The Legend runs on Android 2.1, which is enhanced by HTC Sense. Out of all our custom skins for Android (Motoblur, TouchWiz, etc.), Sense is our absolute favorite and is even more so with the new enhancements. Announced at Mobile World Congress 2010, the added features include a revamped mail widget that shows a list view of all your e-mail instead of just one message. Once in the mail app, there's a handy tabbed interface at the bottom that lets you view unread messages, attachments, meeting invites, and more with a simple touch. The Agenda widget also now displays your whole agenda on the screen, and like the HTC HD2, you get a weather widget right on the home screen that automatically displays the current conditions based on your location.
You also get a new Group Contacts widget, which lets you, well, organize your contacts by groups. For example, you can set up one for work colleagues, another for friends, and another for just family--whatever you please. The UI looks good, and it's simple to add contacts to a group, though removing them requires a few extra steps.
Another feature called Friend stream provides a single place for all your social networking needs, piping in updates from Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr all into a single place. Unlike,Motoblur, it's not server-based; the phone connects to the sites and pulls information directly from there, so the updates don't come in quite as quickly.
By far, our favorite new feature, however, is the Leap screen. By pinching the home screen, it brings up a thumbnail view of all your home screen panels, so if you have your favorite apps and widgets on those screens, you easily "leap" to the screen you want and access them. The Legend offers seven home screen panels, and there are different "Scenes," which presents a whole new set of seven home screen panels that you can customize by the theme of the Scene (Social, Work, Travel, Play, and so forth). Admittedly, it can be overwhelming, but the best part is that you can use as many or as few of the features as you want; the Legend is completely customizable to your needs.
Aside from HTC Sense and Android 2.1 enhancements mentioned above, the Legend comes with the usual Android staples, such as Google Talk, Google Maps, a dedicated YouTube app, QuickOffice, and Android Market. HTC throws in a couple of its own extras as well, including its Twitter app, Peep, and Footprints, which allows you to geotag photos and add notes and audio clips to the "digital postcards," among other things.
As a phone, the Legend offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. Bluetooth, GPS, and integrated Wi-Fi are also onboard, but unfortunately, the Legend is not compatible with the North American 3G bands, so you're going to be stuck on EDGE whether you use the device with an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card.
The Legend's Android Webkit browser supports Flash Lite and has a new text-highlighting feature whereby doing a long-press over some text brings up a selection bar and allows you to select a word that you can then look up in the dictionary or in Wikipedia. You can also select a whole paragraph to send to Google Translate. It's a cool feature that's simple to use and works just as advertised.
Multimedia has never been Android's strongest point, and it's no different on the Legend. The media player continues to be pretty basic, but gets the job done, and even adds support for additional music and video codecs, including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, WMV, MP4, and 3GP, among others. You also now get an FM radio. The camera remains the same at 5 megapixels, but HTC has added a flash. That said, performance is somewhat of a mixed bag. The camera produced sharp and bright photos for most outdoor shots, but shooting in bright sunlight was slightly problematic, as the images had a bit of a hazy effect to them. Also, we didn't get the best results with indoor shots, as the pictures looked fuzzy and dull.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC Legend in New York using AT&T service and call quality was quite good. Our ears were treated to rich-sounding calls with little-to-no background noise or voice distortion, and there was plenty of volume to hear callers even in noisier environments. Our friends had mostly good things to say about the call quality as well, though a couple of people mentioned some echoing and voice distortion. Speakerphone quality was a little less pristine as calls sounded a bit tinny and hollow. We paired the Legend with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth Headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones with no problem.
Obviously, the lack of U.S. 3G support puts a bit of a damper on Web browsing speeds. On AT&T's EDGE network, CNET's full site loaded in 48 seconds, whereas CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 8 seconds and 16 seconds, respectively. The smartphone also had no problem finding and connecting to our Wi-Fi network at work and home. YouTube videos took a few seconds to buffer, but played continuously without interruption. MP4 videos also played back beautifully on the Legend, and music sounded rich and balanced through our Bose On-Ear headphones.
The Legend boasts a faster processor (600MHz vs 528MHz) and more RAM (384MB vs 288MB) than the Hero, and we definitely noticed a difference in performance. The Legend didn't exhibit any of the sluggishness that plagued the Hero, handling simple tasks, such as switching screen orientation, as well as multiple tasks with speed and stability. The HTC Legend features a 1,300mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 8 hours and up to 18 days of standby time. The Legend was able to provide a whopping 12.75 hours of continuous talk time in our battery drain tests, but also remember that this was over EDGE.