HTC HD7

20th Oct 2010 | 23:02

HTC HD7

Windows Phone 7 goes gargantuan - movie-watching the Microsoft way

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Large screen is great for movies; Stereo speakers; Slick interface; Kickstand for easy use; Sound enhancement genuinely works

Dislike:

No Flash on internet browser; Windows Phone 7 still lacking some features; Some might find the screen too large; Lock button is hard to hit; HTC Hub doesn't offer a lot

HTC HD7: Overview, design and feel

The HTC HD7 is by far the biggest of them, with a Desire HD- and HD2-matching 4.3-inch screen atop the near-identical hardware specs of its other WP7 brethren.

In the hand it feels a bit gargantuan – smaller hands might struggle to contain its heft, but luckily it feels thin enough to not give the impression of a small netbook in your pocket.

The screen makes up most of the phone when turned on – apart from a thin strip of glass at the bottom that holds the touch sensitive buttons, this is very much all about the screen, which makes sense when you consider how massive it is.

HTC hd7 review

Our only gripe is that it's not an OLED screen – the Samsung Omnia 7 has the edge on the HD7 on screen quality, and we would have loved the vibrancy of that tech at this screen size.

There are speakers either side of the HD7's screen. When you're watching movies on the go, and want to annoy your fellow train commuters, this is the way to do it (we prefer the headphone option – call us mental for that).

HTC hd7 review

What's interesting is the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the bottom of the phone – it's a sculpted option and headphones fit in nicely. Some people like it there, but given most phones have it at the top, it's hard to get used to the fact the phone feels upside down in your hand.

HTC hd7 review

The 5MP camera on the back is a little more tech-heavy than its brothers, offering a dual-LED flash that can also be used as a video light when capturing HD video at 720p.

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There's also an exceedingly playable-with kickstand on the back, propping up the phone for when you want to look at things and you need your hands for something else.

We're told the kickstand can take force from above and will close safely rather than snapping off... but we're not testing that theory in case it's wrong.

HTC hd7 review

What's more worrying is the damage you can cause to the back; all the exposed metal gets very easily scratched and in a few days we had a pretty war-torn phone on our hands.

The top power/lock button can be hard to reach if you're of the teenier-handed variety, but then again this phone might not be for you if that's the case – perhaps check out the HTC 7 Mozart instead, which offers a similarly decent chassis feel with a more palatable screen size.

HTC hd7 review

That same button can be hard to hit as it's so flush to the chassis, which is annoying since it's the one that's supposed to be used to the most to lock the phone; if it was a smaller handset, it wouldn't be an issue.

HTC hd7 review

We like the way the HD7 looks and feels, but we get the feeling that some people will dismiss it as 'too big' instantly.

HTC HD7: Interface

We're getting into some very familiar territory here, and if you're not familiar with it yet, then you soon will be. The Windows Phone 7 interface on the HTC HD7 is mimicked at Microsoft's behest across all the phones running the OS, so will quickly become as instantly recognisable as the iPhone's Home screen.

The first thing you'll notice on the HTC HD7 is the massive screen make sthe OS even more accessible than ever – the words and tiles just pop out, although when used in 'dark mode' the OS can seem slightly washed out compared to the Samsung Omnia 7.

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Large, easy to hit icons and a tactile feel make it a joy to swipe around the interface, and encourages you to play with your phone even when you don't really need to pick it up, which HTC must love.

The main area of interaction is the Home screen, activated by hitting the main Windows button. This takes you to a selection of tiles, most of which show constantly updating information such as pictures, songs listened to or emails unread.

You can manipulate these by long-pressing on one and moving it around the screen, or clicking the small 'unpin' icon in the corner to delete it.

You can pin pretty much anything to the start menu, from albums to contacts to bookmarks to applications, and there's seemingly no limit to the amount you can have.

HTC hd7 review

Swiping right from the Home screen throws up a full list of applications, which is where your downloaded items will appear. It could get annoying when you have loads of apps – we're going to need a folder option very soon, Microsoft – but the focus here is on simplicity and it's been achieved.

