With its HD7, HTC is taking a stand with its first-ever entry into the Windows Phone marketplace. The HD7 sports the recently released Windows Phone 7 OS and boasts the largest display available for any such device. This is definitely not your father’s Windows mobile device. HTC combines the HD7’s gigantic display with Windows Phone 7’s media and gaming capabilities, and it aims to deliver a user friendly experience.
Visually, Windows Phone 7 is a beautiful OS. Moving away from the traditional PC-like format, Windows Phone uses customizable tiles to help users gain the ultimate in personalization and convenience.
In using the HD7, I’ve found the OS to be smooth and very easy to navigate – especially for a novice smartphone user. There are some areas that need some attention, however, such as multi-tasking and a lacking universal inbox. We will touch on these later.
In the box, the HD7 includes a USB cable, an AC power adapter, and a stereo headset featuring a standard ear bud design. The device comes with a half-charged battery which has plastic in the housing that needs to be removed before the phone can be used.
With the phone out of the box, the plastic removed from the screen, and the hidden plastic in the battery housing taken out, we get our first opportunity to take a look at the HTC HD7 and its Windows Phone 7 OS.
Weighing in at 162 grams, the HD7 is a heavyweight in the smartphone market. The 4.3″ WVGA display has a screen resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and is ready to show off games, movies, and photos in rich detail. Pushing this heavyweight smartphone is a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Having a large display does have the potential to make the phone awkward for users with smaller hands and may require the use of both hands for much of the phone’s operations.
The plastic device features a chrome ring that goes around the phone and has a durable feel; this ring does love fingerprints though. One weak point in design appears to be the back panel cover for the battery. This is constructed of very thin plastic and users have complained of this panel breaking or cracking.
To add to your media viewing pleasure, the HD7 includes a rear kickstand. This kickstand, combined with the large screen, makes the HD7 a great device for viewing a movie or slideshow. Speaking of which, the HD7 will play most popular file formats; however, it did lack the capability to play MKV files. This will force some users to convert the file format into a compatible one in order to view their media. Also, DLNA is not supported on the HD7 for media viewing on a TV or similar device.
Like most phones today there is no physical keyboard present. Instead, the large display allows for a clear easy-to-use keyboard, and after much testing, we found both the landscape and portrait mode to be a responsive delight to use.
The buttons on the front of the phone have little movement and are smaller than most devices. They do respond well to touch, but if you are not looking at the screen, it is difficult to be sure if you are pressing the correct one. On the side of the phone lies the camera and volume buttons with a power/lock button at the top. These buttons are quite recessed making volume adjustment awkward during a call.
Bordered by the kickstand lies a 5MP camera featuring dual LED flashes for low light situations. Video can be captured in VGA mode (640 x 480) or 720p. Launching the camera is made easy by pressing the camera button for 3 seconds; something you can do even while the phone is locked. This is one area where the recessed camera button is helpful as it prevents those lovely pocket photos that love to kill our battery.
Although a great device for capturing and viewing media, the HD7 lacks storage space. With no expandable memory, the 16GB internal storage fills up fast when snapping photos or storing other media. For charging and connectivity purposes, the HD7 uses a micro USB cable.
In our testing, the HD7 did not require a restart during use for weeks at a time. This shocked me since I’ve used Windows Mobile versions in the past and have had to restart daily. There was little-to-no delay when launching everyday applications and the OS was very stable no matter what application was running. Unfortunately, this could be in part to the Windows Phone 7 not having multi-tasking capabilities.
As for the phone’s reception, the HD7 performed well tested at three different locations. In the local HSPA+ coverage area, the device had all bars on the indicator and data services were working without any issues. Data still worked in the outlying 3G areas although not nearly as fast as a downtown area. In our remote testing area the phone did deliver one bar of reception and allowed some reliable but slow Internet browsing. Bluetooth and WiFi are both on board with no dropped connections through testing.
The earpiece delivered clear sound, and users calling from landlines had no interference or crackling even at full volume. The rear speaker did not deliver the same results, often crackling and vibrating even at medium volume during a call. In media playback the rear speaker worked good at a medium volume; however pushing the volume to 3/4 definitely put stress on the speaker. Outgoing calls were clear without any complaint from people on the other line.
The battery is on par with most Smartphones today; it will get you through the workday just fine with approximately five hours of talk time. Most users will find themselves charging the HD7 overnight.
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