HTC's iPhone 4 rival hits Australia
HTC's challenger to the iPhone 4, the Desire HD, goes on sale in Australia early next month at Vodafone and 3 mobile stores.
Last night Vodafone revealed that the Desire HD would be available for $0 upfront on a $59 a month plan with a two-year contract. It will also be available around the same time on 3 mobile but specific plans have yet to be announced.
The Desire HD is an update to the original Google Android-based Desire launched earlier this year, which many critics said was superior to the iPhone 3GS.
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Telstra, which was for a time the exclusive carrier for the original Desire, pushed the Android platform heavily and tomorrow Vodafone will throw its weight behind Android with a major marketing campaign for the Desire HD. This will include a "Vodafone Android Island Party" attended by leading Australian music acts.
Google's Android platform has a smaller market share in Australia than the iPhone but several manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung, as well as the mobile carriers, have strongly backed it. By Christmas, the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 platforms will be engaged in a cut-throat battle for smartphone supremacy.
"The over-arching message is really that Android is giving power back to the telcos," said Telsyte mobile analyst Foad Fadaghi.
"It's giving them the opportunity to operate the way that they used to operate before the iPhone came around. Telcos want to own the customer, they want to have a greater slice of the value chain, they want to have their own app stores, and they don't want to be locked into the Apple way of doing things. That's why you're seeing the massive push from all of the carriers."
The Desire HD, an Android 2.2 handset, features a huge 4.3-inch touchscreen display (compared to 3.5-inch on the iPhone 4), an 8-megapixel camera, 720p video recording, a 1GHz processor, an aluminium unibody shell and Dolby/SRS sound support.
The phone comes with a new version of HTC's user interface overlay, Sense, which includes a number of small tweaks and access to a new suite of online services dubbed HTCSense.com.
HTCSense.com, which can be accessed from a PC, has some similarities to Apple's Mobile Me, allowing users to find their phone on a map if they lose it, trigger it to ring loudly, lock the device, erase all data, forward calls to another number or leave a text message for the finder of the phone.
A complete history of calls and text messages, even those that have been deleted from the handset, can be accessed at HTCSense.com, as can a range of wallpapers and plugins.
The new HTC Sense features a new navigation tool called HTC Locations, which includes turn-by-turn navigation and a compass that helps with orientation when users are on foot.
Like Nokia's Ovi Maps, the maps can be stored on the phone so users don't have to have an active data connection to access them. Through HTCSense.com, users can mark landmarks or specific locations on the map and have this data automatically sent to the phone.
Through a partnership with Kobo, users can access a range of e-books to read while also being able to highlight passages and add notes. Another new feature, HTC Fast Boot, promises to power the handsets up within 10 seconds.
There is also an improved camera app with photo editing tools allowing users to add effects such as fish eye and sepia.
Videos, photos and music stored on the phones can be played wirelessly on TVs that support DLNA home networking technology. Those without DLNA-enabled TVs can buy a dongle adapter.
Meanwhile, Vodafone, attempting to pre-empt findings from the Australian Communications and Media Authority's customer service inquiry, announced a major overhaul of its customer service capabilities today.
This includes a call back service to avoid customers having to wait on hold, new Vodafone and 3 handset service centres around the country that can do repairs within an hour and an online self-service application that lets customers better track their spending.