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HTC Inspire 4G

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Carrier: AT&T
Manufacturer: HTC
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What's hot: Fast, huge display, elegant materials and HTC Sense software at a low price.

What's not: GPS on our unit had issues indoors, battery life just passable.


Reviewed February 6, 2011 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

The HTC Inspire 4G is one of our favorite HTC Android phones to hit the market in the past several months. The Aspire 4G is the US counterpart to the HTC Desire HD overseas, and it packs high end specs and luxurious build materials for a very affordable $99 with contract on AT&T. The Inspire 4G has a monumental 4.3”, 800 x 480 SLCD display, a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon second generation CPU, HSPA+ 4G (though not as fast as LTE 4G coming later this year to AT&T) and an 8 megapixel camera that shoots 720p video.  The only things missing from a complete superphone recipe are a front facing camera and a dual core Tegra 2 CPU. Still, the Inspire is quite fast, and in fact it’s one of the fastest among Android phones shipping as of this writing. The HTC Inspire 4G will be available Feb. 13 2011.

HTC Inspire 4G

The Inspire runs Android OS 2.2 Froyo with the latest version of HTC Sense software. Sense continues to be our favorite Android enhancement among manufacturer customizations. It’s tasteful, full of useful widgets and social networking software, and this latest version has a web counterpart you can use to back up settings, find your phone, remote wipe your phone and more.

Design and Ergonomics

It’s easy to see the Inspire 4G’s roots in the HTC HD2, HTC HD7 and HTC EVO 4G that use the same slim super-slab design with a 4.3” display and liberal use of metal. The HTC Inspire 4G’s casing is made of a single piece of metal—it’s a unibody aluminum alloy design that looks lovely and expensive. The battery door is less than lovely: it’s extremely hard to get off, at least the first few times, and it’s prone to nicks if you pry at it (as you must). The SIM card and microSD card slots are under another plastic cover that slides off toward the bottom. It’s firm but not nearly impossible to remove like the battery cover. Hint: to remove the battery cover, find someone with fingernails and have them pull from the volume rocker area rather than just from the inset pull-off area.

HTC Inspire 4G

The phone has the usual Android backlit capacitive buttons below the display and they work quite well. The power button is up top and the large volume rocker is on the side. We greatly prefer this arrangement to Samsung’s where the power button is on the opposing side of the volume controls; you end up hitting both at once if not careful. Though large, the 5.78 ounce Inspire is comfortable to hold and it feels great in hand. Those of you who hate slippery plastic phones with find the HTC both attractive and easy to keep a hold of. If you haven’t owned a large display phone, it does feel like a pocketful; this isn’t a phone that tucks discreetly away in a tight front pocket.

4G and Calling

The HTC Inspire is AT&T’s first 4G HSPA+ phone. Some may argue whether HSPA+ with its 14.4 to 21MBps top download speeds is true 4G. The standards body has declared it so (perhaps begrudgingly), and on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ we’ve found it extremely fast. Though our phone says we’ve got HSPA+ coverage (there’s an “H+" in the status bar), we haven’t seen speeds comparable to T-Mobile’s 5 to 8Mbps down. Our phone averaged 1.7 to 3Mpbs down and 300k to 1Mbps up with a solid -77db signal: that’s in the range of a 3G HSDPA 7.2Mpbs phone like the iPhone 4 and Samsung Captivate on a good day.  We’ll see if speeds increase as AT&T continues to build out their backhaul. That said, those numbers make for a fast Internet experience, and web pages, apps and email download very quickly. This is the first phone on AT&T to get the mobile Hotspot feature where you can turn the Inspire 4G into a WiFi access point that shares its 4G connection (the iPhone 4 will get this feature via an update on the Inspire’s 2/13/2011 release date). The feature is extremely easy to use and you can set encryption type, name the access point and assign a password. In our tests, we got up to 3Mpbs down and 1Mpbs up with our notebook using the Inspire 4G as its WiFi access point.




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Call quality is excellent with full and clear voice on both ends. Volume is quite good as well, though we found the speakerphone a little thin sounding and we wish it were a bit louder for multimedia playback.  As a voice phone, the HTC Inspire is up there with our top voice phones on AT&T such as the BlackBerry Torch and Samsung Focus.

