By November 16, 2009

HTC HD2 Review

When rumours of the HTC HD2 surfaced a few months ago, as the HTC Leo, it immediately drew attention. We knew it would be a big handset and would most likely be the successor to the popular HTC Touch HD but it was initially unclear if it would be a Windows Mobile or an Android powered handset. This was cleared up fairly quickly and the device we knew as the HTC Leo launched with Windows Mobile 6.5 professional as the HTC HD2 and went on sale just last week.




Matt has been testing the HD2 our for a while and chances are you will have seen my early HD2 preview video and Matt’s HTC HD2 unboxing video and HD2 demonstration video here on site.

A few days ago we both managed to get our hands on the final retail version of the handset so naturally we are basing our review upon that but very little has changed between the pre-release and the final version that we have now and the one that you’d be able to buy today.

There’s no denying that the HTC HD2 is a big handset, you only have to compare compare the HTC HD2 to the iPhone  or to the Touch HD, both large handsets in their own right, to see how much bigger the HD2 is. So the question that Matt and I have been asked countless times already; “Do you think that the HTC HD2 is too big?” to find the answer you’ll have to read on!


HD2-v-iphone-a HD-vs-HD2-d

HTC HD2 compared with iPhone and HTC Touch HD

HD2-v-iphone-b HD-vs-HD2-c

HTC HD2 compared with iPhone and HTC Touch HD


The ten second review:

Device: HTC HD2

Cost: £499.99

Summary: A huge Windows phone sporting pretty much everything you could want!

Best of: 3G, Wi-Fi, Capacitive Screen, Sense UI, 1Ghz processor

Worst of: A little large, Battery Weak

Buy it now from: Devicewire


What’s in the box?

  • The HTC HD2 handset
  • Battery
  • USB to MicroUSB sync/charge cable
  • USB wall charger
  • Leather effect slip-pouch/case
  • Wired headset
  • Manuals and Warranty info
  • 2GB MicroSD memory card


HTC HD2 Unboxing Video – Click Here

HTC HD2 Demo Video – Click Here

HTC HD2 Preview Video – Click Here

HTC HD2 Forum thread – Click Here


HTC HD2 Specification:

  • 3G Network    HSDPA 900 / 2100 
  • Size    Dimensions    120.5 x 67 x 11 mm
  • Weight    157 g
  • Display    Type    TFT capacitive touchscreen, 65K colours
  • Size    480 x 800 pixels, 4.3 inches
  • Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate
  • Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
  • Ambient light sensor
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Internal    448 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
  • Card slot    microSD (TransFlash)
  • 3G    HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 2 Mbps
  • WLAN    Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Wi-Fi router
  • Bluetooth    Yes, v2.1 with A2DP
  • USB microUSB
  • Camera    Primary    5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, dual LED flash
  • Features    OS    Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional
  • CPU    Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1 GHz processor
  • Browser    WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML
  • GPS    Yes, with A-GPS support
  • Digital compass
  • MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+ player
  • AVI(DiVX/XviD)/MP4/WMV/H.264/H.263 player
  • Facebook and Twitter integration
  • YouTube client
  • Pocket Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, PDF viewer)
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1230 mAh


So lets take a look around the HTC HD2 and talk about the basic hardware controls.

Starting at the front you simply cant fail to be wowed by the excellent 4.3″ Capacitive touch-screen display. At 480 x 800 pixels it’s large enough for a decent web and video experience. Above the screen you’ll find a large speaker and below a series of 5 buttons; The Send/Answer key,  a home button, Windows key, ‘back’ button and the end/hang up button. It’s good to see that these are physical buttons on the HD2 rather than a touch sensitive are that was on the Touch HD.


HTC HD2 Front


Turning the HD2 round and looking at the left-hand side you’ll discover the up/down volume control rocker and nothing else.


HTC HD2 Left Side


Turn 180 degrees to the right side and you’ll see even less. There is, in fact, nothing at all on the right.


HTC HD2 Right Side


Looking to the bottom of the HD2 we have the 3.5mm headphone socket, so good that handset manufacturers have listened to customers demands there, and a MicroUSB socket to plug in the sync/charge cable.


