HTC’s Popular 4.3 Inch Display meets Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 in the HD7, the phone that looks much like the HD2.
The WP7 phone offers the usual 800×480 pixel resolution screen on a 1Ghz Qualcomm snapdragon processor, with 576Mb of RAM and a 5 Megapixel Autofocus Camera, with 720p High Definition video recording capabilities.
What differentiates it from everything else out there? Well HTC will tell you that it’s Hub enhances the smooth, quick windows phone 7 software, while when it comes to hardware, there’s a convenient little kickstand that allows you to use the device in landscape. The huge screen, means you’ll have a nice large canvas to play around with too. But how much of that is useful in our day-to-day usage? Read on for the review.
Note: This review focuses mostly on the HTC HD7 hardware. For a review on the OS, please check out our Windows Phone 7 Review.
HTC has been proclaiming the HD7 as an entertainment machine. With the kickstand, and two large speakers on either side of the humongous display (top and bottom of the phone, which later turned out not to be speakers at all, more info below), you can easily believe that.
There’s a metallic band around the circumference, which protects the screen from harm (to an extent), and also houses the volume rocker key, and a two-stage camera button, along with a power button that also functions as the screen-lock key.
At the bottom, you’ll find the MicroUSB port, and the 3.5mm audio jack.
The look and feel of the HD7 is quite nice. Great weight to it (in our opinion, while some found it a bit heavy), and great feel to it thanks to the very ergonomically curved back.
Even though it might be a bit oversized for the average user, we loved using it as our daily phone, and found it quite pocket-able thanks to its slim profile.
That being said, the quality of the back cover is annoying, having been made from a relatively cheap plastic, which is prone to creaking.
But it does look durable, and the matt finish to the surface suits the overall look. This also means that the back panel is easy enough to remove, with HTC even having a little insert underneath the batter to help you remove it more easily.
The metallic band around the sides of the phone provides most of its rigidity, a design which worked well enough for us.
The speaker recesses also turned out to be total dust magnets, as you might notice from the photos in this review. Cleaning them out wasnt too easy.
There’s also a kickstand, which sits flush with the phone when retracted, and does wiggle a tiny bit when opened.
That’s also when we noticed that there’s a speaker at the back of the device, which actually turned out to be the only working, mono speaker.
That’s when it hit us, that the ‘stereo speakers‘ at the front of the HD7, are actually just the earpiece, and the microphone. The speaker at the back is not too impressive, both in terms of loudness, and clarity unfortunately.
Our ASIA HTC HD7 came with 16GB of non-expandable storage, but some countries might have to make do with 8GB only, which is a bit of a limitation today, where most people need to have every episode of every season of Dexter/Glee/Insert-Your-Favourite-Show on their phone. There is Netflix and Slacker Radio installed on the US HD7 though, for your streaming needs, and there’s the Zune pass available in select countries, which is basically an all-you-can-listen-to music buffet service which turns the cloud into your music collection.
The Qualcomm QSD8250 Chipset that powers the HD7 (and the HD2 before) is 1Ghz and gets the job done. Speaking of the HD2, the HD7 is almost entirely like it, with the exact same specs, and capacitive keys instead of physical buttons, and a different frame around the giant display. But when it comes to internals, they are both basically the exact same phone.
But the user experience is super smooth on the HD7, so we cant really complain. It’s definitely not a slouch at performance. The only reason you might want something faster/better/quicker on the inside, would be if you’re in love with the numbers we keep hearing about nowadays. Otherwise the HD7 is more than enough.
What we can complain about though, is the battery. It’s 1230 mAh which is definitely on the smaller side of most smartphones nowadays, and especially for one which is powering a 4.3 Inch Display. The LG Optimus 7 comes with a 1500 mAh battery, so we saw no reason other than budgets, for the HD7 to do so too. We definitely felt the different with the HD7, looking for a charger before a full day of intense usage. Even the lightest usage, would require you to charge the device by the end of the day, which isnt very impressive.
