HTC 7 Mozart in-depth review -

Look and feel

The carapace of aluminium with Teflon is unique, but not particularly stylish, while overt branding turns the back of the phone into a mess of logos. In contrast, the Windows Phone 7 software is clean, modern and refreshing to use

Ease of use

Top-notch navigation with a breezily responsive touch-screen and intuitive interface. Music, video and contact syncing is all simple to use, and the only issue we have is with the number of clicks it takes to make a phone call

Features

Web, email and media are great, but the eight-megapixel camera is only mediocre (despite a good Xenon flash). We'd like to see copy and paste implemented too

Performance

Snappy and responsive, the Mozart is fun to play with and a breeze to use, with a great touch-screen and intuitive features. Zune and Xbox Live syncing add extra oomph to an already beefy media phone

Battery life

About average for a smartphone - you'll need to charge it every night if you're running 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS and the music player

 HTC 7 Mozart Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/7/2011 5:14:42 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Slick, intuitive interface, excellent social integration in phonebook, top-notch email features, very responsive touch-screen, Zune and Xbox Live sync, app cost goes straight to mobile bill

Cons:

Making a phone call is a longwinded process, eight-megapixel camera is only mediocre, Bing Maps is still inferior to Google Maps ? with no option to get Google Maps either

Whatever you thought you knew about HTC phones, or Windows phones, forget it all now. The multimedia focused Mozart is one of the launch devices for the long awaited Windows Phone 7, and it, like all other new Windows phones, toes the line to a super strict Microsoft brief. What's more - that's not even a bad thing.

Design

Windows Phone 7 devices have some minimum hardware requirements, including a 3.5-inch touch-screen with WVGA resolution. The Mozart stands out with an anodized aluminum sheath (a la HTC Legend) that wraps around part of the phone, while the rest of the body is made from Desire-esque Teflon. The 3.7-inch screen isn't all viewable real estate, as there is an inch-thick touch-sensitive area for the back key, search, and the classic Windows Start button. Because the phone is an Orange exclusive, flip it over and you're greeted with serious branding - HTC, Orange, and Windows Phone 7 logos. There's also the eight-megapixel camera lens, Xenon flash and a little speaker vent in addition to one up front which all adds to the busy feel.

The basics

Windows Phone 7 looks quite unique, with a homescreen of 'live tile' widgets - for example, the Marketplace tile tells you when there's an update to an app waiting - but you can also add shortcuts to apps, contacts, or even places to navigate to. There are tons of swishy fades as you swipe from one screen to the next - a far cry from the old, unintuitive, Windows Mobile. 

 

Microsoft has decreed a one-look OS that means manufacturers can't add their own skin like HTC has done with its past WinMo phones. But that is no bad thing. The phonebook is excellent, a hyper-intergrated contacts list bundled with a Facebook feed and recent contacts. Microsoft has taken heed of what its competitors offer, and you can sync Google, Hotmail, and Facebook, and link friends' contact details across all three.

 

Unfortunately the simple phone call is ridiculously longwinded. Unless you've recently contacted the person, it takes four presses to reach the contact book, followed by typing in a few letters, selecting the right contact, and as if that's not enough, choosing whether you want to call or text them.

Messaging

The touch-screen is extremely sensitive and accurate, while an intelligent predictive texting system (see page X) means you're more likely to type the right word the first time - although actually guessing from mistypes is less accurate than, for example, the iPhone.

 

Email is a top feature, far advanced from previous Windows phones, with instant push notifications on Gmail, Hotmail and Exchange. We received email as soon as it arrived in our desktop accounts - unlike the iPhone, where Gmail is a minute or more later. You can choose to sync the entire account or for a set period only, including all custom folders.

Camera and video

We took portrait and scene shots in dark and lowlight, and surprisingly got better shots in a completely dark room, which shows the quality of the flash. In lowlight, auto setting resulted in blue-tined images. Both types of photos were very soft and showed blur when we zoomed in.


Daylight shots were pretty clear on the phone, but still noisy when zoomed in. When viewed on a monitor, there was the same slight cool tint we saw from the HTC Desire.


We were able to get some decent action shots, though you'll have to get used to timing your shots to incorporate the shutter lag - one second in daylight, and more when the flash is needed.


720p video is practically standard these days, and the Mozart offers little more.
After taking a photo or video, you can share it online, or backup to Microsoft's cloud service, SkyDrive, where you get 25GB of storage tied to the Windows Live account you signed in with.

Music

Like with the iPhone and iTunes, you'll have to get a Zune account to get your music on the Mozart. It's very easy even if you don't use Zune (although you will have to download the software to your computer), and the interface is fresh and simple, with menus for music, video, podcasts, radio and the marketplace to buy more music. One surprising oversight is that you can't create playlists on the go, something possible on other music phones from the iPhone down to basic phones. (You can add tracks to a now-playing list, but not save it.)


Via the Sound Enhancer app, you get 'virtual surround sound' by selecting Dolby Mobile effect or HTC's 'SRS Surround Sound', which add a little more fullness. Though the sound is pretty decent for phone speakers, there's no way this is any replacement for, say, travel speakers. On headphones, you can add a variety of 'boosters', from bass - which does indeed beef up the sound - to jazz or rock, though these produced little effect.

Web, Maps and Hubs

Internet Explorer is fast to load and supports multitouch, while text and pictures render with clean edges. You can pinch to zoom, or double-tap to 100%, when it will autofit text to the page. Just about the only (glaring) omission is the lack of copy-paste, available 'sometime in 2011'.


As you'd expect, Microsoft's Bing Maps is the resident mapping solution, but it's more fiddly than Google Maps, and has no navigation features besides text direction on the phone.


Custom content comes in the form of 'Hubs', where manufacturer or operator partners can add their own apps. HTC's Hub features a few apps and its familiar clock-weather widget, but has no impact on daily use of the OS. Similarly, Orange's preloaded apps are easily ignored, though one cool exclusive to Orange - as a key partner of Windows Phone 7 - is that app purchases are billed directly to your mobile deal.


With all these capabilities, we squeezed 13.5 hours use out of the Mozart - including Zune action, push email, plus regular web and sat-nav use.

The verdict

Windows Phone 7 is going to give Android and iPhone some trouble. It's a beautifully designed OS, and Microsoft has two aces with the Xbox Live and Zune sync on top of a great integrated phonebook. 


As for its hardware USPs - almost the only area we'll be able to differentiate Windows phones - both the camera and sound features are a bit disappointing. But though the Mozart didn't quite charm us the way, say, the HTC Legend did, Windows Phone 7 is - shock, gasp - good enough to make this a supremely usable handset anyway.