“The HTC HD7’s big screen and super sound make the smartphone a must for lovers of mobile video, web and gaming. But disappointing qualities in other areas could make you regret your smartphone choice”
Its 4.3in touchscreen is the HTC HD7's main draw.
Many journalists have focused on HD7’s supersize touchscreen in their reviews, and I was unsurprisingly blown away by the whopping 4.3in viewing area.
Movies and videogames both looked great, for example.
The smartphone’s integrated kickstand also meant I could watch an entire film without my hand going numb - a common complaint amongst smartphone owners.
Integrated speakers above and below the touchscreen also meant sound quality was excellent, especially while connecting to the WP7 Xbox Live service. The inset speakers do collect pocket lint, though.
The smartphone comes with an admirable 16GB of internal storage. But when you remember that HD7 is primarily video and gaming orientated, you can imagine my surprise that the phone lacked an SD memory card slot.
HTC has given HD7 a 5Mp camera that, I’m sorry to say, didn’t blow me away with its picture quality. Images weren’t terrible, they just lacked that sharpness and depth of pictures snapped on rival cameraphones, such as the Sony Ericsson Satio and Nokia N8.
The phone’s dual LED flash also tended to blind my subjects with its super-bright beam, though it did come in handy for finding things in the dark.
The kickstand is the perfect film accessory.
Picture quality can be improved with the phone’s “Photo Enhancer” app, the “Auto Enhance” mode of which transforms images from dull and lifeless to something much more pleasing to the eye.
Other modes, such as “Cinnamon” and “Twilight”, didn’t boost picture quality much, just giving images a tint.
Despite running WP7, HTC HD7 comes pre-loaded with an HTC-developed “Hub” that swaps WP7’s “Live Tiles” for the user interface seen on HTC’s existing Google Android smartphones, including the HTC Desire.
Read our "What is Windows Phone 7?" guide.
Unfortunately the feature only confuses things because, for example, WP7 features aren’t available from within it. It’s like having an operating system within an operating system - what’s the point?
HD7 has just three physical buttons: a camera shortcut, volume adjustor and power button. Only the power button can wake HD7 from standby mode - an annoying feature shared by the LG Optimus 7, another WP7 smartphone.
Both Optimus 7 and HD7 have three buttons below their touchscreens for Back, Home and Search (the latter opens Microsoft’s Bing search engine).
The three physical buttons worked well on the Optimus 7, but HTC has instead opted for three touch-sensitive icons that are much too sensitive. For example, they often activated themselves when I touched a nearby Live Tile.
This over-sensitivity continued onto HD7’s virtual keypad, which had a tendency to pick the character beside the one I wanted when writing emails or text messages.
Battery life isn’t one of HD7’s strong points because its oversize screen and other power-hungry features, such as video, meant I never ventured too far from a power supply.
Overall I was left disappointed by HTC’s HD7.
Although the smartphone looks great and has some good features, it lacks the magic that I’ve come to expect from Taiwanese manufacturer HTC.