you to not enjoy slotting the battery in this way rather than wedging it under the battery cover.

Every port on the HTC Legend is designed to add to the overall look of the phone, and this has been achieved well.

HTC legend

The headphone slot is flush to the chassis at the top of the phone, next to the power/lock button, and the phone speaker has been crafted with an appealing grill, which also houses a small LED light that gives notifications of new messages and low battery.

HTC legend

Another bit of good news - the HTC Legend finally comes with a miniUSB connection - bringing it in line with future EU regulations and meaning universal chargers will work with it too. It's the equivalent of using a Nokia charger in the 1990s... everybody had one... we think they grew in drawers.

The right-hand side of the phone is devoid of buttons (we would have liked to see a dedicated camera shutter here) and the lower part of the chassis is taken up with the rubberised section we mentioned earlier.

HTC legend

The left-hand side of the phone holds the up/down buttons, with nothing else in sight - sleek is the only real way to describe it.

The front of the phone is minimal too - the silver and black combo is nice, and the four buttons (Home, Menu, Back and Search) are crafted in shiny black plastic and melt into the chassis.

The optical trackpad (which is clickable, by the way) is the only other element on the front, and again, it still scares us with the Terminator style look to it.

HTC legend

But the main thing to say about the HTC Legend is that this phone sits nicely in the hand, and just looks sublime - we're sure it will be bought by a few people based on the looks alone.

In the box

HTC is as minimal as ever with the bits and pieces it's thrown in the box - there's a phone cable, a converter to turn it into a wall-plug charger and some simple headphones.

We're not fans of the latter, as they're quite basic for headphones - but they do also function as an adequate hands-free kit, which is good to see included in the box.

HTC legend

HTC has been low key in its packaging again, offering the HTC Legend in a small case rather than swathes of cardboard and packaging - we're fans, and not just for environmental reasons.

HTC Legend: Interface

The Android 2.1 upgrade may have been seen already by our US cousins, but over here in the UK this is the first time we've seen this version of Google's OS.

And in a double hit of Android goodness, we're also getting the first look at HTC's upgraded Sense UI, which offers up a smorgasbord of extra functionality.

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The HTC Legend 'only' has a 600MHz processor, but still manages to zip through a huge amount of tasks without any hint of slowdown. Apple, we hope you're reading and taking note.

For those uninitiated in the ways of HTC's Android/Windows Mobile interface, the main thing this offers is a large range of home screens and a large number of widgets to dump on them.

The Sense UI on the HTC Legend offers seven home screens to play with, and when you first turn on the phone a few are already installed - the large clock with location-based weather (worked out from your mobile phone signal) is the first one you'll see.

Exchange email is presented in an easy to read way, with a scrollable list of all your messages, and Friendstream is also plonked on another home screen.

Friendstream is new, as it allows you to log into Flickr, Facebook and Twitter and see all the updates in one long stream (you can guess where the name came from, we guess).

HTC legend

This is a new addition from HTC, and apes the idea from Motorola's MOTOBlur, although with Friendstream it feels a little easier to see all your friends in one place thanks to the customisation options.

'Favourites' is also included by default - this allows you to put your favourite buddies as little icons in a grid and assign an automatic function to them - if they're on Facebook and linked in to their contact profile (more on that later) then their profile picture will also update.

HTC legend

The home screen is more than just detailing which widgets are already present on it though - it's about customisation. Whether you are simply long-pressing on a widget and dragging it into a bin to remove it, or the fact that the screen will get cloudy if the weather is overcast - this UI just works.

HTC legend

We've long been evangelists of HTC's method of laying things out, and this new Sense UI takes things up a notch - HTC has clearly noted the success Apple has had with its products, and followed the same 'form is as important as function' ideology.

Another cool addition to the overlay is HTC Leap - pinch the screen in and all seven home screens will be displayed at once (this can also be achieved by pressing the home button twice).

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It's little touches like this that will make those that don't know about Android coo over the phone - and if you want to make waves in terms of mobile sales, attracting those that don't know about your brand is key.

