It’s HTC in the lead, bringing us yet another Windows Phone 7 handset - enter the HTC HD 7. I wasn't altogether too pleased with their initial offering, i.e. The HTC 7 Mozart. While the handset proved to be mediocre at best, the new look and feel of the Windows Mobile UI didn't really do it for me either. Having said that, their latest offering had the community wanting more and I was hoping that that's just what HD7 would offer. Here’s a closer look.
Taking its cue form big brother HTC HD2, the HD7 is pretty much just an upgrade in some instances and a downgrade in others. For instance, while the HD7 is a classier, more elegant and refined looking handset, it’s a tad heavier than the HD2 but not enough to hamper portability or usage. Like the Mozart, the HD7 doesn’t have support for external memory. It’ll be available with 8GB or 16GB internal storage. It’s big phone to say the least, with display size and resolution almost identical to the HD2 – 4.3-inches, 480 x 800 pixels, only the HD7 features 16million colors while the HD2 could only handle 65,000.
Large as heck, but what a looker
The physical keys under the display of the HD2 have been replaced with 3 simple touch sensitive options – return, a Windows key to get to the Home Page and search. A micro USB connectivity/charging port is located at the bottom right next to the 3.5mm handsfree socket with the volume/zoom keys on the right side above the camera activation/shutter release key.
At the rear of the handset is a neatly engineered kickstand to prop the handset up in landscape making it really easy to view while watching videos. The bundled handsfree, while extremely comfortable and able to provide excellent quality audio, has the microphone built into the control pad which is situated too far. This makes it harder for the person on the other side of a call to hear you too well.
Features and Performance
There’s really no difference or changes made to the HD7’s UI as compared to the Mozart’s. It’s still as smooth as ever thanks to the 1 GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 200 GPU and Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset which incidentally was also available on the HD2. At least with HTC’s Windows Mobile version of Sense UI, functionality was a lot better even if the layout wasn’t so simple. The little drop down menu from the top of the screen doesn’t any more information other than battery power, time and signal strength. A few more details would have helped. New messages and a small music player UI shows up when necessary but doesn’t stay there too long.
The older Windows Mobile edition looked cluttered and too much like most other smartphone UIs at the time, WP7 is far more refined. From accessing menus to animations that happen while the accelerometer is in use and even pinch zooming, it’s all very iPhone-esque. It’s a fluid UI and the large virtual QWERTY keypad even in portrait mode makes for quick and comfortable typing. Multi-tasking on the WP7 platform isn’t very well thought out since there’s really no way you can access apps running in the background other than the music player.
WP7, smooth as silk but far from complete
The Tile system and side scrolling for most menus is easy to navigate but the lack of an actual ‘homescreen’ could take a little getting used to. There’s no way to adjust the background except with a light or dark (white or black) theme and tile color options. Almost anything can be pinned to the desktop making it somewhat easy to access. However, with platform like iOS or Android with their smaller icons and widgets, you have slightly more options per screen. Nevertheless, the Tiles are large and clear for viewing and access. Sadly though, the entire menu system does not switch to landscape, so if your handset’s neatly propped up on your desk, you’ll have to manage viewing the desktop, menus page and a few others in a sideways angle. Settings are minimalistic and that’s not a bad thing.