HTC Hero

Expansys list unlocked HTC Hero for £400/$650

Expansys have become the next significant retailer to offer preorders for the HTC Hero, and their price comes in neatly below that of Amazon UK.  Expansys are listing the Hero - in white, unlocked and SIM-free - for £399.99 in the UK or $649.99 in the US (without US 3G). Don't be misled by the seemingly more ambitious availability on Expansys' listing, however.  While they say the Hero is expected to launch in eight days, that's not including weekends; in fact, it tallies with Amazon's July 15th ship date estimate. Still, it's a little cheaper (and Expansys throw in £30 of their own gift vouchers, for accessories and the like) so if you're not interested in Orange or T-Mobile's offers then it may be the easiest way to pick up a new Hero.  More details about HTC's latest Android smartphone in the video below. [thanks Mario!] [vms 7b5f9259f82690aeea4c]

Sprint planning HTC Hero & combo CDMA/WiMAX Android phone?

No official confirmation as yet, but according to PhoneNews Sprint is internally testing a CDMA version of the HTC Hero with a release planned for the end of 2009.  HTC themselves have only confirmed that the Hero will reach the US "later in 2009", after its European and Asian debut. The Sprint Hero would also be accompanied, their sources suggest, by a multi-mode CDMA and WiMAX Android phone, made by Samsung.  This would take advantage of the WiMAX network Sprint have developed in partnership with Clear. Sprint have already confirmed that they intend to launch a tri-mode CDMA/WiMAX handset sometime in 2009 or 2010; however they've not publicly suggested which OS the smartphone might use.  Samsung have previously created a small number of WiMAX handsets, usually for use in Asia; it's unclear whether this new Android model would be a version of one of those, or a completely new device.

HTC Hero Amazon pre-order: £430 from July 15th

We're still waiting to receive our HTC Hero review unit, but going by this Amazon UK listing it shouldn't be too long before the smartphone itself is available in unlocked form.  The online retailer are advertising the Hero for £429.99 ($712). According to Amazon, the unlocked HTC Hero will be released on July 15, a little over two weeks away.  It will come with a screen protector, travel charger, mini-USB data cable, batter, wired stereo headset and a 2GB microSD card.  Since it's a European model, it supports dualband HSPA/WCDMA (900/2100MHz). Remember, if you've any particular questions that you'd like answered in our Hero review, head over to this thread and ask away!  For more on the Hero itself, check out the video below and this hands-on post. [vms 7b5f9259f82690aeea4c] [via Phandroid]

No HTC Sense UI upgrade for “with Google” branded phones

Bad news for anybody hoping to get HTC's latest Sense UI on their existing G1 or Magic.  As we suggested might be the case yesterday, HTC have confirmed that due to the licensing terms of providing "with Google" branded smartphones they're not allowed to offer Sense UI as an upgrade. The confirmation most directly affects those who bought their Android device through a carrier, such as the T-Mobile G1 or the Vodafone Magic.  According to HTC's representative, the company is trying to develop a way to get the new UI to those with non-Google branded handsets, such as Rogers Wireless' HTC Magic in Canada; however nothing is guaranteed and logistical or financial limitations may end up preventing it. It unfortunately means that buyers of the T-Mobile myTouch 3G, the US version of the HTC Magic announced earlier this month, won't get Sense as it's a "with Google" branded device.  You can be sure that hacked ROMs of the HTC UI will be circulating very soon, though.

HTC Sense coming to Magic or G1? Maybe, maybe not…

The launch of the HTC Hero and seeing how well the company's new UI works has left many existing Android device owners looking at their smartphones with no small amount of disappointment.  So news that HTC CEO Peter Chou has confirmed that "HTC Sense will be available on some other existing devices" has understandably stoked speculation that either the Magic or the original G1 might get an official injection of the slick new interface. It may not be so clear-cut, however.  What HTC failed to make entirely clear during their press conference yesterday - and then took pains to point out in the aftermath - HTC Sense refers not just to the new UI on the Hero but to all of the company's latest UI work, including TouchFLO 3D on Windows Mobile devices.  Talking to an HTC executive at a dinner event in London last night, it was made clear that Sense is the culmination of three years of development - since the original HTC Touch device, in fact - with TouchFLO 3D being just one step along the road to what you see here on the Hero. There's also the question of what ties HTC had to break with Google in order to make their modifications in the Hero.  We already know that there are different levels of Android involvement that lead to different types of branding - i.e. whether you can have a Google sticker on the back of your phone - and that branding is conspicuously missing from the Hero.  We don't yet know enough to say whether HTC's new UI sits entirely well with Google's "Android Experience". What that could mean is that the existing devices Chou talks about might not, in fact, be Android-based, but could be newer models from the company's Windows Mobile range.  The recently-launched Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 might be two potential candidates.  It certainly seems more likely that HTC would do a straight port of the latest Sense UI to models in its Android line-up, but until it announces definite plans we can't be certain.