The nice thing about Windows Phone 7 is it's a pretty replicable experience across the phone – that is to say most things work in a similar way. For instance, long-pressing most items will call up a menu with options like deleting, editing or pinning to the start menu, and wherever there are option icons at the bottom of the screen you just swipe upwards to get more options.

HTC hd7 review

We'd prefer a contextual menu key at times, like on the Android interface, because there are instances where you have to drop out the main settings menu to perform easy functions such as altering the contacts you see in your phone book.

Other tweaks include landscape viewing of screens – you can enter something like the Zune media player and see a list of options such as Music, Video or Podcasts. But when the title fills more of the screen than can be seen, or more options are ever-so-slightly in view at the side, you can swipe along to see other lists.

HTC hd7 review

It can look a bit untidy to some people, to others it can be a neat way of alerting you to see more options. We're slightly in the former camp, but even with this system it sometimes took a while to notice more options to the right of the screen at times.

Another little tweak is the notifications pane at the top of the screen – tap the first centimetre of the phone from the top edge and the signal and battery meter will appear.

It's all part of Microsoft's attempt to keep the screen clear from clutter and we think it works – although it can be annoying when you just want to glance and see what's going on.

But overall the Windows Phone 7 interface on the HTC HD7 is excellent, the large display just makes it even more usable than ever before, and the responsiveness is what's making the likes of Stephen Fry crow with delight.

HTC HD7: Contacts

The HTC HD7 is like other top end smartphones around at the moment in that it's put social networking at the fore with Windows Phone 7.

You can choose to import contacts from a number of sources: SIM, Windows Live, Phone, Google, Corporate and Facebook and then have the laborious process of linking them all together to get things like Facebook pictures and statuses when looking up a friend.

The linking is pretty intuitive, offering a suggested contact when you're trying to link up based on name, phone number or emails stored. Most of the time it's at a loss to present the right option though, and it's nowhere near as good as the HTC Desire HD at psychically working out which person you're after.

HTC hd7 review

It also has an annoying habit of syncing all contacts with Windows Live, and using the most boring name as the contact when you want the fun one.

For instance, our friend Andy Honey is listed as such in WL, but we want to call him Mr Sweatband. The only way to do so is to delete his WL name, which means it's not stored on that cloud.

There's also no option to not see Windows Live contacts either, as Microsoft has hard-wired these into the system.

You can choose to not see Facebook friends (except the ones you link to phone numbers) but this option is hidden in a separate options list in the settings menu - and even then is a swipe to the right away.

The contacts navigation is relatively easy though as you get two options for finding the person you're looking for.

You can either use the search button (or hit the search icon on the contacts menu) and enter the person's name, with the results showing up in real time.

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Or you can hit the letter at the start of each set of contacts (arranged by alphabet) to show a list of available letters to jump to a certain set.

It's a little counter-intuitive to Microsoft's plans to reduce the amount of clicks you need to operate the phone, but overall it works well.

Another option with contacts is the chance to see what's new, which means looking at new Facebook photos and the like posted up in a single list.

Calling

We're not that impressed with call quality on the HTC HD7 – not only was it hard to guide your ear to loudest spot on the massive phone, but the edges are quite sharp, making it hard to press it closer to your head.

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Trying to turn the volume up didn't help either, although we did like the quality and volume of the speaker, which made talking to others while lying the phone on the table pretty easy.

It seems to only come out the rear speaker though – why we couldn't have it propped up and pumping out the two at the front, we don't know.

HTC HD7: Messaging

Microsoft's Windows Mobile eco-system was built on a rich amount of email options, and that's been continued on Windows Phone 7 for the HTC HD7.

Firstly, you can interact with any number of accounts, be it Yahoo, Google, Hotmail or others, with only a simple username and password needed to get set up.

Even more impressively, the same can be said for Outlook setup, with Exchange email taking only an email user name and password to get all the necessary settings, which makes turning on the phone ridiculously easy first time out.

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One of the most impressive things on the HTC HD7 is the keyboard, which is probably up there with the options on the iPhone 4 and the HTC Desire in its intuition.

You can type and type and type from the outset and get about 90% accuracy, with that increasing rapidly as you get used to the portrait and landscape modes.

Microsoft has managed this by working out the letters you're most likely to use when beginning a word and making these more touch sensitive than others, making it easy to get up a good speed.

