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December 19, 2010

HTC HD7 Review

The HD7 is HTC’s top-of-the-line Windows Phone 7 smartphone. It’s the WP7 equivalent of the Android-packing Desire HD with a slight retouches on the exterior design. We’ve got a good 2 weeks to play with the handset so check our full review of the HTC HD7 after the jump.

The HTC HD7 copies some of the genetics of its year old predecessor, the HD2, although that one was just on WinMo 6.5. The large 4.3″ display wrapped around a combination of metal and polymer body gives it an elegant look.

The edges are lined with a strip of black, polished metal with only the power button, volume controls and dedicated camera in place. The micro-USB port is at the bottom together with the 3.5mm audio port and microphone.

The display is pretty large and the screen is crisp and bright. At the bottom end of the glass panel are 3 touch controls — search, home (represented by Windows icon) and back. The single sheet of glass that covers the display is significantly thick and doesn’t touch the top and bottom edge of the front panel. The small gap serves as an opening for the speakers.

I was meaning to write a separate and full review of Windows Phone 7 OS but this is the only time I’ve had a really significant experience with the OS so I might just have to wait a little bit and test how it goes with other models or brands. Nevertheless, my initial impressions of Microsoft’s mobile OS has been pretty good.

It’s pretty obvious that Windows Phone 7 has been developed from the ground up and even if you’re a long-time WinMO user, you’ll definitely not notice any similarities. The OS did not undergo an evolution, it’s been radically mutated. And Microsoft did not just made a 180-degree turn but totally went crazy with the UI. For those who have owned or tried the Zune player, the UI is very familiar.

I’d say the user interface is essentially a breathe of fresh air, especially if you’re coming from iOS or Android. Objects such as shortcuts, widgets, contacts and apps are represented by tiles stacked from top to bottom. You add items by pinning it to the home screen (Start) or remove it by un-pinning them. The tiles are big and bold with options to change color schemes that screams of eye-candy.

Slide the screen to the right and you get the entire list of links to settings, apps and the whole enchilada. The scrolling list might be bearable if you just have a couple of dozens to a hundred items in there but it could get dizzy once the figure reaches several hundreds (by that time, we’ll be needing folders or groups).

The UI makes a lot of fancy transitions in between screens — it flips, swipes, peels, tumbles and slides every chance it gets. It’s like a magician that takes his time flapping his cape around before executing a trick. It’s amusing most of the time especially if you’re just leisurely navigating thru the phone’s menu. However, if you’re in a hurry, it could get tiresome.

WP7 is integrated with Facebook and Twitter very neatly. After plugging in a new SIM and linking my Facebook and Twitter account to the device, I was surprised that contacts from new SMS came in fully propagated — name, avatar, other contacts and status all pulled off from Facebook.

The built-in Mail client is spiffy, clean and runs quite fast. It lacks a search feature though which I hope they’d add in the next update. The IE browser is light, supports multiple windows or tabs and, frankly, is quite fast too. We’ve also tested that here before.

The HD7 can be managed by hooking it up to Microsoft Zune and synching multimedia files like music, photos and movies can also be done wirelessly as long as the Zune software and the handset is connected to the same WiFi network. You can also login to Windows Live to manage contacts and calendars on the cloud.

The Windows Live account also has some features to ring, lock or erase the phone remotely. The phone also updates itself by sending GPS location on a regular basis. You can login to Live and locate your phone on the map with matching date and time it last recorded its location.

Apps are very essential to the usefulness of any smartphone and thankfully, the Zune Marketplace on the HD7 has plenty of them. It’s not as extensive as the ones found on the iTunes App Store or the Android Market but it’s got some decent numbers.

The more common social apps were actually developed by Microsoft itself (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare) so you will notice the tight design integration of these apps into WP7.

The games for the XBox Live though are somewhat on the expensive side where games like Bejeweled and Need for Speed costs $7.99 and Assassin’s Creed and Guitar Hero 5 costs $10.99. There’s an option to try before you buy though (much like the Lite version if you will).

HTC also added several of their own apps (all for free) and featured them in the HTC Hub which also doubles as a weather app (see the airplane perspective of the weather transition in the video).

The HD7 packs a 5MP autofocus camera and takes some pretty decent to good quality photos. It doesn’t handle night shots or low-light shots very well though. Photos are a bit washed out and blueish at times. See sample photos here. Video recording is much better and can do up to 720p.

The virtual keyboard is well thought of, nicely spaced with unique audio and visual cues for each tapped key. You’ll most probably need both hands to comfortably use the handset due to its sheer size.

The kick-stand at the back doubles as a protection for the camera barrel and flips to the side so you can position the handset in landscape when watching movies. The speakers are just beside it and can do a good amount of volume. You’ll need to set the Audio Enhancer app to use Dolby Mobile so you get better sound quality when watching movies.

HTC HD7 specs:
4.3″ display @ 480×800 pixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1 GHz processor
576MB RAM
16GB internal storage
Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
802.11 b/g/n
HSDPA, HSUPA
5MP camera w/ 720p video recording
GPS w/ aGPS support
Motion G-sensor
Proximity Sensor
Ambient Light Sensor
Li-Ion 1230 mAh
Windows Phone OS 7

According to HTC Philippines, the HD7 comes at a retail price of Php36,900 but we’re sure you can get some good bargains with several local resellers (my contacts tell me they will sell it between Php34-35k in HTC Concept Stores). Got mine at the Hong Kong Airport last November for about Php31,250.