Horsepower and Performance

The HTC uses Qualcomm’s second generation 1GHz Snapdragon QSD8255 CPU with a whopping 768 megs of RAM. The phone has 4 gigs of internal storage but only a bit over a gig is free for your use.  As with the HTC T-Mobile G2, the Inspire has rather a large ROM that self restores if need be, and this uses a good deal of the internal flash storage. AT&T includes an 8 gig microSD card that’s pre-installed in the phone and you can use a higher capacity card if you wish.

The Inspire scored an impressive 1719 on the Quadrant benchmark app that tests the CPU, 2D and 3D graphics and flash storage performance. In comparison, the HTC EVO Shift 4G with a second gen 800MHz Snapdragon scored 1369, the Samsung Nexus S scored 1648 and the Samsung Captivate running Android 2.1 scored 869.

Subjectively, the phone feels very fast with no lags or slow downs.  Flash playback showed better frame rates than we’ve seen in other Froyo + Flash 10.1 Android smartphones, and we found it actually watchable, though still slow to respond to on-screen player controls (watch our video review to see it in action). 3D games are fluid and locally stored video with MPEG4 files up to 800 x 480 resolution encoded at 2Mbps or higher played perfectly. Though you might not feel like the hottest geek in the office once dual core Tegra 2 Android phones hit the market, experientially you won’t suffer from weak performance with the Inspire 4G.

HTC Inspire 4G

Video Review

Here's our video review of the HTC Inspire 4G. We take a look around the device, test out Flash playback, video playback, 3D gaming and show HTC Sense software.


Display and Multimedia

Who doesn’t love a large display? The 4.3” SLCD display on the Inspire is currently the largest used on traditional form factor smartphones. It’s perfect for watching videos and reading web page text without lots of pinch zooming or squinting. The display is very sharp with good looking text and colorful images. Though not as super-saturated as Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays, we didn’t find ourselves pining for our Nexus S with Super AMOLED. For those of you who’ve checked out out the display on the HTC HD7 (also 4.3”), the Inspire’s is much better with higher contrast, stronger colors and wider viewing angles.

HTC improves upon the basic Android media players and that’s a good thing. The music player features a cover flow presentation and sound is enhanced with Dolby + SRS Mobile. Dolby adds a bit of bass and improves channel separation (noticeable with headphones more than the speaker). The Inspire has an FM radio with good reception that as per usual uses the wired headset as its antenna but you’ll have to supply your own headset since none is included. The video player is tweaked to add a Dolby button and as we noted, playback of locally stored MPEG4 movies was flawless.

AT&T includes their Live TV app, powered by MobiTV. This includes streaming content from news and sports sources and on-demand downloadable full TV episodes. The service costs $9.99/month and requires a WiFi connection for downloadable full episodes and we’d love to see it on the HTC’s large display, but the service wasn’t ready before the device’s official release.

The HTC Inspire supports DLNA but there’s no HDMI port for output to a TV or projector.

HTC Sense and Other Software

AT&T used restraint and didn’t litter the Inspire 4G with bloatware. AT&T Navigator, AT&T Family Locator, AT&T Barcode Scanner, myAT&T, Live TV and YPmobile are on board from AT&T, and we count only YPmobile as bloatware. AT&T and HTC have also included Twitter, Facebook, Blockbuster, Adobe Reader and Quickoffice (MS Office suite).

HTC’s Sense software include their well-known home screen clock with embedded weather widget (yes it snows on the home screen), Friendstream (an excellent social networking widget that streams Facebook, flickr and Twitter updates), wireless control widgets, an RSS reader widget with lots of pre-loaded options but weak controls for adding non-stock feeds, Voice Recorder, HTC Likes, HTC Hub (download free widgets, themes and sounds) and Footprints. Other goodies include a call history app, caller blocking, a very cool desk clock with day and night modes, flashlight and HTC’s customization of contacts (People) that does an excellent job of linking your contacts with your social networking pals (you can choose which contacts to link). 