HTC hd7 review

The word correction is ace too, making it a cinch to get the right word when you accidentally/drunkenly mash your hand at the phone. It's not got the same levels of insight as the Desire, but it's still great.

The messaging interface, specifically in the email section, is great too. It's expansive, easy to read and has a number of options, such as only seeing urgent or unread emails.

Within the emails there's the option for smart linking, which means the HD7 will search through the mail to see if there are any phone numbers, emails addresses or physical locations present, and will offer them up as a tappable link.

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However, for the UK (and that means the HD7) there's no smart linking for addresses, which is sad because this looked like the coolest feature, enabling you to tap the address and see it in Bing Maps.

You can also access multiple email checking (for easy organisation or deleting) but touching to the left of each message and calling up the checkboxes – something we found ourselves using regularly.

HTC HD7: Internet

The HTC HD7 uses the default Windows Phone 7 browser, which is Internet Explorer. Microsoft tells us that this is a combination of IE 7 and IE 8, taking good bits from both (but also some less than impressive bits too).

The plus points are easy to see – reactive pinch to zoom, double-tap to zoom to into columns and a large and easy to read screen thanks to the WVGA resolution.

However, there are other things that are missing: text wrap for closer zooming would have been a lovely touch, and the lack of Flash and Silverlight in the browser is a confusing omission indeed.

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We were often greeted with an 'upgrade your Flash player on your browser' command on a number of occasions, which was annoying and looks, well, looks like an iPhone interface.

There are other plus points though: tabbed browsing is enabled, with up to six open at once, and the bookmarks are also in the same place as the history, making it easy to find where you've been or where you want to go.

The real problem is the overall speed of the browser though: it's just not up there with the likes of the WebKit enabled Samsung Galaxy S, iPhone 4 or HTC Desire HD.

HTC hd7 review

Some sites, with the framework already downloaded and cached, would be as fast, but often we found that we were left hanging even on simple sites, which grated a bit when Microsoft promised this would be a lot faster.

It's not the HTC HD7's fault though, as we checked it out with other WP7 handsets from other manufacturers and the same problem occurred.

However, the large screen was a boon in terms of seeing more information and offering more when zooming in, at times almost feeling like a tablet in terms of the browsing experience; we just wish text wrapping was enabled too as we mentioned.

HTC hd7 review

The internet experience on the HD7 could be a lot better in our opinion. It's good, solid and will get the information you need, but still needs a bit of upgrading – copy and paste integration would be a start for easier use of this whopping handset.

HTC HD7: Media

The HTC HD7 uses the Zune interface to work on the media side of things, meaning the only way to get information on and off the phone is through the Zune software.

This is a little bit of a chore, because we prefer to drag and drop files onto our phone, but sadly that's not an option here – once again showing how Microsoft wants to lock down the experience and force you through its products in the same vein as Apple.

HTC hd7 review

However, the Zune software on the HD7 is just top notch, so that really helps make up for the problems. We like the way we get shown our history of tracks or videos just played, and swiping left and right to get to separate areas feels intuitive.

Sound output through headphones is good to start with, but then massively increases as you use the sound enhancer.

We preferred the power of the SRS Surround Sound for music, but Dolby Mobile was the best for video. Even music videos in our opinion – go figure on that one, as we can only assume that the comparative drop in quality associated with the video was tempered better by the Dolby codec.

One annoying thing (and all thanks to Microsoft and the lack of integration for third-party apps): you have to drop out the media player and open the sound enhancer to achieve this. It's really annoying and highlights the flaw in the system.

HTC hd7 review

The list of audio you can connect to is adequate, and as mentioned the Zune interface is a really nice way of navigating around. The most recently played and history items are all offered up as icons, and the background of the Zune media experience automatically changes to the artist you last listened to on the Zune marketplace.

HTC hd7 review

Being in the UK, we've been a little bit hard done by when it comes to the Zune Pass, which had the potential to be a real game changer for the way we consume music on our mobiles.

Positioned somewhere between Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited and Spotify for Mobile, Zune Pass offers free streaming of a ridiculous amount of tracks from the marketplace, and then 10 to keep DRM free.

