HTC HD2

There's no doubt in our minds that the combination of power, features and good looks make the HTC HD2 the best Windows Mobile smartphone ever made.


8.6
CNET Rating
7.6
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


There's no doubt about it, Windows Mobile is a tough sell in a world of iPhones and Androids. HTC has stood out as the one company focused on designing sleek, usable WinMo handsets, but even then it has struggled to really land a winner. The Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 were fair efforts but they were pulled back by the resource-hungry Windows Mobile monster. Can the HD2 overcome the OS burden and deliver a consumer-friendly Windows phone?

Design

The HD2 is a solid, beautifully designed handset, not that we expect any less from the Taiwanese manufacturer. Its 4.3-inch screen may seem unwieldy, but in person it feels like the perfect size for a touchscreen, and its 157-gram weight helps give this impression too. The screen's 800x480 resolution display is sharp and colourful and makes for a very responsive input panel with loads of screen real estate to play with.

Most impressive is HTC's minimalist approach to external buttons and inputs. Around the edges you'll find a volume rocker on the left-hand side, and a 3.5mm headphone socket and a microUSB charging port on the bottom. Under the screen there are five mechanical keys, calling buttons, home and back keys plus a dedicated Windows button for opening the program menu. Outside of these options everything else is controlled using the capacitive touchscreen.

Common Sense

Owners of HTC's Windows phones will be familiar with the HTC TouchFlo 3D user interface, a custom shell for Windows designed by HTC to add usability and some extra functionality to the otherwise bland WinMo user experience. TouchFlo 3D has itself had a facelift since the last HTC Windows phone release, and it now goes by a new name: HTC Sense. Sense has more options but the same basic design as TouchFlo 3D (both use a horizontal list of tools at the bottom of the screen).

The other significant difference is the ability to customise the workspace beyond just changing the wallpaper image. Now users can re-order the layout of home screen menus, placing Twitter and weather before stocks and settings, or they can choose to turn off entire home screen tabs altogether — handy for hiding those pesky Telstra service tabs that otherwise clutter the home screen.

Speaking of Telstra services, as a Telstra exclusive the HD2 comes with a whole swag of the telco's web links and apps pre-installed; some are shameless attempts to open your wallet, while others are truly excellent additions to the phone. Foxtel, for example, has received a major overhaul since the last time we saw it and is now delivered via a slick dedicated app complete with touchscreen controls. In this new Foxtel app you can watch the program in the top half of the screen while you scroll through the other channels on the bottom of the display.

Sense also brings a few key social networking features, including the Twitter app Peep and Facebook syncing with contacts in your address book. Peep is an excellent Twitter client for checking your feed on the run; it has its own home screen tab so you don't have to go fishing around in programs to open it, and though you can't control all aspects of Twitter with Peep (you can't view a list of a contact's followers, for example) it has enough functionality for most everyday use.

Business buddy

But it's not all Foxtel TV and Twitter, the HD2 is a business phone after all. There are mobile versions of Office, Excel and PowerPoint (with a free beta trial version of Office 2010 available on the Windows Marketplace too), there's VPN access, high-speed uploads for transferring files from the phone to clients and colleagues, and full syncing with Microsoft Outlook via ActiveSync. Windows Mobile 6.5 also brings Microsoft's MyPhone software, allowing you to backup your phone's data to a web server, post photos to online services and blogs, and protects your phone in the event that it gets lost or stolen.

When it comes to web browsing you're spoilt for choice both in regards to connectivity and to browsers themselves. Firstly, you get to choose between Next G mobile data (with speeds up to 7.2Mbps) or Wi-Fi, and once you've settled on your connection of choice you can choose to use Microsoft's upgraded Internet Explorer browser or the pre-installed Opera Mobile version 9.7. Both do an excellent job of rendering web pages and succeed in being extremely user-friendly; however, the Opera browser is the only one that takes advantage of the HD2's multi-touch capabilities, offering pinch-to-zoom functionality.

Two unique features are conferencing call and the Wi-Fi Router mode. Conferencing call is identical to what we saw on the Touch Pro2, allowing up to five users to join a call simultaneously. The Wi-Fi Router turns your handset into a mobile hotspot, allowing up to seven users to share your Next G data using any other Wi-Fi-enabled device. It's easy to use too, simply create an SSID and a password and you're away.

