By December 13, 2010

HTC HD7 Review

HD7-main The HTC HD7 is the biggest of the brand new Windows Phone 7 phones to hit the market with a monster 4.3" screen. The HD7 is the new and improved version of it’s WInMo 6.5 brother, now made obselte by the HD7. The HD7 is exlusive to O2 and brings specs and features that the HD2 can only dream of – a massive 4.3" SLCD screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5MP camera with 720p HD video recording and Microsoft’s latest creation, Windows Phone 7.

But can it reign over it’s Android running HTC Desire HD cousin or can it even compete with the rest of the Windows Phone 7 handsets out there? Check out the review below to find out.

 

What’s in the box?

  • Device
  • Battery
  • USB cable
  • Wall plug
  • Quick start guide/warranty
  • Headphones

View Matt’s HTC HD7 unboxing video here.

 

The ten second review:

  • Device: HTC HD7
  • Price: Pay as you Go from 02 – £380.00 / From Free on a £40 pm Contract (O2 Exclusive)
  • Summary: A huge device with an equally huge screen running Microsoft’s new baby, Windows Phone 7.
  • Best of: Screen size, WP7, Zune Pass, Xbox Live Integration, Exchange Support   
  • Worst of: Size may be too big for some people, battery life could be better.
  • Buy it now from: 02

HTC HD7 Specifications:

  • 1 GHz Snapdragon Processor
  • Windows Phone 7 with HTC Hub
  • Internal phone storage: 16 GB
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • ROM 576 MB
  • 122 mm x 68 mm x 11.2 mm (4.8" x 2.68" x 0.44")
  • 162 grams (5.7 ounces) with battery
  • 4.3" SLCD touch screen with 480 x 800 resolution
  • HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz
  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • Internal GPS antenna
  • G-Sensor
  • Digital compass
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with FTP/OPP for file transfer, A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, and PBAP for phonebook access from the car kit
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • Standard micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0)
  • 5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus and 2x LED flashlight
  • 720p HD video recording
  • Audio supported formats – m4a, .m4b, .mp3, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
  • Video supported formats – 3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m4v, .mbr., .wmv (Windows Media Video 9 and VC-1)
  • 1230 mAh battery
  • Talk time: Up to 320 minutes for WCDMA, Up to 380 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time: Up to 320 hours for WCDMA, Up to 310 hours for GSM
  • Dolby® Mobile and SRS surround sound
  • Kickstand so you can watch your movies without having to hold or prop it up
  • XBOX Live Integration
  • Choose from thousands of video titles and music tracks via integrated Zune® services

 

General

There is nothing on the left hand side of the HD7.

HD7-left

 

On the right there is the volume rocker and camera button – present on all WP7 devices.

HD7-right

 

The power or lock button is on the top.

HD7-top

 

The 3.5mm headphone jack, the MicroUSB port and the microphone are all on the bottom of the device

HD7-bottom

 

On the back is the 5 MP camera, the duel LED flashes, the speaker, the kickstand and the lovely Windows Phone and HTC logos.

HD7-back

 

The screen dominates the front with the standard WP7 buttons at the bottom. The home key, the back key and the search key.

HD7-front

Highlights:

  • Windows Phone 7
  • Screen
  • Xbox Live integration
  • Camera
  • Kickstand
  • Lowlights:
  • Screen may be a little large for some
  • Battery life could be better
  • No multi-tasking or copy and paste
  • Lack of MicroSD card support

 

Review:

The HD7 is the biggest handset part of the launch devices of Microsoft’s brand new WP7. And, when I got my grubby little paws on it I couldn’t wait to try Microsoft’s brand new OS and see it on the massive 4.3" screen of the HD7 for the first time.

First impressions of the HD7 were very positive. It felt very good in the hand, maybe a bit big, but surprisingly comfortable to hold. The build quality is mediocre as the back panel is made out of plastic but it’s certainly fit for purpose. Perhaps it’s not as well built as something like an iPhone 4 or a HTC Desire but it still feels solid in the hand. And considering the size of the handset despite the fact it weighs in a hefty 162g, it feels surprisingly light considering.

