HTC Hero vs iPhone 3G/3Gs

13 Aug 2009  43 Comments


After finally giving up my iPhone 3G (which i was enjoying apart from some trivial stuff), i got my hands on the HTC Hero.  This will not be an indepth review of both, but a basic and quick comparison as N. will post his full review of the HTC Hero soon. I will forego all the basic specs such as Wi-Fi, Quadband, bluetooth, etc. cuz every smart phone should have that.

This will not be a no holds barred duel between the 2 smart phones, i will just note some of the things that i have noticed while using both.

First of all, the looks. The iPhone looks good, but the HTC Hero looks unique. With the curve at the bottom enabling you to place it on its screen without worrying about it getting scratched. it is slightly thicker and with a slightly narrower screen than the iPhone.


The coating is made of teflon, apart from being a tough substance, it ensures your phone stays smudge and print free which is one of the annoying things on the iPhone. On the back of the HTC Hero you have a 5.0 Megapixel camera with autofocus which also serves as the video camera. 

If you are more into music, the iPhone wins hands down because of its built in iPod, but if you dont need your full music library than you wont feel the disadvantage of the Hero in that sense. There are 6 buttons on front of the phone as well as a pushable trackball. its a fully resistive touch screen, not as sensitive as the iPhone so you wont be pressing on buttons and apps by mistake.

Customization. On the Hero, there are 5 fully customizable screens besides the homescreen, which you can add apps and any kind of widget you find necessary. you can save different  ”scenes” with your setups to satisfy your needs. also, on the screen itself is the left arrow which is a showing of all the apps, and a phone button and the + button in which you can add shortcuts, htc widgets, android widgets or your own.  this customization gives it the edge over the iPhone hands down. Everything gets synced with your google account, so on your calendar widget for example on your homescreen,  you will get any update from your google calendar.

hero-iphone back

Browsing is at times very annoying in the iPhone. you try to browse with the page not fully loaded and it gets choppy or sends you back to the top after scrolling down before fully loading. the browsing in the Hero is alot easier and faster. also the Hero is flash based, so you can access flash on the websites you surf, Apple has still not implemented it as this will allow 3rd party apps to bypass the iTunes App store and release them without any cha-ching going into Stevie Jobs pocket. 

Running background apps is only possible by jailbreaking the iPhone, if you need to jailbreak a phone for a simple feature then its not worth it. HTC hero can handle alot of apps working in the background, of course it will not work at optimum speed, but coming from an iPhone i appreciate it and always close the apps i dont use to make the experience on the Hero swifter. EIther way you can  Root the device on the HTC hero which enables you to access the protected system files, its not jailbreaking but a way around some operating system protections.

The apps stores. Apple has the awesome iTunes App store, and Android have their Android Market. One is open to any developer and the other is limited in every way imaginable. This does not mean the Android Market is better. You will find many apps and widgets not available for the iPhone, but the opposite as well. Many apps are found in both such as Shazam, Backgrounds and alot of the basic apps/games. The games in the iTunes store are of a higher standard hands down. but having the freedom to select any app and install it, is also a good thing for Android. So far, i only miss some of the games from the iPhone. But you even have the dumb gun apps on Android so my son will remain happy at least. 

Social Networks. The Hero comes with direct integration to Facebook, all email accounts, exchange support, Twitter, Flickr and many of these kinds of sites where you automatically get updated with notifications whenever you have one. the instant messaging programs arent as hardcore as Beejive on the iPhone, but then again i have only explored the free apps as i have no need for any paid one just yet. so basically any kind of app in the iTunes store for 2 $ and below is free, in the Android Market.

Price. The HTC Hero costs at least 100KD less than the iPhone 3Gs 16GB. Obvious winner here is the Hero.