HTC HD2 Bottom


The top of the handset has no buttons or controls. HTC devices generally have the power button on the top of the unit but the power button as been moved to be shared with the end/hang-up button.




Looking to the back of the HD2 there’s a 5 megapixel autofocus camera, to one side there’s a dual LED flash (hoorah!) and on the other a grille for the loudspeaker/ringer. Just below the camera area is a metal cover over the battery compartment. You’ll have to remove this to access the battery (obviously) and the SIM card and MicroSD memory card socket.


HTC HD2 back



Random Thoughts

Matt commented a few times, in the videos he recorded, about his dislike of the MircoUSB connector. The reason for this is that relatively few products use the Micro connector at the moment but also because the MicroUSB socket is more fragile than MiniUSB. It’s actually possible to plug the connector in round the wrong way if you push it a little too hard and doing so invariably damages the socket rather than the plug. Granted you have to be a bit careless to do that but we’ve seen it happen on more than one occasion!

It’s nice that HTC have kept the lines of the HD2 fairly ‘clean’ and haven’t overloaded it with buttons and controls which keeps things looking neat but it would have been nice, in my opinion to have included a physical camera button especially having upgraded the camera to 5MP and adding the flash.



  • Beautiful 4.3″ Capacitive screen
  • GPS and Digital Compass
  • Camera and Flash



  • Battery life
  • Size may be too big for some



Well, where to start? The HTC HD2 has generated so much interest that there is rather a lot to talk about. I will try to cover as much as possible in this review without waffling on too much as its going to be rather a long one. Anyway, here goes:





As I mentioned in the HTC HD2 video preview, if you saw it, the device is pretty massive. Although sporting a 4.3 inch screen the device actually doesn’t feel as big as I thought it was going to. Its rounded edges and thinness give it a comfortable feel in the hand and although it is certainly the largest device I have used it doesn’t feel out of place and can still be operated one handed which is a bonus, although this clearly depends on the size of your hands!

There is however one part of the handset that does feel a little odd. For some unknown reason HTC have left the camera lens protruding from the rear of the device. This causes me great concern for several reasons. Firstly, as it sticks out a few millimetres it feels a little odd and the outside of the lens is fairly rough. Not good. In addition, as it sticks out this means that when you lay the device down on a flat surface the phone is a little wobbly and rocks from side to side if you press the screen. Last but not least I am thinking that the lens cover will be susceptible to scratches if it is being laid down. The simple solution will be not to place the phone on a flat surface but clearly this is ridiculous as everyone does this and always will. Time will be the test on this one so we will have to wait and see if customers start complaining about the camera lens.

The device certainly feels rock solid. This is helped by the battery cover being metal. The device is reasonably heavy but it feels good.

The HTC HD2 has HTCs new style buttons on the front of the device.



HTC HD2 Keys


They are made from plastic and are raised from the main shell of the phone allowing for a proper click when pressed. They work well and I am pleased with there feel. There is just one thing that has taken getting a little used to. Normally with HTC devices you get a power/standby button on the top of the device. Not any more. HTC have incorporated this into the call end key so pressing this sends the phone to sleep. It was a bit frustrating at first as normally if I wanted to exit an application I may just press the call end button and be taken back to my home screen but if you do it on the HD2 the screen goes to sleep. Its just a case of getting used to something new and I’m sure that in the future this will be the norm for HTC devices.

The main feature with the HD2 has to be that big screen. Its sooooooo nice! Being Windows Mobiles first capacitive screen is a nice welcome and I’m sure it will tempt quite a few iPhone users to give it a go. Using the screen is real nice. It was a bit odd for me at first as I am used to using resistive but I am getting there. The screen is beautifully smooth to use and movements are fast due to the 1 GHz processor HTC have included. Good job! The quality of the screen picture is fantastic also. Not as good as the new Samsung OLED screens but real nice anyway.

The HTC HD2 runs Windows Mobile 6.5 if you were not aware. Is this better than 6.1? Again this will come down to personal choice but in this review I will focus on the main features on the device and the ones that are new with version 6.5.