The Display on the HD7 is the phone’s defining feature, and was the first thing people noticed when they saw us using the phone. That, and Windows Phone 7. But the OS experience will be the same, should you want to shift to another WP7 device, so its not too big a deal, from that perspective.
The large screen makes your daily tasks a lot easier though. In terms of pixel density, its not much better off than most other phones, but the pixels are magnified in this case, which makes it much easier to read websites without having to zoom in all the time. Navigation and text input is also a lot easier. We’d be lieing if we said that the screen didnt carry us away on our daily commutes. So much so in fact, that sometimes we forgot we were using a phone. To us it felt like just the right size, not too large (like the Dell Streak), or two small (like the Micromax A60). Some might find the large screen overwhelming though.
But the display isnt without its flaws, and viewing angles is one of them. It can reach high levels of brightness and all, but color reproduction isnt super spot-on. By today’s standards its not exactly a High quality display, with Nokia’s Clearblack displays, Samsung’s Super AMOLED, and Sony Ericsson’s Bravia display competing in this segment too. Even the HTC Mozart has a better quality one. Not that we didnt like the screen, it’s just not as high quality as you’d think it was.
The Camera on the HD7 isnt too great unfortch. Focusing is quick, and you can start the Camera App right from a locked screen by just holding down the shutter button (which we thought was very cool). The Camera would sometimes get the White Balance absolutely correct, but would sometimes struggle to focus in circumstances that should not have been a challenge at all.
Another annoyance was that Windows Phone 7, like Symbian, does not remember camera settings when you exit the app. Even the Camera Video Recorder settings are not remembered. For example, the default setting for the camera is to record in 480p, so you have to keep remembering to switch it to 720p if you want to record in high def. Every single time. Which can get very very annoying.
Video quality though is good enough, though the sensor does search for a focus even when you’re holding it steady, sometimes. Overall, the HD7’s camera does a decent enough job, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Here’s a couple Camera Sample images from the HTC HD7:-
Video 1 (480p):
Video 2 (720):
As we mentioned earlier, the HD7 runs on Windows Phone 7. You can check out our Windows Phone 7 Review for the whole lowdown on what to expect.
The only thing new in the HTC WP7 experience, is the HTC Hub.
As soon as you start up the App, you get a startup sequence that consists of a couple quite extravagant animations that throw you through cloud and sun symbols to remind you that there’s a weather app coming up. Sigh. Once it all starts up, you get a Weather app, and a stock updater, along with a couple featured apps that you can download from the Marketplace. HTC promises more apps coming to the Hub though.
So what can we say that hasnt been said about the HD7 already. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, in the same 4.3 Inch formfactor that HTC has used over on the HD2 and Evo 4G before it, but applied to the new Windows Phone 7 OS.
If you’ve considering this phone, then you’ll first have to consider whether you’ll be able to survive with Windows Phone 7 instead of Android. Nowadays, a phone is only as good or bad as the software it runs on, so you have to decide on the Operating System you want first (iOS, Android, Symbian or Windows Phone 7), and then on the handset you want. The HD7 is definitely a solid Windows Phone 7 device, but it has its few flaws.
For one thing, the build quality, while good, is not as great as the rest of HTC’s range of devices. That being said it’s way better than, say, the Samsung Galaxy S in that department. The display is pretty nice, and can get really really bright, but again isnt as good as some competition devices, with (again, compared to other phones in the range) poor contrast and viewing angles. But then again, noone else has managed to make a great 4.3 Inch display either. Sound isnt too loud either, which means while the HD7 is a good multimedia device, it isnt great by any means.
But we thought the size was perfect for our needs, while we agree that the phone is a tiny bit bulky. But there’s lots of screen real estate, and the general usability is pretty great. If you’re looking for a great Windows Phone 7 Device today, the HD7 is definitely recommendable.
Note: In India, the HTC HD7 can be bought on Airtel. More details on their Website.