Battery life. Battery life in the iPhone is crap if you actually use it,  but the Hero isnt that much of a winner either, but i do push it all day with 3G on, Wi-Fi, background apps and connecting to many programs. basically i never stop messing around with the phone. but there is a catch, 3rd party developers always develop batteries which are the same dimensions yet more powerful. as HTC probably wanted the cheapest battery to keep sale prices down. so in the upcoming weeks i will be looking to upgrade my stock battery. charging is used with mini-usb, so you can go to any electronic store and buy either a socket charger or computer charger for it.


Basically, these phones are very well rivalled, if it wasnt for N. i would have probably never bought the HTC Hero,  Apple have marketed their products as well, also boasting an incredible app store and music library. these phones are very similair in specs and usage but with different UI (user interface), of course it has been only a week with this phone but so far i am very impressed and enjoying it.

i leave you below with a look at the screenshots of the different UI experiences.



iPhone 3G/3Gs

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 


HTC Hero

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆ 

UPDATE : An update to the ROM of the HTC Hero can be found at This update will eliminate the lag, fix the autofocus on the camera, and more. You can click here and see the Htc Hero with the ROM update in action. Make sure to back up your files before installing it. MyBackUp is recommended from the andorid market.

About the Author
  • M!

    I tend to disagree with most of your post as most of the issues you talk about with the iPhone is based on the 3G and not 3GS. Battery life on the 3GS is much better then the 3G it is much faster when loading applications (near instantly), as well push notification is available. As for social networks those applications are free such as flicker, facebook and so on…

    I am not saying that the Hero is a bad phone in fact i was planing on getting one. Im just saying its not the right time yet.

    Today the iPhone rules all (A.K.A the Jesus phone) who knows in the near future we all know that Android is pushing through hard BUT NOT TODAY.

    • N

      Well Apple almost screwed the iphone 3G owners with just throwing more money (intergrading a better processor and graphic chip) at the problem they had (slightly sluggish / slow performance) instead of fixing the core of the problem ( a lot of tweaking to the OS) witch left the 3G owners who wanted to upgrade to 3.0 to use the new and much awaited functionality, out of luck because of the increase of the OS’s footprint in the phone’s memory resulting in even slower phone experience.

      3GS battery life isn’t much of an improvement, because they didn’t/couldn’t fit a bigger battery in the new phone (either because of cost or fear of more explosions) they slightly tweaked the OS for a slight improvement , check out apples official chart :

      I for one, always use my internet when on the go (3G) and use of course my phone for voice calls (also via 3G) witch according to the chart didn’t gain a single minute. Plus the standby time is the same.

      As for the apps, what Triple-A is talking about was integration, its a HTC thing not an Android thing, you really have to see it to fully appreciate it. for example, if in my phone I go to my contacts and click on Triple-A, I will see all of his text msgs and email that were sent to me. and his facebook status and photo album, also his flickr album. All of that without installing a single App. and is always updating by its own, and I get notified when it does.

      And Apple’s stupid solution (push notification) really is stupid, basically its when you receive a IM notification, you QUIT what you are doing, re-launch the IM app, re-establish the connection, and answer the person who IM’d you. and the you have the really hard choice of either waiting for a reply or go back to what you were doing and do this whole drama again for every msg you receive.

      And I totally agree the the Hero is far from perfect (you will see that in my upcoming review inshalla) but its the best choice out there in my opinion.

      of course if you are an Apple fanboy, my whole comment wouldn’t make any sense :/

      P.S. I was an original iPhone and iPhone 3G owner, and played around with the iPhone 3G S, so I have some iPhone experience.

  • T.Pain

    i heard the default ring on the HTC is “i need a hero” by Bonnie Tyler, and that is whack

  • heema

    If the iphone have background processes, a complete navigation software, front 3g camera, better & replaceable battery, and an unrestricted 3g usage then it will be the ultimate touch phone !!

    except for the battery & front camera, everything is possible on the current iphone but apple can’t risk its high quality standards to drain customers money.

    I mean 2 years for cut/paste, video recording not available for Iphone 3g owners in 3.0, MMS … etc !