HD means high-def right?

OK, the truth's out, the HD2 doesn't actually support HD-quality video playback, but it is a very handy multimedia centre. It starts with the generous 16GB microSD included with the phone, but that would mean precious little if the HD2 wasn't capable of high-quality media capture and playback. The HD2 plays MP4, H.264 and WMV video files plus AAC, WMA, WAV and MP3 audio files all of which look and sound fantastic when played through this excellent phone.

The 5-megapixel camera on the back of the HD2 is one of HTC's best in our opinion. By default, the camera's brightness and colour saturation appear to be bumped up past what you would consider to be natural colour. The results are radiant images that jump off the 4.3-inch screen when previewed. The lens is supported by bright dual-LEDs and the software features touchscreen auto-focus, letting you select the subject of your shot by touching them in the preview window.

Performance

When you first turn the HD2 on we guarantee you will be blown away by the speed of the user interface (UI). Scrolling transitions between menu tabs are as smooth as butter and searching through a gallery of images is equally zippy; with images moving accurately with your finger gestures. Web browsing is also a pleasure; page scrolling is iPhone-like in its ability to keep up while you scan a long page full of rich content and the pinch-to-zoom feature is accurate too.

It's really disappointing when this performance starts going south, which will definitely happen if you don't follow a strict regime of closing every app with the "X" after use. Windows Mobile 6.5 is a system technically capable of multitasking, but the price is a sharp dip in performance if you absent-mindedly leave multiple apps running in the background. Curiously, there's no task switching key on the handset so multitasking is almost redundant considering you have to return to the programs menu to reactivate a previously used application.

Battery life is a standard smartphone day which is to say it should see you through a work day but you'll want to charge it overnight. Our use of the HD2 consisted of push email, regular Twitter updates, less than an hour of web browsing a day and a moderate amount of calls and text messages. No doubt a high-use business person or a multimedia junkie could tear through the battery charge in less than a day.

Overall

Hands down this is the best Windows Mobile smartphone ever built, and it's amongst the upper echelon of all smartphones available today. If you were just comparing hardware, the HD2 would win the day against the iPhone and the army of Androids, but with Windows Mobile 6.5 and its appalling memory management lurking under the veneer of the slick user interface, it's hard to name the HD2 as the most capable smartphone available. Windows Mobile loyalists need look no further, the HD2 is as good as it gets on the WiMo platform.



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bluefungi
6
Rating
 

bluefungi posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Large screen, HTC Sense, Camera, 16GB microSD

The Bad:Windows Mobile 6.5, Lag spikes, Browsing, Keyboard

The HTC HD2 is a good phone and performs well. The Home Screen is attractive and HTC Sense masks the horrible interface of Windows Mobile. The 5MP Camera is great. It captures pictures well in both daylight and nighttime. Getting a 16GB microSD card with the HD2 is also a bonus.

The problem starts here: Texting can be a hit or miss due to the touch keyboard on the HD2. At times you'll be able to get your message across at a reasonable speed but other times (mostly) you'll seem to touch the wrong letter, it may be the one next to the one you wanted or somewhere else on the keyboard. This is a pain especially if you want to get a quick message around to a friend.

Browsing is a pain as well. It isn't as responsive as the iPhone, and text isn't as clear. While these are problems in my opinion, it works. Just don't use it for long periods of time or you'll get frustated with its performance.

The lag spikes don't help either. You may want to touch something to open up a menu, or update the weather and you'll notice the lag from there onwards. I found this to be a hit and miss, as there have been times where these operations have worked without any lag spike whatsoever.

Finally, the operating system. HTC has done a great job with HTC Sense and makes the OS look great but peel back the layers and you'll see the problems of Windows Mobile 6.5. If the HD2 came with a stylus, it may have been more usable, however using your finger in Windows Mobile can be a frustrating experience.

I have said many cons about the HD2, but it is a good phone. Not a great phone, but a good one. The large screen is a bonus and helps the user operate Windows Mobile. HTC Sense is great on the phone as well as the camera produces some nice shots. If you like Windows Mobile, I'd recommend this phone. If you don't, you may want to look elsewhere as the cons of the phone can be problematic.