The HTC Legend also has a top notch capacitive screen, as we've mentioned before - the 3.2-inch display wasn't too small, and the capacitive sensitivity is amazing - easily as good as anything out there, if not better. It registers the slightest touch, and performs just how you'd expect a touchscreen to - pivotal when you're trying to impress your Mum with your new phone.

And lest we forget - this is all built on top of Android as well, which already has a pretty good interface as it is.

Elements like being able to pull the notifications tab down from the top of the screen to see message previews or interact with your music is awesome, and the menu is accessed by tapping a small button at the bottom - with applications and icons listed in an easy-to-view grid.

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We're sure that this might not suit every mobile phone owner, as some prefer the simplicity of a menu with all the icons in one place - if that's you, then you should probably think about getting an iPhone.

But if you want to play with widgets and be able to customise your experience as much as possible, then Android, and more importantly the HTC Legend, should be your first port of call.

HTC Legend: Calling and contacts

Part of the Android 2.0 upgrade was a stronger focus on social networking within the contacts menu - but HTC has been doing that for months now, and the HTC Legend is no different.

The main thing about the contacts menu with the HTC Legend is that we're seeing an integrated view - it doesn't add in your Twitter friends as well, but the upshot of that is you're not left with loads of contacts in your phonebook.

HTC legend

We would have perhaps preferred to see something like Motorola does with MOTOBlur, where you can choose to pop in your Twitter friends if you want to, but don't have to see all of them - it makes it easier to see their updates that way.

There are five different distinct contacts you can have in the phone book - those from the SIM, Google, on the phone, Exchange and from your Facebook list.

While we appreciate Google asking you to download your contacts from Gmail when you use the phone for the first time, we don't recommend you do unless you've spent some time organising them, as you'll end up with reams of single email address entries with no name.

There is an option to only see those names with phone numbers, but that's only apparent afterwards and the sheer number of entries might confuse some people.

But if you want to make use of the phonebook options from Google and Facebook, then prepare to spend a good amount of time with the phone - you'll need to first of all merge all your phone numbers, names and email addresses together online, and then once those are downloaded to the phone, link them to the relevant Facebook account.

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In fairness to HTC, it has spent a long time working out how to make Facebook integration as simple as possible - wherever someone has a phone number on their online profile, and that matches an entry on the phone, the HTC Legend will automatically merge them together.

And after that, it will make accurate suggestions based on email addresses too, so as you go through the phone linking up the profiles, you'll be able to simply press 'Link' to get the suggestions and tie the two together.

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Where there is no email address listed, you'll have to do it manually, which takes some time, but when you've sorted out Google and Facebook then the integrated approach really comes to the fore - status updates, emails, text conversations, call history - even your friend's Facebook and Flickr photos are visible from the phonebook entry.

The Facebook link will also update the person's profile picture on the phone based on their online profile - which we mentioned earlier.

The list of friends is for some reason divided into two - we think it's those with emails and without, but it's annoying that we can just see our friends all in one easy-to-see list, alphabetically.

It would take a very long time to list all the features packed into the HTC Legend's phone book - but the Taiwanese firm has made it very, very easy to see everything from one contact in a variety of ways, something that has come from its heritage in Windows Mobile.

Call quality is also good on the HTC Legend - although we're not sure the design of the phone is right for pushing against your ear.

HTC legend

The fact the phone is made from aluminium means it has some fairly sharp edges - if you're ever trying to listen hard to someone, then it can be painful.

The speaker is loud and audible though, with a nice design as mentioned.

Call coverage is pretty good as well - the 3G signal is on a par with most. It's not going to offer you reception in places you've struggled with in the past, but it rarely dropped and we didn't have any instances of randomly dropped calls, which is always a plus.

The HTC Legend also supports smart dialling – bash the virtual numbers as if you were writing in predictive text, and the list of corresponding names comes up.

This feature is on a number of high-end smartphones, and we're surprised that more don't include it - it's actually now irritating when they don't.

HTC Legend: Messaging

In the phone book, we mentioned the sheer amount of options to connect with people - well, that's apparent as well with messaging too.

The HTC Legend offers (deep breath) the chance to interact over Exchange email, Webmail, SMS, MMS, Twitter and Facebook.

