The first thing you’ll notice when you hold the HTC Desire Z is its weight. Contributing to that is the metallic finish on the front of the phone.
The 3.7-inch S-LCD capacitive touchscreen, running a resolution of 480x848, adorns the front of the Desire Z and is encased by Gorilla Glass. The left side houses the volume rocker and the micro USB port, whereas the right has a camera key. The power button and the 3.5mm jack lie on the top of the phone.
Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t feature a front-facing camera. That and the bulkiness are probably the only negatives in the design of the Desire Z. It otherwise looks and feels very well built.
The Desire Z has Android 2.2 Froyo with the HTC Sense UI on top. We hardly ever encountered any lag while using the phone, and while the 800MHz processor doesn’t exactly make operations silky smooth, it doesn’t make it sluggish either. That is in large part due to the super sensitive display. Even the minutest touches were captured and responded to by the screen, which led to an excellent multi-touch experience. Add to that the optical trackpad for scrolling and selection, and the Desire Z provides a very wholesome package as a smartphone.
Slide the keyboard out though, and the problems start cropping up. The four-row keyboard has a poor layout. The shift and the function keys really should’ve swapped positions and the lack of a D-pad is criminal. It forces you to use the optical trackpad, that makes you type with one hand most of the time, defeating the purpose of a physical keyboard.
The inbuilt music player is pretty nice, but falls short in the loudness department. Video playback is excellent, though. The Desire Z supports DivX and XviD, as well as H264 videos all the way up to 720p. Stereo FM with RDS is also present, and it sounds pretty nice and clear when outdoor.
In terms of features, the Desire Z has everything you’d expect from a phone - 3G, EDGE support, Wi-Fi connectivity, 3G Wi-Fi hotspot capability and also DLNA for streaming media to other DLNA-enabled devices. Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP is also present.
What steals the spotlight is the HTCSense.com feature, which lets you track the phone via GPS, lock it down completely or even wipe out all personal data from it over the internet. It also includes features for call and message forwarding, backing up of contacts and messages and even allows you to send messages from your phone using your desktop keyboard.
The Desire Z has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. The picture quality is neither excellent nor horrible. Outdoor pictures are a little better than the ones taken indoors, but there isn't a very big difference. The camera also supports 720p video recording, which is impressive.
The Desire Z’s USP, the QWERTY keyboard, is a letdown. Sure, it functions very well as a smartphone, but would you really tolerate the bulk if its core strength were inadequate? At R 24,999, we expect more from this phone. If you really need that physical keyboard, we recommend waiting for the Motorola Milestone 2. If not, you’re better with regular touchscreen phones in this price range.