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Android Explainer Series: Best HTC phones and devices

by Ian Black

HTC delivered some of the very first Android-based phones and they continue to produce well-reviewed devices with the latest versions of Google’s phone OS. At the recent Mobile World Congress, HTC described some of their upcoming Android releases, which includes new phones and a new Android-based tablet.

The company created a customized user interface for Android that they call “Sense”. And, for many users it makes more sense than the stock Android interface. Best of all, Sense makes it easy to find your apps. Learn more about the best HTC phones, the new tablet and their Sense UI here.

The Best Phones

HTC Desire S

The follow-up to the popular Desire model, the Desire S sports the same 1GHz processor but features a new aluminum unibody case with rubber grips at the top and bottom, a 5-megapixel camera and flash, and the ability to record in 720p HD. Like HTC’s other phones, the Desire S runs their Sense UI.Need more? The Desire S supports DLNA technology that lets you stream content like video directly from your phone to DLNA-capable TVs and gaming consoles.

HTC Evo Shift 4G (Sprint)

Sometimes “best” means inexpensive like with the HTC Evo Shift 4G, currently only $99 with contract at Sprint. True, the phone doesn’t offer the highest end hardware – only 800MHz not a 1GHz processor and no front facing camera for example – but it still delivers great features.

The Evo Shift 4G features a sharp and bright screen with a slide out full QWERTY keyboard, a 5-megapixel camera and flash, 4G-network support and the phone will run as a Wi-Fi hotspot. As with other HTC Androids, this phone runs their friendly Sense UI.

HTC Thunderbolt

This powerful device boasts 4G capabilities to offer blazingly fast connectivity. It features a very large 4.3 inch LCD screen, front and rear cameras, and runs the latest version of HTC's Sense UI. But all that muscle comes at a cost: With all this technology and fast speed, the battery can become depleted quickly, so bear that in mind before buying. It's also a bit heavier than many of its bretheren, but its giant display and 32GB of storage space will certainly keep power users happy.

HTC Droid Incredible 2

The follow up to the hugely successful Droid Incredible, its new incarnation is more of a refresh of an older device rather than something groundbreaking. Still, it's a great choice for Verizon users until something new comes along. The Droid Incredible 2 has a smart, unibody design, improved camera, a slightly larger display, and a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon processor which is also used in the HTC Thunderbolt. No 4G/LTE capabilities does set this device back a bit though, but it might work as a nice upgrade for many.

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Magic Tablet Ride

HTC has launched into the Android tablet market with their new “Flyer” device. It features a seven-inch screen, a 1.5GHz processor, and HSPA+ wireless for high-speed Internet access. The Flyer supports Flash version 10 and HTML 5 so that you can browse all the fanciest websites without any issues.

Special to the Flyer is HTC’s new Scribe Technology for pen input. HTC says people will “rediscover the act of writing” by using the Flyer to sign contracts, take notes, draws pictures, even write on web pages. Also, the Flyer has debuted a new service called HTC Watch that allows you to download TV and movie content to your tablet. The tablet also supports an online gaming service called OnLive. OnLive promises the ability to play gaming console-class games on your TV by using the service’s “cloud” without any set-top box. Bestselling games like Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, NBA 2K11, and LEGO Harry Potter are on tap. The Flyer was released in the spring so is still relatively new to the market.

Making “Sense” of Android

HTC’s Sense UI tries to make Android’s overall look and feel, as well as app downloading, easier to use. First, with Sense, your Android’s home screen widgets pop and even animate in cool 3D. Next, there’s a tight integration between commonly used apps. For example, when you make a new calendar appointment – everything you do before selecting ‘Done’ will become part of the appointment, like extra notes or web links.

Where are the apps you downloaded? On many Android phones, newly downloaded apps just appear on your screens, usually in alphabetical order by title by default. It can be confusing and you may need to scroll around before finding an app you just downloaded. With Sense, you have special folders for Favorites and Recently Downloaded Apps. This is a great addition to the standard Android UI that allows you to find newly downloaded apps with just a couple of taps.

You’ll still use the Android Market to download all that apps you want. Just find the Market icon (looks like a shopping bag with the Android bot logo on it), tap it, then use the categories or search bar to find apps that interest you.

All in all, HTC produces exciting Android products that are available at several major carriers and retailers. HTC continues to innovate with their Sense user interface and groundbreaking new elements like the pen-input Scribe Technology. Watch for HTC to push the Android bar even higher over the next year.

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