Well, less of the latter beyond seeing Facebook status updates, but the rest of it is offered natively within the phone.

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We're a little annoyed Facebook messaging isn't offered from the phone itself without connecting to a web portal – it seems like an easy element to integrate, especially when Twitter is there already. The Motorola Dext, INQ Chat and Mini all manage it, so why not here?

Anyway, at least the rest of the messaging options work well – emailing is a dream. Your Google mail is set up when you activate the phone for the first time and you log into your Google account, so that's nice and easy.

And for others, be it Exchange or Webmail, the process is as simple as entering your username or email address and password, and the phone will automatically seek out the setting for you.

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Texting is similarly easy – the best way of achieving it seems to be to go to the person's contact details in your phone book, as you can also see the message history with them, or start a new conversation.

Text conversations are threaded on the HTC Legend, which means that you can easily monitor correspondence without needing to flick backwards and forward through the inbox and sent box.

With each message a little icon of yourself and the person comes up with their picture (be it through Facebook or one you've added manually). This is another cool feature that adds to the overall slickness of the HTC Legend.

Twitter is also included thanks to the HTC's Peep - this gives instant access to elements like @replies, direct messages and favourite Tweeters - notifications of mentions and DMs to your account (which you set up when you turn on the phone) also appear in the notification bar.

HTC legend

And we've saved the best until last – the virtual keyboard. We don't know why HTC hasn't put together an Android phone with a physical set of keys to type away on, but with a touchscreen option this good, we don't really need one.

We've told you how good HTC's Android touch keyboard is before – in our opinion it was industry-leading.

But somehow the Taiwanese firm has managed to go one better with the HTC Legend – it's spectacular.

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Put it this way – out of the box we managed to type out a whole text message without even spelling a word wrong or having to correct it.

Well, to be more precise – we spelled nearly EVERY word wrong, but no matter how far you deviate from the intended word, the prediction engine on the HTC Legend will put you right.

If you've ever shied away from a touchscreen because you hate texting on it – the HTC Legend is the phone to convert you, such is the power of the touchscreen keyboard.

HTC Legend: Internet

The web browser is built on the same WebKit base as most other Android phones, but once again HTC has added its own little touches to the system on the HTC Legend to make it a different experience to other phones of its ilk.

The main interface is simple - web pages are presented as expanded options, allowing you to take a gander over the whole site without needing to zoom out to check things out.

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Another thing we're pleased to see is the addition of pinch to zoom functionality, meaning expanding text is as easy as you could hope for.

And HTC has also included its own text reflow software in there too - for those that don't know what that means, you can basically keep zooming into text and the HTC Legend will keep resizing the text to make the words fit onto the screen.

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This means you're not governed by the phone's choices of what you're supposed to be able to read - great news for those with slight sight deficiencies or the picky among us.

One slight downside - we've let iPhone users play with the HTC Legend (we know, sacrilege) and they've said the text resizing takes longer than on their phone - if this doesn't apply to you, we doubt you'll notice it.

And the speed of the internet browser on the HTC Legend is also definitely industry leading - we tried websites that are notoriously poor to view on the mobile web, and we were able to sprint through them - this phone is seriously adept at browsing the mobile web.

The screen - which as we mentioned is HVGA resolution - still renders web pages well and in good detail, meaning we never put the phone down to hit the full web browser instead on a PC.

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Another high-end treat on the HTC Legend: Flash video is included by default, with both in-browser viewing and a full screen option available by double tapping on the screen.

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The bad news - the Flash video on the phone is choppy and pretty unwatchable. It's not likely to be a deal-breaker for long, as Flash 10.1 is coming for mobile phones soon to the HTC Legend and this will likely fix the problem.

But at the moment, the Flash video might as well not be there - all it does is slow down websites we're trying to browse.

Other little web elements we like: the Legend will organise your bookmarks by visual thumbnails, which sit on the home screen - making them much easier to browse through.

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It will also remember which sites you visit the most as well as grouping your history together nicely - the former makes it easy to add in your fave sites when you keep forgetting to do so when you're actually in them.