  • bo-shaikha

    im a gadget lover, so im completely non biased in my opinion and i actually waited a while before accepting to get my self an iphone. so i will wait for AAA to show me his hero this weekend to really know what you guys are talking about. what i can say about the apple is even though it does have things that are for financial reasons not addressed (my main issue is the flash), but the things that they marketed and included are working without any flaws. the phone doesnt let you down or dissapoint when it comes to the marketed uses, it looks cool, you can get accesories where ever you are, its basically dumb proof, you get alot of users so if you do ever have a problem look no further than apple forums and you will find the solution, it also works with other apple devices with no issues.. I have to respect apple for creating new physical ways of using your phone(shake to shuffle, the touch screen, etc..). The OS its using is purely original and didnt just replicate microsoft so i like that about the brand they are fresh when it comes to ideas. Still im not a slave to the brand so i would love to see what the hero has to offer and if they can beat apple it would be nice to see someone new (getting sick of the blackberry vs apple issue the world always needs an underdog).

  • Mix

    A good balanced review.

    I have been thinking about getting one of these 2 phones (I don’t actually own a smartphone but looking to make the switch soon). The way I see it the I-phone does not justify the price tag. What is it something like KD 320 for the 16GB model? That’s a price for a top spec laptop ! Not worth it. The other thing is, no matter how good HTC/RIM/Palm make their handsets, I doubt an existing I-phone owner would switch.

    The Android O/S has really closed the advantage Apple had so If I had to choose, it would be the HTC Magic.

    • N

      Well, me and Triple-A were iPhone owners, and we switched to the HTC Hero. And I really love it.

  • rs

    The HERO rocks!! Proud owner since 2 almost weeks now!!!
    This review is spot on!

  • Girish

    Flash on HTC Hero: It’s pretty much useless for playing video. Most of the flash content (including apps) will be too slow to be of any use. People develop native apps on iphone not because of lack of flash, but because of performance( read use of OpenGL).

    Comparing the iTunes App Store to Android store is almost a crime at this point of time. Maybe Android will get more apps, but right now ITunes App Store is way way way ahead in terms of what the user can get from it.

    I feel this article is mostly biased against iphone.

    • Triple-A

      Girish : first of all, i understand how you may think the people develop native apps for iphone because of performance not lack of flash. but i dont understand how you think flash is useless on the htc hero. the phone has flash. it works fine. end of story. keep in mind its not made for heavy duty flash use. just like any smart phone is not made to be a hardcore internet experience. after all its a phone first.

      Comparing the iTunes apps store to the Android Market is a middle weight against a heavy weight, i agree. but i never said that the itunes didnt have a bigger greater range. i said many of the apps available in the apps store are available in the android market. Most of the apps i had on the iphone i still use on the htc hero. And yes it is way way way ahead no one is disagreeing with you. Take into consideration im comparing these phones to cater my needs and the people i know.

      Finally, about this article being biased. That is your opinion. I am coming from an iPhone 3G, the upgrade to the 3GS was not and is not worth it. I loved my iPhone and i still do. And i still use it. I even still review apps for it on this blog, so your accusation is out of place.

    • N

      Girish: as Triple-A, the phone has flash and it works, its not perfect but it works and better than not having it at all. And the whole debate is about the browser having flash, apps have nothing to do with it. talking about apps will be slow makes no sense at all. most of current and last generation phones run flash, but not in the browser.

      OpenGL is mainly used for games development not mainstream apps.

      As for the AppStore vs Android Market, your right its still early but the type of apps that the android market has at the moment astonishes me, especially coming from an iphone. the developers having more control will lead to great things on the platform. Appstore has close to 80,000 apps i think, but most of them are rubbish and useless. I don’t want 10,000 IM apps just give me one that works pretty good. I used Beejive on my iphone that renders the other 9,999 useless. and the list goes on.

