HTC 7 Pro in-depth review -

Look and feel

The HTC 7 Pro is slightly lighter than most touch-screen sliders, but still pretty chunky. Unfortunately, though the five-line QWERTY is excellent, the sliding mechanism is quite stiff

Ease of use

The modern, fresh Windows Phone 7 OS is as always a pleasure to use, while the 3.6-inch WVGA touch-screen slides out at an angle for comfy typing

Features

This is a high-powered smartphone with a 1GHz chip, 8GB or 16GB of storage and a five-megapixel camera. Software wise, it syncs to dozens of email accounts and Facebook

Performance

The contacts book is full-featured with social feeds and photos, while applications open and run quickly and smoothly. Unfortunately the device won’t support multitasking until an update for Windows Phone 7 lands

Battery life

It won’t last a whole day - which is pretty standard for high-end smartphones

 HTC 7 Pro Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/7/2011 5:17:55 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:

Five-line QWERTY, modern, intuitive interface, excellent contacts book, highly responsive touch-screen, SkyDrive cloud backup service

Cons:

Awkward sliding mechanism, no indication of new alerts after initial buzz, no multitasking till update lands ? and this date is TBC

Let’s get this out of the way – the HTC 7 Pro is no more a business phone than the HTC Mozart was a music phone. Though the 7 Pro does indeed have a QWERTY worthy of the most of professional of typists, the rest of its features are in line with any other Windows Phone 7 devices out there. But is the keyboard enough to sell it?

Design

When shut, the 7 Pro is quite chunky, though it’s still on the light side for a touch-screen slider. Three touch-sensitive areas for Back, Home and universal Search sit below the 3.6-inch, widescreen high-resolution touch-screen. The power button and 3.5mm audio jack are handily at the top of the device so you can access these functions while the phone sits in your pocket, and the only other two inputs are the dedicated camera shutter and microUSB charging port. On-board storage clocks in at a generous 8GB or 16GB, though like all WP7 phones, there’s no microSD slot to bump it up.

The HTC 7 Pro a successor to the Windows Mobile-powered HTC Touch Pro2, a relatively popular phone amongst business users. Like the Touch Pro2, the 7 Pro features a tilting touch-screen sliding out over a five-line QWERTY. Unfortunately, the hinge mechanism is quite tight in comparison, and pushing out the screen requires some force. There’s actually a scratching sound as it jerks out. Once straight out, the screen pops up at a 30-or-so degree angle – more comfortable for typing emails than the standard sort. We found the length of the keyboard very comfortable for typing, without any of the over-stretched feeling you get with some landscape keyboards. Along with a dedicated number line, there are also cursor keys and even an emoticon button – which any heavy texter will agree is pretty darn professional.

Navigation

Great as the keyboard is, the virtual one is surprisingly just as good to use thanks to an incredibly responsive touch-screen. The WP7 user interface is simple and intuitive, with just one home screen and one all-programs screen, based on a series of square and rectangular widgets. This uniform look is a refreshing change to the busier icon-ised look of, say, iPhone and Android. New events in apps such as Inbox, webmail and Calendar display in these ‘live tiles’, which are easily dragged around for a customised look.


When the keyboard is pushed out, all apps automatically reorient to a landscape view, except the home screen, which is a little annoying because the phone feels almost awkwardly chunky when in portrait.

On start up, you’re prompted to enter your Windows Live password, or set up an account if you don’t have one. This loads your Hotmail inbox, contacts and calendar– so if your Hotmail is a throwback to teenage days with an MSN list of people you never talk to, you may want to start a new account just to use the phone. The password also grants you access to SkyDrive, a cloud server where you can back up 25GB worth of contacts and content for free. There’s a great remote access feature that lets you wipe or lock your phone if lost, or even pinpoint its GPS location.

One WP7 feature that’s becoming increasingly noticeable is the lack of multitasking. It’s meant to arrive in an update landing after June, but for now, the inability to keep apps open while you load another one is quite frustrating, considering BlackBerry, iPhone and Android phones can all do it.

The business side

A simple interface lets you sync Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo!, Microsoft Exchange and a host of other webmail. This loads on contacts and calendars from these accounts as well (contacts and photos for Facebook) for a hyper contacts book that displays social feeds and photos.

The calendar can be viewed by month, agenda or day, all of which sit in a fresh, modern design much like a digital version of a real calendar.

You can get push delivery on all email accounts, which is great, but there’s no universal inbox like there is on iPhone and BlackBerry. Nor is there the iPhone-style threaded view that keeps emails on the same subject together, nor the conversation view you get with Gmail on Android phones.

However, when you write a new message, the phone will auto-suggest email addresses from any of your email accounts. A cool business-centric feature is that you can also flag important mails, and in the inbox view, scroll between all-mail, unread, flagged and urgent (which is designated by the sender).

We found it an issue that aside from the initial buzz, there’s no notification of new mails or messages. For example, both BlackBerry and Android phones show an LED when there are unread alerts.

Like the rest of HTC’s WP7 stable, there’s a ‘discreet ring’ feature where the ringer volume lowers when you move the phone, and silences completely when turned over.

Web, maps and camera

Since this is Microsoft, you get Internet Explorer Mobile – which is a far sight slicker than the initial versions of its desktop counterpart. It supports multi-touch and full HTML, and its sharp images and clear fonts look great. A double-tap zooms in and autofits the window you’re in, while you can keep up to six windows open at once.

Bing Maps is the de facto mapping solution of course, and unfortunately it’s not quite as intuitive as Google Maps – which is never likely to be available for WP7.

Finally, the five-megapixel camera. It’s just as good as most of HTC’s cameras, which is to say fairly mediocre. Photos in daylight are oversaturated, and even without zooming some blur is visible. The 7 Pro is particularly difficult to use one-handed too, thanks to its bulk – forget about those drunken self-portraits – though at least the shutter is very quick. A cool HTC add-in is Photo Enhancer, which lets you play with different filters for Hipstamatic-style shots.

Conclusion

Windows Phone 7 is always a pleasure to use, and while the HTC 7 Pro is no exception, nor is it one of our favourite WP7 devices. We’re not fans of the rather clunky sliding mechanism, and the chassis could be too chunky for some – but then again, it goes with the touch-screen slider territory. For business use, the one-off email notification could be an issue, but taken as a ‘fun’ smartphone with extra messaging chops, the 7 Pro makes the grade.

Natasha Stokes