By Claire Reilly
Despite the fact that media materials were leaked weeks ago and the device itself was announced last year, HTC officially unveiled its newest smartphone for the first time in Sydney last night – the HTC Velocity 4G.
As the product name suggests, the launch of the smartphone (which is the first in Australia to utilise Telstra’s new 4G network) was all about speed. And rather than looking at slick screen animations or shiny hardware, guests were invited to scrutinise the network specs of the device, with Andrew Volard, director of Telstra Mobile, on hand to crunch the numbers.
“It’s significant in two ways," said Volard. "The first one is obviously speed. But really, the second one is about what is going to be possible on mobile which previously was cordoned off into fixed line.
Those "incredibly fast" fixed-line speeds range from 2Mbps to 40Mbps in 4G coverage areas, which then revert to Telstra’s fastest dual channel HSPA+ 3G connectivity when outside the 4G zone.
“To put it in historical context, when we launched the 3G network 6 years ago, the 4G network is now 25 times faster in terms of its data speeds," added Volard.
“The HTC Velocity 4G offers mobile internet speeds scarcely imagined a decade ago making it possible for people to enjoy more of the internet content they love direct from their smartphone screen.
“The leap to 4G means customers in 4G coverage areas can load web pages up to five times faster than with earlier 3G devices, video chat with fewer interruptions and use more web services simultaneously.”
Beyond connectivity, the device also offers a 1.5 GHz dual core processor, a 4.5-inch touch screen with qHD display, an 8 megapixel camera with auto focus and dual LED flash as well as a 1.3 megapixel front camera, 1080p HD camcorder with stereo sound recording and HD voice support. The Velocity 4G runs on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich planned for the future.
Despite the impressive features under the hood, the actual smartphone itself could be criticised for lacking the sleek curves and style of previous HTC releases, due in part to its blocky faceted shape.
But the strength of the device rests in its super speeds. If the user is in a 4G coverage area (which includes the 8 capital city CBDs and 80 regional and metropolitan areas) the download speeds are significantly better than 3G.
In a hands on demonstration, Current.com.au was able to test the device against rival 3G networks and even previous HTC models utilising the Telstra 3G network. The basics – such as loading up content-heavy websites, streaming high quality YouTube videos and general web browsing – were remarkably fast.
As the HTC and Telstra reps said at the launch, once you’ve experienced that speed, it’s very hard to go back.