The HTC Legend takes everything that was great about the HTC Hero and makes it even better. With the Hero having won CNET UK's coveted Editors' Choice award in July last year, that's no mean feat. But this smart phone isn't just a refresh of the Hero -- good-looking, speedy and fun to use, it's a legend in its own right.
We're still waiting for contract prices for the Legend, but you can pre-order it SIM-free for around £380.
We don't mean to be shallow, but let's start with the phone's looks. The Legend is a stone-cold fox. We're way past being bothered by the slightly angled chin that's evolved from ugly on the T-Mobile G1 to handsome on the Hero. The Legend's chin is very subtle anyway, and it has its benefits -- it makes the phone feel more comfortable when you're making calls, and HTC says it makes the antenna work better too.
The metal case of the Legend is made from a single piece of aluminium, which, according to HTC, makes the phone tougher that its plastic peers. The case is also a visual treat, reminding us of the first-generation iPhone -- the most attractive version so far. HTC has also replaced the trackball that's often found on other phones with a round, metal-trimmed, touch-sensitive trackpad, which we found a pleasure both to use and gaze upon. We still think that such a feature is largely redundant on a touchscreen phone -- perhaps with the exception of when you need to navigate text or tiny Web links, for example -- but at least it looks good.
Blinded by the light
The Legend's 81mm (3.2-inch) screen is the same size as the Hero's, but it's been given an AMOLED boost. That means it's stunningly bright, with very saturated colours. Recent between the iPhone and have shown that AMOLED screens don't necessarily improve on the colour reproduction of LCD displays, but the Legend's screen definitely has a certain wow factor.
The display's 320x480-pixel resolution is far lower than the 480x800-pixel resolution offered by the Google Nexus One or HTC's upcoming top-of-the-line phone, the. Nevertheless, it's the same resolution as that offered by the iPhone 3GS, and there are sufficient pixels to read tiny text on a fully-zoomed out Web page, for example.
The smaller screen also makes the Legend more pocket-friendly than the Nexus One and Desire. It's almost the same size as the Hero, except that it shaves 3mm off the thickness of its older sibling.
Our biggest complaint about the Hero was that it could occasionally be sluggish, although that issue has been improved via firmware updates. But you won't have to wait around for updates to the Legend -- it's smoking-fast, right out of the box. The Legend has a 600MHz processor, compared to the Hero's 528MHz processor, with 384MB of RAM, compared to 288MB.
Menu transitions are smooth, applications open quickly and the screen responds beautifully to every touch. Note, however, that Android phones can slow down significantly once you've got loads of apps running on them -- it's the curse of multi-tasking -- but we had no complaints with our box-fresh Legend.
The Web browser was also a speed demon, rendering complex pages like those of CNET UK almost twice as quickly as the Hero's browser over the same Wi-Fi network. The browser offers quite a few improvements over the standard browser found on other phones running Android 2.1, such as the Nexus One. For example, holding your finger on a page reveals a magnifying glass that helps you select and copy text, which is a handy feature cribbed from the iPhone.
Multi-touch zoom is supported, so you can quickly hone in on small links with a pinch of your fingers. The Flash support isn't good enough for playing games in the browser, but it does ensure that Flash-based Web sites look right. Combined with the Legend's HSPA and Wi-Fi connectivity, it all adds up to a great handset for surfing the mobile Web.