The usual Google apps are here including Google Maps, Navigation, Latitude and Places, Gmail, email (POP3/IMAP and MS Exchange), the webkit web browser, voice dialing, YouTube, Reader (Google’s eBook Reader), Google Search/voice search and Gtalk. The Android Market is here for app downloads but alas, as per usual AT&T has blocked installation of non-market apps. That means you can install apps from the Android Market to your heart’s content but you won’t be able to install from alternative markets or test beta software that’s available on the developer’s website rather than the market.

GPS and Camera

The good news first: HTC’s 8 megapixel shooter with dual LED flash takes very good photos and videos when lighting is decent. The dual LED flash is reticent and we wish it would fire more often indoors to prevent blurry and grainy shots.  That said, the flash is blinding when it does fire and it tends to white out light colored objects.  You can select the focus area by moving the green focus box around the viewfinder using your finger and you’ll take a photo by pressing the on-screen shutter button. Given the phone’s large size, it’s easy to accidentally move the phone when taking a photo, so use extra care to keep it still. The camera application has a full array of settings and is intuitive to use. The camera can shoot video up to 1280 x 720 and video looks quite sharp.

The Inspire 4G’s GPS was spot on indoors with decently quick fixes as long as we left WiFi on (you need not be connect to an access point, just leave it turned on). When we turned WiFi off, fixes were pitifully slow indoors, if we got a fix at all. Strange. Outdoors when driving the GPS managed to obtain and hold a fix perfectly and both Google Navigation and AT&T Navigator performed well in our tests.

Battery Life

The HTC Inspire 4G has a 1230 mAh Lithium Ion battery, and that’s not a terribly high capacity battery for a powerful smartphone with a large display. We found we had to charge the phone by 10pm with moderate use. Heavy use (watching 45 minutes of video, several email accounts checking email, and hour of calls and 30 minutes of navigation) killed the battery by 7pm. If you get significantly poorer runtimes, download a task manager and check to see what’s eating your battery.


AT&T and HTC have a winner in the HTC Inspire 4G. It’s a high end phone with a mid-tier price, and the quality, speed, materials and grand display are simply wonderful. Call quality is top notch and data speeds are solid though AT&T hasn’t yet reached T-Mobile’s HSPA+ or Verizon’s LTE speeds.  The Inspire can handle MS Office, email and the web as well as serious multimedia playback, making it the perfect crossover device. We’re a little worried about the GPS’ problems obtaining a fix indoors when WiFi is off, and we wish the loudspeaker was as impressive as Samsung’s offerings for multimedia playback, but there are workarounds (turn on WiFi when using the GPS indoors and use headphones for a fuller experience). Battery life isn’t stellar, but the HTC Inspire 4G can last a day with moderate use and certainly beats the HTC EVO 4G for runtimes. All in all, the HTC Inspire 4G is a steal.

Pro: Fast, huge display, elegant materials at a low price. HTC Sense software is our favorite. Very good camera.

What's not: 4G HSPA+ on AT&T isn't impressing us yet. GPS on our unit had issues indoors but was fine outdoors, battery life just passable.


Price: $99 with 2 year contract


HTC Inspire 4G





HTC Inspire 4G




HTC Inspire 4G



Display: 4.3" 800 x 480 capacitive multi-touch display. Supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer, has ambient light sensor and proximity sensor.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1230 mAh.

Performance: Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255 CPU with Adreno 205 graphics. 768 megs RAM and 4 gigs flash storage (1 gig available).

Size: 4.47 x 2.78 x 0.53 inches. Weight: 4.67 ounces.

Phone: GSM quad band world phone with HSPA+ on AT&T's 850/1900MHz bands.

Camera: 8 MP with autofocus lens and dual LED flash. Can shoot video up to 720p resolution.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

Software: Android OS 2.2 Froyo with HTC Sense software. HTC software includes clock/weather widget, RSS news reader widget, Friendstream and Footprints. AT&T software: Live TV, AT&T Navigator (TeleNav), AT&T Family Map, myAT&T and YPmobile. 3rd party software: Blockbuster, Adobe Reader and Quickoffice (MS Office suite).

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot, 8 gig card included.


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