The HTC Velocity 4G is the first phone in Australia capable of taking advantage of Telstra's burgeoning LTE network, offering greater mobile internet speeds than over regular 3G. It's also capable of dual-channel HSPA+, so even in the absence of LTE access it will be faster than most smartphones on the Australian market when accessing Telstra's Next G network.
According to Telstra the handset will offer typical download speeds ranging between 2 megabits per second and 40Mbps over LTE. However during my tests I regularly reached 40MBps. When using 3G I managed impressive speeds of 13-19Mbps on a regular basis.
Telstra's LTE network offers coverage in all Australian capital cities (up to five kilometres from the GPO) and capital city airports as well as 80 regional and metropolitan centres. (3km from city centre). I couldn't always manage to get 4G in North Sydney, which is only around five kilometres from Sydney's Martin Place GPO.
The HTC Velocity 4G has a large 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 540x960 pixels. The resolution is not as high as that offered by Apple's iPhone 4S and Samsung's Galaxy Network, but the display is clear and bright. It's definitely one of the better displays offered by the current generation of smartphones. The handset runs version 2.3 of Android (aka Gingerbread). On top of the standard Android user interface it runs HTC's Sense UI, which offers some fancy animations and widgets.
Inside there is a dual-core processor that runs at 1.5GHz, so the phone feels snappy. An upgrade to version 4.0 of Android (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) will make the phone feel even snappier. According to Telstra the upgrade should take place shortly.
The 8-megapixel rear camera includes a dual-LED flash and delivers great colour reproduction. It's capable of recording Full HD (1080p) video footage. The front camera can shoot 720p video.
Battery life is below average, with the phone struggling to last a full day with constant 4G coverage; it should last almost a day if you're in a regular 3G coverage zone.
Telstra offers the phone for $0 upfront on its $79 Freedom Connect plan, which includes $800 worth of calls and MMS, unlimited SMS and 2GB of data per month. It is also available on a number of business plans.
Overall the HTC Velocity is an excellent phone. But besides 4G access there's not a lot to distinguish it from competing premium smartphones, and I'm not convinced that speedy data access in itself makes it necessarily worth choosing over some of the other options on the market.
Review: Ross Catanzariti