Except keeping the 10 tracks is only for the US, despite that territory's Pass costing the same amount as in the UK (around £26 for three months' use) and we're waiting to hear back from Microsoft on why this is.

Zune Pass also only enables you to stream songs from an album in sequence, not allowing the creation of playlists, so it's not the stellar service it could have been.

The interface for the music player is excellent though, because you get to see thumbnails of the music/albums you're listening to, and then you can simply swipe through them to change tracks, which is a really nice way of doing things and adds that extra 'user delight' we're so desperate for these days.

Video

Video is similarly easy to use on the HTC HD7, and thanks to the large screen, looks really nice and clear – if a little washed out at times.

You can't use the progress bar to slide through songs – instead you have to use fast forward and rewind, which makes us feel like we're using a Walkman from the 1980s or something.

HTC hd7 review

The other problem here is the Zune PC software needed to actually sync stuff up to the phone. We'll come onto this in more depth later on, but some movies will take an age to sync onto the phone due to needing to be converted, and we don't know why.

The file types are listed as being compatible, but in the absence of dragging and dropping onto the HD7, we've only got the Zune software to get media onto the phone. It's not terrible, but the length of time it takes to get movies on there is atrocious.

Other options for the HTC HD7 include a podcast list and FM radio, as well as the opportunity to buy songs from the Zune Marketplace, with the former option only available through the Zune PC software – no searching for podcasts from the phone's screen.

HTC HD7: Camera

HTC hd7 review

This isn't HTC's attempt to bring the best camera to Windows Phone 7, but that doesn't mean it offers a poor performance.

Instead of the 8MP camera with Xenon flash on the HTC Mozart, the HTC HD7 comes with a 5MP option with only a really bright double LED flash.

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The camera interface is pretty basic too, but it's easily accessed from the phone's screen, and enables you to change the focus mode, ISO levels and a constant option to change the flash, which we're glad Microsoft has realised is among the most often used features.

HTC hd7 review

The same can be said for video where, like the camera mode, the light can be toggled on and off for easy use and there are a basic range of options to mess with resolution and the like.

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A quick snap was nice and easy with the HD7, although the corner light wasn't balanced well

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A general scene looks a little bit dark in automatic mode

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The HTC HD7 outperformed the Samsung Omnia 7 at capturing detail in a bright scene

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Standard scenes with lots of colour have a tendency to look over saturated though

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We thought we'd struck gold with this picture - photography awards were on their way. But then the bright sun came in and ruined it all. Again.

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The rainbow - the Aurora of the British summer (sort of). Still, with nice levels and colour balance it's shown up beautifully here

HTC HD7 review: Video

The HTC HD7 can record in HD video, at 720p, and does so at 25fps depending on the conditions.

You get a variety of options to play with, as mentioned above, although not all of them are strictly relevant or useful.

As you can see here, video isn't smooth or clear at all times, despite being relatively well-lit. The audio comes across quite nicely, but the constant auto-focus can get a little irritating at times.

HTC HD7: Xbox Live

The Xbox Live integration on the HTC HD7 is excellent as you'd expect, and we think this could be one of the killer features of this handset thanks to the sheer range of things you can do with the Xbox Live hub.

The least important (but among the most fun) features on there is the ability to play with the avatar from your Xbox Live account – you can dress him/her (depending on your taste) as you'd like, buying new clothes and accessories for it and interacting with it on a regular basis.

HTC hd7 review

For instance, you can shake the phone and see your avatar fall over – it doesn't seem like much but its one of those things that makes the phone seem cool and something fun to show off to your friends, especially when you've clearly made it a lot thinner than you are in real life…

The Xbox Live portal is clearly set up to defeat the oncoming might of Apple's Game Center, and will do so using the power of the Xbox brand to lure in gamers.

To that end you can set up your Xbox live account on the HTC HD7 and use that to record achievements, talk to friends or even challenge them to a game.

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However, Microsoft has yet to put its multiplayer offerings live as yet, waiting until after the launch to do so.

And although it has built its strategy over the years on online multiplayer gaming, no such luck on the HTC HD7, as only turn-based games are on offer from the outset, so you can't see another person's moves in real time, which would have been awesome.

