The Competition: Chin-less HTC Hero Android Invading Sprint

It's official -- the HTC Hero, currently the most drool-inducing handset the Android platform has to offer, hits Sprint October 11. Sibling site AndroidCentral has all the details, and has the concern that Spring might be loving the Palm Pre just a tad less when the droid everyone's looking for hits the Now (and then) Network.

So how competitive will the Sense UI on Sprint at $179.99 be with the iPhone 3GS on AT&T at $199? (We'll leave the iPhone 3G at $99 off the table for now). As functionality gets closer and closer, Android apps picks up, and ease of use improves, it will likely be the network that's the deciding factor -- who gets more bars in the most places they need to be.

Oh, oh...

Jokes aside, we've seen Nokia N900 upping their UI game, and Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 distressingly still not, should Apple be most worried about the increasingly competitive Google and its increasing army of droideka?

Or is this really -- and mostly -- just a problem for Palm right? Apple's enemy's enemy's carrier enemy is... what now?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

The Competition: Chin-less HTC Hero Android Invading Sprint


It's nice and all, but it's Google... you either love 'em or you hate 'em... I'll stick w/my iPhone.

I have the Hero and an iPod Touch. The Hero is awesome and the apps are accelerating very quickly. It's mainly gaming that's is lacking but suddenly games like Sims 3 etc are all available.

Very customizable phone and very useful for those requiring multitasking and backgrounding. I love the widgets and wish the Iphone could utilize them. Android is really starting to heat up. Really makes the Iphone seem outdated now that everyone has an app store. Now it is starting to come down to UI,Hardware, and of course services.
I'm not sure whether to get this or the Pre. Anybody have any ideas?

@the irishman They didn't steal ideas from the iPhone because the Hero actually lets you do things without being locked down to stupid pointless rules because we as Apple's consumers get too confused too easily.

Some parts of of the UI looked great... many other parts had that Darth Vader doom-n-gloom look that is getting really dated.
This looks far, far more appealing than the Pre. But I'm confident Apple will trump this.

If AT&T keep fucking around with their non sense excuses, I will be switching. iPhone or not, I will go with other carrier. Especially since a lot of cool phone are coming out nowaday

What about the iPhone is fresh? It's app store has eroded into trash, ui is terribly outdated, and the 3gs brings few new things. Plus AT&T is terrible.

this is the phone that pulled me away from the iphone. i bought it a month ago in the uk (the one with the chin, not the fuck ugly one sprint has) and its amazing. i wish the iphone had an awesome notification system like android has. i just wish it was a bit faster.

Iphone is still best for now. But clearly, Apple needs better notifications, multitasking and a bit of change in the UI when it comes to app swapping and organizing them. Along with some social networking integration.
Oh and umm..better screen.

Impressive demonstration. If it holds up in real world usage, it will be a serious competitor. If it sells in real world quantities, it could give Apple a kick in the pants to step its game up.
Competition is good.

The Sprint version of the Hero is HIDEOUS.. It just looks like a two-toned Magic. It's not half as nice looking at the original :(

WOW, I like the UI of The Hero, makes the iPhones UI feel a little outdated. BGR reports the UI is good, but the hardware Is HORRIBLE. Makes the whole phone seem slow.
I will be stuckimg with the iPhone for now. It's the whole ecosystem Apple offers that I love. I am a Mac user, Itunes user, Apple tv user and si on. Everything is seemless for me.
But damn that UI IS NICE. come on Apple the competition is gaining, time to step up your game.

We already have the "they copied off iPhone" post!
I mean...there's enthusiasts, fans, and cult followers. To think EVERY touch screen phone is a mimic of the iPhone is stupid. There's only so much you can do with the design of a touch screen phone!
And on top of that...this has 5 buttons and a the HELL is that like the iPhone???
It has a superb notificatoin system, integration on another level, widgets...I dont see iPhone with any of this.
I've been saying for the longest. Widgets are becoming a big deal...makes usage much easier and convenient. I would really like to see Apple implement this type of functionality into their future phones.

Although it looks cool in the video, It def looks over complicated for practical use. The reason the iPhone is restricted to the "stupid" rules is to keep it reliable. I've owned a blackberry curve, storm, and g1 (trying to avoid getting the trendy iPhone). All of those phones would get bogged down by either over use or poorly written programs, and the hero will have the same problem. This has never happens with my 3gs, it works the same every time I pull it out of my pocket.

I read somewhere on android central they are tweaking the stateside version of the Hero's Sense UI and that it should be much faster. They probably had to do some optimization in the code.
Anyway Android is really starting to get hot. With the custom interfaces, large homebrew, and general ability to make it "your" phone then I am sure it is only going to get even more popular. All Android needs is for a manu to market a phone that has all the right must have specs. This may be it.
The Iphone feels so old. The app store gets worst each day as more trash piles in. The move to unlock screen is just annoying and provides no useful information. The icons look childish. No custom wallpapers. No custom sounds. Terrible notifications. The UI needs a major overhaul and the hardware is beginning to look very stale.
Oh I like this better than the chin Hero.

