By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
HTC has designed a top-tier Windows Phone smartphone that's aimed at the executive class with the HTC HD7. Following the recent trend of jumbo smartphones with large screens and powerfu features, the HTC HD7's design, look and feel all scream flagship product. We put it to the test.
With design and materials akin to some of its high-end Android smartphones, the HTC HD7($499 outright or $49.99 for a three-year plan on Bell) melds a grippy rubber rear case with shiny grey plastic and metal accents. Most of the phone's front it taken up be the grand, almost majestic 4.3-inch screen which, while not made of the super-saturated AMOLED panel, is clear and sufficiently bright.
This is a surprisingly thin and light phone for its size. It also packs surround sound capabilities and loud speakers in its slim profile and we like how the front panel is all screen with very thin border (enough for the three touch enabled buttons.
You can't underestimate the benefit of a 4.3-inch screen specially when it comes to reading e-mails, scrolling through documents, viewing photos and indulging in some touch-enabled games. Designed around a High Definition experience, the HTC HD7 sports a capable 5 megapixel camera as well as the ability to shoot video in 720p HD resolution. This Windows Phone just obsoleted the dedicated video camera as well as many of the cheaper standalone point-and-shoot cameras in the market.
Windows Phone has a special feature that begins recording images a few second before you press the shutter so that you don't miss fast-moving, easy to miss moments and this complements the HD7 nicely. While this smartphone is tops for capturing video, it is also designed to play them back.
The large screen is simply stunning for watching video and the HTC HD7 even comes with a clever fold out stand that allows you to prop the smartphone up on a flat surface for viewing. Ideal for long airplane rides or when you simply want to watch on-demand video provided by Bell's network. The ability to remotely cntrol and set your home PVR is also built-in for Bell customers.
Windows Phone and its glance-and-go interface work well with this size of device and we found that viewing webpages as well as some of HTC's widgets was a pleasant experience overall. Reading from the Kindle eBook app was equally impressive and easy on the eyes.
A 1GHz processor and 575MB of RAM helps move things along quickly (one of the best features of Windows Phone is the lag free environment, at least for now there aren't tons of applications or multitasking features.
In terms of the phone features we found call quality to be superb and we particularly impressed with the handsfree option which offered not only sufficient loudness but crystal clear sound both ways.
Battery life was similarly above average lasting over a day and a half even with serious internet, video and music playback use.
Gaming is where the HTC HD7 really shines, the large screen really enhances the gaming experience by giving you a larger area to work with. Playing the fun and addictive Windows Phone exclusive IloMilo puzzle game was just a treat as you can experience all the rich colour, the whimsical textures and designs and the fluid animations within the game.
We always pegged the Samsung Focus as the best of the first batch of Windows Phone 7 devices and while we maintain that the Focus' AMOLED screen is amazing and its design is classic, but the HTC HD7 really impresses in terms of fit, finish and performance and we think it is a better all around Windows Phone 7 device, probably the best out there now, but you do pay a premium price for that immersive 4.3-inch screen and all the goodies it contains.
Rating: 4 out of 5