  • Girish

    I commented on Flash because the article says :
    “Hero is flash based, so you can access flash on the websites you surf, Apple has still not implemented it as this will allow 3rd party apps to bypass the iTunes App store and release them without any cha-ching going into Stevie Jobs pocket”

    Can you honestly say that statement is unbiased.

    • Triple-A

      Girish : if i said bill gates is a true humanitarian for donating millions to charities, does that make him and I best of friends? Apple want to make money, just like at&t ban voip to make money on paid calls, its a business and Steve jobs is heading one of the most profitable entities in the world. Itunes, Apple, MAC and Steve jobs are cool, but end of the day they and everyone else want to make money.

      • Girish

        Sure everyone wants to make money, is there anything wrong in that. I’m a windows mobile developer and I wouldn’t write a single line of code for free.

        But not enabling flash for iPhone browser was a decision purely based on performance issues, not because of app-store bypass issues.
        Infact iPhone allows to develop some really good browser based applications through which you can totally bypass the AppStore, case in point being FaceBook, Gmail, orkut, meebo and many more. iPhone allows even the browser apps to store data locally on phone through app-cache, use the GPS through geo-location APIs etc.

  • Girish

    On the Social Networking section: I never had to spend even a single dollar for anything on iPhone, be it yahoo messenger, facebook, twitter, all have brilliant free apps for iPhone.

    I want to buy the HTC hero when it is released in our country, and it is definitely a good competitor to iPhone, HTC hero is decidedly better than iPhone in some aspects – background apps etc, but berating iPhone unnecessarily is not justified.

    • Triple-A

      Girish : i love the iphone i was not berating it at all, but all i did was say my opinion about something. i have read in more than one place the reason they negated flash from the iphone is it can act as a loophole to bypass the app store. but either way, thanks for your input as well, it was very informative. about people making money, there is nothing wrong with that, that was my point. good luck with your windows mobile developing career.

      about social networking on the iphone, you are correct. the iphone has no rivals when it comes to apps for social networking. but the $9.99 beejive, which i reviewed earlier in the blog, is probably the best all in one messenger around on any platform (on the iphone that is). but like u said, there are many free apps like facebook, twitter, meebo, fring, nimbuzz and others which are great for social networking. The hero’s social networking apps are nothing compared to those of the iphones, but it wins with its integration of these networks into the phone itself such as contacts, email etc. All apple need is to get the background apps working without killing the battery, either way i will buy the next iphone, i just didnt think the upgrade from 3G to 3GS was worth it.

      the music player on the hero is just like any other music player. i didnt use my ipod on the iphone 3g much to tell you the truth but im using the player on the hero more since i can just download any mp3 for free. i use TuneWiki which i also reviewed recently as my music player. its easy, simple and caters to all my needs as a music player. you can read the review and if you want to know anything else more specific just ask.

  • Girish

    OK, besides the debate, How is the music player.
    I love music on the go. I want to know if browsing through large collection is easy on the Hero.
    Please review the Hero’s media player, would love to know more about it.

  • Triple-A

    UPDATE : HTC Hero and other HTC devices can be found at

    they will be about 15% more expensive than other places but they have availability.

  • Naveen

    One of the best review i have seen. Apple is stupid in selling the carrier locked phones. Even if u pay full money you cant get a phone which is unlocked except those few countries. So either they assume people to stay in their own country and not travel anywhere.

    I hope HTC improves and teaches apple a lesson. Apple you have the best product in the world without the basic freedom.

    • Triple-A

      Naveen : thank you. keep in mind apple werent sure how the reception of the iphone would be, so they entered a deal with AT&T in order to protect themselves. if they had known it would have been such a huge hit and go back in time, they would have changed that i think.

      • QuentinJS

        I believe that they initially went to Verizon and were more or less laughed out of the room….. ooops….

  • Naveen

    Hi Triple-A , i do not agree with you completely because , apple did that even in markets where it introduced a year later. Eg: In India there was no 2G phone introduced and strightaway 3G got introuced first in 2008 Aug and no subsidy and you get a locked phone by paying full money.