@ truth
I agree that the iPhone ui is dropping the ball on the whole wow factor, but for me, and I'm sure a lot of other people, ease of use is much more important. I bet you spend more time costomizing and optimizing the hero than actually using the thing

And as for trash in the app store, lol enjoy all the trash that pours in when android gets more popular and any moron can make and sell an app for it

if you're the same truth that always post negative comments on this website. Why are you here so often? Go to the other websites and stay there. Penis envy?

With all the money, experience and infrastructure that Google has, I know they will eventually have a product that will be a major competition for Apple's iPhone. I almost wonder if they've cautiously entered the market slowly. Thoughts???
I did a comparison recently on my blog (which you can see by clicking my name).
Nice job on this article!

Probably because I have an Iphone. It don't hate the device I just think it could be better and that the competition to develop better phones is starting to get molten hot.
The biggest gripe I have isn't the device but AT&T, as even with discounts they are ridiculously high.

Am I the only one who is unimpressed by android? Everyone seems to have a giant woody of over android and I don't get it. I had the g1 and mytouch and android just didn't cut it for me. And I hated the google integration.

Someone mentioned the Hero being slow. Well there is a new official rom update out tonight which takes the speed to fighter jet levels - amazing difference . I believe this rom version will be used for the chinless version .

I LOVE that ui and graphics and the widgets. It'd be cool to have an icons option and a widgets option in iPhone 4.0 or 3.5 or whatever. Apple need to update the graphics and stuff. HD would be cool. But I like the iPhones simplicity and the iPhone apps and the platform and the full screen with no buttons except the home button. So I'm sticking with the iPhone. If UI becomes a problem, I know apples the company that'll fix it, AND make it 3 times as good:)

@ Truth - that video is based on an early beta. The official just released rom is miles better and miles faster . My Hero is absolutely electric.

@ Gavin
Wow I think I am completely sold on the Hero now. Hero + Google Voice + Sip Client + Android Marketplace + Sprint cheap ass plans equals win win win.

the Palm Pre and the iphone are still better. android is garbage. the big picture is that sprint is really going hard right now, imagine sprint and apple joining forces to make a 4g iphone. what a slap in the face that would be to palm

No the Palm Pre is not better at this stage than the Hero. And I'd say the iphone is only at the top because of branding and popularity.

For Sprint?? That bites. Well at least in my city it does. I dropped Sprint because of all dropped calls I was getting. AT&T has been better, but as Truth mentioned, the pricing is awful. Wished the Hero was hitting Verizon instead.

There is is folks, Truth TROLLING comments as usual.
Why do you even come here truth?
"The app store gets worse and worse everyday"
Do you even GO to the app store moron? I get tons of great stuff from it every week!
nobody listen to this troll.

You piss your pants cause I think the Iphone ain't all that. Get real. Sure I go to the app store. Row after row of trash. The only thing that is decent are the games and I have a DS, a 360, and a PC for that.

@ Truth - as an update I am a full day with the very lastest rom and it's so so amazing. I think the chinless version will be easier too to type in landscape. One app I use a lot is Voice Text. I dictate my text message which is converted into text. I simply send. Another app is metal detector which turns the Hero into a metal detector. A bit gimmicky but it works.

Most of the apps I download are free. Occasionally I come across a good one worth paying for - but it has to be REALLY good.
Yeah the iPhone will have something new by the time the Android gets going, but Google will probably have a newer OS out by then too. Fact is, there is an enormous market out there and Google's open licence software will attract many people. Plenty of people will be ticked with Apple's closed department for their entire product.
I love the iPhone, but it isn't the only great device out there!
Kick Butt

I have the Hero in the uk, at first it was a little slow on a couple of the 7 desktop screens, I have now updated to the released Rom and......
Its even quicker then my 3gs, To be honest i too am really board with the same ui, icons page after page and a little number to say i have 1 new email....
Come on apple, catch up, letting me know when my facebook friends have posted, or look at their new albums without loggin in, short cuts on the desktop for contacts (call and sms), live folders that dynamically update when you add favorites / bookmarks etc, widgets that are usefull on the desktop, multitasking out of the box, Android is here, HTS's Sense Ui Is here, My 3gs has been sold......
It is really that good, so customisable, copy music to your micro sd card, customise it to be your own not how apple wants you to use it, multitasking (apple we know the iphone will multitask but why are you worried it may drag the os down if you let us) one at a time running apps is so 1990's.
let hope apple catch up as the competition has over taken them, and it can only get better....

Iphone's are smart phones for beginners and ageing parents, The comments above...
"nah the pre 1.1 is better than andriod at 1.5, i use a mytouch 3g and its garbage."
with the sense ui on top of android 1.5 make it better then the iphone on many levels and competing with the palm pre with its business card approach to running programs etc.
Integration with googles online contacts, calender, docs, and gmail etc are free unlike apples mobile me (extra cost), googles approach with open source, free integration etc id the way forward to open up many levels for the os, watch this space 12 - 18 months down the line and apple will be cloning the best of the palme pre and hts sense ui....

