Windows Phone 7 Flagship: HTC HD 7 Review

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HTC HD7 - Flagship Windows Phone 7 Device


Running Microsoft’s new mobile platform, the HTC HD7 is one of two flagship handsets (the other being the Samsung Omnia 7) for Windows Phone 7.

Offering the same basic specs as every other device on the platform, this phone is equipped with a larger screen, increased storage and some interesting audio and video options. What is particularly interesting about the HTC HD7, however, is its similarity with the old Windows Mobile HTC HD2 and the HTC Desire; effectively, these are all the same device, with only the difference in chassis telling them apart.

With this mark of quality in mind, let’s take a look at the HTC HD7.

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Design (5 out of 5)

Borrowing the slimline loveliness of the HTC Desire – not to mention the gentle rubberised back cover and big screen dimensions, the HTC HD7 has a few excellent additions to its overall design.

First of all, there is the obligatory 3 buttons that all Windows Phone 7 devices must have. The Back, Home and Search buttons are all software buttons, and these sit nicely just below the Super-LCD capacitive touchscreen display, which shares a surface with the buttons.

Either end of the impressive 4.3” display are Dolby Speakers (more on those later) which come into particularly good use when the kickstand, mounted around the 5MP camera lens, is used - the HTC HD7 makes a superb mobile media machine!

I was initially surprised at how flexible the rear cover is, but it does seem to offer a better alternative to cracking should the phone be dropped.

User Interface (5 out of 5)

The HTC HD7 features Windows Phone 7 and the Metro UI

Windows Phone 7’s user interface – known internally as “Metro” – has wowed everyone since its launch, merging a tile-based “live” system of hubs that update in real time with relevant information with integration with not only one but three other Microsoft properties.

Using Windows Phone 7, you can access your Xbox LIVE gamer account, and even improve your score by purchasing and downloading games through the marketplace. Microsoft Office Mobile 2010 is also included, allowing you to create and edit documents and save directly to a Windows Live account equipped with SkyDrive, while Zune provides music and video content via either the marketplace or by syncing with a PC or Mac.

By interacting with the tiles and enjoying how the phone updates information, you can visit the individual hubs and see how the various forms of integration work; for instance, there is little need for a Facebook app as the phone includes native integration with the network.

All of this is accessed via the minimum of taps and swipes – in face the longest task you’ll ever perform on the HTC HD7 is typing a message. Remarkably, even the text entry is amazing, and is by far the most responsive and easy to use a software keyboard yet. Extra points also go to the ease with which typos can be resolved – simply tap the offending word and choose from the list of alternatives.

Features (4 out of 5)

Microsoft have imposed a strict set of minimum features on the Windows Phone 7 handsets and the HTC HD7 features these along with a few others, such as the expansive 4.3” Super-LCD capacitive touchscreen display, as well as 8GB of storage courtesy of a microSD card. However, although the card can be removed, it is not “removable”; this means that you cannot take the card out and swap it without factory resetting your handset.

The standard 1GHz Snapdragon processor and DirectX compatibility are of course there, as are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, motion sensor, HSDPA/3G/EDGE/GSM and all the usual connectivity options.

If you fancy watching a movie on your HTC HD7, the display is well suited, while the handset speakers are enhanced with Dolby Mobile Sound. While you’re going to miss real bass by the very nature of it being a small phone, this feature does make quite a difference.

However, I have marked this device down slightly on features because of the lack of an 8MP camera. While a 5MP camera with top quality firmware might be superior to an 8MP camera without such an advantage, the fact is the HTC HD7 is the flagship Windows Phone 7 device for HTC (as well as in the eyes of many commentators).

Curiously, however, it is the HTC Mozart that has the 8MP camera.

Performance (5 out of 5)

Windows Phonee 7 Marketplace provides access to new apps and games

There have been reports of the HTC HD7 rebooting for no reason – however, I have yet to see this occur. In fact in terms of performance issues, the only one I have come across is the occasional dropping of the Wi-Fi connection. This is hardly something that can be attributed exclusively to the handset.

Fast, slick, impressive – these are all terms I would use. The HTC HD7 responds immediately to any command, be it via the touchscreen display or via any of the hardware buttons. In particular the speed with which a photograph can be taken is impressive.

The mobile version of Internet Explorer that comes with the phone can run multiple tabs, and several email accounts can be set up and managed from the home screen. While multitasking isn’t available, certain apps do retain their last settings, such as IE, and even this doesn’t seem to detract from either the performance or the user experience; it seems that any requirement to perform multitasking-style tasks only occurs with apps that require a web connection.

Verdict (5 out of 5)

I have never been this happy with a mobile and certainly not as impressed with one since the first iPhone was released.

In terms of performance, design, and features, the HTC HD7 is the equal of the HTC HD2 and the Android powered HTC Desire. However, the new Windows Phone 7 mobile OS and its astonishing new user interface set this phone a class apart from the top iPhones, Androids and indeed most of the Windows Phone 7 devices.

Let’s face it, HTC has pretty much mastered the art of building a high spec mobile that works well with the operating system; they’ve done it with Android, they’ve done it with their own OS on budget smartphones and even single-handedly propped up the old Windows Mobile OS for 3 or 4 years.

The HTC HD7 is simply the ultimate smartphone for today’s mobile user. The only phone likely to come close (or possibly surpass it) is the Samsung Omnia 7.