Maxis10Reviews – iPhone 3GS vs the HTC Desire

Here is Part 3 and last of my crazy guest bloggers write-up on smart phones. Josh Lim, an Apple fanboy, takes on the analogy of his beloved iPhone versus the HTC Desire.

Blackberry user? You can read about HTC Desire vs Blackberry HERE . Or HTC Desire vs an older Android. What improvements were there? Read HERE.

Hello I am Josh Lim from

I use a PC for daily work, flirt with a Macbook Pro for occasional presentations, but am in a serious relationship with my iPhone. It is worth noting that before I bought my iPhone, I had at least 3 dreams about getting an iPhone. As of such you can expect me to be biased.

However, being a tech geek I will give you a technical breakdown of the iPhone 3Gs vs the HTC Desire, and from there you can decide what’s best for you!


The iPhone 3Gs and the HTC Desire weigh about the same (133 g vs 135g ), seriously! I actually weighted on a digital scale that Rebecca uses for cooking (that can measure very precise grams). The scale fluctuated a bit, but you can’t really tell the difference in weight.


HTC Desire


The iPhone feels slightly thinner due to the rounded off edges. But they’re really about the same thickness.

iPhone vs Desire

Touch sensitivity

Btw in the Advertlets office as of now we have someone with a HTC Hero (Sham), Nexus One (Rebecca’s) (the Google phone manufactured by HTC) in addition to the HTC Desire which Rebecca is testing.

I think I can safely say that the HTC Desire has the best touch sensitivity of all HTC phones so far, and quite a few agree.

A bit about touch screens:

There are two kinds of touch sensitivity mechanisms that are mainly used for phones:

Capacitive and Resistant.

Most Nokia phones right now (even the newer ones, except for some coming up soon) are using resistive touch. This means, you can use your fingernails. Or a stylus.

With capacitive touch, it requires a live conductor to detect movement or presses on the phone. In this case, your finger. Generally high end phones like the iPhone and HTC Desire use capacitive touch. While the HTC Desire is definitely more sensitive, it loses out on the ‘light touches’ that the iPhone 3Gs can handle well.

Using it in the car is rather hard. And yes, I know I’m not supposed to use a phone while driving. The police that pull me over often seem to know that too.

Read more about touchscreens here (this compares the iPhone vs the HTC Droid Eris, Motorola, Nexus One, Palm Pre & Blackberry Storm 2). They actually used a ‘robot finger’ to test the touch sensitivity of each phone.

Link 1:

Link 2:


The HTC Desire has a larger screen, and uses an AMOLED display compared to the iPhone’s LCD screen. AMOLED screens look sharper and have better contrast under normal lighting, but have really poor visibility outdoors in bright light compared to LCD screens. AMOLED screens are capable of ‘true black‘ as they don’t need a backlight.

The HTC Desire being a newer phone, the resolution is about twice the iPhone. Browsing is a really good experience – text is crisp, contrast is good and colors are rich.

However, a more fair comparision would be the HTC Desire vs the iPhone 4 (not 3Gs when it comes to the screen).


The HTC Desire camera wins the iPhone 3Gs by a long shot, with some very good color customization, ISO adjustment, contrast adjustment, resolution, etc.

There’s very good low light sensitivity, and if you’re looking for something which is about as powerful as a point and shoot digital camera, this comes very close.

Software / Design

The HTC wins for the homescreen applications. I must say that it’s quite beautiful. There’s an ‘Expose’ type view (Mac users will be familiar with this), and good ‘Tweetdeck’ style sliding between homescreens.

Design wise, the HTC Desire has accomplished something quite impressive, in the sense that it feels like a solid interface that doesn’t ape the iPhone’s design language. You do get the feeling that there are always more options that you don’t quite see though with the HTC Desire.

Build & Hardware

The HTC Desire’s physical buttons are fantastic and feel solid. It also has a trackpad (similiar to the newer Blackberrys) which is quite sensitive. I do sometimes wish the iPhone had a trackpad, but oh well…

The expandable memory on the HTC Desire is cool, and something that Apple will never implement. The HTC Desire also has an FM radio, if you’re into that sorta thing.

The build of the HTC desire is pretty solid except for one thing which I’ll go into later. The feel of it is kind of like a smooth pebble, with a mixture of rubberized and either metal or magnesium alloy areas.

I’ll say though unlike the iPhone 3Gs it doesn’t feel ‘brittle’, it feels a bit tougher and you don’t worry too much about it getting scratched. I have yet to see a HTC owner using a casing.

I’m also talking as someone who unfortunately, dropped his iPhone 3GS before screen down, and had to pay RM300 just to replace the screen.

The back (which is made of plastic, sigh – to be fair the iPhone backing is plastic as well) is dissapointing though. Taking off the back is ‘scary’ as you have to pull it off and then click it back on (it doesn’t slide off). Watching the back of the phone bend as you pull off the back is a bit unnerving as you don’t know if you are going to break it.

open casing - HTC Desire

open casing - HTC Desire1

open casing - HTC Desire2


I do get the feel that the HTC Desire (and subsequent Android phones) have a lot more features and customization options, and it’ll be great to have one to play with. You get the feeling that there’ll be a lot that you can explore and a lot of new software apps to try out. But for daily use I would say that an iPhone 3Gs still is the best in terms of ease of use.

I’m hardly a newbie when it comes to smartphones (I bought the first ever Nokia cameraphone off a journalist very early before its official launch), but there are times when you have to use your phone half-sleepy (or half or fully drunk) and you don’t want to be doing the wrong thing.

In short, the HTC Desire is probably one of the closest competitors to the iPhone so far. But, I’ve already decided, my next phone will be an iPhone 4G.

All in all, even as an iPhone user I like the fact that the smartphone competition is heating up, and stuff like the HTC Desire with Android and the upcoming Windows 7 Mobile OS really shows where the industry is headed.

I’ll say that if you’ve been eyeing any HTC phone so far, forget it and get this. However if you’re still undecided, I suggest waiting for the next 3 months for major tech innovations (eg launch of future HTC phones, the iPhone 4 being reviewed more completely and the upcoming Windows 7 Mobile phones.)

Note: Reviews by Josh Lim, Pictures by Rebecca Saw, unless otherwise stated.

iPhone users, comments appreciated!

PS: You want more?

Maxis10Reviews: The camera – Nexus One vs HTC Desire
Maxis10Reviews: The video of a village house – taken with the HTC Desire camera
Maxis10Reviews: Sharp clear pics at the Premier Screening of Toy Story 3
Maxis10Reviews: My first video! The Unboxing video of the HTC Desire
Maxis10Reviews: HTC Desire vs Blackberry HERE .
Maxis10Reviews:: HTC Desire vs an older Android. What improvements were there? Read HERE.