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HTC HD7 Review

O2’s only current Windows Phone 7 handset could be the best for the platform yet.


HTC has produced some high quality handsets over the years, helping to drive the Android revolution and offering some genuine competition for Apple’s iPhone. Whether or not the Windows Phone 7 software will be able to compete remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, the HD7 is the phone to do it.

O2 took a relatively big risk in only carrying the HD7 at Windows Phone 7 launch. Most other major carriers have adopted the Samsung Omnia 7 as the flagship handset, with one other more affordable choice. There is no doubt that the Omnia 7 is a pretty special phone, thanks in the most part to its sensational screen. But the HD7 comes close, and its large 4.3in display is perfectly suited to Microsoft’s innovative new-look interface.

The handset itself is one of HTC’s best design jobs yet, feeling good in the hand with responsive touch sensitive buttons sitting at the bottom of the screen. It is also one of the few Windows Phone 7 handsets that doesn’t come with lots of fiddly design quirks. Given the simplicity of the UI it seems only right that the phone itself should be simple too. A small kickstand folds out from the back of the handset allowing you to sit the phone horizontally when watching videos or viewing photos. Personally I found this of virtually no use other than it providing a raised area at the back of the phone which helps stop you scratching the handset when you put it down.

One element of the HD7’s design that was particularly dissapointing was its speakers and sound quality. Not only did the two small speakers that sit above and below the screen become an instant dust-trap, they were fairly quiet and didn’t exactly impress on the audio quality front.

The five-megapixel camera on the back of the HD7 seemed to cope better under low light when compared to other Windows Phone 7 hardware. It also came with a dual LED flash which certainly helped. Video footage, shot at 720p, was clear and crisp with good colour balance, but not quite as impressive as the performance found on some other comparable handsets.

One important factor to bear in mind when considering the HD7 is its 16GB of internal memory. This, coupled with an £8.99 a month Zune Pass subscription, turns the phone into an extremely powerful mobile music platform. The Zune store had an impressive selection of artists, and the ability to download them straight to the phone and then sync them wirelessly across both Xbox, PC and handset was very impressive.

HTC has included a selection of its own special apps, and most of them are useful, albeit accompanied by an unecessary launch animation. The weather app, usually such a joy on HTC phones, was particularly irritating.

After several weeks with Windows Phone 7 and putting down my iPhone altogether (well almost), I am convinced that Microsoft has cracked it with this OS. The hardware might not quite compare to the exeptionally high bar set by the iPhone 4, but the majority of handsets come close.

The HD7 sits alongside the Samsung Omnia 7 as the only Windows 7 handsets that really challenge the design standards of the iPhone. So the real dilemma lies not in what handset you choose, but which network you opt for.

Filed in: Technology News

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