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Further to my previous angry post about the HTC Desire:

After further unsuccessful efforts with HTC's Exchange ActiveSynch, which was unable to synch with my contacts (I have over 4000) without stuffing the phone's memory beyond capacity, I finally found an email solution that did just enough of what I want to give the brick another chance: Touchdown, which at least doesn't choke on my contacts and allows me to read and send emails, though at a cost. Its memory storage is still lousy - I have to take it down to only three days of archive, whereas the old Blackberry was able to cope with a couple of weeks, which means that by Monday morning it has become useless as a way of tracking things.

For non-work email, the Gmail interface really sucks, which is astonishing given that Google are behind both Gmail and Android. It simply refuses to sync the main interface; oddly when I select the 'view all mail' (including sent and pre-filtered) option I do usually get an up-to-date list of what I have recently received and sent, but then if a new mail has arrived in a thread to which I have already replied, it doesn't show me anything in the thread after (and including) my first response, even when I refresh repeatedly. It also doesn't seem to have access to my Gmail contacts when I write emails, which again is a massive fail.

It's also still impossible to sync notes with Outlook, though there I have actually found a better solution which generally suits me more than Outlook notes - Evernote, which allows me to synch across all my computers and phones. I mainly use it for tracking my book reading and planning out the Whoniversaries, so it's not a work-related issue; on the occasions when I do want Outlook notes for work purposes, I have still lost that functionality on the phone.

I keep on coming back to the contacts, because they are a big deal for me. More or less weekly I still get the 'memory running low' message, and looking at the memory usage of various apps the HTC contacts storage are always the second biggest after Touchdown. I can't wipe Touchdown because that's basically what I have the phone for, and I thought that since Touchdown is also storing contacts separately I probably didn't need the HTC system doing it as well. (I don't understand why it does this, and contra a comment on one of my earlier posts it is not possible to move them to the SD card.) That turns out to be true, but what it doesn't tell you is that it also wipes the phone log, so you no longer have a record of the numbers you called or who has called you. That's useful information which is now deleted forever, without warning.

All of this is annoying but at the level of grit-my-teeth-but-get-on-with-it. But there are two more things which now have turned me into an active anti-HTC Desire evangelist. First of all, I suspect it of running data services without my permission when I am abroad, rather than simply being on-line at the moment when I am using it. A former colleague of mine found his was doing this - going on-line in the middle of the night when he was in Russia. Anyway my bills for November, a month when I did six foreign trips, were appalling even after I persuaded my service provider to retroactively apply a better rate.

Second, and this is the final straw, the battery life started off very short and seems to have been getting shorter and shorter. Last night I went to bed with it fully charged, used it to read fifty pages of an ebook (one of its better features, I'll admit) and put it down on my bedside table. At 4 am it woke me with a beep to say that its battery was running low; ten minutes later it turned itself off. I was so angry about this that I have not been able to get back to sleep, and have only now calmed down enough to write this post about it. A phone that you have to keep plugged in all the time is, by definition, not mobile.

So the moral is simple: just don't buy a HTC Desire, if you have a lot of contacts, want to use Gmail, want to use Outlook notes, want to keep records of who you have called and who has called you, and want a phone that remains charged for more than six hours at a time. If you are not in any of those categories, then probably its shiny assortment of apps and decent enough camera may make it a useful purchase. But it fails the basic functionality of doing email well and staying awake long enough for my purposes.

(See similar rant from miss_sb here, interestingly with a different but much more appalling contacts-related experience.)


( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
Same problems
I had the same problems when I had the Desire up until recently. I upgraded to the HD version (not by choice, my phone was stolen), and it solves the contact issue problem I'd say, as it has far more available memory.

Still crap battery life though - couldn't agree more - a phone that remains plugged in is called a landline - you need to be almost religious about constant charging if you want it to live - consider getting a dock for your desk - might help. For the contacts, there is little or no solution for you without HTC offering memory upgrades, which they won't!

Still, they do have probably the best android phone on the market today, and give good upgrade time to newer versions of android (the best, by a long shot in fact). Doesn't excuse the limitations of the memory though. Not sure if gingerbread will solve this, but I think not. Don't bother complaining, I've tried - they don't care.

You could of course root the phone and write your own software to solve all this, but who has time!
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
Re: Same problems
If this is the best android phone on the market today, I shudder to think what the others are like. I haven't even tried complaining directly to them; absolutely clear from their website that they don't really care about customer feedback (which, thinking about it, should have been another danger sign before I bought the thing).

Glad to hear that the HD at least has more memory. One of the things that winds me up is that one really has no idea what's going on in the phone memory - at least the file managed seems reasonably transparent on the contents of the HD card, but you can hardly see inside the phone at all.

I am considering rooting as a course of action. I'm about to give up on it anyway so there's nothing left to lose. On the other hand, will it actually make things any better?
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:21 am (UTC)
You can switch Touchdown to use the phone's SD card for its database. This vastly increases the amount of storage for contacts and mail, and also keeps it out of main memory.

