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The plastic handset is a little slippery, but otherwise a good fit for most hands. The edges on the back are more obvious than those we normally see, with an angled back compared to the soft curved style that graces smartphones and aims to make them smaller.

The 4.5 inch screen dominates the front of the device, with four light-up soft buttons – Home, Menu, Back, Search – located below the display. With such a large screen, it’s nice to see HTC use a high-grade panel with strong colour and sharpness.

Powering up, it’s disappointing to see an older version of Android. Samsung managed to get Ice Cream Sandwich into the Galaxy Nexus launched in December 2011, so we’d have liked the same from this HTC, which arrives more than a month later. HTC says an update will be available “soon”.

HTC’s Sense overlay offers seven homescreens to do with as you please, providing room for widgets that offer live data and updates for your social life. There’s lots of interactivity here, as the widget screens exist on a never-ending carousel that rotates whenever you flick your finger left or right on the home screen.

Personalisation modes are offered too, with HTC’s online “Hub” presence providing downloadable colour schemes and layouts for the Sense interface.

It’s all very nice and customisable, which adds to the appeal of the hardware, but what you’re really buying in the Velocity is access to the 4G network… and the speeds to be enjoyed here are immediately noticeable.

Speed thrills

With 4G internet, mobile web browsing from a handset is faster than it’s ever been. Websites and videos load almost instantly, and everyday browsing is super-zippy – certainly faster than the ADSL2+ fixed line connection used at the Gadget Group offices.

The handset also allows tethering, meaning the Velocity’s speedy 4G goodness can be shared with devices such as computers and tablets.

We tested this by enabling the phone’s WiFi hotspot option and making a connection to our tablet.  Using a speed test app ­– appropriately named “Speed Test” – we recorded 4G speeds in excess of 26 Mbps downlink as we travelled via bus throughout central Sydney.

We later ran the speed test on the phone itself, achieving as high as 36.14 Mbps down and 15.25 Mbps upstream. That’s roughly 4 megabytes downloaded per second, a figure that becomes more significant when you consider how much data you could potentially chew through watching videos and surfing the web without the wait.

Overall, the speeds achieved via HTC’s Velocity are easily on par with the 4G mobile broadband dongle that Telstra released in 2011, effectively putting a level of performance available previously only to PCs into your pocket-sized smartphone.

The speeds experienced were up to three times as fast what we achieve at home using a fixed-line connection. With ADSL2+ capable of a maximum of 21Mbps, Telstra and HTC are delivering speeds that most home users can only dream of.

Also noteworthy is that 4G will be available to both prepaid and postpaid Telstra customers via the Velocity. As before, though, prepaid customers should keep a close eye on their data caps.