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Cut and paste is also included by default, and it's easily the match of anything out there on the market today.

You're able to see the text in a little magnification pane, with little pins to drag to select the text you're after exactly. We're not experts in patent law - but this looks mightily similar to Apple's method unveiled last year.

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This is a good thing - that system worked, and this one adds in the option to copy the text to a clipboard, search the web for the phrase, or share the site with others via social networking.

Android has always excelled at mobile web browsing - but HTC has just raised the game with the browser on the Legend.

HTC Legend: Camera

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If you're an HTC enthusiast (and we mean you own the phones, not that you've been kicked out of one too many shops for playing with them) then you'll know that the company has never been too strong on photography.

With the HTC Legend, the company has gone some way to remedying that problem, with a 5MP camera with LED flash, supported by a number of neat camera features.

This isn't a rival for Sony Ericsson's Satio or Vivaz - in fact it's not even in the same league.

But it does have some nice touches - for instance, while there's no dedicated camera key (boo) the main Terminator button (this is a phrase that will catch on, you watch) allows you to half press it to auto focus, meaning it functions like a 'proper' shutter button (yay).

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The auto focus is pretty good too - the camera is able to focus on any point on the screen you wish, simply by tapping it - the HTC Legend will then automatically take the picture for you, which is a neat touch.

There's no dedicated macro mode for close up shots, but our tests showed that this is likely already integrated into the system, as we found it very easy to take pictures of nearby items.

The other elements, such as being able to use sliders to control colour saturation, white balance and contrast, all show that HTC has upped its game in terms of being able to take a better picture when you're out and about, and while the flash is a little stark, it's certainly an upgrade on the flash-less Hero.

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MIXED SCENES: The HTC Legend managed to pick out levels of detail despite mixed lighting conditions

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HALO EFFECT: We were surprised at the photo quality when shooting directly into very bright sunshine

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DARKER IMAGE: The HTC Legend also handles distant objects without losing too much quality

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BRIGHTER SCENES: The Legend is at its best shooting well-lit subjects

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CLOSE UP ISSUES: Although the auto focus is good, the noise level increases dramatically with closer objects

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FLASH IN THE PAN: The HTC Legend has a bright enough flash, but can't focus well in the darkness

Video recording isn't much to write home about though - but don't think that's a bad thing.

We'd much prefer a brand to spend time making a phone work well with the basic things like calling, texting or browsing the web - 30fps HD recording isn't necessary, and this smooth-ish VGA capture option on the HTC Legend is more than enough to take the video you want to share with your friends (in MP4 or H.263 formats).

HTC Legend: Media

The HTC range, and Android too, has never had media at its heart - although there are finally signs that things are starting to get better, and that's certainly true on the HTC Legend.

The music player sits apart from the video gallery, which for some reason is bundled under 'Photos'.

With the HTC Hero, we saw a distinct improvement in the music player - in the HTC Legend that improvement has continued.

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We've mentioned before that the basic Android music interface, used on the likes of the LG Intouch Max GW620 (WHAT a snappy title) is just too bog standard - we want more than album, artist and title.

Thankfully, we've got it here: the HTC Legend music player offers up not only a full screen music player, but also the choice of artists, albums, tracks, playlists, genres and even purchased music from online services.

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This makes sorting your tunes a much more pleasant experience than before - and the audio experience is also comparable to most other phones on the market as well.

We think Sony Ericsson still leads the way in terms of decent music phones, but there's nothing wrong with the sound on the HTC Legend.

There's no equaliser to play around with sound if you're having trouble with a tune and the speaker's not up to much - but for general use there's very little wrong with the HTC Legend.

The video player is also just fine for its purpose too - nothing over the top to blow your mind, but it performs all its tasks in a Ronseal-esque manner.

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We tested a few video codecs on the phone - MP4, AVI and H.264 all worked fine with no judder. We're not sure about DivX, but early signs are that this isn't supported within the native Android player - we're sure the App Market can help out with that though.

HTC legend

Video on the 3.2-inch OLED screen is pretty nice - it's quite apparent this isn't a high-res WVGA screen, which we're becoming used to on high-end smartphones. Video looks fine, but lacks that extra pixel clarity.