If you upgrade to Android 2.2. you'll also be able to switch many applications to run from the card, again improving performance by moving them out of the phone's pitiful onboard memory. It's what I do with my Nexus One (much the same phone under the covers as the Desire) and makes a big difference. Also I recommend not syncing Facebook or Twitter with your contacts, as they also significanty drops memory requirements, by up to 20MB on my Nexus One.
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:42 am (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestions; but for me the option to transfer Touchdown to the SD card is greyed out (Touchdown 6.2.0012, Android 2.2 version 2.29.405.5) and I am unable to select Notes as one of the Outlook folders I wish to synchronize in Touchdown. And I gave up syncing Facebook and Twitter with my contacts ages back, for precisely that reason, but the memory problem continues to recur (and of course the information lost remains lost). Very probably your Nexus One is a superior product to the HTC Desire; I have difficulty right now in imagining an inferior one.
(no subject) - sbisson - Jan. 19th, 2011 07:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - e_pepys - Jan. 22nd, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:23 am (UTC)
Also the latest version of Touchdown does support Outlook notes. You need to explicitly choose to sync the Notes folder from Exchange in Touchdown.
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:42 am (UTC)
See above.
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:05 am (UTC)
On the subject of battery life/unauthorized callouts: lots of Android apps are free but ad-supported. One source of battery drain may be badly behaved ad-supported apps going online to download fresh adverts to annoy you with.

There have also been confirmed reports of some nasty Android apps dialing up premium rate services without telling the user, and of apps engaging in behavioural tracking (see also Phorm): they may be switching on the GPS radio, which drains battery life like crazy.

(Apple's walled garden is the source of many complaints, but at least it keeps the more malevolent stuff at bay.)

I don't know what apps you've got installed on your phone, but it's worth going through them with fire and the sword to see if that improves the battery life/bandwidth charge situation.
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
Very good points, thank you. One can easily install things to use once and then just forget about them, while they tick away using bandwidth in the background.
Jan. 19th, 2011 10:08 am (UTC)
A Nexus One will run for days on a single charge with no apps running, and autosync and 3G turned off. 3G is sodding expensive in terms of battery life.

(And oh, phone makers - why not go for some models with longer battery life, instead of always driving the size down every time the battery technology gets a bit better.)
Jan. 19th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
If I don't surf, check email, or otherwise use the internet, turn off WiFi, and basically just use the phone as a phone, my Desire will easily run for two days.

However, I check Twitter, Facebook, Email and surf on a frequent basis, and so I have a charger at my desk in work as well as at home, because the battery lasts about 16 hours if I'm using it that much.
(no subject) - cairmen - Jan. 19th, 2011 11:43 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jan. 19th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
>>(And oh, phone makers - why not go for some models with longer battery life, instead of always driving the size down every time the battery technology gets a bit better.)<<

This so much this. I don't like my present un-smart phone but I only have to charge it for an hour every week, so I am keeping it.
Jan. 19th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
I use an Android "phone" (I think that it's debatable whether the Dell Streak's a phone or a mini-tablet with a phone facility), but I would not do so if reliable functionality was key. The whole open-source thing and the whole nature of Google seems to make it a machine for early adopters who (a) don't mind hassle and (b) don't rely too much on it.

Well, actualy, I DO mind hassle.

The battery use is weird -- sometimes it runs for ages and sometimes it doesn't, and I can't work out what is causing the difference. I think that battery efficiency will improve in time, not least because the manufacturers will realize that battery life is important. But open source is open source, and battery-efficiency seems low on the priorities of most of these app producers.

If I travelled a lot and had a lot of contacts, I'd probably stick with a Blackberry (and one of the non-touchscreen models at that!). Cutting edge and "must not fail" do not easy bedfellows make.

Jan. 19th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
These are all very good points, particularly your first one about whether the damn brick is a phone or a mini-tablet with phone facility.
Jan. 19th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Back when you were casting around for opinions, several people asked for your requirements.

Now it's clear that your important requirements include:
  • Long battery life.
  • Reliably syncs contacts, e-mail and notes with Microsoft Outlook.
  • Stores many days worth of e-mail.
Had you known this back then, I think more people would have recommended a Blackberry over Android.

(Of course, it's very hard to know what your requirements really are until you've had experience with a device. Many requirements only become apparent after days or weeks of experience. If only there were some way you could try for an extended period before committing.)

I believe that on HTC phones you can ameliorate the battery life problem by acquiring a spare battery or two. Otherwise, you need to learn your ABC: Always Be Charging.
Jan. 19th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
I must say that the email storage capacity isn't a deal-breaker, and I'd happily sacrifice some of that for the nicer ebook reading screen and various fun apps that the Desire has.

But on the Outlook Exchange syncing issue, I feel that I did my due diligence and people assured me that it could be made to work. What I did not realise was that a) the extra security on my employers' mailserver and b) my own large number of contacts would make that more difficult. I think that was an unavoidable error, unfortunately; it simply didn't occur to me that either of those could be a problem for a competently designed Outlook interface.

On the battery life, I think that what I have ended up with is simply unacceptable under any circumstances. I also note that in my previous exchange, one person advised me that "if battery life is the most important thing, you want something from HTC", so I should not have taken that advice!

And I did expect (and was advised by several people) that an Android device would actually be good for reading my Gmail account as well...
(no subject) - gareth_rees - Jan. 19th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nwhyte - Jan. 19th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 52 comments — Leave a comment )

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