HTC HD7 in-depth review -

Look and feel

A huge 4.3-inch display may dominate proceedings, but the HTC HD7 has a minimalist yet fetching appeal

Ease of use

The Windows Phone 7 operating system is far easier to negotiate than previous incarnations, and the virtual keyboard is one of the best we’ve encountered

Features

With the ability to record high definition video, access to Xbox LIVE gaming, a handy kickstand, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and A-GPS, the HD7 is feature packed

Performance

The multimedia functions are excellent, and bar the odd scrolling issues, so is the browsing experience

Battery life

With a battery life of 320 minutes talktime (3G) and 320 hours (3G) standby time, you won’t want to be without your charger for too long

 HTC HD7 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2011 5:13:44 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

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:

The gaming fraternity will be itching to get online with the Xbox LIVE facility

Cons:

Though the HD7 has 8/16GB of on board memory, there?s no memory card slot to top that storage space up

If you’re one of our many loyal readers, you’ll know how much we loved the HTC HD2. You’ll also know how surprising this was, given that we hated Windows Mobile devices. We use the verb 'hate' in its past tense, as Microsoft’s mobile operating system has had something of a revamp, and not only is it rather good, but HTC has been quick to load it onto the HD2's successor. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the HTC HD7.

Design

In case you’re wondering, the reason HTC has named its latest and greatest WinMo device as HD7 is due to the aforementioned new operating system, which Microsoft has named Window Phone 7.  Like its predecessor, the HTC HD7 is in possession of a huge 4.3-inch screen, which HTC again pushes right to the edges of the handset. The display has actually been upgraded to an S-LCD. There’s an ongoing debate as to how these screens measure up to AMOLED’s. To our untrained eye, as vibrant as the HD7’s display is, compared to say the Samsung Galaxy S’ Super AMOLED display, we felt text just didn’t appear quite as crisp and bold. That said, unless you lay the two phones side by side, you’re unlikely to be disappointed with the HD7’s offering.

Just below the display are three touch-responsive keys; a back button, Windows home key and the Bing (Microsoft’s own search engine) key, which is symbolized by a magnifying glass. HTC has kept the HD7 on the right side of thin, but there’s a definite weight to the device. Flip the phone over and you'll find a kick stand that can be pulled out so you can rest the phone on a flat surface in a horizontal position. This is a welcome inclusion from HTC, and another nod to the HD7’s multimedia credentials. However, we suggest you take due care, as you could quite easily catch it on something while in your pocket, resulting in it snapping off.

Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of its new Windows Mobile 7 operating system. After previous incarnations included fiddly menu systems that often needed a stylus to control, now we’ve got a home screen with large ‘live’ squares that each represents the HD7’s phones capabilities. These include everything from access to the Windows Marketplace, your photo collection and your list of contacts. Talking of which, sign in to your Facebook and Windows Live accounts, and the HD7 will collaborate all your contacts into one list, pulling any information available, such as their birthday, place of work, and any email addresses. You can also assign a live tile to your favourite contacts, meaning you can call, text, instant message or Facebook them in next to no time.  Another nice piece of collaboration is the fact that the HD7 pulls any photo albums you’ve uploaded to Facebook and puts them in the HD7’s photo folder along with the latest pics posted by your Facebook buddies, as well as any photos you’ve taken with your mobile.

Also found among the ‘live’ tiles is the HTC Hub. Now, as good as this access point looks – here you’ll find HTC’s 3D weather feature  - we’re a little mystified by it. From the Hub you can download a few choice apps that are optimised for the HTC HD7, that once purchased reside in the Hub. However, you can also add them to your home screen, so unless you want to check the weather or download some new apps, it’s unlikely you’ll spend a huge amount of time in the HTC Hub.

Touch-screen

The capacitive display is hugely responsive, with a fluid sensation as you scroll through your pages. On those applications with multiple features you’ll notice that the adjacent page ever so slightly creeps on to the screen. We weren’t sure about this lay out at first, but grew to accept that it was a good way of making you aware that there were indeed multiple pages you could swipe between. However, it’s the virtual QWERTY keyboard that really impressed. Not only is it roomy, especially when in landscape mode, but the Windows OS uses an intelligence technology to ensure a more accurate typing experience. The phone will recognise common letter patterns, so if you’ve started typing ‘t’ followed by ‘h’, then it will open up the margin of error around the ‘e’ key as it recognises that this is most likely your intended target.

Another key feature that is sure to grab the headlines is the phone’s gaming credentials. Microsoft has kitted the HTC HD7 with access to a host of Xbox LIVE gaming titles. Once purchased (you can demo the games prior to handing over your cash) you can play by yourself or against other Xbox LIVE players. The graphics are immense, and while the gameplay will differ from title to title,  the touch-screen provided an excellent gaming experience for all the games we trialed. The handset is also bundled with Zune, Microsoft’s iTunes equivalent. Here you’ll be able to purchase music and movies that can reside on both your phone and PC.

Camera and video

HTC has kitted the HD7 out with a five-megapixel camera complete with dual-LED flash. The camera can be fired up from any application, even if the phone’s screen is locked. Simply hold down the dedicated camera button on the side of the device and hey presto. That said, we’re not sure about the positioning of said camera key, as it’s a little too central for our liking and feels a tad uncomfortable. The zooming process is also not the most fluid we’ve encountered. The video camera measures up far better, recording in high definition. What’s more, using Microsoft’s SkyDrive feature, you can store your photos and videos (up to 25GB) there, freeing up the HD7’s on board memory, which is a relief as there’s no memory card slot on the HD7. Tut tut, HTC.

Being a Windows device, the phone has been kitted out with Microsoft’s own search engine, Bing. Once you’ve typed in your search term, you have a choice of searching the whole of the web, locally or for related news stories. While the search results were top notch, as was the speed of which they were found, we found the scrolling process a tad tedious, which often resulted in us accidentally zooming in rather than scrolling. Yet overall, the HTC HD7 makes for an excellent browsing tool.

Conclusion

We’re now both relieved and genuinely excited about the future of Windows Mobile. With Windows Phone 7, we’ve had the revamp the operating system craved and with the likes of the Xbox LIVE and other multimedia facilities, it now has a consumer appeal previous Windows phones never had. As for the HTC7 itself, well, we’re almost running out of superlatives for HTC’s handsets. We said the HTC HD2 was the best Windows Mobile handset ever. We’ve just changed our mind.

Danny Brogan