First thing I had to contend with, as I pressed the call end key, is the new lock screen.

lock screen

HTC HD2 Lock Screen


As you will see above you are presented with a padlock symbol at the top of the screen. To unlock the screen you can slide the padlock to the left or right which is easy to do and smooth. People with small hands may struggle to do this one handed though. The background image on the lock screen can be changed. I just chose the black one as I’m boring!

A nice feature now on WinMo 6.5 is that if you receive an email, SMS, or voicemail you can access them without unlocking the screen:


lock2 lock3

HTC HD2 Lock Screen Notifications


As you will see above, I sent myself an email and this now shows up as a number 1 next to the padlock as I have 1 notification. To access the email you just drag the padlock down and it will show you what the notification is, whether it me mail or voicemail etc. Now you can swipe the new symbol left or right and it will take you straight into that application. Sounds a bit long winded me trying to explain but it works and its a great idea.


Onto the home screen. HTC have used there Sense user interface on the HD2. This was initially used on the HTC Hero and then the Tattoo which are both Android devices so the Windows version is different but similar.



HTC HD2 Home Screen


You will notice the weather application has been incorporated into the clock. You can change how frequently this updates and it will not only show you the current weather conditions (full screen initially) but will also show you where you are just in case you forget! Its a nice feature especially when its raining as you get a windscreen wiper on screen removing the rain drops. Lets hope its snows this winter!

Below the clock HTC have added some easy access tabs. There are three on screen but you can swipe down to reveal another six and these can be customised to give you quick access to your most used features and apps. You can also add contacts to these tabs, although I don’t think this is as wonderful as it sounds bearing in mind that there is a contacts tab on the home screen in TouchFlo 3D. While we are on the subject here is the contacts tab:



HTC HD2 Contacts Tab


Here you can store 15 of your very best friends. You can not only have the contacts ready to call at a single touch but you can also select it to go straight into an email to the contact. A nice option as these days more and more people are using email rather than voice calls.


The other main feature that can be accessed instantly from the home screen is the calendar.


Calendar calender year calender week calender day

HTC HD2 Calendar Options


As you can see there are several different options when it comes to viewing the calendar. Entering information is simple and it has been re skinned since Windows Mobile 6.1. Its essentially the same but just looks different. Better for sure.


You still get Touchflo 3D on the HD2, now with coloured icons and due to the phones hard wear it flows quicker and smoother than ever before.

You can customise TouchFlo by removing certain tabs or changing the order they are in but as standard you get the following from left to right:

Home, Contacts, Messages, Mail, Internet, Calendar, Peep, Photos & Video, Music, Weather, Footprints and settings.  A nice combination. I have been using TouchFlo 3D for a couple of years now and I don’t think I could live without it! It just makes life easier when it comes to wanting to do something quickly on the device.



TouchFlo Options


Finally on the home screen you have Notifications.



HTC HD2 Notifications


These can be accessed by pressing the top right hand of the screen. In particular you can quickly see how much of the battery is left. This I will cover later in the review though as I don’t want to spoil things now!

So, like all Windows phones you need to press the Windows logo, top left, to get into the main menu. On the HD2 you also get a second option, the Windows key under the screen. I found myself using this new key more often than the screen as its a long way to stretch your thumb to the top!



HTC HD2 Menu


The new 6.5 menu screen is pleasant but far from perfect. The length of the list of icons is ongoing depending on how many apps you keep adding to the device. It scrolls well but jumps in sections so I could not scroll from the top to the bottom in one swift swipe. The other thing that really sucks is the way that you arrange the applications here. You can change their order but the only option given is to more an icon to the top. This is pants!

The background on the menu will be the same as your lock screen so it is customisable.


So, onto the main feature on the device.

Messaging on the HTC HD2 is more or less painless. If you have used other HTC devices then messaging will appear pretty much the same apart from it looks very slightly different.


email1 email2

HTC HD2 emails


One small change is incorporated into TouchFlo 3D. When you click the mail tab on TouchFlo you will see the most recent message.  On previous HTC devices you would only see the first few lines of the email. Now with 6.5 you can see a lot more of the email and in some of cases it can be read without having to press the screen and actually open the whole message. Nice.