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Some of the best games on the Marketplace when we first used the phone ranged from the innovative and powerful (like Rocket Riot) to the old school classic (like Frogger) and what's more you can try them in a basic mode (with limited options/gameplay) before buying them, a model which will surely entice more people to purchase a game or two more than usual.

The HTC HD7 offers a great gameplay experience, with things like Rocket Riot proving to be easier to play thanks to the larger screen.

With more space to hit the on-screen controls, this phone could be the one that really offers the best gaming of all the Windows Phone 7 handsets.

Gameplay is more than adequately handled by the HD7's internal GPU, and you can see the slickness in play – during our tests we noticed very little, if any, slow-down.

We reckon this could be a serious contender to the iPhone as a gaming platform in your pocket – it just depends if Microsoft manages to get a decent enough gaming portfolio together and manages to bring cool things in the future like real-time Xbox compatibility across titles.

HTC HD7: Apps and Maps

The HTC HD7 comes complete with a number of applications at launch, some from the manufacturer itself but many from Microsoft as well.

The option to put on applications (especially ones that act as live tiles on the Home screen) is the main way to differentiate the phones from one another in the Windows Phone 7 portfolio.

LG has gone with DLNA and augmented reality and HTC has decided to put on a Sense-like hub that offers weather, notes, a flashlight and similar.

HTC hd7 review

The HTC Hub is hopelessly/delightfully over-engineered – each time you want to see the weather you have to fly through clouds for a second or two.

Notes is a cool application that enables you to post reminders to yourself, and because the post it notes age on the virtual pin board, they get steadily more crumpled.

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There are also other assorted applications pre-loaded on the HTC HD7, such as Photo Enhancer and Stocks – HTC also gives a link to download cool things like the Flashlight application for free as well.

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Microsoft has thrown its best applications in here as well, by putting in a number of fairly useful options to help you through your smartphone day.

Following the 'making the simple things simple' mantra, elements like an Alarm Clock tile that show whether an alarm is on and what time it's set for really make a difference to the way you use your phone.

The calendar is great as well, interacting with all other online calendars that support Exchange severs (which includes Outlook and Google).

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You can easily see which days you're most busy on, look at different calendars in different colours and also accept meeting invites directly from your HTC HD7.

One cool features is that when you're in a meeting option within the calendar, you can see attendees, message them directly, and even send a message telling them that you'll be late with the little 'running man' icon in the corner – Microsoft has been talking up this feature and it is very neat.

The Windows Phone Marketplace is rapidly growing in its app collection since launch, and it has the same clean interface that lives throughout the HTC HD7 and is therefore very easy to use.

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You get access to the top applications, free and new, featured and sorted by category. Games are also listed separately, and although it can take a little while to get your head around the way everything is laid out in the Marketplace, downloading is easy, multiple apps can be bought at once, and there's even a list of ongoing downloads to see what you're actually getting your hands on.

However the main problem with applications on the HTC HD7 is the lack of multitasking, which means opening up the same applications time and again to do the simplest things.

It's a major oversight and makes it feel just like the iPhone – but the bad bits, not the super smart elements. We hope Microsoft fixes this soon as without it this is going to remain an incomplete phone in our book.

Maps

Bing Maps is included out of the box for the HTC HD7, and it's one of the better mobile mapping applications we've seen on a mobile phone.

The main view is a simple drawn view of the roads where you are, and using multi-touch to pinch in (or double tapping) you can get closer to the action. A really cool feature is the way the screen will change to satellite view when you get close enough and actually want to start looking for landmarks.

HTC hd7 review

Long pressing on an area of the map will open up a label, and from the address you can search for information on it, and then navigate there from your current location too if you want. The amount of information on some places appears to be a bit limited on the Bing search, but it's very functional and enables you to find where you're going most of the time with ease.

What does set it below the likes of Nokia's Ovi Maps and Google Maps for Mobile is the lack of extra information and free sat nav.

We're used to elements like being able to see the transit lines of London's Underground on Android phones, or being given Lonely Planet advice by Nokia when we're checking out a new place on our mobile, and there's not much of that here with Bing Maps (although you can search for it via the separate browser if you like).