    And again you get warranty only in the country of purchase which is sort of bad.(unless you buy a apple protection plan)

    • Triple-A

      hi again Naveen, even in kuwait it was sold similairly as in india where you buy it at your own risk unlocked. but that was because apple never officially catered it to kuwait. on the other hand in saudi arabia and the uae it was sold under telecom providers similair to the way it was in the US. dont forget, that their aim was the US first, thats why the 2g never made it to india in the first place. They signed a lucrative deal with at&t not knowing how far sales would take them if they sold them at their high prices. unlocked 3gs phones are being sold for more than 1000 dollars in kuwait. at these prices they would have gambled with sales, unless they signed deals with a telecom provider, like they did with at&t. but now they know how much of a demand there is on the iphone, so they will not be renewing the deal with them. so we can just wait and see what happens with their new phone. i enjoyed the iphone with all its flaws, but i cant wait for a huge upgrade. this is just my theory of it all, but i understand what you are trying to say. did you buy the htc hero?

  • Naveen

    In India they launched it throuch official providers vodafone and airtel in 2008 still locked after paying full money. What I am saying here is that , this has to be blamed on Apple and not AT&T because apple has done this in every country except where law prevents it, even in 2008 1 year after launching iphone and after it was a proven success

    I was using a 3GS now in UK now and sold it bcoz am going back to India. ina dilemma to buy HTC hero or 3G now or wait for 3gs because its not introduced in India yet or maybe a unlcoked one from Australia or hongkong and ebay. Too many things to consider but this make HTC hero attractive because it would cost me 50% less, when i buy a unlcoked one.

  • Jayadev

    I was eagerly waiting for new HTC Hero and now after reading his i was rely impressed and its now favorite now, and i have seen so many reviews now regarding these two spectacular phones and each have their own places in market now.

  • joooc

    Thank you all for a great review, not in the article only but also including all the comments here. I went through several similar reviews, blogs and/or promo pages and what I can tell you – tomorrow finally I’m going to buy that super sexy HTC Hero too.

    iPhone was the only one serious opponent so far and I’ve almost decided to buy 3G or 3GS, but the reviews and also my friends experiences are better fot HTC Hero. I’m really looking forward to it :-) Once more, thank you all – great article and discussion.

  • Andy Troyer

    I’ve tried both the Hero and the iphone to do comparisons and I do believe the weaknesses of the Hero were definitely glossed over and the strengths of the iphone were downplayed. Basically my experience was that there are some nice things about the Hero with it’s customization and slick widgets. The things I have difficulty leaving behind if I were to stick with the Hero are the iphone app store (10X the apps than Hero Market) and even though Apple is restrictive the plus is that there are some really robust apps out there that the Hero really doesn’t have. What was amazing from the review and comments above was the statement that the browser was faster on the Hero. This is the first review I’ve even heard this stated because all other reviews I’ve seen say the Hero browser is slow and unresponsive. After trying it out for myself this is VERY TRUE that it is slow. I really miss the fast response of the iphone when pinching to zoom in and out. The double tap to zoom-in works fine but the browser seems too unresponsive to do much else. It might be the flash slowing things down considerably but not sure since the slowness was on every website I tried. I really wanted to like the Hero because I like Sprint much better than AT&T for what you get in your plan for free over AT&T (Sprint TV, Navigation, 7pm nights, call ANY mobile, etc. ) that AT&T can’t come close to… Oh I wish the Hero were better or at least good enough to make me forget the pluses of the iphone!

    • Goldie

      What’s the deal with the Android apps? From what I can gather, with the iPhone ones you have to pay for pretty much all of them. Are most of the Android ones free as it’s an open source platform? I guess there will be some commercial ones too but I’d certainly choose free apps over paid ones, as long as the quality is not too bad.

