HTC HD7

With Windows Phone 7, the HD7 is a great smartphone for beginners but its locked OS and absent features will frustrate seasoned smartphone users.


7.6
CNET Rating
6.8
User Rating

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CNET Editor

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


A lot has changed in the smartphone game in the six months since Microsoft launched its Windows Phone 7 platform. Many of the major manufacturers have launched products with dual-core processors, and many other upcoming handsets feature HDMI connectivity and DLNA media sharing. We knew Microsoft had some work to do with its OS after the launch, with several key features to add before it fell too far behind, but has it done enough so that phones like the HD7 remain competitive?

Design

As with several of its competitors, HTC has settled recently on a design profile that is instantly recognisable as an HTC product. The HD7 follows in these footsteps, offering its 4.3-inch display within the now-familiar black bezel with a soft-touch matte grey battery cover behind it. Side-by-side with its other WP7 releases, the Mozart and the Trophy, the HD7 is much the same aesthetically, only bigger.

This large screen display is a fitting centrepiece, with nice deep blacks and rich, vivid colours on show. HTC positions the 3.5mm headphone socket on the rear of the base of the handset, which is handy for game players, and has the usual array of volume keys with the camera shutter on the right hand side. Interestingly, HTC has included forward-facing speaker grilles at both the top and bottom of the screen and a kickstand on the back, so that when you are watching movies you have the experience of a mini flat panel TV.

The HD7's kickstand is a pretty handy feature.
(Credit: CBSi)

All in all, HTC does a nice job of delivering the big screen experience without weighing the phone down or making it uncomfortably heavy. At 162-grams, the HD7 is still extremely portable, and its 11.2mm thickness is only marginally wider than the thinnest phones in market, though its curved back makes it seem a little chunkier.

User experience

Though tech pundits maintain a laundry list of missing features in Windows Phone — including the team here at CNET — no one can fault the performance of the system and the user experience this offers. This is one of the fastest, slickest mobile platforms available. It is also one of the simplest to use, making it an excellent choice for first-time smartphone shoppers.

Microsoft call this its Metro UI, with shortcut tiles on the front-facing homescreen and a list of all of the installed applications accessible with a horizontal swipe on the screen from right-to-left. The same gesture applies in the core applications; swiping right-to-left in the "People" menu takes you from your address book to your friends' latest Facebook updates, for example.

All phone settings and limited customisation options can be found under a single Settings menu. This is great for those who are new to the system as you won't need to spend hours setting the phone up the way you want it. There is a lot of the fine-tuning that we expect in Android smartphones that simply isn't available in Windows Phone, but for some people this will be a plus and not a minus.

Media and the web

As we mentioned earlier, the showstopper here is the 4.3-inch LCD, but unfortunately this killer feature isn't supported by killer pre-installed apps to make the most of it. The media player supports H.264 MP4 files, so any other files you have will need to be transcoded using the Zune media manager, something that takes time with larger files.

Speaking of larger files, Microsoft's system still allows no user access to the HD7's 16GB internal storage. You can transfer music, videos, photos and documents to the handset via Zune, but you can't dump any old string of data on the storage to transport it from home to the office, for example. There's also no microSD card slot, so those looking for more than 16GB of storage will have to look elsewhere.

The integrated Internet Explorer browser is good for regular web surfing with decent load times and rendering of page elements. It is a watered-down web experience, however, with no Flash support and no integrated video streaming tool for sites like YouTube. Instead you're redirected to a Marketplace download and forced to switch between the browser and the player — a task made more difficult on a system without multitasking. It's also worth noting that there is no internet tethering option, so you can't share your 3G with any other devices.

On the plus side, the HD7's 5-megapixel camera takes lovely photos. Our test pics all look great played back on the handset, though the focus is a tad soft for photos you might be thinking of enlarging. The colour reproduction is quite vivid, capable of turning Sydney at night into a Tokyo-like neon metropolis, which some people might not like.

Performance

If you remember the launch activity around Windows Phone 7 then you'll be familiar with Microsoft's strict edict to manufacturers about which hardware components must be used in a WP7 handset. The HTC HD7 meets this water mark, with a 1GHz processor and 576 RAM, and delivers performance on-par with the excellent standard we've seen from this range previously. Menu scrolling and application switching is smooth and responsive; at no time during our review did we see any lag spikes or animation stutters.

Battery life wasn't so great, however, with the enormous display chewing through the juice faster than with any of the other WP7 handsets we've seen. This statistic reinforces our other observations, suggesting that the HD7 is best suited to someone who wants an easy-to-use smartphone with great calling, messaging and email, but also someone who is unlikely to fiddle with their phone too much. The web browsing is decent and there are some excellent games on the Windows Marketplace to download and play, but you'll need to remember to charge your phone at school or work if you intend to do too much of either on the HD7.

Overall

So is Windows Phone 7 complete enough to maintain competition? People coming to WP7 from other smartphone platforms will spot its weaknesses immediately, even those coming from obsolete versions of Windows Mobile. Microsoft's locked-down OS will frustrate seasoned smartphone users looking for features like media sharing and internet tethering, but its simplicity will also delight many who are looking for a way to manage their online lives and who don't want or need for this process to be too complex. HTC's HD7 is an excellent example of a Windows Phone handset, and would be a great choice for anyone who usage matches its somewhat simple feature set.

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Add Your Review 27


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LeaS Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Phone that puts you at centre!"