HTC Hero video demo: Sense UI, Twitter, Flickr and more

We know we've kept you waiting for our official HTC Hero hands-on demo video, but we hope you'll find its been worthwhile.  Android Community dragged one of HTC's demo team away and made him spend fifteen minutes running through the Hero, covering all the new features in their Sense UI. While it's still early days, our takeaway-impression of the Hero - and the Sense UI - is a huge usability step forward for Android.  Tasks which previously required third-party apps or trawling through the menus and browser are now brought right up to the homepage, and the various ways in which HTC have made them easy to organize and use are particularly slick. If you're looking for the full specifications of the Hero, HTC have put up their official product page.  There's also our full gallery of hands-on Hero images, which you can see here. [vms 7b5f9259f82690aeea4c]

T-Mobile UK rename HTC Hero as G1Touch; on sale mid-July from free

T-Mobile UK are the second carrier to announce that they will be offering the HTC Hero, after Orange UK threw their hat into the ring earlier.  Unlike Orange, however, T-Mobile will be renaming the Hero; it will be known as the T-Mobile G1Touch, to better link with the original G1. The specifications of the device are, unsurprisingly, exactly the same as with the Orange version.  Orange claim to have exclusivity on the "graphite" finish, so we can only assume that what you see in these photos is a more generic gray. The T-Mobile G1Touch will be available from mid-July (no word on whether that means it will land on Orange - who say "early July" - beforehand) priced free as long as you take out a minimum of a £40 ($60) per month contract.  That will get you £225-worth of credit to be spent on calls, SMS and MMS messages, together with free on-device data access. [Thanks afriendcalledben!]

Orange UK to offer free HTC Hero from early July

UK carrier Orange has confirmed that it will be offering the HTC Hero, the new Android smartphone that was announced just hours ago in London.  According to the carrier, the Hero will be available in early July, and will be exclusive to Orange in its graphite finish.  It's unclear whether that means they won't be offering the white model we saw today. The Hero will be free to new customers who sign up to a two-year contract of £39.15 ($65) per month.  That will net them 1200 cross-network minutes, together with unlimited texts and on-device data.  Interestingly, Orange's press release suggests that the Hero - while their first Android device - will only be the first smartphone running Google's platform to be launched on the network this year.  In fact, they're promising "several Android handsets" in 2009, though not specifying which models those might include.    Press Release:
Orange UK introduces first Android handset to its device portfolio with the introduction of the HTC 'Hero' Orange to exclusively retail the HTC Hero in ‘Graphite’, offering it free on selected pay monthly contracts from early July The HTC Hero is the first of several Android handsets Orange will range in 2009 Orange today announced it will be launching the much anticipated HTC Hero, the first Android device to be ranged by Orange in the UK. Available from early July across all Orange retail channels, the HTC Hero will be available for free on select price plans and will be exclusive to Orange in ‘Graphite’ colour. Offering a rich, intuitive browsing touch interface and premium design, the 3G+ enabled Hero features Google’s Android operating system, the world’s first ‘open-source’ operating system for mobile devices. Android allows users unrestricted access to thousands of amazing tools and applications which can be downloaded straight to the handset - helping enhance the device’s capabilities. Created for those wanting an optimised mobile customer experience, with easy access to Google’s most popular services, the Hero also provides users with a choice of seven specially designed unique user interface options. The handset also comes with an integrated five mega-pixel, auto-focus camera featuring camcorder capability, a gravity sensor, AGPS and 512 MB of memory with space for a 16Gb MicroSD card. What’s more, the 3.2 inch HVGA display features anti-fingerprint screen coating for improved smudge resistance and a longer lasting, clearer display. Orange is offering the HTC Hero for free to customers who take out a £39.15 per month, 24 month contract. The package includes 1200 any network call minutes, unlimited texts, as well as inclusive anytime internet browsing so users can make the most out of their mobile experience. Francois Mahieu, Director of Devices, Orange UK said, “We’re really pleased to be launching our first Android handset in conjunction with HTC. The first of several Android devices you can expect from us this year, we believe the Hero is a great all round device which will allow consumers to get to grips with all the things they love about the internet, whilst on the move. We expect it to be extremely popular when it hits shelves this summer.” The HTC Hero is exclusive to Orange in ‘Graphite’ and will be available from Orange shops and in early July.

HTC Hero official video demo

We're still waiting for our own hands-on demo video of the HTC Hero to finish uploading, so while you're waiting how about the company's own video.  The official footage shows much of HTC Sense, the company's new UI, which increases the number of Android homescreen panes to seven and brings a whole load of new widgets to them. These widgets - which can live side-by-side with Google's own Android widgets, and those of third-party developers - include Twitter, speed-dial, Facebook and music.  Some also have more than one format, such as the music widget which has a full-pane version and a smaller alternative. What's interesting is the co-existence with existing Android apps.  HTC have obviously learned a lot from their development of TouchFLO 3D, the GUI for Windows Mobile, but that interface takes over the smartphone and leaves no room for integration with other apps.  The great thing about HTC Sense is that you can choose exactly how much of it you want - or don't want.  Check out the video below. [youtube][/youtube]

HTC Hero launches: HTC Sense UI and Flash

We're at HTC's London press event this morning, and as expected the company announced the HTC Hero.  The third Android smartphone from HTC, the Hero has the same 3.2-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen, HSPA and WiFi b/g connectivity, but throws in HTC Sense, the company's latest custom UI.  HTC Sense includes various widgets and shortcuts to allow access to apps like Twitter, Facebook, contacts, calendar and other functionality direct from the Android homescreen.  They've also reworked the on-screen keyboard, bringing better word-correction and auto-completion. Other specs for the Hero include a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, GPS, and a Teflon-covered casing which, according to HTC, means that the phone isn't "cold and slippery".  The screen has a fingerprint-resistant coating, which we found didn't so much avoid prints in the first place as it did shed them more readily when you wipe it. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack and Adobe Flash support, which means you can access sites like YouTube in the Android browser.  It's expected to land in Europe come July, Asia later in the summer, and in a US format sometime later on in 2009.  We'll have hands-on video with the HTC Hero as soon as it's processed. Update: Hands-on video is here [gallery]
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