Review: HTC HD2 - Is it time to close the Windows?

Opinion

Review: HTC HD2 - Is it time to close the Windows?

Ever since I spent a fortune on a Nokia Communicator back in 1996 my wallet has been on a hiding to nothing as far as my smartphone habit is concerned. Which is why I jumped at the chance to try the HTC HD2 for a couple of weeks courtesy of a Vodafone loaner.

Software

I wouldn't normally touch a Windows Mobile powered device with a barge pole these days, even if Microsoft calls it Windows Phone. But this is no ordinary device; not only has the resistive touchscreen and stylus combo been replaced by a capacitive screen, but 'Windows Phone' has been buried underneath the truly beautiful to look at HTC Sense interface.
 
Windows Phone is still there, you just don't have to dirty your hands with it unless you really want to. So it's goodbye naff PDA-style menus and checkboxes for the most part.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is a consumer only device though, it's a Windows-powered handset and that means business users can synchronise with MS Exchange, and MS Outlook and it comes complete with mobile Office apps such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint.

Hardware

Line up an Apple iPhone 3GS, a BlackBerry Storm 2 and the HD2 and the sheer size of the HD2 strikes you immediately. It's a huge slab (120.5 x 67 x 11mm, and 157g) that feels way to big to be comfortable in my small girly hands. Which is a shame, because that size delivers the most gorgeous screen.

It's big (a whopping 4.3" across) and beautiful (a very bright 400x800 WVGA resolution) and the Sense interface exploits it perfectly.

I dare you not to be impressed when the home screen fires up for the first time and you see the clock and weather widget displaying the time with an animation of your current weather conditions. I actually gasped like a sad old geek when the clouds started producing rain!

Specifications

I dare you not to be impressed with the tech spec, for that matter. A 1GHz Snapdragon chipset with 448MB of RAM delivers the punch that a phone needs to be called smart.

Web browsing and application loading benefit impressively from the powerful guts of the HD2. Battery life suffers a tad, but at around 5 hours talk time it's par for the course in the world of smartphones these days.

Adding to the strain is GPS, a digital compass (which requires endless figure of eight arm thrashing to set, making you look like Dr Magnus Pyke on drugs) Bluetooth and WiFi (which can be used as a mobile router, but be warned the encryption is of the rather insecure WEP variety). Oh, and a FM radio tuner and 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and VGA video shooting capability.

Verdict

If you need a Windows Mobile device for your business then, truth be told, they don't come much better than this. However, that doesn't make it the best smartphone out there. If you can do without the Microsoft connectivity, the iPhone still leads the way and the Android-powered pack is not far behind.

The Sense UI cannot do everything and when a Windows phone rears its ugly head it is, well... ugly. Don't go near the file browser unless you have to folks!

The HTC Touch HD2 is available for free on a £30 per month tariff from Vodafone.

Specs snapshot

  • Windows Mobile 6.5 OS (upgradable to Windows Mobile 7);
  • 1GHz MSM8250 Snapdragon CPU;
  • Full HSPA with up to 7.2Mbps;
  • 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive mutltitouch display;
  • Integrated FM radio;
  • 5 megapixel autofocus cam with dual LED flash;
  • Bluetooth 2.1;
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

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This was first published in December 2009

 

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