I did have one little issue with my emails though. When I received a new email I could see the notification on screen but in some instances it took a few minutes for the phone to make a sound to let me know I had new mail. If I get new mail I want to know straight away so this downfall is a bit of a fail if you ask me. Maybe its a problem with the ROM which will be fixed in time? If any other HD2 users have the same issue I would love to know?


The one thing on the HTC HD2 that made using messaging simple was the onscreen key board.


key 1

key 2

HTC HD2 Key Board Options


As with all Windows Phones you have the choice of several styles of keyboards but the full QWERTY is the one I use. In portrait mode it was great to use as the keys are bigger than on any other device and this made a real difference. One handed use was also no problem.

In landscape mode it was even easier. This was the one thing on the device I was really looking forward to testing out. I currently use a HTC Touch Pro2 and was eager to see if I could survive without my physical keyboard. I am pleased to say the HD2 didn’t disappoint. I could still type quickly and fairly mistake free. Bonus!


Web browsing on the HTC HD2 was super wicked cool! The device comes with two browsers pre installed and both have benefits over each other.

Opera Mobile is my preferred browser and HTC have incorporated it into TouchFlo for ages now. For the first time ever on a Windows Mobile device Opera now supports multi touch. This will allow you to use pinch & zoom like on the Apple iPhone and it works like a dream. I have never owned an iPhone so I have been a bit in the dark when it comes to multi touch but now I have used it on the HD2 I love it.



HTC HD2 running Opera Mobile


Another great feature with Opera is when you select it from TouchFlo 3D.



Opera Mobile on HTC HD2


As you can see above, rather than clicking on the “world” icon and going straight in there are panels on screen. There are actually 10 of these and these can be accessed by scrolling down. Each panel is a bookmark to allow you to enter the browser on the page you want. The bookmark tabs are actual thumbnails of the chosen website, a fantastic idea!

The second browser is Internet Explorer which comes with all Windows Phones. Although its not the best browser, this latest addition has a little feature that Opera does not support – Flash. This will allow you to view videos on websites without being redirected to another client such as YouTube. For example – If viewing and an unboxing video is on there, you can just click start and the video plays. Its not the best quality but its great that the feature exists.


HTC now have their own Twitter client and this is included on the TouchFlo bar. Its called Peep and is also on the HTC Tattoo & Hero and its pretty hot.


HTC Peep


There are loads of Windows Mobile Twitter applications, some good, some not so. I would honestly say that Peep in up there with the best of the bunch. Its nice and easy to use and looks great. You can Tweet instantly from the home screen and by selecting an on screen tweet you are then given further options such as retweet, send direct message, show profile etc. Its not the most in depth Twitter application but for what you get its great and best of all its free!


Also on TouchFlo is the Stocks application.



HTC Stocks


Now, what I know about Stocks you could write on a postage stamp so all I am going to say is that I love the green and black colours! I’m sure the app works great though.


Of course a Windows phone would not be complete without Office Mobile. As always this includes Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint. All of these accept PowerPoint can be created from scratch. One question we had on the forum was regarding the amount of cells you can fit onto the screen using excel.

Screen01 excel

Excel Mobile


As you can see, the screen shot on the left is the standard view and comprises of 15 rows deep. The screen shot on the right was taken after I had changed the zoom settings and this doubles the amount of cells on the screen. Unfortunately Excel would not rotate so I could not carry out a test in landscape mode. Shame.


Two new features with Windows Mobile 6.5 are My Phone and Marketplace.

My Phone is a fantastic application that will allow you to back up the data on your phone to the cloud.


myphone 2 My Phone

Microsoft My Phone


My Phone not only syncs your contacts though. You also have the option to sync SMS, Photos, Video, Calendar, Tasks, Music, Documents and Browser Favourites. Not bad eh?  You don’t have to sync all of these. You can just do the ones you want. Only downside is that you get 200mb of storage which is not a great deal if you want to store a lot of photos and videos.

In addition, for a small premium My Phone can locate your phone if its lost or stolen. My Phone can also disable it, ring it and lock your device remotely.

I have been using My Phone for a few months and I love it. I use the calendar in particular and once I have input appointments into my phone while I am out I can come home, sync and then work with the calendar on my computer.

