HTC HD2 Review

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Tappy
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HTC HD2 Review

Postby Tappy » 18 Feb 2010, 16:09

HTC HD2 Review

Specs
Processor: Qualcomm® MSM8250™, 1 GHz "Snapdragon"
Operating System: Windows Mobile® 6.5 Professional
Memory: ROM: 512 MB / RAM: 448 MB
Display: 4.3-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 480 X 800 WVGA resolution
Network: HSPA/WCDMA: Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
GPS: Internal GPS antenna
Connectivity: Bluetooth® 2.1
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
3.5 mm stereo audio jack
Standard Micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0)
Camera: 5 megapixel color camera with auto focus and dual LED flashlight
Expansion Slot: microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
Dimensions (LxWxT): 120.5 X 67 X 11 mm
Special Features: G-Sensor, Footprints™, Digital Compass

Introduction
I don’t know why I bought this phone. That’s never a good start for a review, but I tend to prefer a SIM only contract and I actually buy my phones outright, so I don’t make decisions on phones lightly. However, after the common occurrence of my HP 614c turning off once my call had completed and refusing to start up again because the battery was only 50% full, I suddenly found myself turning somewhat bitter toward it. I knew the HD2 existed and I knew it was the best Windows Mobile out there and was the only one that had any chance of being Windows Phone 7 Series compatible. So about two days later I had ordered it.

I bought it from Expansys for £469, it also came with two £15 vouchers. There is the option of getting it ‘free’ on a two year £35 contract, but as far as I could see those didn’t come with a data allowance, so that would be at least £45 a month.

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The Look
This phone is big, it’s bigger than an iPhone, and they’re big. But it’s thin, 11mm thin, and somehow that works very well. I’d even go as far to say, I find it less noticeable than almost any other phone that has adorned my pocket in the last few years. It’s also quite beautiful, the huge screen almost occupies the surface of the phone, just leaving enough room for some seldom used buttons at the bottom. The rear of the phone is just as sleek, with a metal battery cover and a dual LED flash for the camera. However if you’re anything like me, you’ll never see this side of the phone, because you’ll be too paranoid about scratching that beautiful screen, so it’s top up all the way.

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Performance
It has a 1GHz processor and 448MB of RAM, which almost makes it a netbook. Simply put, with the current software and apps available, this phone can not have a performance issue. And, almost unbelievably, it doesn’t even have an operating system issue, which is due mostly to htc – they have taken the liberty of replacing the standard Windows today screen, with an updated version of their TouchFlo interface called htc Sense, which htc Android users will probably be familiar with. It’s all about user communications and tabs for sms and email are in close reach, as are things like twitter and a calendar, and switching between them is quick and simple. In fact htc have done such a good job of skinning this phone that I wasn’t sure where their parts stopped and Windows Mobile began.

The closest thing to a performance issue is the SMS service in htc Sense. I have a lot of texts, about 16,000 in total, which I tend not to get rid of, because I shouldn’t have to. My old phone handled these with no problem, however, htc Sense insists on loading all the messages every time you want to send or read a text, and this can take a few minutes of not being able to do anything. In the end, after trying various solutions and different mail programs (there’s even a ROM upgrade to solve this, which it doesn’t) I just had unsync these messages off my phone. Obviously this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it is a smack in the face of what is a great interface.

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Functionality
Apart from the SMS issue mentioned above, everything else phone related works very well (as it should, but this is a smartphone after all) and very simply, you won’t need a manual to get things working. You can make calls quickly, it has a nice interface to do this, and call volume is good. What I also like is the way it syncs to Facebook. I’m not a big Facebook user really, but it will connect to it and grab pictures from there for the phonebook contacts, and that makes things look very pretty.

The Windows Mobile 6.5 that sits underneath this interface isn’t that bad either. It’s no longer a stylus game, and everything has an easily pressable icon. Admittedly it’s not as simple as other phone operating systems, you will have to learn your way around, but you can just as easily ignore it and just not delve into the under-pinnings too much and stick to the htc outside.

There are also a lot of the common functions that all seem to work very well. There’s a camera that takes good pictures and it comes bundled with a free trial of Co-Pilot navigation software. The Opera internet browser is amazing and with some searching you can find the new beta which supports flash. Packaged with it is a 2GB memory card, which is quite piddly really, but not bad to get you started, and of course you can always use one of your vouchers on a 16GB one. On the bonus side there are some pre-installed photographs of hot women on this card.

Of course, I must not forget the screen, the 480x800 resolution works so well. Pinch zooming is supported in most applications and the internet browser is the best place to show this off, where you can zoom right in to read the text and simply zoom back out to look at the pictures.

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Apps
It’s all about the apps these days, and this is where things get a little different. Companies have been making apps for Windows Mobile for years, people have been making freeware for Windows Mobile for years, they’re all not suddenly going to pay Microsoft a load of money to have their app featured on their store. And since, unlike Apple, not everything has to go through Microsoft, the Marketplace is a little barren. In all likelihood, the program you want exists, it’s probably even free, it’s just a case of finding it. Oh, and it also has to be compatible with your device… the HD2 has a much higher resolution than phones in the past. This isn’t an iPhone, you’ll have to spend your time searching the net and viewing the posts on XDA-Developers to make sure you’re up to date with the newest releases. And if you need some convincing, look up the HD2 Wobble app.

Battery
Over the years I have become used to charging my phone everyday, and if I’m at my desk, it’s plugged in next to me. But the HD2 isn’t bad. I use my phone a lot, once I get home, I turn the WiFi on and leave it on until I go to work, it’s always got a data connection and I’m always using it, and this will last me about 2 days. There are bigger batteries coming out, but since a USB port is never far away these days it’s not a tragedy.