However, unlike most HTC devices there is some creaking. If you press down on the HTC logo on the back, it creaks and the back panel goes up and down. This issue is to do with the battery moving slightly up and down within the battery compartment by 1 or 2mm. Now I’m not sure if it is an issue with all HD7’s or if it is an issue with the device we have for review, but HTC is usually known for it’s excellent build quality, so I think it is the latter. But unless you have got giant hands and your finger stretches up to the HTC logo, it is not a problem when using the phone with day to day use.

The styling on the back is very simple. There’s a  black back cover and the chrome highlights of the camera and a chrome band beneath the camera where the HD7 logo lies.

HD7-kickstand

The silver part of the camera becomes the kickstand, which is very useful when watching video on a plane tray or a desk. When flat, the kickstand is raised about 0.5mm above the camera lens which will stop it scratching when you put it back down on a desk or table – nice touch.

The back cover is made of plastic and easy to remove. Underneath the cover you’ll find the battery and sim card. You have to remove the battery to get to the Sim card.

Also on the back there’s an external speaker. It’s not the best sounding speaker in the world and doesn’t blow me away with sound quality but it is more than adequate as a speaker phone. If you are going to treat this as a heavy use music device, you will probably need to use headphones.

On to possibly the biggest selling points -  the screen. Sizing up at a massive 4.3", the screen size feels very comfortable in my hands, but I know some people will be deeply put off by the 4.3" screen size. All I can say is that it feels the right size for me. It is a great quality screen as well. The resolution enables text to look clear and videos and movies to look great while the colours are great on the SLCD screen. And I would say SLCD is as good, if not better than AMOLED screens and easy to see in direct sunlight. The WVGA resolution makes text and pictures look amazing and very clear. It is very responsive and smooth when scrolling in applications and web pages. But the viewing angles aren’t the best in the world, as when you turn it either horizontally or vertically by around 20 degrees, the colours start to change a bit. Nothing major but could be annoying for those who care about viewing angles.

HD7-angled-right
Below the screen are the 3 compulsory keys that are required on WP7 – the home, back and search keys. They are touch sensitive keys and are very responsive with no lag at all.

Above the screen is the HTC logo, the speaker grill and the notification light, which are useful to have.

Next up is the camera. In short, it is decent. Not as good as the camera on the Motzart – that is 8 MP and on the HD7 it is only a 5 MP. None the less, it is still  a fairly good quality camera and could replace your point and shoot if push comes to shove.

HTC HD7 T9292_000096HTC HD7 T9292_000101 

But what is great about the camera is the interface. It is like everything on WP7, simple and functional. There is a button to change from picture taking to video shooting, a toggle bar to zoom in and out, and a settings button where there are options to pick settings like the flash settings, image size, effects and the choice to change the mode with scenes for situations like sport, candlelight and even macro.

IMAG0009IMAG0036 

However, I have some concerns with the flash. When I used the flashes on the device i have for review, it seems to add a yellow-ish tinge to the image. Nothing major, but it’s still an issue. You can see what I’m talking about below with 2 pictures of my Halloween mask, one with the flash off and one with the flash on.
The HD7 does shoot 720p HD video but as far as I’m concerned it is not as good as the hype. It does shoot decent video but it certainly couldn’t replace a Flip Mino HD or a HD camcorder.

HTC HD7 T9292_000099HTC HD7 T9292_000100

 

The WP7 experience on the HD7 is exactly the same as on all other handsets apart from one difference – it’s bigger! And you know what they say, bigger is better. WP7 just feels great on this big screen. The tiles are bigger which makes the live tiles are easier to read, the keyboard is easier to type on because the keys are bigger and video looks great on a bigger screen. In short, bigger is better with WP7.

I’ll be brief with the OS tour and only includes the best parts of the OS that perform the best on the HD7 as there is already a very in-depth tour of it on the site. Read it here.

On the lock screen, there is the time and date, notifications, your next calendar appointment. Which is handy.