The other great benefit is that when you either upgrade or change your device you can download My Phone and all your contacts, photos etc come straight to your new device. How cool is that?


Windows Marketplace is a much welcomed feature in Windows 6.5



Windows Marketplace


Its still early days and I think that from last week there is only about 300 apps. There are some really good ones and some not so good ones. Microsoft have a very long way to go to catch up with Apple! The Marketplace is however very easy to use. The strange thing is though is that it is split into regions. For example: The USA marketplace has a lot more apps. These can be accessed here in the UK but only if you know the secret way to do it!


Using the HD2 as a phone is nice, in particular with the contacts shortcuts to make life easier.



HTC HD2 Phone Dialler


As you would imagine the dialling keys are a nice size although I did encounter a slight problem. Using the dialler was a little buggy! When launching the dialler it would think about it for a few seconds before allowing you to enter any details. Then once I entered a few numbers or letters it would again hang for up to six seconds before finding the contact. I’m sure this will be fixed with a rom update but it was a bit of a pain in the butt.


The HTC HD2 has some nice clock features in particular the world clock.


world clock

HTC HD2 World Clock


If you click the main clock on the home screen you are taken to the world clock. Here you can view eight different cities which are totally customisable. If you deal in worldwide business or travel a lot this will come in handy but for most of us this will not apply. At the bottom of the screen you will see an alarm clock tab. Here you can set up to three alarms and even have them go of on different days of the week.  Why can I still never get up on time!


As a music player the HTC HD2 performs well like most HTC devices.



HTC HD2 Music Player


You have two options when it comes to listening to music. The first is the HTC music player, pictured above. This can be found in TouchFlo 3D. As you will see its straight forward to use with nice big on screen buttons and the album cover work is displayed. The second option you have is to use the Windows Media Player. Both work well but I prefer the HTC one.

The speaker on the HTC HD2 is pretty loud and music sounds good. We are fortunate that HTC have included a 3.5mm headset jack so you can use your own headphones if required. I tested the music player using the supplied HTC headphones and also some Samsung ones. I performed my “Metallica test” and the music quality was outstanding. I would not have expected anything less though as all the HTC devices I have had in the last couple of years have sounded great. Good job HTC.


On to the camera. The interface is typical HTC, who do not produce the best cameras, but its simple to use. All the controls are done onscreen as there is no dedicated camera button on the side of the device. Within the camera menu you have the options to alter the white balance, brightness and ISO. Advanced options lets you do more tweaking. You can change the size of the image, alter the quality, change shutter sound, use effects and a few other features which are nothing special. HTC have also included a nice flash for the first time and you have the options of having it on, off or in auto mode.

So how did the camera perform?

Rather well. The HD2 camera produced nice deep colours and the auto focus was spot on. I could not find a macro mode but I presume this is because it doesn’t need it. As you will see below I went in close to the JD bottle and the auto focus focussed straight away. With a lot of camera phones this would be a problem and would require the settings being changed to macro mode.



HTC HD2 Camera Test Up Close



HTC HD2 Camera Test With Flash


The second of the above images was taken using the flash. It was fantastic. Quality-wise it’s best HTC camera so far I say. However, if you look closely at the images above there is a purple-pink halo in the middle, particularly noticable where there is a lot of light in the centre of the picture of the JD bottle. Not sure if this is just down to a problem with the review unit or a more general quality issue.

Please note we are not alcoholics in my house!

As a video recorder the HTC HD2 does a good job too. Its not the best but its better than previous HTC devices. 


The HTC HD2 comes with a built in Wi-Fi router which is something new for HTC.



HTC HD2 Wi-Fi Router


This will allow you to connect other devices such as phones and laptops to the HD2 wirelessly and these devices can then use the HD2s 3G data. What a good idea! Did it work – sure did and perfectly. The range was good as well. After switching it on I moved three rooms away and still had a perfect connection. Nice. Its a great feature but the only thing to bare in mind if using with laptops on a regular basis is that it will be using more data than a phone so make sure you have an unlimited data plan.



Another thing that is new to a HTC WinMo device is the digital compass.



