HTC released a plethora of Windows Phone 7 devices in October, and the HTC 7 Pro seems to be the most delayed. The HTC 7 Pro has finally been released in Germay on O2, and is set to debut on Sprint in the U.S. sometime in late January. The HTC 7 Pro is the spiritual successor to the HTC Touch Pro 2, which used Windows Mobile 6.5. The biggest difference is that the 7 Pro features the new Windows Phone 7 OS. The physical slide out full QWERTY keyboard remains, as the staple of the Pro series on the the HTC 7 Pro.
HTC 7 Pro Specifications:
- Dimensions: 4.63 x 2.32 x 0.61 inches (117.5 x 59 x 15.5 mm)
- Weight: 6.53 oz (185 g)
- Display: 3.6 inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
- Memory: 8 GB
- OS: Windows Phone 7
- Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250
- Camera: 5 MP camera, 2592 x 1944 pixels, Autofocus with LED flash
- Connectivity: CDMA Dual Band (800/1900 Mhz)
- Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A/WiMAX (Sprint’s 4g)
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1, Stereo Bluetooth
- GPS: GPS with A-GPS
- Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Design and Display (4 out of 5)
The HTC 7 Pro is well designed, and really harkens back to the design of the HTC Touch Pro 2, with an added bit of class in the way it’s designed. The all black surface with some silver around the edges makes the HTC 7 Pro look sleek, simple and elegant. The front of the HTC 7 Pro is dominated by a 3.6 inch capacitive touchscreen display. The display comes out beautifully and there is a decent viewing angle but compared to the Super AMOLED technology behind phones such as the Samsung Epic 4G, it is slightly lacking. Beneath the display is the familiar array of Windows Phone 7 shortcuts for back, Start and search. To the left resides the volume rocker and microUSB port and up top is the power / lock key.
Simply push the display right and the phone slides out to reveal a nice, full QWERTY keyboard. There’s also a tilt mechanism that pushes the display up to an angle. This was a feature in the HTC Touch Pro 2 and it has carried over to the HTC 7 Pro. The hinge for the tilt is solid and does not feel as though it will break easily. Overall for users who want a QWERTY keyboard that can tilt to provide a better viewing angle, the HTC 7 Pro is a solid choice.
Hardware and Software (3 out of 5)
The HTC 7 Pro comes with a 1 GHz processor running Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 7 runs smoothly on the HTC 7 Pro with no problems. This seems to be the case with all the Windows Phone 7 smartphones, mainly due to the mandatory requirements ensuring that each phone consistently performs well. The biggest downside of Windows Phone 7 is that it is the same operating system, regardless of which smartphone you choose, meaning each phone is almost identical to the next, if not for slight differences such as the HTC Surround‘s speakers or the HTC 7 Pro’s physical QWERTY keyboard. A disappointing aspect of the HTC 7 Pro and other Windows Phone 7 smartphones is the lack of an expandable microSD slot.
User Interface (3 out of 5)
The HTC 7 Pro has the usual Windows Phone 7 interface. For those unfamiliar with
Windows Phone 7, it’s quite different than the other touchscreen smartphones with icons. Instead of application shortcuts and icons, the screen is dominated by tiles that update with information in real time. It’s a very interesting concept and keeps information at bay, rather than cluttering the screen with too much information. These tiles can be moved and modified to a certain extent but there are limitations when it comes to customization in Windows Phone 7. You won’t be able to have a custom background, change the visibility of the tiles or add custom widgets onto the screen, which long time users of Android and iOS will find disappointing.
Another disappointing aspect of the HTC 7 Pro running Windows Phone 7 is that the OS limitations make the phone seem weak in comparison to its competitors. For instance, the orientation doesn’t work quite right, as sliding out the keyboard doesn’t always force the Windows Phone 7 screen to reorient. By sliding the keyboard out in the HTC 7 Pro, you would expect the screen to rotate, but sadly that is not the case, at times it remains in the portrait state, giving you an odd sideways view as you stare at the keyboard. This is the same problem that other Windows Phone 7 smartphones are plagued with, even the HTC Surround which features a slide out soundbar.
However, beyond the OS limitations, the HTC 7 Pro’s keyboard is solid and feels comfortable in hand. Though it could be a bit more tactile, overall the keyboard is easy to use and feel around. Typing is easy and there’s no awkward positioning needed to hold the phone, definitely thanks in part to the tilting display.
Features (3 out of 5)
The features of the HTC 7 Pro are really no different than the HTC 7 Mozart or HTC 7 Trophy, there really aren’t any big distinguishing features. This is once again, due to Windows Phone 7 restrictions on the software and hardware that was placed on all of their handset manufacturers. The best feature the HTC 7 Pro has is the tilting feature of the display, allowing you to use the keyboard with the display angled to make viewing easier. In addition, the tilting aspect also helps in watching media, acting almost like a stand.
The camera on the HTC 7 Pro is a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. It’s the typical camera one would expect with higher end smartphones and the HTC 7 Pro doesn’t disappoint. The pictures are fairly crisp and clean and the LED makes night shots decent. The video recording also comes off well and the sturdiness and weight of the phone help make it a portable camera if you don’t feel like having a separate camera and camcorder.
The Final Verdict (3 out of 5)
Overall the HTC 7 Pro comes in as an ‘Average’ smartphone in today’s extremely competitive environment. It’s quite a shame that it has taken so long for the HTC 7 Pro to debut to the public. After the amazing showing from competitors at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, such as the extremely innovative Motorola Atrix 4G, the HTC 7 Pro may just end up being a niche, cult classic like the other Touch Pro series of smartphones for HTC. Which is, for all intents and purposes, disappointing considering how well made the HTC 7 Pro is.