Sunday, June 26, 2011

HTC Inspire 4G

Ah yes, the HTC Inspire. This phone has been my "go-to" phone for the last five months... my main phone, if you will. When I'm not testing out other phones, this is what you will find in my pocket. With its brilliant screen, great camera, and snappy processor, it's a formidable phone. That's not to mention the price point ($99!). So, does the best-selling Android phone on AT&T's network live up to all the hype? Find out by reading the full review.

One-piece aluminum body
Great camera
Very stable hardware

The design of the camera (I will go more into detail on that)

Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgradable to 2.3 (Gingerbread)
8 MP Camera that captures 720p HD video
1 GHz Snapdragon Processor
4.3" WVGA Screen
Rated at 6 hours talk time
4 GB internal storage and 8 GB Micro SD card included (Expandable up to 32 GB Micro SD)
4G HSPA+ network enabled

Top of the phone, showing the lock/power button, camera,
and speaker.
I'm just coming out and saying it right now: this phone has been very solid and very reliable. It's not often that I carry a phone around for months at a time without making another phone my main phone. This phone is different. It feels nice in your hand, I mean it truly feels like a truly expensive phone. The hardware has not failed me once. The software has not failed me once. The screen is bright and is amazing even in direct sunlight. The design is beautiful. Shiny screen, aluminum body with matte finish, speaker bar on top for calls. HTC as almost always impressed me with their phone designs, and this is no different. They are keepin' things sexy with this phone.

"Dude, I dropped your phone. Luckily, the camera broke
the fall," is not something I ever want to hear.
To be honest, the first thing that stood out to me about this phone was not a good thing. The camera sticks out so far from the back of the phone that when you set it on it's back, the camera is the thing that ends up touching the surface it's on. This means that a hard enough "tap" on the back could (and has) shattered the camera on this phone. I wonder what they were thinking when they came up with that design. The right case will prevent the camera from being the thing the phone rests on while sitting on its back, but this makes a skinny case like a Body Glove almost pointless for protection. A Speck or Otterbox Commuter case will cover up the camera to prevent this from happening.

Getting past the design flaws, the phone works great. Video loaded very quickly, the music I played never missed a beat, and the quality of any games of video I watched was great. I do have to say that when this phone first came out there were a few problems with the software and I would often have to pull the battery out while the phone was on in order to get it to start working properly again. Luckily, HTC released a software update for it and all those problems were fixed so I won't go into detail about them.

The camera on here was wonderful. I take lots of pictures with my Inspire and it is actually a good replacement for a normal digital camera. HTC does a great job on their Facebook for HTC Sense application too. I can upload multiple pictures at once (rather than selecting one and waiting for that to upload before starting the next one) and I can tag and name each picture or video that I'm uploading. I can even add them to a specific folder in my Facebook account if I want to. The HTC Facebook widget works great also, albeit one minor detail... I can never load any of the comments on people's post directly on that app. I have to access the actual Facebook app on the phone to see those. Like every other phone out there these days, syncing your Facebook account to your phone allows you to link your friends contact info to their Facebook profile and then their profile picture shows up in your contact list and when they call you (or you call them). But this phone is different because it actually tells you their last status post and if their birthday is coming up soon ("Happy Birthday Mom! I was JUST going to call you!!).

Another cool thing that HTC has thought of is to use the gyroscope for some useful features other than making the keyboard automatically turn when you turn the phone. They have made the phone silence itself when it's ringing and you flip it onto it's screen. When you pick the phone up after it starts to ring, the volume of the ringer slowly fades down. When it recognizes that it is in a purse or a pocket, it rings louder so you can actually hear it. It's truly is a "Smart phone."

Bottom of the phone, showing the micro-USB charging port
and the headphone jack.
I used the old turn-the-display-brightness-down-to-30%-brightness trick on this phone and the screen was still plenty bright for me. The nice thing about that is that it significantly added more battery life to the phone. I was able to get through the whole day on one charge even when I watched a couple half-hour shows during the day. Funny, considering it's rated at two hours less talk time than the Samsung Infuse, and that phone has a poor battery life in my book. I'm considering taking the battery talk time off the specs section of the phone reviews I do from now on. It seems to have nothing to do with how long the phone's battery actually lasts.

A nifty little feature that I found on the phone was the text calibration tool. The phone allows you to calibrate each button by quickly typing an oh-so-familiar sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. That way, if you constantly tap a little bit to the left of the "E" button when you text, it doesn't matter. The phone now knows that when you do that, you mean to hit the "E" button, not the w. The autocorrect on this phone is also very good and it's easy to save new words to the dictionary. Between those two features, this is the only phone without Swype that I can stand to use for an extended period of time. It's better than the iPhone's keyboard, and I don't say that often.

The battery port opened with the battery laying on the
All the phone calls that I make on the HTC Inspire are completely clear. I don't get feedback where I hear myself talk. There's no static. People on the other end could hear me clearly also. The thing I didn't like about the calling was the voice dialing. I still annoys me to use it frequently. I've figured out how to get it to dial my wife and my manager from work most of the time, but a lot of the time it gets into bad moods where it either won't recognize my voice or it will randomly dial some name out of my phone book that sounds nothing like what I said. In order to get it to stop this I have to restart the phone. With how much I use my bluetooth headset, this is definitely an annoyance. When I do get it to connect, however, my Jawbone Era bluetooth works wonderfully; both with a headset and for playing music through my Jawbone Jambox.

In all, I have very few complaints with this phone. The voice dialing is a little annoying, but not horrible, and the camera design is flawed, but easily fixed with a case. The battery life is great, the screen is clear, and the sound quality is great. I just can't wait to see what else HTC may have up its sleeve in the future.

HTC Inspire next to the Motorola Atrix for size comparison.

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