HTC Merge Review - The Newest HTC Smartphone With a Slide Out Keyboard

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HTC Merge Review

The HTC Merge is yet another Android powered slider from HTC, similar to the recently released HTC EVO Shift 4G. The HTC Merge was unveiled at CTIA 2011 and, while not as turbocharged as the other smartphones unveiled, it still stood out as a decent smartphone. The HTC Merge comes with a full slide out physical QWERTY keyboard and is a CDMA phone. This means the HTC Merge could be heading to either Verizon or Sprint but not AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S. market.

HTC Merge Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 4.74 x 2.43 x 0.59 inches (120 x 62 x 15 mm)
  • Weight: 6.98 oz (198 g)
  • Display: 3.8 inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
  • Memory: 1 GB with expandable up to 32 GB MicroSD
  • OS: Android OS 2.2
  • Processor: 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM 7630
  • Camera: 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and 720p recording
  • Connectivity: CDMA Dual Band (800/1900 Mhz)
  • Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1, Stereo Bluetooth
  • GPS: GPS with A-GPS
  • Battery: Li-Ion 1400 mAh

Design and Display (3 out of 5)

HTC Merge Review

The HTC Merge doesn’t offer anything too special in terms of design or display, but it doesn’t fail horribly at it either. Like other HTC smartphones currently released, the HTC Merge had solid build construction and felt solid in the hand. It was a bit on the heavier side which, for some people is welcome. The Samsung Captivate for instance is extremely light while the HTC Merge feels just a bit more meaty.

The HTC Merge has the standard candy bar design, dominated by a 3.8 inch LCD display. The display itself was colorful but when compared to the S-LCD screen on the HTC EVO 3D or Super AMOLED Plus screen on the Samsung Galaxy S 2, the HTC Merge does come off a bit dull. Underneath the display are the standard well known Android shortcuts for home, menu, back and search. To the left resides the volume rocker and microUSB, while the right remains bare. Up top is the standard power / lock button and the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Slide the display over and the full physical QWERTY keyboard appears. Unlike the T-Mobile G2, or Samsung Epic 4G, it doesn’t have a spring loaded mechanism, it truly is a slider. The keyboard itself is well made and the keys are easy to find and feel. If there’s one thing the HTC Merge has done exceptionally well, it’s the physical QWERTY keyboard.

Hardware and Software (3 out of 5)

The HTC Merge comes with a second generation 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM 7630, which makes it clock in at very similar speeds to the T-Mobile G2. While not a powerhouse like the other newer announced smartphones, the HTC Merge still has what it takes to remain somewhat of a competitor. It unfortunately only comes with 1 GB of internal storage, which is a bit of a disappointment but it can be made up with the expandable 32 GB microSD slot.

The HTC Merge runs on Android 2.2, another bit of disappointment as competitors such as the Nexus S, Galaxy S 4G, and HTC EVO 3D all come preloaded with Android 2.3. Hopefully Sense does not prevent the HTC Merge from receiving Android 2.3 sooner rather than later. Overall the hardware and software are average but for this year, it truly borders on the average line, with newer smartphones being that much more powerful.

User Interface (3 out of 5)

The HTC Merge has an extremely easy to use interface due to it being a touchscreen smartphone. Like other Android powered handsets, the HTC Merge truly is no different when it comes to ease of use. The HTC Merge does excel outside of the software with its full physical QWERTY keyboard. The keys are nice and solid, and have a nice tactile feel to them. Simple touches such as the red colored secondary functions for punctuations and numbers make the keyboard stand out. The keys are also spaced out a bit more, making it a notch better than the Samsung Epic 4G.

The disappointing aspect is the fact that Bing has been made the default search engine. While Google applications can be downloaded from the Android Market, it is a bit of an annoyance to see that if Verizon manages to seal the deal and take the HTC Merge, that it will be defaulted to Bing. It’s a small thing, but for some, the small things are what make or break a smartphone.

Features (3 out of 5)

The HTC Merge comes with a 5 megapixel camera, capable of recording 720p video.

HTC Merge Review

While that’s nothing new in the smartphone market at this time, it’s still a decent addition to the phone. At times, the camera on the HTC Merge is easily capable of replacing a separate digital camera or digital video recorder. The pictures did seem slightly dull but overall decent.

In addition to the camera, the HTC Merge, like all other Android powered smartphones, has free access to the Android Market. This gives the HTC Merge access to over 100,000 applications, both free and paid and, with the recent release of the Amazon App Store, the HTC Merge has yet another portal to receive new applications.

Another interesting aspect of the HTC Merge is that it is a global smartphone, much like the Motorola Droid 2 Global. While the main build of the HTC Merge makes it a CDMA smartphone, it does have a slot for SIM cards, allowing you to use it on a GSM network. This does not mean you can just jump on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks, but it does mean you can use the HTC Merge in other places around the world such as Europe.

The Final Verdict (3 out of 5)

Overall the HTC Merge ranks in as a truly “Average” smartphone in today’s market. If the HTC Merge had been released at least a year earlier, it would’ve looked much more impressive, but at a time where smartphones are pushing the limits of innovation and speed, the HTC Merge really has a hard time standing out. While the physical keyboard was an impressive little addition, especially due to it being designed well, the other aspects of the Merge make it falter a bit. If the Merge targets entry to mid-level markets, it may succeed in overtaking smartphones such as the LG Optimus T, but if it aims at the high end market, it could easily be forgotten.