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Another annoying thing for the UK: smart linking in emails enables the HTC HD7 to register addresses and take you to the relevant Bing Map with a single click. Except that setting is disabled for us Brits for now, which really irks when we don't have copy and paste yet.

Bing Maps is nice to look at and functional, but we hope it gets rapidly upgraded to put it up there with best on the market at the moment.

HTC HD7: Office and search

Microsoft's heritage in the mobile phone space (and one of the key things than kept Windows Mobile alive for so long) was the ability to work on documents and projects on the go, and that functionality is back with a vengeance on the HTC HD7.

Be it simply looking at a document from an email without needing to switch between multiple applications, or doing some deep editing of a Powerpoint, it's all on offer through Windows Phone 7.

The front-facing application is One Note – this is a really advanced note-taking application that can be synchronised with the SkyDrive on your Windows account, or on a Microsoft SharePoint if you have one set up for your company.

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You can add in text, pictures from the camera, sound you've recorded – basically if you're after a complete way to record a meeting then this is an excellent way to do it.

Word and Excel support is similarly excellent – for instance, in Word you can look at the whole document in overview, or press a button to simply see the starting phrase of each paragraph, which can make shooting through a 90-page document on your handset much easier.

You can obviously edit said documents with ease too, by tapping the edit key – you can also track changes on collaborative docs with a specified user name to make it easy to show what you think. Or swear at people in real-time, which is hilarious in all work-based instances.

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PowerPoint is ridiculously good, too; simply open it up and you can alter a project, add text, move the slide around the presentation with a slick drag and drop principle, basically all the things you can think of in a really nice manner.

You can also subscribe to web-based PowerPoint presentations and follow them real-time on your phone – we didn't get the chance to try out this functionality but it sounds ace.

What's hard to describe here is how it works – namely the foibles, the weaknesses, the things that don't impress you as much, and the reason is that there aren't any.

The Windows Phone 7 platform on the HTC HD7 is almost perfect in the way it operates the tasks you ask it to, and that's never more apparent than in the intensive Office Suite.

Search

Bing is hardwired into most of the phones, meaning when you're on the Home screen you'll be able to access it from the search button on the front.

It prioritises local results – which include a map, phone numbers, opening times, ratings and the options to pin the result to the Start screen (so you can look back at the map easily) or send the details as an email or SMS.

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You also get prioritised information, such as currency conversion or flight times if you enter in the Flight Number – it comes up at the top just like in the 'real life' Bing.

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You can swipe to web and news results, which come with enough of an excerpt for you to know if they're useful before you waste time and data clicking through to them.

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The HTC HD7's Internet Explorer search engine on the O2 version is locked to Yahoo mobile though – this is annoying when you see how good the Bing version is from the main screen, and that's the one used in the unlocked version.

Pressing the same key throughout the phone will open up different things: for instance, you can search marketplace or emails depending on what you have open and get results in real time as you type.

HTC HD7: Battery and connectivity

The HTC HD7 is based on a number of principles supplied by Microsoft – namely that the battery life is tailored to the power levels of the OS.

The lack of third party multi-tasking, the 1GHz processor specified by Microsoft and the dedicated GPU all mean battery life is pretty well mandated by the Redmond group – and it's relatively impressive here.

In practice, we managed to get around one and a third days' use out of the phone before it died completely – although we found if you switch things off towards the end of its life, the battery will manage almost half a day more for emergencies.

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Plus in airplane mode, or with just Wi-Fi turned on and not mobile data, the battery lasts an incredibly long time – a few days by our reckoning, which is really nice indeed.

The battery is also user-replaceable, which is another plus should the phone freeze and crash – although we never saw any hint of that happening in our tests.

Connectivity

As you can imagine the HTC HD7 is filled to the brim with connectivity options – although not all of them work as well as we would have hoped.

Coverage is good, and enables you to make and receive calls nearly all the time. However, we found the data coverage was a little more suspect at times, with the bars dropping down low. The data rarely dropped, but the speeds weren't as fast as we would have liked.

The HTC HD7 also really struggled with Wi-Fi connections at times too – especially when coming out of sleep mode to re-connect.

There were times when we were waiting many seconds to 'get our Wi-Fi on', and if you were in the middle of downloading something, then it would pause and sometimes fail as the phone would get confused over where to get its data from.