The price point is very near that of the half-twin Desire HD so the choice between the two is mostly attributed to the OS.

Microsoft has made good improvements with Windows Phone 7 OS and pairing it with a powerful hardware like the HTC HD7. We’ve haven’t had much hands-on time with the HTC Trophy and HTC Mozart, both of which are running on WP7 as well, but I can definitely say that the HD7 is looking to be the much better model.

The OS comes with a lot of flair but it still feels a bit half-baked with all the missing little features and basic controls needed. It’s a really good start though and the addition of more apps and future updates should address all that. The only multi-tasking I was able to do is play music while browsing the web or using the camera. Cut & paste is also missing too but Microsoft is said to be working on that in the next update.

A few more software/firmware updates and addition of more useful and affordable apps in the Marketplace could make the HTC HD7 a good alternative to those who are eyeing the Desire HD.

HTC Wildfire First Impressions
HTC 7 Trophy in the flesh!
HTC Desire HD vs. HTC HD7

61 Responses to “HTC HD7 Review”

  1. Raypin says:

    @bendy nassif…..bluetooth send/receive – does not work yet but bluetooth headset works. I use my HD7 with a Plantronics Explorer 975 headset…pairs excellently with the HD7 and very useful for voice dialing (which by the way is also a solid feature for the WP7).

    As for copy and paste, it will come Zune :)

  2. enzo says:

    @suplado sana yung HTC surround binili mo

  3. Suplado says:

    @ enzo, ayoko na ng slide. slide na kasi yung moto droid ko. besides, gusto ko talaga yung hd7. so far, enjoy na naman ako. nakakatuwa yung online phone locator. astig!

  4. David Miguel says:

    We are offering the HTC HD7 in stock for sale.Both wholesale and Retail order available.

    Interested buyers should contact us on: david.electronicsworld@yahoo.com

  5. John
    Twitter: reyjohniligan
    says:

    Some perspective – WP7 was released in time for the holidays. They made sure that the OS is presentable for consumer release. Copy and paste including a bunch of other updates to speed up loading times are coming your way in 2 or 3 weeks. Compare this with the first release of the Android or iOS and WP7 would be your choice. Obviously, Apple and Google had a bit of a Headstart so they currently have the market share for mobile but MS bet half a billion $$$ that WP7 will be a competitor in this space. I hope it’s sooner rather than later so we will have more options! I did migrate from an iPhone to HD7 just before the holidays so I hope the updates MS talked about on CES is worth the darn wait.

    Anyways, those on Mobile plans, be sure to turn off all your data and 3G connection when not in use. WP7 uploads data and I gues this has to do with the setting you have for the find my phone feature but its better safe than sorry when Globe or Smart hands you that bill 5X your regular monthly subscription.

    True Story!

  6. Anon says:

    To WP7 owners: Are you able to buy or download apps?

  7. We are offering the HTC HD7 in stock for sale.Both wholesale and Retail order available.

  8. Raypin says:

    @Anon…..at the present, no. You can’t purchase Apps using local credit card. Possible exception: use a U.S. credit card. You can’t use Microsoft points to purchase Apps (you can only use them for games and music). But I expect that this situation will be rectified when the Windows Phone 7 or Windows Phone will be officially introduced. I’m using a Singapore unit and I’ve tried using my credit card but no go.

  9. john says:

    Planning to get one..

    parang ang ganda talaga. =D

    sana lang mag ka update na nung bluetooth file transfer and copy paste, yun lang kasi ang kulang para sa akin. =D

  10. Jay says:

    @Quoted News

    Try texting and calling someone using a laptop

  11. Diancarlo says:

    I cant’t buy games and application in Marketplace. I can’t even register my credit card. That my problem with HTC HD7. I hope this thing can be resolve.

  12. Au vu des commentaires; je vais attendre un peu avant de l’acheter. Merci pour toutes ces informations très utiles pour les utilisateurs.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Nice review. Planning to upgrade from HTC HD2 to this phone (HTC HD7). Just want to ask your opinion guys if it is worth to upgrade to HD7 or stick to my HD2?

  14. Raypin says:

    ….If you need a new phone now, by all means upgrade to the HTC HD7. It’s a very good phone. And yes, as previously written by John, turn off all your 3G settings when not in use.

    But if you can hold on for one more year, Nokia is expected to roll off it’s new Microsoft Phone 7 line.

  15. 21 says:

    the battery sucks big time !! bet it can’t make it for a day.

  16. john says:

    i own a new HTC HD7 and it is a great phone all my friend using an iphone are ameze how this phone works than their iphone..

  17. 21 says:

    BIGGER PHONES NEED LONG LIFE BATTERY.. 1230mah?? sucks.. it must be, 1500

  18. paolo
    Twitter: OdeiraOloap
    says:

    Nangangalawang ang volume rocker at camera shortcut button ng sakin. Mahihirapan akong ibenta yung sakin ng mataas. :D

    Pero OK lang. Hindi ko naman to pakakawalan, eh. Very fast. Very unique. Very efficient. It just Works. :D

  19. rose says:

    Hi, I am having problem with my HTC HD 7 phone. It cannot search for a Wifi network even though there is an open connection and when I tried to use my other smart phone it was able to search and connect to Wifi. My HTC HD 7 phone will not also detect a bluetooth device. Please can anyone help me?

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