HTC Merge Review
By Fred Salva
- February 28, 2011
Pros: The HTC Merge features a SIM card slot which makes it a device that can be used for international roaming. It has a nice camera that can play and record HD videos.
Cons: The HTC Mergeís QWERTY slider was not the easiest to use & I have experienced better keyboards. Its call quality was disappointing on some of my roaming calls as well.
The HTC Merge is a popular device from the brand that boasts with a QWERTY slider and 4G capabilities. It is also one of the few CDMA world cell phones here in the U.S. It sports a 3.8-inch multitouch screen, and is powered by an 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It has a 5-megapixel camera which is capable of playing and recording HD videos and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The HTC Merge also has a SIM card slot beneath its back cover for slipping in an international SIM Card. Honestly, I did encounter some design problems with HTC Merge, but then again it is of decent value of $149.99 with a new two-year contract and after a mail-in rebate. This device is on par with U.S. Cellular's offerings like the Samsung Mesmerize which is also priced at $149.99, but it pales in comparison with AT&T's HTC Inspire 4G. The brand should have made the device with the standard 4.3 incher screen, and I do not really like it to be thick, and heavy bodied. Anyway, it has dimensions of 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick. It weighs 7 ounces which is not that lightweight at all, but then again, it has a brushed aluminum on its back cover and some rimmings the phone face. It has the brandís trademark look and feel with a few red accents that accentuates the speaker, keyboard buttons, and Search button. I also like the soft-touch finish which contrasts with the cooler metal. You can see the four touch-sensitive buttons below the Merge's WVGA display. It is said that the screen is capable of rendering up to 800x480 pixels of resolution. When you received new messages, its small green indicator will shine from the top left of the device's face. On the left spine you will find the HTC Mergeís volume rocker and Micro-USB charging port. Its power button and the standard 3.5mm headset jack are up top. On the back you will see the deviceís 5-megapixel camera and LED flash & just below the back cover you will see the microSD card slot. The HTC Merge comes with an 8GB card preinstalled, but it can hold up to 32GB total. It has no dedicated camera shutter button which is kind of disappointing. Beneath its cover is the SIM card slot that makes this device a world phone. The HTC Merge will not work with SIM cards from GSM carriers, but it will work if you will be able to slide in a GSM SIM card if you're out of the country. I had some difficulty with its sliding mechanism, one more thing.. It did feel a bit stiff in my hands. The deviceís rounded corners often fell in all the wrong places for my fingers, and left me frequently fumbling just to access its keyboard, at least until i got used to it. Its QWERTY keyboard area is small, which only spans just over an inch. It has fully separated keys that really never felt too small to my hands, but they did feel a bit flat. Just above the keyboard, there are 2 lights that will indicate if the caps and function keys are on. Like other HTC devices, this once includes the Sense interface. It has Sense 1.6 though, instead of Sense 2.3. But then again, it still has the usual seven customizable home screens that are preloaded with applications and widgets. The HTC Merge runs Android 2.2 Froyo, but U.S. Cellular confirms that there will be an Android 2.3 Gingerbread update soon. In the meantime, the Android 2.2 Froyo gives you lots of features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Other features include speakerphone, voice dialing, text, and MMS. It also features a dedicated mobile hot-spot app, social networking, and the usual personal organizer tools. It also comes with Google services like Gmail, Google Talk, Navigation, Places, Google search, YouTube, and Latitude. There are also downloadable apps like Picasa, and thousands of games from Android Market. HTC and U.S. Cellular also have their own custom apps for the device like the City ID, a second Navigation app, Twitter app Peep, Footprints, Contact Backup, App Sharing, Flashlight and U.S. Cellular's Tone Room Deluxe online ringtone store. Other salient features include an FM radio, Quickoffice productivity program, and a music app that features album art. It has a 5 MP shooter that takes clear, colorful outdoor photos. It can playback and record videos as well at 720P. Cool huh? I tested the dual-band HTC Merge (CDMA 800/1900) in our area using U.S. Cellular's roaming network and the call quality was great. No background noise and disconnections. Speakerphone sounded OK on both ends, and even sounded better to one caller. Line was clear, no background noise, and the audio was loud as well. It is powered by an 800MHz Qualcomm MSM 7630 processor and even though it is just single core, I have no complaints about its overall system performance. I was able to stream videos without a problem as well. Loading websites took 30 to 40 seconds which is quite fast for me. It ships with a a 1400mAh lithium ion battery, which is rated for up to 20 days of stand by time and 6.8 hours of talk time. My tests showed a talk time of 6.5 hours. As per FCC tests, the HTC Merge has a digital SAR of 0.72 w/kg.