The HTC Hero was a notable early Android device that played a significant role in the platform’s evolution. Here’s an in-depth review of the HTC Hero:
Introduced in 2009, the HTC Hero was one of the first Android smartphones to feature a manufacturer’s custom skin, in this case, HTC’s Sense UI. This device showcased how Android could be customized and differentiated by manufacturers, setting a precedent for future Android devices.
- Operating System: Initially shipped with Android 1.5 Cupcake, later upgradeable to 2.1 Eclair.
- Display: 3.2-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels.
- Processor: Qualcomm MSM7200A 528 MHz.
- Memory: 288 MB RAM with 512 MB internal storage, expandable via microSD.
- Camera: 5 MP rear camera with autofocus.
- Battery: 1350 mAh removable battery.
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, and GPS.
- Other Features: Trackball navigation, 3.5mm headphone jack, and HTC Sense UI.
- HTC Sense UI: The introduction of Sense UI was a game-changer, offering a more user-friendly and visually appealing experience over stock Android. It included features like integrated social media, a customized home screen, and unique widgets.
- Design: The Hero had a distinct design with a chin at the bottom, which set it apart from other devices. It also featured a Teflon-coated back, which was resistant to smudges.
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack: Unlike some early Android devices, the Hero included a standard headphone jack, which was a significant selling point for many users.
- Expandable Storage: The microSD slot allowed users to expand the device’s storage, which was essential given the limited internal memory.
- Performance: The 528 MHz processor, combined with the heavy Sense UI, sometimes led to lag and performance issues.
- Camera Quality: While the camera was decent for its time, it lacked a flash and struggled in low-light conditions.
- Battery Life: The battery life was average and could be a concern for heavy users.
Comparisons to Other Technologies:
In 2009, the smartphone market was still in its formative years. The HTC Hero faced competition from:
- iPhone 3GS: Apple’s offering with its smooth iOS experience, App Store ecosystem, and sleek design.
- Motorola Droid: A significant Android device with a slide-out keyboard and a large screen, backed by Verizon’s marketing.
- Palm Pre: Palm’s comeback device with its innovative webOS platform and multitasking capabilities.
The HTC Hero was announced in June 2009 and released in July 2009.
- Lag and Stutters: Due to the hardware limitations and the added weight of the Sense UI, users often reported performance issues.
- Software Updates: While the Hero did receive an update to Android 2.1, it was delayed multiple times, leading to user frustration.
- Trackball Concerns: Some users found the trackball to be less intuitive compared to pure touchscreen navigation, and it could get dirty over time.
The HTC Hero was a significant device in the early days of Android. It demonstrated the platform’s flexibility and how manufacturers could differentiate their devices through custom skins. While it had its challenges, the Hero’s introduction of the Sense UI was influential, setting the stage for the plethora of customized Android experiences that would follow. The device remains an important part of Android’s history, reflecting the platform’s rapid evolution and the competitive landscape of the late 2000s.