Note:Valid for U.S Residents Only
The screen that just continues going meets the OS that will not fit on a single display. Yes, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, like Windows Mobile 6.5 and Android before it, is getting treated with a 4.3-inch display from HTC for its launch party. The aptly titled HD7 is, due to Microsoft's stringent hardware requirements, mostly only a stretched-out version of their WP7 contemporaries: it offers the standard 800 x 480 res, 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, 576MB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with a 720p movie mode. What exactly sets it apart? HTC will have you believe its Hub improves the buttery smooth WP7 software, while outside the shell there's a handy kickstand for landscape lounging and also you do of course take advantage of an enlarged canvas for the finger inputs. Join us after the break to discover how much that matters in day-to-day use, along with the rest of our thoughts on the HTC HD7.
The HD7 isn't shy about proclaiming itself an entertainment machine and it is design reflects these aspirations. Aside from the kickstand inviting landscape operation, you've two speakers framing the big display, nestled in elegant little crevices at the end and the surface of the phone. Protecting them from danger is really a metallic band spanning the HD7's entire circumference, that also houses a volume rocker, a two-stage camera button, and your standard-issue power/lock combo button.
On the whole, we love to both the look and feel of this handset, but it is not without its flaws. Chief included in this is the quality of its construction materials, with the back cover being produced from a relatively flimsy plastic, with a slight, albeit tangible, flex into it and it is prone to creaking. It looks durable, actually -- we don't expect its matte surface to degrade too badly with time -- however the phone's rigidity comes almost entirely in the metallic band around its sides and in the display itself. Not exactly ideal in our eyes. Then there's also the kickstand, which exhibits some lateral wiggling action we're not too fond of and doesn't sit flush using the phone when retracted. Beyond that, just to get all of our bugbears off our chest, the happy couple of speaker recesses ended up being absolute dust magnets and cleaning them out wasn't the simplest part of the world either.
To flip things around and look at the positives, the biggest one for all of us was the HD7's basic feel in the hand. Its curved back is ergonomic heaven and we really couldn't find any downside to utilizing it as our daily workhorse versus our usual 3.5-inch device. This can of course depend on your own palms' dimensions, but we felt immediately at home with this particular oversized smartphone, and its pocketability wasn't any less impressive. Additionally, in the end may bemoan the battery's cover standing on a budget side, we have to commend it for being simple to replace, with HTC earning extra brownie points for the little insert it's underneath the battery to make extracting it even more foolproof.
The US (only at T-Mobile on November 8) and UK (an O2 exclusive, currently available) variants of the HD7 will pack 16GB of non-expandable storage whereas other countries will need to be satisfied with 8GB. You may take into consideration that something of a limitation, and indeed if you have to have every episode of each and every season of House in your mobile device, maybe you'll have the squeeze, but T-Mobile is due the rescue with Slacker Radio and Netflix apps preinstalled on the US HD7, while the Zune Pass all-you-can-listen music buffet service (visiting The european union right around now) can turn the cloud to your music collection guardian.
What we're more worried about, however, may be the Qualcomm QSD8250 chip that resides within the HD7's confines. This was a celebrated 1GHz part back when it graced HTC's own HD2 this time last year, but today... less. And speaking of the HD2, it's pretty outrageous that HTC went and matched its spec almost entirely. Sure, the externals happen to be tweaked, the physical buttons happen to be dismissed in favor of capacitive keys and you've now got a slightly different frame around your jumbo display, but as far as the internal hardware is concerned, it's nearly exactly the same phone. We imagine this was probably out of HTC's hands since Microsoft insists around the particular trio of WP7 buttons and has been the one to mandate the processor within, but it still leaves geeks like us feeling less than overjoyed. After all, otherwise for a little bit of bureaucracy, we're able to equally well be reviewing the HD2 right now.
Looking at the HD7 and its Windows Phone 7 OS in isolation, however, we must commend the final product. Whether we like the route through which Microsoft has got here, what we're looking at with all these launch devices is one hell of a smooth consumer experience. So, in spite of its aged hardware, the HD7 is as simple as no means a performance slouch. Basically, we'd have preferred something beefier inside, but that's simply because we love to numbers, and that we like these phones grow higher, but in actual use the HD7 is much more than nippy enough.
There was one truly noticeable hardware drawback to this handset, however, and that was how big its battery. At 1,230mAh, it's on the small side for many smartphones nowadays, but particularly so for just one that has got to power a backlight spanning a full 4.3-inch display. The LG Optimus 7 has a 1,500mAh cell and there's no reason (apart from what about a budgetary one) for that HD7 to avoid the same. We definitely felt this shortcoming during our time using the device, finding ourselves searching for the charger before a full day's intensive use was through, whereas even the lightest useful would necessitate you tethering up through the end from the second day. Not terribly impressive.
A final note is also merited concerning the HD7's front-mounted stereo speakers. Not too it ought to be any surprise given that this is a mere phone, but their quality was pretty nondescript within our testing. We weren't impressed either by the loudness or through the clarity of the output and would describe them as mildly disappointing, given the hype that HTC has flourished upon them.
Ah, the display. The HD7's meat and potatoes, its reason for being, this is to its life, the beating heart of its entire operation. If we haven't made it abundantly clear yet, the display is this phone's defining feature as well as the thing which will most likely determine its commercial success. That's aside from the key determinant, obviously -- the Windows Phone 7 experience -- but considering the fact that the OS has been so tightly regimented by Microsoft, you'll be able to easily jump aboard abother WP7 ship if the HD7 not rock your boat quite how you would like it to. The trouble with its 4.3-inch panel, however, is that it truly does both make and break the benefit of the HD7. Let us explain.
On one side, the enlarged panel really makes your everyday smartphone tasks far more easy. Yes, when it comes to pixel density it's really no better off than the more diminutive phones it's vying against, but the magnification of these pixels was a definitely improvement for all of us, allowing us to read webpages without necessarily having to zoom in on them each time, and also making navigation and text input appreciably easier. It's worth reiterating, perhaps, this was simply our experience yet others may find the big screen overwhelming and it is contents unnecessarily inflated. What we're saying is that this just felt such as the ideal size to us, much less large (hello, Streak!) and not too small (Motorola Flipout, anyone?).
Actually, on a handful of occasions we honestly got carried away reading on our commute and just forgot we were using a phone. It felt a lot more like browsing on our desktop with the added bonus to be able to scroll by flicking our fingers. It had been a good sensation, even when it only lasted for brief moments, and of course it's not something we can confidently say you can experience around the smaller devices within the Windows Phone 7 stable. The Samsung Omnia 7 and Dell Venue Pro might come close to that, however the HD7 clearly sits towards the top of the pile with regards to taking your Windows experience on the go without making use of a tablet or perhaps a laptop.