 

brad92 posted a comment   
Australia

hey i am looking into buying the HTC HD2 or and HTC Desire. after looking at many reviews i still havent yet decided.

i need some opinions on to which phone to get, obviously both have awesome apps, but the majority of my phone usage will be calling, internet and txt messages. i would say i use the phone quite alot during the day, and do look after my phone, so dropping the phone or scratching isnt really an issue.

thankyou

Tone
9
Rating
 

Tone posted a review   

The Good:Awesome hardware, software customization!

The Bad:Standard Windows OS, but that can be fixed!

I've had this phone for about 14 months. The HD2 eats iPhones for breakfast. Let's get past that massive screen and sleek hardware, what other phone can currently run WM6.5 (custom ROM and cookies hometabs is a must), Linux - Android Gingerbread, Ubuntu etc. and the new WM7? ( on XDA and HTCpedia forums). Why would you want to let Steve control your phone thru his istore when you can have total freedom of choice :) Open Source. If the iphone is a smart phone, then the HD2 is a genius phone.
I'd give it a 10 with an 8MP camera .. or 12! with a bottle opener ;)

 

wtf posted a comment   

The Good:awesome looking home page

The Bad:availability of apps

those of you that are having problems with this phone, i am not sure if telstra screwed it up or you just dont know how to use it. it is brilliant, and i have not had any problems with it. although there have been times when i had to restore factory settings because the phone somehow decided to 'ban' me from the 'today' page. after a few times, i found out the problem... lol, like all windows devices, it will start malfunctioning if you leave it on for too long, so now i turn it off at night, and never had the problem again. Everything else is just beautiful! the review is right about the storage problem, it is very slow when it has a lot of 'useless' stuff on it, like temp files.
Personally i think this version of winmo 6.5 looks better than winmo7 (btw, i have an updated version of the 6.5 pro OS, look a LITTLE different) another advantage of windows phone is that you can easily dual boot it with android as well, how good is that?

Anonymous
2
Rating
 

Anonymous posted a review   

The Good:The screen resolution and camera

The Bad:Everything else.

I purchased a HTC HD2 recently, ever since I turned it on it has been overheating, lagging, more overheating, more lag. When it is not fully charged it won't go to my home screen. Won't allow me to get into my messages, it has never received emails and it doesn't let me make or receive calls. Currently sending it off to have it checked out. I have had a Mozart before and that ran fine. Don't know where they went wrong with this phone, definitely not worth the big price and I wouldn't go with HTC again. Definitely not recommended - More trouble than it is worth.

heidi
2
Rating
 

heidi posted a review   

not user friendly

roatrgurl
9
Rating
 

roatrgurl posted a review   

The Good:great

The Bad:doesnt allow me to go on line

awesome phone love it nothing wrong with this and so loving the screen and the rest,best phone ive ever had,only downfall if that is that i carnt connect to the internet not sure if this is the settings as i do have wireless at home so will have to take into the shop to sort out,otherwise wrapped user cheers

 

chevie posted a comment   

The Good:the screen size

The Bad:everything

We have had nothing but problems with this phone. Switching itself off, Taking up to 4 hours to turn back on, Restarting itself all day long, overheating all the time, changing the time on the phone sometimes back to 1980, not downloading emails, wont let you answer the phone or hang it up after a call...... the list goes on. To top it off TELSTRA wont replace it they'll only send it away to TRY and fix it. I will no longer be going with TELSTRA or HTC ever again!!!!!!!!!


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User Reviews / Comments  HTC HD2

  • bluefungi

    bluefungi

    Rating6

    "The HTC HD2 is a good phone and performs well. The Home Screen is attractive and HTC Sense masks the horrible interface of Windows Mobile. The 5MP Camera is great. It captures pictures well in both..."

  • brad92

    brad92

    "hey i am looking into buying the HTC HD2 or and HTC Desire. after looking at many reviews i still havent yet decided.

    i need some opinions on to which phone to get, obviously both ha..."

  • Tone

    Tone

    Rating9

    "I've had this phone for about 14 months. The HD2 eats iPhones for breakfast. Let's get past that massive screen and sleek hardware, what other phone can currently run WM6.5 (custom ROM and cookies ..."

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