Just yesterday came news of HTC's G2 Magic hitting the U.S. as the T-Mobile myTouch, and now HTC's pulled the veil from its third Android-powered smartphone. It's called the Hero, and unlike the iPhone it'll play Flash straight out of the box.
In terms of design, the phone is a half-way house between the sleek curves of the Magic, and the clunky shape of the original G1—it's slender, and has pretty clean lines, but still has that awkwardly-canted chin feature. The design this time incorporates anti-fingerprint technology on the screen, which should reduce irritating smudges, and the white version even has a Teflon overcoat to protect its finish—apparently a "first in the mobile industry." Looks like HTC is moving away from physical keyboards too—unlike the G1, and the competitor Palm Pre, the Hero is touchscreen only.
Inside there's a 3.2-inch, 320-by-480-pixel touchscreen, a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, a 528MHz Qualcomm processor, support for quad-band GSM and dual-band HSPA 3G signals, GPS, 802.11bg Wi-fi, accelerometer and digital compass. Memory expansion comes via microSD cards. That all makes it sound like a pretty typical smartphone, running a little slower on the processor side than the new iPhone 3G S too. But in the press supporting the Hero, HTC is stressing that this phone supports Flash right from the get-go. Flash comes by way of Adobe 10 technology, news of which hit just the other day, and makes it the first Android device with native Flash. HTC notes that "close to 80% of all videos online" are "delivered with Adobe Flash technology," which is a direct swipe at Apple's avoidance of Flash on the iPhone, and a reference to how much easier YouTubing would be on the Hero.
The phone isn't a fully-affiliated Google Android phone though, so some Google-centric features will be missing. HTC has instead added its HTC Sense front-end, a kind of easy dial-through access portal to favorite social-networking apps and the like. It's a new user interface from HTC, and you'll be seeing more of it as it's due to "be included on a portfolio of products moving forward." That, of course, also means that HTC has a number of Android surprises hidden up its sleeve.
The Hero's due to fly in to Europe come July, and land in the U.S. as a "distinct version" (read: new name) "later in 2009." When it does arrive, the one question everyone will ask is can it challenge the iPhone? It's hard to tell. The Engadget boys said it felt slow in their hands-on test, albeit on a phone running pre-release software. That 5-megapixel camera is a definite plus though.