  • mobiles2money

    I think for me it’s going to all boil down to price. I like both phones, from the brief play I’ve had in the shops, and they both seem to pretty much do what I want. As you say, the iPhone is better at doing music and I may well need that feature more in the future, but not at present. The apps I would look to get seem to be available for both but with the Android ones being free – another bonus! But, it’s down to cash. Cheapest iPhone contract is something like £30 a month for 24 months and almost £200 for the handset. 3 are offering me the Hero as an upgrade for £69 initial cost, then at just £20 a month for 12 months. I think that’s a clincher! I can then just sell the handset after 12 months and get an iPhone if I don’t get on with the Hero as well as I hope to.

  • Franny

    Good review. I had the option of iphone 3G or HTC Hero.

    I got the Hero and am glad I did. Only problem was the restriction where it installs apps on it’s own memory so you can only install a certain number of apps until the memory runs out…

    Easy way to solve this was to root the phone and install a custom rom like Cyanogens or the Modaco one. I’m currently using the modaco ROM 2.9 and it’s doubled the speed of my hero!!

    Interested to know if you guys use stock ROMs or have tried the custom ROMs which also enable you to increase the volume etc

  • jayu

    Goldie: most apps are either free or have lite versions which most of the time are sufficient. The ones u have to pay for are usually $5 or cheaper.
    I think android 2.1 will allow dling apps to the sd card. Im not sure though.
    Ive only had the phone for 2 wks and so far im very pleased with it. The browser was a bit laggy when playing mafia wars on fb tho but thats a hog

  • griffin


    Three months down the line with your HTC Hero, do you still feel the same about it? I came across this review and found it rather balanced. I am making the switch to either iPhone or HTC later today and your article will probably way me towards HTC.

    • Triple-A

      griffin, 3 months down the line its still like i wrote in the review, but in comparison with the other phones in the market now, you have the Motorolla Droid and Nexus One with much better specs and the updated Android 2.1 software. I will probably go with the Nexus One due to its much faster processor. You can check out a quick review we did by clicking on the link below.

  • Gigis

    the hero has a capacitive screen not resistive :)

    • N

      you are absolutely correct. its a capacitive touchscreen with a slightly notched down sensitivity :)

  • jonno

    Well I am into 4 months using a hero and the love affair is waning. I loved the feel of it, it sits in your hand beautifully, it does not feel like a brick in your pocket (iPhone) and it has the wonderful Back browser type button. Wonderful. The backups you can do to the SD card are great (with bought app)

    Well I am getting irritated with it now. The problem is primarily the touch screen and the awful internet/browser connection. The touch Screen has turned out to be really cludgy and difficult cf iPhone. And now after a month where the calibration has gone wonky, I am sending the thing back for warranty work.

    I love Android and the options it offers over the iPhone but fraid it was a delight to put my SIM back in the iPhone and get a responsive and easy touch interface even though UI wise the iPhone is worse

  • jatin

    i’m planning 2 buy a phone n confused between i phone 3g and htc hero plz guide as soon as possible ??????

  • bread

    Hey guys listen. Cut the iphone and htc fanboy sake. Iphones are good. HTC is better.
    I got both but HTC always in my pocket wherever I go.

  • larry

    Brand new, never used.
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    This is a brand new never used Iphone 3GS . Still has the sticker on it with pictures to prove it. Comes with a full year warranty along with an extra in box never used pouch.
    Brand New and unlocked to all networks..
    Comes with full 12 months international warranty.
    Sealed with complete accessories.
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  • wamps

    i have a question…. how did you transfer your contacts from your iphone to the htc hero? i am using custom fields for my iphone, to be able to manage them much better, but later found out that i can’t transfer them to outlook… only the name gets transfered…
    is there a way to get around this? thanks

  • Kathy

    I have owned an HTC Hero for 6 months and I would never replace it with an Iphone. I love my Hero. It works great for getting my emails, twitters and internet on the go. I also love and use the camera and video camera a lot too. Plus the phone service is good too.

  • Chris Anderson

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  • yo

    i think they are both awesome


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