The chin may look a little weird but it feels very very nice in the hand, the teflon coating on the back makes it feel a luxury item, its solid, nice to hold and fits in your pocket fine, the seperate buttons really work well, press search to instanly open a search text box or long press the search button to use google voice search (a really great feature that apple pulled from the store as it made their effort look bad).
The back button really comes in handy as it goes back one stage at a time where ever you are in the sense ui or browser etc, long press hold the home button for running or recently used programs.
All these features are a welcome change to my 3gs's one home button.
I never thought i would say "i don't miss my iphone" for the last 2 years i have had 3 and when you really look hard at what the iphone has to offer now its yesterday's look and feel, I really hope apple catch up as my next phone maybe back to a 4gs....

two last things and to me the best features of a rooted Hero...
The Backup, NANDROID BACKUP, this neat bit of software backups up the whole phone, os, sms etc just like a clone of the phone, you can store each backup on your micro sd card and restore it back at any time within 5 minutes.....
I wish apple would bring this to the table, and i also wish that google sorted this out so you did not have to root(jailbreak) the Hero.
And last but not least, the scenes feature, customise you sense ui to your hearts content and then save it to a profile, work, rest or play a profile for any part of your life, it takes seconds to switch between profiles and every widget / shortcut / icon is saved.....
Again apple catch up and you will be the greatest once again....

the second, but no where near the last, there is a boat load coming, its nice to have a choice....

It's a real shame that everytime a phone comes out makes the Iphone peeps salivate, they are so quick to shout that its a copy of the iphone.....sad.

I have owned an Iphone 3gs, g1, and mytouch 3g. I am very happy to say that as a google user, linux user, and overall techie, the Android operating system kicks Apple's ass hands down. With the updates, and in my case with root access to the OS and hardware (something that is very close to impossible on the Iphone but can be done in Android in 6 minutes), Android is the future of phones. Google did it again, Apple. Sorry.

I have had the phone for 2 weeks now, and although I had a few initial gripes, those gripes kinda remind of when the ignoramus doesn't like the top of the range sports car because it's "the wrong colour"!?!! The Hero has an organic feel to it, but it doesn't stop with ergonomics; the software is so tunable, it feels limitless. That is an exaggeration of course, but compared to the Iphone, that's how it feels. If you don't program it right, it can feel a little slow at times, but that's because you haven't understood it. It's probably not for technophobes, but neither is the Iphone. The onscreen qwerty keypad is the best I have ever used, and if you do struggle, the Hero will help by giving Mr Fat-Fingers options on the correct spelling - so easy! Some may not like the look of the chin, but going back to ergonomics, it's gotta be one of the most comfortable mobile phones to hold because of it. You don't take much notice of it in your pocket like you do with the Nokia N97, and people don't take as much notice of it as the Iphone, as it's understated. Great as it's less likely to get stolen! Great phone HTC. Next time, just include a better camera with a flash, faster processor, and larger memory - then you'll have a near perfect phone!

Have you updated to the new rom, as there is no lag now even when running alot of widgets etc.
great phone, can't wait to see what else will come out in the next six months.

You know what I love???
I love the fact that everytime a company comes out with a phone....everyone automatically looks at apple and is like ..."oh maaaan this phone could be competition for the iPhone"!!!!!
And this is what android fans are thinking silently to themselves....
"it's official apple is going down"!!!! "yes"!!!!!!
Well you know why people do this??? It's because they know that apple owns the mobile device industry.... Yes that's right I said it...
What they don't think about is how apple can release a software update overnight that will put google's android and all that other garbage to embarresing shame...
A perfect example of this is the iPod touch 2g... apple released os3.0 which enabled the iPod touch to have BLUETOOTH capabilities....."WHAT"???
an iPod with Bluetooth??? Yes an iPod with Bluetooth.... It's things like this that you android fans forget just keep this in mind before you make unwise predictions/assumptions....
Apple is on another the competition moves to higher will apple...
Another thing you amatuer. Forget about is JAILBREAK...I'm just going to state one thing I like about jailbreak....hmmmm let's see....everything from
downloading free ringtones to cracked apps fro
the AppStore that are FREE kind of like file sharing except with apps....
Oh and btw this was all typed in my iPhone 3G-S running
OS word to describe it....flawless

@ Moe
Sounds like you already have the new app for your iphone, you know it, its the one that cups your dick whilst you wank off with it.

@ nrk...hey u must be an apple hater...stop Staying up late on the internet looking for ways to boost ur self condidence by looking for ways to sound funny.... And i dont kniw what app ur talking about because ur mom is the one hplding my ***** and jerking my *****.... so fuk off douche nozzle

Just picked up the Hero yesterday and I'm already hooked! Thank god someone finally put out an iPhone killer.
The Hero saved the day!
oh yeah... anything apple is overpriced junk, Hurry up and go out of business Crapple, you have ruined the letter i!

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