LeaS posted a review   

The Good:WP7.5 Mango, slick interface, no lag experienced like ANDROID, metro interface

The Bad:battery life.

i have a htc hd7 with mango for 10 months now. everything is excellent especially twitter and facebook integration! i love it. with apps i am actually not that type of person who downloads gazzilion of apps and doesnt use it. it for consumers who wants to put people first. thats my wp7 story! waiting for my appolo update though! lol

RyanL Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Brilliant phone, save for a bit of carelessness by yours truly."

RyanL posted a review   

The Good:Beautiful screen and proportions; Mango update made it truly spectacular; kickstand

The Bad:Major lack of apps that actually have any use, although that's not HTC's fault; battery life could be better (even occasional use only sees little more than a day's life out of it).

I loved this phone, emphasis on the word loved, even pre-Mango. Simple, easy-to-use, and effortlessly beautiful to hold but a small drop onto a wood bench mucked up the speaker and so the only way I can hear a single thing out of it is to plug headphones in. Whichever way you look at it that makes it pretty much defunct.

Disappointing really.

Johnharryau
1
Rating
 

"It is a toy for Children"

Johnharryau posted a review   
Other

The Good:the start screen

The Bad:everything else

I bought this to replace my HTC HD2 which replaced my Imate. HD7 is supposed to be a windows phone but will not synch with Office on my computer. I cannot transfer files, it is a toy for music and videos, definately not for business. A real shame and a complete waste of money.

ReeceC Facebook
6
Rating
 

"good phone with room for improvement"

ReeceC posted a review   

The Good:Fast disply. fast bootup, great design

The Bad:Bad battery life, lack of apps. camera is dicey at times

If you could make the tiles smaller that would be great so you don't have to scroll all day

crstfa
2
Rating
 

"Worst phone i have every owned!"

crstfa posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Emails

The Bad:Everything else

Hi,

I've had this phone for about 3months now, i changed over from an iPhone because i thought maybe Microsoft might be on to something, how very wrong i was!

To put it simple, the phone is missing alot of features current smart phones have. It is supposed to be the latest but it is so far behind the rest i just dont understand WHY they would release it??

During calls the phone hangs up partly because the screen does not blank out when it is up against my ear like it is suppose to. It also drops out far more than what my iPhone did. I seriously thought my iPhone was bad for call quality and from what i read about the HTC this was suppose to be a strong point, how misleading that was!

Battery life is pathetic, i have to charge the phone everyday. Which i usually do but on the rare occasion you get caught out it is pretty much guaranteed that the phone will not be on when you wake up.

The glare on the screen when using it outside is horrific, i can barely type a sms because the keyboard is so hard to see!!

I find the keyboard is not very accurate, i think this may be because of how narrow the keys are.

You can turn the phone off while it is LOCKED! Like comon man thats a massive screw up! If your bending over and your pants hit the off/on button it will turn the phone off. This happens occasionally! Atleast make it so you need to unlock the phone before it can be switched off! WAKE UP MICROSOFT!

I could seriously sit here and type forever but i have better things to do. If you are reading my comment then i advise you not to buy this phone. I personally would either buy the Nexus S or go back to an Iphone. Atleast these guys can get the basics right! PEACE!

ggarner50
6
Rating
 

"i love this phone a few things need upgrading."

ggarner50 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:The slimmness & Screen

The Bad:you cant set your own music as ringtones.

i really thought i would love this phone but you cant set your own music as a ringtone, and it syncs all your emails to your contact list i dont like that. The windows 7 apps need to be updated.
i believe the htc desire is a better phone.

GTB
8
Rating
 

GTB posted a review   

The Good:UI, speed, screen size, NextG

The Bad:telstra service

bought one outright from Telstra this morning and went onto pre-paid. Good weight and excellent screen size. Noticed the fingerprints immediately so I need a screen protector.

Recharge is very fast, took about 90 minutes to get a full battery.

Win 7 is pretty slick OS. I just need a legit SSL certificate on my Exchange server and I can sync/send with it via the internet rather than using internet email or waiting until I am at my desk.

I'll load up some videos and music tonight and research a good game to test the graphics.

 

william s posted a comment   

The Good:want one

The Bad: where can u get it on plans?

can you get this phone on any caps?

 

ggarner50 posted a reply   
Australia

Im with telstra and i love being with them. i have this phone and im on a $129 cap and its unlimited calls and texts.

chris
3
Rating
 

chris posted a review   

The Good:slick looks

The Bad:multimedia uploading

Have had the phone for 2 wks but cannot for the life of me find a way to send video messages or attach them to emails...

If this is the case, its a massive short coming for Windows 7 as even the original iphone can do this simply

 

chris posted a reply   

have found this: "The Windows Phone 7 Platform currently doesn't provide the option upload Videos from your device to Facebook or Youtube nor does it provide the option to send them via MMS".

Serious let down


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User Reviews / Comments  HTC HD7

  • LeaS

    LeaS

    Rating10

    "i have a htc hd7 with mango for 10 months now. everything is excellent especially twitter and facebook integration! i love it. with apps i am actually not that type of person who downloads gazzilio..."

  • RyanL

    RyanL

    Rating8

    "I loved this phone, emphasis on the word loved, even pre-Mango. Simple, easy-to-use, and effortlessly beautiful to hold but a small drop onto a wood bench mucked up the speaker and so the only way ..."

  • Johnharryau

    Johnharryau

    Rating1

    "I bought this to replace my HTC HD2 which replaced my Imate. HD7 is supposed to be a windows phone but will not synch with Office on my computer. I cannot transfer files, it is a toy for music and..."

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