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Saying hello to the Hero

HTC Sense user interface

Lots of widgets

Full-screen widgets

Flash support

Full-screen Flash player

Making a phone call

QWERTY keyboard

QWERTY in landscape mode

Standard 3.5mm headphone jack

A 15-degree curve

Crave UK got its hands on the HTC Hero, the company's latest device to run Google's Android operating system.

Click through the gallery put together by Crave UK's Flora Graham to see the Hero's oddly curved body and find out more about the features of this powerful touch-screen smartphone.

Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
Hey, that doesn't look like the Android we've come to know and love! It's the HTC Sense user interface, which gives Android heaps of customizability and usability features.

For example, you can have several "scenes," or custom configurations, set up so that your phone looks different for work and on the weekend.

That means different wallpaper, widgets, and shortcuts on any of the seven homescreens in each scene. The lock screen is also customizable.

Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
John Wang of HTC showed off the heaps of widgets available for the HTC Hero. That's 12 different clocks, people...although a few of them look pretty similar to us.

The Hero has location awareness so that when you land in a different time zone, your clock and weather widgets automatically update to show the local deets.

If that's not enough, you can download more Android widgets from the Android Market.

Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
You can choose full-screen or smaller widgets to fill up your screen, and switch between them with the swipe of a finger.

We liked the full-screen widgets showing live updates from services like Twitter and Facebook, which gave the Hero a Palm Pre-like feel and took advantage of all that home screen real estate.

Social networking is integrated all over the UI. For example, your address book not only shows each contact's e-mail, text, and call history, but also shows their Facebook updates, profile photo, photo albums, and Flickr albums.

In the photo gallery, your phone photos are side-by-side with your Facebook and Flickr photos, too.

Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
The Hero has Flash support, and on our demo model, it looked great. You can see Flash in Web pages, so you'll never have to miss another snazzy ad again.
Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
There's a full-screen Flash player--this is a YouTube video that we clicked on. It was embedded in a Web page.
Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
Amazingly, the Hero also makes phone calls. You can dial by number or name to reach out to the one you love.
Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
There's a choice of onscreen keyboards, with full QWERTY or alphanumeric available.
Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
The QWERTY keyboard works in portrait or landscape mode, which is handy for the fuller-fingered lady or gentleman.
Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
The Hero is the first Android handset with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug in your own headphones. We think this is a big improvement over the Magic, which didn't even have an adapter for its proprietary socket.

We also saw how you can control the music player without unlocking the phone's touch screen, which is another handy feature for music lovers.

Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
The Hero is covered in Teflon, which makes it feel a bit softer and less shiny than the iPhone, for example.

HTC says the screen also has a grease-fighting coating, although we had no trouble getting a few fingerprints on there when we tried.

We weren't so sure about the Hero's jaunty 15-degree curve, especially since we've seen it on the ugly T-Mobile G1. But the Hero feels much slicker and sexier than the G1, and the bevels and curves do feel comfortable in your hand and against your face. HTC says the curve also slightly improves antenna reception, but that it's mostly there for usability reasons.

But what about usability IN OUR PANTS? (Many of you may not get this joke, which has to do with a fortune cookie or something.) We'll have to test whether it creates an unsightly bulge in our skinny jeans when we do our full review, so stay tuned.

Caption by / Photo by Crave UK
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