Barcelona — HTC has launched three new phones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: The Nexus-alike Wildfire, the aluminum Legend and the Windows Mobile HD Mini. This morning I took them all for a spin.
First, forget about the HD Mini. It is indeed mini, but the HD part of the name certainly doesn’t mean high-def. At just 320 X 480 the capacitive touch-screen is just plain normal, and the rest of the phone is ho-hum next to the other two Android handsets. We should face it: Windows Mobile 6.5 is dead.
The Wildfire is much nicer, although the one I tested didn’t yet have the pinch-to-zoom of the Nexus (although it is running Android 2.1, and the specs say it has it — this is most likely a demo-unit issue). If you have used a Nexus, also made by HTC, you’ll be instantly at home. The screen is bright, sharp and colorful, the capacitive AMOLED touch-screen is responsive and the thing fairly whips along thanks to the 1GHz processor. It is, in short, a very good phone.
But it’s the aluminum Legend which stands out. Although the case is only a touch smaller than that of the Wildfire, it feels a lot more compact, and very solid in the hand. It’s like going from the old plastic MacBooks to the stiff and chunky unibody MacBooks. The screen is smaller, at 3.2-inches (vs. 3.7) and it has a much lower resolution of 320 X 480 instead of 480 X 800. Even the CPU is worse, clocking in at just 600 MHz. But to read the numbers is to miss the point. The Legend feels classy, and those specs are all good enough. Browsing, maps and typing on screen are all responsive and quick. It could stand to lose the stupid nubbin optical “trackball”, though, as could the Wildfire. Alongside the touch-screen it is quite useless.
If I was in the market for an Android cellphone, I’d probably choose the Legend. Oh, and one more thing: The cameras in all of these phones are terrible. More photos below.