HTC HD2 Digital Compass


Now, I have never owned an iphone so I have not used a digital compass before. I’m not really all that sure that I would ever use it anyway but it worked absolutely fine on the HD2. A clever bit of kit.


The HTC HD2 comes with many normal applications you would find on a HTC device. One I use every breakfast time is YouTube.



HTC YouTube client


The HTC YouTube client provides a simple way of viewing not only the most recent and most popular videos but also has a search option. The videos play beautifully on the HD2 and it was a real dream to use.


There are however a few things I did not like about the HTC HD2.

The first is where they have now put the task manager. Normally with a HTC handset you simply press the upper right hand corner and you are presented with a list of running apps. Here you can either close the one you want or all of them. Nice and easy. But on the HD2 the task manager is hidden away in the settings and finding it requires three screen taps and a scroll which I hated. The task manager should be to hand and the fact that it is not on the HD2 got on my nerves.


The other thing I was not impressed with was the battery. At only 1230 mAp many people have said that it would not be good enough for a 4.3 inch screen and I agree. For example – Last night after the HD2 had had a full charge (second in the day!) I turned it on at 17.30 and had it connected to my Wi-Fi router. Now in this time I used it for a little bit of web browsing and also talking to Matt via MSN Messenger and by about nine o’clock that was it, dead, and I had to put it on charge again. Now I know that batteries can take a few charges to get them to there maximum performance but since I collected the HD2 from Matt I have charged it a total of seven times. Surely by now this would give an indication of its battery life? Yes, giving the HD2 a bigger battery would have made it a little thicker but I think it would have been worth it. It should have had a minimum of a 1500 mAp battery.




Matt’s Summary:

Almost every touch screen device gets compared to the iPhone and the HD2 is no different. Is the HD2 better than the iPhone? Well in some ways perhaps yes. I certainly has a faster CPU and more RAM and the storage memory can be upgraded or swapped at will. The touch screen is just as sensitive as the iPhone and the HD2 has more pixels. HD2 has a better camera and a flash. For me the biggest benefit the HD2 has over the iPhone is the ability to run multiple applications at the same time so you don’t have to end a conversation on Skype to simple check your email for example.

So am I jumping from the iPhone to the HD2? It’s a tough call. The HD2 has a lot to offer and it is a lovely handset. The size doesn’t bother me. But where the iPhone has the advantage is in the App Store, and the iTunes synchronisation. Sure there’s the Marketplace for Windows Mobile but that’s not mature enough yet in my opinion. And yes you can sync your Windows Phone with Windows Media Player but it’s no where near as seamless. In terms of how I use a mobile I’ll probably stick with the iPhone for now, at least until the HD2 comes down in price a little!

If however, you do not have an iPhone and are trying to choose between the HD2 and the iPhone then the descision is even more difficult. If you are familar with Windows Mobile then stick with the HD2 – I would!


My Summary:

My word that review took a long time!

If you currently use a touch screen device and are thinking about getting the HTC HD2 I think its defiantly worth getting but I would advise trying one out in store first just because of the size issue. Its a beast!

I feel that the HD2 is just a little too big. Although the screen is fantastic I think it would suit more people being 3.8 inches like the original Touch HD.

Do I think it is better than the iPhone – Yes, but that is because I am a Windows Mobile fan and love the way it multi tasks. Like Matt said, there are pros and cons for both devices and making your choice really comes down to what you will use it for. As a business tool the HTC HD2 is better than the iPhone, in my opinion, but for games and music the iPhone is untouchable at the moment.

Am I going to get one – No. Although I really liked it I cannot be without my Touch Pro2 keyboard. A lot of the applications on the HTC HD2 will not auto rotate to landscape mode and as I prefer typing like this its another factor that put me off. The other thing that I found infuriating was the battery. It needs to be bigger. I know that most people will not use their device as heavily as I use mine but it does not suit my needs.

Overall the HD2 is an amazing bit of kit, not perfect but its up there with the market leaders. If you get one I am sure you will be very happy. HTC just need to make a version now with a slide out keyboard – for me!

Please feel free to use our forum to ask any further questions you have regarding the HTC HD2. We will shortly be writing a follow up to this review where we will do our best to answer any questions or queries you have on the device.


Posted by: James


Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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