HTC hd7 review

Bluetooth worked fairly well – transferring between Windows Phone 7 devices seemed okay but for some reason our handset didn't want to communicate with Android phones, which makes very little sense.

Bluetooth headsets connected easily and without problem, which you'd expect from a Microsoft-powered phone.

GPS was also an issue for us at times – even when out and about and trying to get a decent map fix, the time to find us from cold wasn't that impressive.

It invariably did manage it eventually, but it's not in the same league as the likes of the iPhone 4 at working out where you are almost as soon as you turn on the application.

The digital compass didn't really come into play that often either, which is likely due to its API not being available for developers to put in their apps – it seems that's something that could really benefit some, although LG has managed to utilise it in the Optimus 7.

We mentioned it before, but the Zune software is both a blessing and a curse for the HTC HD7. It's just great for finding your media, siphoning off photos and videos and just generally messing around with your phone.

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One feature we adored was the ability to sync wirelessly – simply turn on your phone and your PC together and you'll find that in a few minutes you'll be looking at all the updated stuff from either device.

However, you do have to use it when the phone is plugged into the wall, which ruins the trick somewhat… when are you going to have a phone plugged in and your laptop on in another room? It seems like more a niche idea than anything else to us.

There's no internet tethering, which means your phone's data is going to be safe, and we've already mentioned how annoying it is that some videos have to be converted.

Audio and the like will sync over easily enough – but why aren't we allowed to drag and drop files for easy management? Syncing over four films on the Samsung Galaxy S takes around 10 minutes or so when simply copied across in known friendly file formats – it takes over an hour on the HTC HD7 and other Windows Phone 7 phones.

Connectivity therefore has to get a 'could do better' despite the wide range of options on offer and the excellent (although a little bulky) implementation of the Zune Media interface otherwise.

HTC HD7: Hands on gallery

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HTC HD7: Verdict

HTC hd7 review

The HTC HD7 is a phone that uses the large 4.3-inch screen to differentiate itself, which is obvious when you see the kickstand at the back.

Putting up the best Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 has to offer obviously is working for this gargantuan phone, and the unit works well as a whole.

We liked

A year ago we wouldn't have believed we were saying it, but we love Windows Mobile. Well, what Windows Mobile has become: Windows Phone 7.

From the industrial and simple-to-use tiles to the brilliant way the screen responds to the finger, it's a top notch interface for the first time user from start to finish.

The large screen is lovely for watching movies on, if not sensational – we actually preferred it for playing games, because we didn't need the stellar performance as much.

The speakers on the sides of the phone were a nice touch, and the double flash really helped photos in the absence of a Xenon flash.

The sound enhancement is a real boon, but why can't it be in the Zune media player rather than in a separate application?

We disliked

We're not massive fans of the way Windows Phone 7 is so locked down at the moment, because it means there's no genius tinkering from the brilliant developers that can go on yet in the same way as on the likes of the Galaxy S or BlackBerry range.

At launch, the HTC HD7 has very few applications to play with from the store – there's not even a YouTube or Twitter client to mess around with as yet.

The Internet Explorer is a bit slow for our tastes, especially since we thought it was going to be really, really fast, and the lack of Flash, Silverlight and HTML5 is ridiculous when you think about the heritage Microsoft has in those areas.

The large size of the phone might be a turn off for some, and the way the back got damaged so easily is a little worrying for a £40-per-month handset.

The outside of the screen is a little sharp too, which makes a difference when pressed to your face.

Verdict

We like the HTC HD7 as a phone – it builds nicely on the HD2 without being a complete revamp.

The Windows Phone 7 experience is ace on it, and simply just works, which is all we're really looking for at this early stage.

However, we're worried about how it will stack up against the awesomeness of the HTC Desire HD – it's like two twins fighting on two sides of a war, both mirrored in specs and style almost exactly.

But we're all for choice, so we have to give a big thumbs up as part of the five way Windows Phone 7 launch – we just wish Microsoft wasn't so precious about locking down the OS so much, as this could be a five star phone with a little extra functionality and customisation from some creative types.

Windows Phone 7 HTC
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