T-Mobile HTC HD2 review
It’s no secret that the T-Mobile HTC HD2 is one of the most powerful smartphones on the planet. When HTC launched the phone in Europe in 2009, the HTC HD2 was the first phone to feature Qualcomm’s 1GHz Snapdragon processor. The boost in processor speed gave the HD2 nearly double the power found in other Windows Mobile devices and allowed HTC to push HTC Sense to the next level. But when most people look at the HTC HD2, the only thing they really care about is the massive 4.3 inch capacitive display. The screen size simply puts every other smartphone to shame. It’s been about a month since T-Mobile released the HTC HD2 to the U.S. Market, but we were finally able to get out hands on the handset for a full review thanks to out friends at WireFly.com.
HTC’s simple design of the HD2 is what really makes the handset stand out. Obviously, the main feature of the phone is the 4.3 inch capacitive 480 x 800 WVGA display. The screen was the first capacitive display ever fitted on to a production Windows Mobiles handset (Windows Mobile does not officially support capacitive technology). Right under the screen, HTC has equipped you with five buttons (call, home, Windows, back, end/power) to help you navigate the crazy world of Windows Mobile 6.5. Above the screen, HTC has equipped the HD2 with a fairly good quality speaker for you calls, along with an ambient light and proximity sensor. On the bottom of the handset, you will find a micro-USB (12-pin micro-USB 2.0) connector for power and computer connectivity (HTC should be using this new standard on all their future handsets) and a 3.5mm headphone jack for all your media needs. The left side of the handset features a one piece volume rocker and if you flip the phone over you’ll see the 5MP camera with its dual LED flash. The glass covering the screen if flush all te way to the edge of the front, while the sides and hald of the back side of the phone are covered with a soft-touch rubber. To ad a little hint of styling to the back, HTC has chosen to use an aluminum battery cover.
On the inside of the HD2, HTC has spared no expense. As I mentioned above, the HD2 is equipped with a Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon processor, making it one of the fastest Windows Mobiel handsets on the market. The phone is also equipped with 1GB ROM, 576MB RAM, WiFi: 802.11 b/g , GPS, 1230 mAh, Bluetooth® 2.1, and a G-Sensor. HTC wanted to make sure the HD2 would be able to handle anything you could throw at it. When it was first announced, many thought that that 1GM of ROM boost was to make the HD2 future proof, allowing it to be upgradable to Windows Phone 7 when it rolls out lateer this year. Unfortunatley, Microsoft has made it clear that they will not allow HTC to update tha handset sicne it does not coform to their new 3 front button requirements (back, Windows, search). Regardless, the HTC HD2 is by far the most powerful Windows Mobile handset avaiable in the U.S. At this time and some how, HTC has managed to fit in all these features into a shell that measures 122x67x11mm and only weighs 157g (with battery).
When most people think Windows Mobile, they envision a clunky OS that requires a stylus and it only good for people who have corporate jobs who want to keep up with their Exchange email accounts, Outlook calendar, and maybe play a game of solitaire. That may have been true a few years ago, but since HTC’s lifeline was based on the success of Windows Mobile, the came up with a solution to make the OS a lot more user friendly. If you’ve played with HTC’s latest Android phones, you’ve probably noticed their Sense UI. The HTC HD2 is the first Windows Mobile phone to feature Sense, but if you leave it at that, the story is a little misleading. HTC Sense is based of the original UI idea which was born as HTC Touch FLO which was introduced on the HTC Touch back in 2007. Over the years, it evolved into TouchFLO 3D and was given a few new features every time a new HTC Windows Mobile handset was launched. HTC eventually ported the UI over to Android with the launch of the HTC Hero, giving it the name: HTC Sense. In order to unify the UI branding, HTC eventually chose to bring the name back to the WM platform as well.
