Monday, March 7, 2011

The HTC Inspire 4G Battery Cover Is Trying to Kill Me

   I decided it was time to upgrade from my Blackberry Bold 9000, which has served me well for 2 years now, to a decent Android phone. I played around with writing a MIDP app, but I really want to try and learn Java in the Android environment. I've been messing around with the Android SDK and emulator for months now, and have written small AIR apps and tested them on friends phones. I played around with my sisters broken old iPhone running iDroid and I wanted a real Android phone for myself. I badly wanted one with a keyboard, but since I'm stuck on AT&T thanks to a family plan contract and they don't have any high-end Android phones with keyboards I had to compromise on that requirement.  Of course, now that I've bought a touchscreen-only phone I expect a high-end Android with a slide-out qwerty keyboard for AT&T to be announced any day now.

   Anyways, I now have an HTC Inspire 4G, which I got for $70 off Amazon. I figure the low price compensates for the lack of a hardware keyboard and the phone is pretty spiffy overall, with one really serious flaw: the battery cover is impossible to open.

   The battery slot is covered by this little piece of plastic that is a pain to remove. I tried and tried to pry it off according to the directions in the quickstart guide that comes with the phone, and then I followed tips people wrote online (this should not be something that requires online help!) and finally managed to open the damn thing using a small eyeglasses screwdriver. Only problem is that I had to use so much force I ended up stabbing myself in the finger with the screwdriver after it opened the battery slot! Oh, and the slot has a small dent in it now from the screwdriver, but after 20+ minutes of breaking my fingernails trying to open the thing correctly I'm willing to live with that. It's my fault I stabbed myself but it's just a terrible design, a quick Google search shows I'm not the only person who got frustrated with the battery cover.

I stabbed myself with a screwdriver opening that battery cover

   Other than the battery problem I'm impressed with the Inspire so far. I tried out Admiral Gobi in the Android emulator and a friends phone but it was nice to see it on my own device. As I improve and make better Flash games I'll bring them over as AIR apps and share them with friends. Eventually as my Java improves I'll try to write non-AIR apps. It should be a lot more fun to learn a language and API when I can run my own apps on my own phone. Too bad that AT&T disables installing from non-market sources but I know my way around the SDK and adb well enough to work around that annoying limitation.

   The phone is good overall, but I think whoever at HTC is responsible for the design of the battery cover on the Inspire 4G should get yelled at in person by someone. I wouldn't call for a person to get fired, but a good screaming session should teach the designer/engineer responsible a lesson. A phone with such a small capacity battery and such a large power hungry screen should really have been designed to make it easier to swap out the battery on the go.

Update: According to this thread on XDA, HTC will send a replacement battery cover to you if yours broke while you were trying to remove it.

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