HTC HD7 & Windows Phone 7 Review – UPDATED

Having launched in November 2010 I thought it was about time I gave my 2 pennies worth for one of the flagship Windows Phone 7 devices, the HTC HD7.

Having previously owned and flogged to death the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS, the HTC Desire and Google Nexus One, I have experienced my fair share of smart phones over the last few years, and suffered the pains of being an early adoptee for what are always fault riddled devices.

Starting Up
The HTC syncs in exactly the same way as the iPhone to both Mac and PC, with the Mac needing a free client that spoofs the front end GUI to resemble that of the iPhone docking interface. Media and information is backed up and deployed in exactly the same way too, meaning the learning curve is dramatically reduced for any that have already owned an iPhone. If Google are your contact and diary database of choice, your in luck, making contact migration a simple user name and password experience. If you don’t, I have no idea how this will work, but you should seriously consider this as it takes away a lot of aggro and hassle if you ever need to change a lost phone.

Technical Glitches? (Its Built by Microsoft……)
Needless to say the HD7 doesn’t disappoint, and is equally as buggy as the original iPhone at launch. Having encountered screen freezing and glitching, Market Place errors, and the strangest error to be encountered…… a refusal to exchange any form of communication with my fiancée!

Although potentially a very convenient excuse for additional time down the pub, it is not one of the most believable, or conducive to actually trying to make it to the wedding day. Email, outgoing text messages, phone calls and MMS, all barred from the one person. I knew planning a wedding was stressful but I’ve never heard of a bride to be have a mobile operator block all communication from their future husband! Incoming text did display in the preview window, however when attempting to read the message it mysteriously disappears, never to be seen again.

After a single call to the help desk, the issue was actually found to be that of the device and not the software/operator so a simple handset replacement later and the issue was resolved. This was actually surprisingly simple, and a great reflection of how O2, HTC and Windows, are all collaborating to make this entry to the market work.

Another area that needs refinement is the GPS. Unable to provide dynamic turn by turn navigation out of the box like the android phones, the GPS suffers from huge inaccuracies when not connected to wifi, placing you consistently within a half mile radius of your true location, often in the centre of fields, or supposedly driving in the opposite direction.

The User Interface
As ecosystems and operating systems go, the Mobile 7 platform continues the huge steps that Microsoft has taken to rebrand itself as a slick and user friendly platform. Arguably my favourite OS of the current smartphone market, it’s slick tile interface and sub-folder page design, consolidates all of your Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Zune and any other Web based resources into either People, Pictures and Music, meaning you can seamlessly check both your and your friends and families latest content from one place.

The Market place is slick, and appears to borrow much from the successful iTunes format, although that’s not a bad thing by any stretch, and it’s not like Microsoft has ever borrowed some ideas from Apple before…… have they? Key apps are already in place, and all games have a demo version for you to try before you buy. The only element of the Market hat is limiting at he moment is the ability to search by application type. For example a search for a song title or game results in a list of all apps, games, artist, bands and tracks sharing that name, making finding what you were searching for more complex than necessary.

The UI takes all of the turmoil of switching out of applications away, enabling the simple tasks to be completed as quickly as possible, (see YouTube real time adverts for examples). Allowing you to generate, distribute and share content quickly and easily with anyone who cares to take an interest.

Customisation
Outside of changing the tile colour and picking from the huge colour palette of black or white backgrounds this aspect of the OS is very limited.

Technical specs
There is nothing stunning about this handset from a technical perspective, but it handles everything very well none the less. The phone and apps are quick to boot from cold and the internal 16Gb memory is more than enough for a mobile handset. The large screen and touch interface work as well as any other device available at present , and the keyboard is comfortable to use, but not as accurate at auto correcting as the Apple and Android counterparts.

The battery is solid, providing at least a days worth of heavy use.

Overall
This is a solid entry and a handset that I have now made my main device. If you were considering a different handset and didn’t mind a few bugs along the way I would definitely recommend this above the others available. If you like things simple in life then I would recommend steering clear of this one for now.

UPDATE

In March 2011 Microsoft released the latest, but first fullest update for the Phone 7 OS. This update was interestingly named NoDo. Having recently installed NoDo and used it for a short while I thought it may be wise to make an additon to this article.

  • NoDo dramatically increases the speed with which the whole phone works. Games, Apps, Marketplace, XboxLive, Scrolling, its all much quicker and alot smoother too, whether on 3G or WiFi.
  • Location (Maps) is greatly improved, it now actually knows where I am!
  • It crashes less. This was really starting to p*ss me off. It seemed to get worse as the update release drew nearer, having to remove the back case and battery almost twice a day.
  • Cut & Paste is now here, although you cannot cut text from an SMS message at present.
  • STILL NO CALL WAITING!!!! Please Microsoft, this is a basic mobile function that I had on the Nokia 3210, and I would like it back!

In terms of the HD7, the volume has been increased to address the issue of fleas having sex drowning out your ring tone. The front speakers now work and the vibrate function doesn’t now cause the device to lock up.

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