The aptly-named Hero and the more mainstream Tattoo smartphones will make their Australian debut next week on Optus' dual-band 3G network.
HTC intends to bookend the local Android market with next week’s launch of its wonder-twin smartphones.
The kick-off, to be held on Wednesday afternoon at swank Sydney waterside eatery Doltone House, will see the Hero replace the Magic as HTC’s flagship Android phone while the budget-minded Tattoo cuts a few corners to land as a handset which makes less of a hit to the hip pocket.
Both the Hero and Tattoo will support 3G on the 900MHz and 2100MHz bands, making them ideal for the 900MHz regional 3G networks of Optus and Vodafone. Both carriers have previously partnered with HTC for its Android phones, Optus landing sole rights to the original Dream while Vodafone and 3 (now allied as VHA) shared the Magic.
(HTC has told us they will not be offering a 850MHz 3G variant of the Hero or Tattoo, however, so don’t expect to see Telstra invited to the launch party).Update: APC has since learned that neither Vodafone nor 3 will be carrying Hero and Tattoo, which leaves them on the Optus network and exclusive to Optus or one of its many network partners – see our latest update for more
There’s no denying that the Hero looks the part, from its stylish metallic redesign to that slightly jutting chin.
New to the software mix is Sense, a widget-like overlay onto Android which borrows a few ideas from the TouchFLO UI bolted onto HTC’s Windows Mobile phones.
This packs seven home screens which can be kitted out with widgets ranging from Android’s own offerings to a scores more supplied by HTC. These range from the familiar flip-stye clock and local weather forecast to a rotating carousel of text messages and HTC’s own twitter client named Peep.
The screen now supports iPhone-style multitouch ‘pinch and zoom’ gestures plus support for Flash, along with HTC’s own virtual keypad (also superior to the Android’s default soft keyboard) and a new email client which supports POP and Exchange with a threaded conversation view.
While the initial release of the Hero run Android 1.5 ‘Cupcake’, HTC has advised that a free update to Android 2.0 (codenamed Eclair) will follow.
The Tattoo shares the same Sense interface but with a smaller 7.1cm screen which uses older PDA-style resistive material rather than a multi-touch capacitive panel.
Never the less, it still packs creature comforts such as a 3.2 megapixel camera, GPS and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. Also in common with the Hero, the Tattoo sports a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack rather than the company’s proprietary AV-enabled ‘Extended USB’ port on the Dream and Magic.