There is a lot to like about the Hero. The Legend is the clear successor to the Hero and is in many ways an evolution rather than a revolution. This is no bad thing. The Legend takes pretty much all that was wrong with the Hero and makes it much better.
The worst thing I found about the Hero was the way it looked and felt. It was plastic and looked a bit rubbish. The Legend looks and feels amazing. Made from a single piece of aluminum, it is like a tiny Mac Book Pro. On the back there are two small plastic parts to allow access to the battery, for the antennas to work and to stop it slipping out of your hand.
The phone really feels solid and can probably take a few knocks although the screen would probably not take a big fall. The aluminum could also get scratched and I have ordered a case for mine.
One interesting thing I have noticed about the phone is that if you are somewhere cold the phone gets cold too (as it is metal!). I also think the case means that phone reception isn't quite as good as the Hero but this isn't a massive issue.
The screen is in a word stunning. It is apparently OLED technology but it just looks bright and clear and is much better than the Hero (or the iPhone). At 3.2" some may find this a bit small - if so the bigger but less pretty HTC Desire with its 3.7" screen is probably for you. The smaller screen makes the whole phone noticeably smaller than an iPhone and easier to put in your pocket.
There is also more RAM and a beefier processor that really helps to make the whole phone snappier although it isn't as fast as the new Desire with its 1GHz processor!
This was already a strength of the Hero and the Legend makes it all even easier. A very simple and quick wizard on the phone sets up Google and Exchange email/calendar/contact sync as well as Facebook, Twitter and Flicker integration. Within literally a few minutes all these are set up and working without the need to download any apps.
Android 2.1 and HTC Sense
The Legend runs the latest version of Android which is a bit more slick than the 1.5 version the Hero is currently stuck on. HTC Sense is HTC's user interface software that runs "on top" of Android and this also sees an improvement with "live" wallpaper showing the weather forecast with literally rain drops falling down your screen and an easy way to see all 7 of your home screens at one time. There are also some improved and new widgets.
The combination of Android and Sense creates a very slick and usable interface which shows you lots of information (for example time, your calendar, tube line problems, facebook updates, emails etc) on your home screens. This all automatically updates in the background and saves the need to constantly open apps as on the iPhone.
The Hero had a pretty good browser with multi-touch and it was supposed to have Flash support but this never seemed to work. Early reports said the Legend didn't have Flash support but it does and most Flash content seems to work fine although it can be a little slow. Videos from the BBC News website played fine for example both embedded in the page and on their own if you double click on them.
The rest of the browser is slick and the visual bookmarks showing screenshots of web pages are a particularly nice touch.
Having Flash really does make the difference and much more web content is accessible than on the iPhone.
As on the Hero the Legend has messaging well covered. It syncs of course with Google but also very well with Exchange (and any POP/IMAP email). It does this with two separate email programs which at least can split your home and work email nicely.
The Legend has fast GPS performance (like the Hero) but adds the up to date version of Google maps that shows compass direction and "layers". It still doesn't have multi-touch though and no voice navigation in the UK at least.
If it weren't for the massive iPhone App Store you would think there were loads of Android apps. And there are plenty, mainly free as well. The Legend comes with a new version of Market Place which adds application screenshots which was a notably missing feature on the Hero. There do seem to be a few apps missing that were available for Hero, notably the Twidroid twitter app but I think this is a temporary problem.
The HTC Legend is a great phone. It builds on the already solid HTC Hero correcting pretty much all of the weaknesses. To me there are only three Smartphones worth considering currently, the HTC Legend, the bigger HTC Desire, and the iPhone 3GS. All three are great and choosing between them is not easy!
If you have used an iPhone and are wondering what the fuss is about, here are a few advantages:
- Much better notifications on the top bar of the screen that can be literally pulled up and down like a blind
- Multitasking so apps like Spotify and GPS can run in the background and apps like Guardian Anytime can run scheduled tasks
- Widgets and the Home Screen - you can see lots of information (news, tube line status, weather, emails, twitter, facebook) and it all keeps itself up to date
- Tight integration of social media so that for example each contact shows all their Facebook updates and Flicker photos
- Flash support for web browsing