HTC Desire Z review

Is it worth giving up your BlackBerry for HTC's latest Android phone with its physical keyboard and remote security features? Read out review to find out.

IT Pro Verdict

The Desire Z is the first smartphone we’ve seen for some time from HTC to have a physical keyboard. Overall, the HTC Desire Z is a little large and heavy when compared to other smartphones with a similarly sized screen, and that’s all down to the keyboard which we don’t really think pays its way. It's not even good enough to match a quality Blackberry keyboard.Just as important is HTC's online service,, with its remote security features such as remote ring, lock and wipe. They still need some work though and aren’t as attractive if you already have access to remote security through a Microsoft Exchange server.Overall the Desire Z is a good smartphone, but there are one too many rough edges. Unless you must have an Android phone with a physical keyboard, we’d rather have a Samsung Galaxy S or wait for the Google Nexus S.

HTC has a large portfolio of smartphones, including both Android and Windows Phone 7 models. The Desire Z is one of HTC's latest Android phones. It brings some new features to HTC Sense, the overlay HTC puts on top of Android to help boost its functionality. There is also a new online service,, which provides a range of remote services. There is also something novel about the physical design of the Desire Z too. It is the first smartphone we've seen from HTC in a long time to have a slide-out qwerty keyboard.

In these days of capacitive touchscreens and responsive on-screen keyboards there is a case for arguing that the slide-out keyboard is no longer necessary. Indeed, to compensate for the extra bulk it adds to a smartphone a physical keyboard has to have a level of usability that an on-screen keyboard doesn't.

The inclusion of the keyboard makes the HTC Desire Z considerably heavier than the average at 180g, and rather thicker too at 14.6mm. The Desire Z is therefore noticeably heavier than other smartphones, especially when carried around in your pocket. Its thickness means fewer hands will be able to reach right across the 3.7-inch screen for one handed use.

The keyboard is not so much as slide-out keyboard, as it is a hinged keyboard. The upper and lower sections of the chassis lift and swivel away from each other and do so extremely smoothly. It's very reminiscent of the very first Android phone, the HTC G1, which also had a hinged, slide-out keyboard.

This allows the keyboard to sit on a raised area and is almost flush with the screen section so that all the keys can be tapped easily. Many other slide-out keyboards have keys that sit beneath a lip produced by the overhanging screen making the top and/or bottom row a little challenging and uncomfortable to use.

Sandra Vogel
Freelance journalist

Sandra Vogel is a freelance journalist with decades of experience in long-form and explainer content, research papers, case studies, white papers, blogs, books, and hardware reviews. She has contributed to ZDNet, national newspapers and many of the best known technology web sites.

At ITPro, Sandra has contributed articles on artificial intelligence (AI), measures that can be taken to cope with inflation, the telecoms industry, risk management, and C-suite strategies. In the past, Sandra also contributed handset reviews for ITPro and has written for the brand for more than 13 years in total.