Review: HTC Velocity 4G, Australia’s first 4G Smartphone

For the past week I’ve been reviewing the fastest phone in the country, the HTC Velocity 4G. Grab yourself a coffee, hold your phone tight and see if this...

HTC Velocity 4G

For the past week I’ve been reviewing the fastest phone in the country, the HTC Velocity 4G. Grab yourself a coffee, hold your phone tight and see if this is your next phone.

Overview

Running on Telstra’s new 4G network, the HTC Velocity is the first 4G phone in Australia. Theoretically the device is able to achieve 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up, however Telstra’s 4G network current gets up to 40Mbps down and 10Mb up if your sitting on top of the tower. At these speeds, this phone can consume data faster than many home ADSL2+ connections.

When most people hear of speeds that fast they immediately question why anyone would need that. The simple answer is tethering. Imagine this is your car’s hotspot and 4 passengers are using it’s bandwidth, in the right area, there’d be room to spare.

Imagine your heading to a meeting and forgot a 1GB video file for a presentation, with this phone, you could download it in just minutes. Any HD video is going to playback promptly, multiple apps or songs will download like lightning, the options go on and on.

Ultimately a mobile device with 4G speeds is the height of ultra-connectedness. We often have to make compromises while mobile, but with the Velocity in you’re pocket, those limitations fade away.

Hardware

Size: 128.8mm x 67mm x 11.27mm
Weight: 163.8 grams with battery
Display: 4.5-inch touch screen
Screen: 114.3mm (4.5") with qHD (540 X 960) resolution
Camera: 8 mega-pixel, 28mm lens
CPU: 1.5Ghz dual-core
Storage: 16GB
OS: Android 2.3.7 with HTC Sense 3.5
Battery Capacity: 1620 mAh
HD voice: Yes

Speed

The Velocity’s 4G LTE speeds are phenomenal. We’ll get into the detail of that in a second, but one of the more surprising things to note is the phone’s 3G performance. At the same location the HTC Velocity was pulled down data on 3G at 4-5 times the speed of the iPhone 4S.

Let’s get to the reason your here, just how fast is 4G? I tested at multiple locations around Albury Wodonga, one of the regional areas where 4G is already available. Surprisingly Wodonga’s High street actually achieves faster 4G speeds than Albury’s Dean street.

Velocity speed tests

What you should know about the graphic above is that these are the maximum speeds obtained over a variety of speed tests taken at each location. The reason for this is that mobile speeds will always drop as more users join the 4G network, what’s important is the maximum speeds you can expect.

You can see Telstra’s 4G network coverage map here.

Issues

This is the bet phone available in the country right now. That is of course if you just look at network speed. Being the fastest to download data unfortunately doesn’t mean its the best phone. There’s a lot more to the overall experience of a phone than its ability to consume data.

My primary complaint with the HTC Velocity 4G is that like many Android phones, it doesn’t ship with the latest version. As demonstrated by last weeks release of Google Chrome beta, applications of the future will require Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Any device that ships without come with a giant question mark as to their future possibility of getting the update. Basically the only way to guarantee you phone has a long future is to get ICS on it when you buy it.

If you don’t care about a unified inbox, panorama camera support, application data limits and sexy multitasking, then you should care about app support. It may be true that a lot of Android users wouldn’t even know what version their phone is running, but its also true that they’d be confused and disappointed when they can’t play a game against their friend next to them. App support is a massive deal whether consumers are conscious of it or not. Most people have phones for at least 2 years now, so starting off with an old OS is a seriously bad idea.

 

Gallery

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Availability

The HTC Velocity 4G is exclusive to Telstra, good thing given they are the only provider in Australia to have a 4G network. While the competitors struggle to stabilize existing 3G networks, Telstra is moving to the next generation. In early 2012, only major metro and regional cities have coverage. Telstra plans to roll out coverage to more areas over the coming months and years.

While the speeds available on 4G right now are impressive, those speeds are the best they’ll be, right now. As more devices ship and more consumers begin to flood the network, speeds will drop, that’s the nature of mobile networks. The bandwidth of mobile towers is shared by the number of devices connected to it.

Price

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Pricing for the HTC Velocity 4G are pretty standard with the recommended Telstra plan being the $79pm plan. This gets you $800 worth of calls, unlimited texting and 2GB of data, remember this is a 16GB device if you’re doing comparisons. Those paying attention may have identified an issue in this plan.

With the extra speed of 4G, many magnitude times that of 3G, there’s no recognition of this in the data allowance. I was really hoping Telstra would offer unique plans for this unique device, but sadly the plans on offer mean that could consume your allowance in just minutes.

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Overall

The HTC Velocity 4G is a great device, resting on the back of amazing network performance. Had this phone been running Android 4.0, it could well have been the best phone on the market. If the Galaxy Nexus and the Velocity 4G had a baby, it’d be the dream Android phone.

Had you asked me a year ago if a 4.5” phone was practical, sensible or something I’d want to carry, I would have replied no to all three. However as more of these larger display phones arrive, they start to feel normal and still light enough be comfortable. The extra screen real estate is actually really beneficial for consuming media and gaming. At this point its difficult to see how Apple can’t respond with a larger display on the next iPhone.

Ultimately the Velocity 4G is a great device. If you can deal with the last generation OS, then get this phone, just be sure to check the coverage areas first to avoid disappointment. If speed is your thirst, then this phone will quench it, demonstrating just how far ahead of the competition Telstra really is.

If you can’t wait for a 4G ICS phone, you may want to look at at 4G USB dongle.

More @ Telstra

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn't seeking credit.