IMAG0008
On the home screen, there are the application tiles exclusive to WP7. They can be moved up and down to your liking and they can be changed to 11 different colours. The background colour can also be changed from light to dark if you want. And I would recommend that you do so, to save battery life on lighting up the 4.3" screen with battery sucking white pixels.

IMAG0004
Web browsing is one of the most used features on a smartphone and it doesn’t falter on the HD7. Microsoft has put an good browser into WP7. I put the HD7 up against a Desire HD and in an unscientific test, loaded tracyandmatt.co.uk. The Desire HD came out top because it does have much faster internals and a better browser, in my opinion. But the HD7 was only around 2 seconds behind, which is not bad for a first time OS. But there are a couple of things that bug me. Firstly, when you are in landscape mode, you have to turn the device back to portrait to do simple things like type in the url bar, navigate back and forth between pages or to your bookmarks list. But the OS is still in it’s early days and I hope Microsoft will fix this in a future update.

 IMAG0010 IMAG0011

Email on the HD7 and on WP7 in general is one of the best email experiences I have had on a mobile device. WP7 is completely compatible with Microsoft Exchange, a big plus for business users. Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Google and pretty much any other email accounts can be used with WP7 Across the top you’ll find your Inbox, Unread, Flagged and Urgent email categories. You can switch between them by simply swiping across the screen.The interface itself is clear and simple. You the Sender in big, black letters in a very clean font (something repeated across the the WP7 interface which is extremely pleasing on the eye) and the subject and first couple of words below in a grey.

IMAG0012
There are some let downs with email though. There is no universal inbox with WP7 which can make it a bit tedious checking multiple email accounts and there is a weird thing when displaying certain types of messages like the one you see below. Most of the time it doesn’t load the images and you have to load them yourself and sometimes, you have to scroll of the side of the page to see the entire email. That’s something that really annoys me after using the iPhone for years and having all my emails in line and not having to scroll around to see the entire email.

IMAG0034

When typing an email you get everything you need. But one great thing about sending emails with WP7 is you get to use the WP7 keyboard. It is outstanding. You get the spell correction of Android and the simplicity of the iPhone keyboard. And on the HD7 it is even better because of the big screen. I can fly across the keyboard and it makes sending long emails a breeze. It doesn’t lag or hang. Very responsive. There is also an emoticon button as well which is a nice feature for all those people you like using smilies :).  The keyboard also rotates but the letters don’t go all the way to the end of the screen. Could be annoying for some but I didn’t really notice that much.

IMAG0035
A unique feature for WP7 is the Xbox Live integration. Being an avid gamer myself, I thought that this feature is brilliant. You can earn extra achievements by playing Xbox Live games downloaded from the WP7 market, send and receive messages from you Xbox Live friends and customize you avatar from the phone itself – genius idea Microsoft for integrating the two best things you’ve done in years together.

 IMAG0014
Games are particularly good on the HD7 and that’s once again down to the big screen. I downloaded 2 game demos and they performed beautifully on the HD7. There is no lag at all and it’s very responsive and smooth. However, a problem with WP7 that many people have highlighted is that it does take around 30 seconds to boot up the game. Very annoying for if you’re in the middle of playing a game and you check an email, because when you go back to the game it goes back to the menu – Grrrrr. Now this does only happen with certain games, but fortunately with Need for Speed Underground, it does say "Do you want to continue with the game," which left me slightly less annoyed. Yet it still took 30 seconds to boot up again.

IMAG0018 IMAG0015

Conclusion
The HD7 is a brilliant device. It is super slick and fast and it does almost everything you could want from a smartphone. The hardware is great, although if you don’t like the 4.3" screen size, it may not be for you. It is a great looking phone that comes with a great looking OS. WP7 has great unique features like Zune Pass, Xbox Live and Office and I really like the consistency of the UI throughout the OS.

Right now it is pretty limited as it doesn’t have multi-tasking or copy and paste, but that is understandable as it is a 1st Gen OS. Within a year I can really see Microsoft being alongside the top runners of Android and iOS if Microsoft can continue to add cool and unique features that make it stand out in the market. Bring it on Microsoft.

 

Posted by Patrick

[

       ]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Post a Comment