HTC Sense is a skin on top of Windows Mobile 6.5. Sense gives users the ability to customize their home screen of their phone, while easily surfacing applications, weather, stock iformation, Twitter, sms, media gallery, music, calendar, and settings with a simply swipe of a finger. Yes, you could easily get to many of these things by tapping the Windows icon in the top left corner of your screen, but HTC Sense makes the process a lot more intuitive while adding a little wow factor to the UI. Rather than seeing a readout of the weather, HTC Sense acts like a virtual window. Watch clouds float across your screen and even raindrow fall on it before they are wiped away by a windshield wiper. You can flick through text messages and emails as if they were stacks of letters and swipe through images as if they were polaroid pictures. HTC Sense adds like to an otherwise drap operating system. Fortunately, Sense is a lot more than a little flare, it also allows you to sync your contacts to your Facebook account so that you can check in on everyone’s status updates. The integration ever carrier through to the pictures application where you can browser your local gallery or pull up all the images if you friend’s latest Facebook album. Perosnally, this is a life saver since I rarely transfer pictures to my phone, but with the HD2 I was able to share all the pictures of my daughter with co-workers who don’t have Facebook accounts yet (don’t get me started on that one).
T-Mobile has also chosen to add in a few applications of their own. Since Google Maps for WM still does not feature the turn-by-turn navigation option that they have blessed Android users with, teleNav comes pre-installed on the HD2. The service is free for the first month, but you will need to pay a $10 monthly charge after the trail expires. The HD2 is the first phone to feature Blockbuster’s new on-demand app. Blockbuster allows you to browse through their catalog of movies and TV shows while giving you the option to either rent or purchase the files. The quality if good, though I did have the app force close on me one while watching a show. If you would rather not pay for ever single show or movie, T-Mobile has also includes MobiTV, which allows you to watch live TV on the go. MobiTV gives you a free trial period, but you will need to shell out some cash for a monthly subscription once the trial expires. The video quality was fairly poor over 3G, but there was an pretty significant improvement when I switched to WiFi. T-Mobile has also loaded up demos for Prince of Persia HD, Millionaire 2010, Tetris, and Guitar Hero 5 Mobile. The most exciting game demo included is Ferrari GT evolution by Gameloft. The game features incredible 3D graphics and sounds, but it was rare if I could get though a race without the graphics and audio freezing up on me. I’m not sure if it’s the phone that has some issue with the 3D graphics or if it was an issue with the demo.
Fans of the Transformers movies will be thrilled to hear that the T-Mobile HTC HD2 comes with the first two Transformers movies loaded onto the 16GB microSD card. With the 4.3 inch screen, the HD2 is the perfect device for watching high resolution movies on the go. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sprint included a few movies on the HTC EVO 4G when it launches later this summer.
The HTC HD2 is the most capable Windows Mobile device I have ever used. The 1GHz Snapdragon processor coupled with the 4.3inch display is a match made in heaven. However, HTC has a few things to improve on before I would consider giving up my Android phone and switching to the HD2. HTC Sense makes WM a much needed UI facelift, but it doesn’t have the ease of use that’s found in Android phone with Sense. This is mainly due to the limitations HTC has to work around with the WM OS. The things that make the HD2 such an attractive phone (processor and screen) are also part of the issue since they eat through the battery faster than I ever thought possible. Throughout my testing, it was rare that I made it through a complete day of use without the battery hitting dangerously low levels. If you’re not a power user, you may be able to get through a day and a half on one battery charge, but I’d recommend getting a spare charger for your work and car just to make sure you have enough juice so show your friends what your HD2 can do. On a personal level, I actually found the 4.3 inch screen a little too large for comfortable use. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing, but I had a hard time trying to fit it in hand and my pocket comfortably and even had issues when trying to use certain apps with one hand. But these were all small sacrifices I was willing to suffer through. If you’re a fan of Windows Mobile or simply need to have the best spec’d phone on the market, the T-Mobile HTC HD2 can’t be beat.
Right now, T-Mobile is still out of stock of the HTC HD2, but it appears WireFly still has some in stock for only $120 with a new two yer contract.