Android devices had only been around for less than a year and a half by the time Mobile World Congress came around in 2010, but during that time the platform had evolved rapidly from somewhat ropey beginnings.
Riding the crest of this particular wave was the HTC Desire – an Android 2.1 smartphone with a 3.7” SVGA display, 1GHz CPU and a 5 megapixel camera and… wait… yes, it might well seem familiar because the Desire was very closely related to the Google Nexus One launched the previous month.
The differences were minor – the Desire ditched the Nexus One’s trackball and had a much more usable optical trackpad, but conversely the Desire had physical function buttons instead of touch-sensitive ones. The Desire also had an FM radio (included in the Nexus hardware but disabled) and it used the HTC Sense UI on top of the underlying OS rather than the stock Android of the Nexus.
This whole combination of features was very appealing to potential customers, and because HTC already had an established relationship with mobile phone carriers it was simple enough to get your hands on a subsidised Desire on contract, where at launch the Nexus One was a rather expensive SIM-free affair.
The Desire was well-designed, the user experience was great and it was easy to get one. And although this combination doesn’t always guarantee success in this case it did, and the HTC Desire became the first Android phone for many people wanting to dip their toe in the smartphone world.
It had its problems – notably the original AMOLED display lacked sharpness which was fixed by a switch to S-LCD and over-the-air software updates dried up after just 18 months. Nonetheless it established HTC as the Android manufacturer to beat… however rivals Samsung had something up their sleeves when it came to that.
The “Desire” name stuck around – even if (like a lot of other HTC handsets) – it sounds a bit like a brand of condom. The most recent phone to bear the name is the HTC Desire 19s, launched in late 2019. Original HTC Desires (model HTC A8181) are commonly available for not very much money should you want to own a little slice of Android history.
Image credit: Retromobe and Mobile Gazette