The OLED does help matters though - the contrast ratios were lovely and the colours well represented.

But 3.2-inch screen isn't any good for things like watching full length movies - we weren't even that comfortable watching half hour videos.

Whether it's the thinner bezel or something else, we found ourselves pining for something larger - and the phone felt very tiddly in the palm for video.

HTC legend

The main other media elements lay with the FM radio and the YouTube application. The former is only OK - the sensitivity of the antenna (for which you have to connect the headphones) is pretty low, and couldn't find a few mainstream stations.

It also lacked RDS, which means you have to manually add the station names - which is irritating.

HTC legend

The YouTube application is cool though - not only do you have the option to watch videos in high quality over both Wi-Fi and 3G (although the latter is pretty slow) you can also rate, comment and share the video link all from the video itself - another example of the next-generation functionality Android is now offering.

HTC Legend: Applications

It's difficult to know how to rate the HTC Legend in terms of applications - do we look at it as a standalone device, with a pretty well-stocked Android Market app portal, or do we compare it to the iPhone with its gargantuan App Store?

The thing to note is that while Android Market is around seven times smaller than the App Store, it's growing quickly and also offers more developer freedoms - this means more will start coding for the platform as time goes on.

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But this is also about the applications on the HTC Legend already too - and these aren't insubstantial at all.

We've covered the excellent Peep app, but there are others on there from HTC and Google that just rock.

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For instance, the version of Google Maps on the HTC Legend is awesome - you get all the best features that the likes of Symbian, Windows Mobile and iPhone users can only dream of.

For instance, you get access to Google Labs, which adds in elements like compass direction, measurements and terrain scaling as well - plus the addition of layers to give you Wikipedia and transport links on the map.

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The GPS receiver is so fast on the HTC Legend as well, finding you in a matter of seconds when you're out and about - it even worked near windows too, and the maps loaded really quickly over 3G.

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There's no Google Navigation for the UK sadly - but until Google sorts out whatever wranglings are going on behind the scenes, we wouldn't hold our breath for free turn-by-turn navigation on our Android phones.

The other cool application on the phone is the weather app - this is a favourite of HTC CEO Peter Chou, who loves showing off the fact that the weather widget will even cloud up the screen or speckle it with rain depending on the current conditions.

You can add in other cities and locations too, and the cool thing is you also get a four-day forecast as well - making it a really handy too.

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There's a desk clock as well, which has a night mode for bedside viewing - without a dock this is a little pointless, but hey - it's a nice touch.

The clock also comes with a stopwatch and countdown timer as well - something so few phones manage to bring.

The Android 2.1 Market portal is slick too - the categories are clear and well defined, and the definition between free and paid-for apps shows the plethora of applications available for the HTC Legend.

HTC Legend: Battery life and other features

Here we come to one of the downsides of the HTC Legend - the battery life isn't up to much.

Our take on smartphones is that they should be charged up every day, and the HTC Legend manages to last that long - but only just in most cases.

HTC legend

Put it this way - we tried to push it as hard as we could to see how long the battery would hold out for.

This meant from fully charged, we activated Bluetooth music playback, browsed the internet constantly, downloaded applications, streamed video, downloaded a 164MB file and played with Google Maps repeatedly to see how long the battery could hold out.

HTC legend

We also pushed the screen to full brightness with no time out, activated push email and set Twitter and Facebook to update as often as possible.

The HTC Legend managed to hold out for eight and a half hours before dying completely - which we suppose is average.

What is weird is that if you turn off the background apps - music, Bluetooth and so on - the HTC Legend still managed to drain completely in nine hours.

Under average use, this do-it-all phone will last a day, but it's certainly not industry-leading - the iPhone is probably just a little bit worse, and that's nowhere near a compliment.

But on the other hand, this is a phone that you want to keep playing with - you buy it based on that fact, and we challenge you to find a phone that you'll want to play with this much with a much longer battery life.

Other features

The HTC Legend comes with a few other neat features that we like - the calendar is brilliant for instance.