Connectivity
It has all the standard bits smartphones have these days, such as WiFi and GPS. It also has a 3.5mm jack, which is very convenient if you don’t like the look of the bundled headphones and the memory is MicroSD, which is pretty standard. The only difference I’ve found is that the charging / PC cable is Micro USB instead of the much more widely seen Mini USB. So I’ve needed to pick up a few of these so I don’t always have to carry the cable with me.

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Summary
Hardware-wise this phone is second to none: capacitive multi-touch, a powerful processor and a hi-res screen to back it up. What it all comes down to is the operating system. This is not an iPhone, it doesn’t have the sleek user interface and ‘guaranteed to work every time’ app selection that can only be achieved by supplying the hardware and OS from one OEM. With Windows Mobile you will find yourself having to look through forums and fiddle with registry values and trying different programs and even ROMs to get a phone running how you would like it, and the HD2 is perfect to allow you to do this. But if you don’t want to have to deal with this level of complexity and the problems that come with this but still want the apps, get an iPhone. Or of course you could just get an Android powered phone, which is probably the best of both worlds.

Pros
+ Superb Hardware
+ Simple to use
+ Amazing screen

Cons
- It’s WM6.5, and there probably won’t be an update to WM7
- A lack of apps


Why Windows Mobile?
I don’t know. It’s either a case of finding something endearing in a product that is widely thought of as flawed, but I really do like the interface. I like that I can rearrange the start-menu and look at registry values. I like that push-email works and syncing to MS Office is seamless. I like that it was designed to be a watered down PC. It seems, however, that Microsoft don’t, since their newest operating system (Windows Phone Series 7), which has been built from scratch, has the tag line, “It’s a Phone, not a PC.” So maybe this will be the last of the phones which run like this. I have no doubt that Android is similar OS, with a large amount of freedom, but I’ll follow this until at least the HD2 dies.
Last edited by Tappy on 21 Feb 2010, 16:05, edited 1 time in total.
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henrybutt
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Re: HTC HD2 Review

Postby henrybutt » 19 Feb 2010, 01:04

Thanks for the review, was a good read :). My iPhone contract with O2 is just about to end and i'm in the market for a new phone. Think I'm gunna go for the Blackberry Bold 9700 though - pretty much any other touchscreen phone would dissapoint after the iphone.
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Re: HTC HD2 Review

Postby Advocate » 19 Feb 2010, 08:02

Nice review. Personally I don't like winMo at all (may change my mind when 7 comes out) but that hardware looks quite sleek. I'm on the o2 simplicity contract with my iPhone at the moment and will probably remain so until the new iPhone is released.
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Re: HTC HD2 Review

Postby EviL Ras » 20 Feb 2010, 19:40

nice review! Guy at work has one and its the size of a 37" telly! REally has a massive bright screen!

Win 6.5 looks nice. but still favouring android at the mo!
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Re: HTC HD2 Review

Postby samie » 21 Feb 2010, 00:06

Nice review. I currently have the Touch HD with WinMo 6.1 and love it. With all the mods on xda-dev the phone runs flawless, the only let down is having touch flo 3d. I put WinMo 6.5 with HTC Sense the new layout was so much better. I would have left it on, but it was using 80% of the ram and battery life was poor. Having played around with my friend iphone i much prefer the freedom of Windows mobile as you can do so much with the software and not have to worry about jail breaking it and losing the warrenty on a pricey phone. I have put android 2.0.1 on my phone and i actually like it. Functionally it reminds me of the iphone, ease of use, just install it and you can load up the market place and put loads of cool app on and still having the ability to customise it with differnt skins, widgets etc.

you are right about WinMo being a pain, there are loads of good apps out there but you have to spend hours finding them. It not a phone you can just take out the box and enjoy :(



What firmware have you got on the HD2? I think HTC have release 1.66(??)...has this sorted out all the problems with it? I have been reading up recently about WinMo 7 and i dont like the way it has gone...loosing out on multi tasking etc.
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Tappy
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Re: HTC HD2 Review

Postby Tappy » 21 Feb 2010, 11:07

samie wrote:What firmware have you got on the HD2? I think HTC have release 1.66(??)...has this sorted out all the problems with it? I have been reading up recently about WinMo 7 and i dont like the way it has gone...loosing out on multi tasking etc.


I have the newest firmware from htc (the 1.66 ROM). I haven't tried any cooked ROMs yet because I'm actually quite happy with the standard one. However, as I said, the only problem I still have is the whole SMS issue. All the fix did was allow you to type messages whilst it loads the inbox and this is just laggy and jerky and it ends up missing letters. I also have a lot of graphical tweaks on there, such as a custom task bar at the top and more icon slots on the HTC Sense 'today' screen.

Think we'll have to wait and see with WinPho7. Even though it's official there's still lots of speculation. I do think it will be dumbed down a lot from WinMo6.x just to compete with the simplicity of the iPhone unfortunately.
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Re: HTC HD2 Review

Postby Johnmcl7 » 21 Feb 2010, 15:10

Good review, the only very minor edit I'd suggest is to put the Snapdragon name into the processor field as I think more people will appreciate the performance of the device.

I've seen some mentions of a Windows Mobile 7 business/professional, I can definitely see where MS are aiming with the new operating system but the approach doesn't make sense as a complete replacement for the previous versions of Windows Mobile. The claim is that the new OS isn't compatible with any previous apps and that they're scrapping the old code entirely which leaves businesses using Windows Mobile for its customisation in the dark. I see many workers from couriers, electricians, taxi drivers etc. with Windows mobile data connected devices logging the delivery, the repair etc. Unless MS are assuming these will all just continue to use WM6.5?

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