Hero owner here. I had iPhone envy but am stuck with a Sprint contract for a few more months and my old flip phone gave up the ghost. I was toying with the idea of the Pre and even went down to the Sprint store to play with it a few times, but it felt flimsy in my hands and reports of screen cracks were popping up… and the one big thing the Pre had going for it in my book, a physical keyboard, was too tiny for my fat fingers to use properly.
So I waited for a month for the Hero to come out. I’d been reading about Android and liked the idea behind it. I went to the Sprint store again to play with it and it felt sturdy and rugged. The Hero has the HTC Sense modified android interface and I was sold on how easy it was to use. The everything plan I got for it had unlimited data, texting and mobile to mobile calls for about $5/month what I was paying for my old phone with a data plan. So the idea became get a placeholder for my smartphone until my contract was up so I could move to AT&T and get an iPhone.
I have to say, Sprint may keep me as a customer with the Hero. I love the UI, the performance of the phone has gotten nice and snappy with a firmware update in November, Android phones multitask (which means phone calls don’t interrupt applications, and you can surf, browse, text, play games etc. though the more you have open the slower things go.)… In my book it’s a keeper.
Big bonus for me: I’m a Google guy – mail, calendar and apps. The Hero syncs with google flawlessly and stores the info in the phone. I just entered my gmail account and it was all at my fingertips. Even better, when I had to do a hard reset on my phone, I didn’t have to re-enter my contacts because they were all stored on the web. The last time it happened I couldn’t call people for a week as I re-input phone numbers. This time, it synced and I was back in business. Beautiful!
Sprint navigation also comes with the Hero. It has built in traffic and voice entry and works well enough that my Garmin Nuvi is going to be put up for adoption this Christmas.
The music player interface isn’t stellar, but the sound quality is great. Actually, the sound quality overall has been the best I’ve had on any phone for calls, speakerphone or music.
Hero also has built-in Facebook integration if you’re into that. The phone list on the computer will show peoples’ facebook photo and status update if you want it to. At first it seemed kind of gimmicky, but I like it now.
Drawbacks: power consumption. If you have GPS going it will run down. Also, there was a bug in the OS where it was always kept awake even if the screen was dark which bleed batteries dry. This has been remedied for the most part, but I do have to charge my Hero at least once a day, and I am now in the habit of plugging it in at work. Small plus: the charger is USB so I just use a cable tethered to my laptop. If you sync with a computer, it will charge as well.
Another drawback: Hero is running Android 1.5, and is not due to get 2.1 until the “first half of 2010.” Even though Hero is Android, the Sense UI has to be re-written for it and could be out from 0 to 6 months from now.
Final drawback: it’s too easy to pocket dial. There is a locking screen that can be bypassed if you press the call button twice, which seems to happen a lot when I’ve got it in my jeans pocket. That’s more user error than anything else - I hate carrying around a holster that would easily remedy the issue.
I still have some iPhone envy with my friends, mainly for lack of certain apps that the iPhone has and Android doesn’t (yet) but most of the biggies are there and more and more show up every day, and the phone itself seems more capable than its Apple counterpart. Of course you were wanting to know Hero vs Pre and not Hero vs iPhone, and for me the winner in that battle was Hero by a landslide. It’s a great phone.