It synchronises with both your Google and Exchange calendars as soon as you tell it to, and any upcoming meetings will come up as notifications on the phone - with the alarm for this lowering dramatically in volume when you pick up the phone, recognising that you're probably with company and embarrassed.

HTC legend

Quick Office is also included in the package, giving easy access to Word, Excel and Powerpoint files - however, we couldn't see an option to edit these, so we'd imagine hardcore business users might want to download something a little more powerful.

A PDF viewer is also included in the menu as well, with an easy-to-use interface allowing you to quickly zoom in and out.

HTC legend

The HTC Legend might not have the organisational power of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 for instance, but we'd challenge the average worker not to have all his boxes ticked here.

Perhaps a hot-swappable microSD card would be nice (you have to open the battery cover to get to it, and this turns off the phone) but that's about all we can think of.

HTC Legend: Connectivity options and PC software

The connectivity options on the HTC Legend are the same as on any other Android phone - this means the usual suspects of Wi-Fi, 7.2Mbps HSPDA fast download speeds, Bluetooth and GPS.

Wi-Fi is a little suspect on the Legend - when in direct sight of the router, we still didn't have full signal, and there have been some anecdotal reports of Wi-Fi dropping out at times when moving further away.

HTC legend

Similarly Bluetooth was also pretty poor - listening to music over the A2DP stereo connection using Jabra Halo headphones was a very, very patchy affair.

This meant that audio constantly stopped and stuttered - it was listenable, but only just... we wouldn't recommend the HTC Legend as a Bluetooth headphones device to anyone.

HTC legend

GPS, as we mentioned just now, is pretty good though - it's capable of quickly locating you, even with trees or buildings around.

The a-GPS, used to give your weather location on the home screen, is less effective though - often taking time to refresh where you are, and therefore making the updated weather information hard to come by.

But the 3G signal was good and strong, with files downloading quickly and maintaining a couple of bars throughout long train journeys, which is always a good sign.

HTC legend

The PC Sync options were nice as well - you could either charge the phone, use it as a modem to access the internet, connect it as a mass storage device or use HTC Sync.

Sadly we were unable to back up our HTC Legend using the Sync option – whether it was because the phone hasn't been released to the public yet or something else, but it kept telling us it was disconnected.

HTC Legend: Hands-on gallery

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HTC Legend: Official gallery

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HTC Legend: Verdict

HTC legend

The HTC Legend is the Taiwanese firm's latest effort at making a high-end smartphone - the sheer number of features and care taken with the interface should prove that.

We liked

Where do we start? The design is lovely - the unibody chassis is going to win a fair few fans, we bet.

The screen is clear and responsive; the Sense UI overlay adds a huge amount of functionality to the Android OS, and the 600MHz processor whips along.

The web browser is among the fastest out there, the touchscreen keyboard is industry-leading, and the ability to merge contacts and see elements like Facebook photos from your phonebook is superb.

Nearly every single aspect of the HTC Legend was either class-leading or rubbing shoulders with the leaders - it's so clear that a lot of thought has gone into its construction.

We disliked

However, there are a few niggles. We managed to crash the weather widget a couple of times, and the Friendstream application took a while to update at times.

The battery life is pushing right on the limits as well - we're not sure anyone will ever be able to use it up completely in day-to-day use, but it will irritate some people that the meter drains quicker than most.

The screen could be a little bigger, and pack a higher resolution too - but that's very much a subjective opinion, as many won't be upset about that.

Verdict

We had a really, really long think about the mark to give this phone, as it's so good in so many ways that we felt it deserved five stars.

But to give it that would mean recommending it over the iPhone - and while we believe it to be a better phone, it doesn't have the weight of the App Store behind it - and that's going to put a lot of people off.

If you're someone that doesn't really care massively about apps or gets irritated by a day-long battery life, we couldn't recommend this phone more.

And as a standalone device, we get a really strong feeling this is going to be our phone of the year - and if not, 2010 is going to be a really, really good year for smartphones.

The HTC Legend is not quite the phone to persuade the masses Android is finally an adequate iPhone replacement - but it's awfully, awfully close.

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