The HD7 is T-Mobile’s first offering of Microsoft’s new Windows Phone OS. To those of you who were Windows Mobile fans, this major overhaul of an update was well needed. In a time where the OS is almost as important than the device and specs itself, this is where the major players hold their ground in today’s mobile world. With the HD7, Microsoft wanted to have their voice be heard and announce that they too can play with the big boys. T-Mobile’s offering of the HD7 is just a HD2 with the new OS slapped onto it. Will this be enough for Microsoft to be heard in today’s market or will they need the help of an opera singer to get their point across? Find out more after the break.
As said earlier, the HD7 is just an HD2 with the new OS slapped onto it. With that said, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t revamp the look and feel of the device. The HD7 has the newer front face that Microsoft deliberately wants on each of their devices; three capacitive buttons showing search, Windows key and back. There’s also the 4.3in SLCD screen which we all know and love now along with the two speaker grills at the top and bottom of the device. You would think that the speakers would produce stereo surround sound like it’s keyboard-less sibling, the HTC Surround, but it doesn’t. The volume for incoming calls, speaker and media were downright low. At times I had to double check the volume to make sure it was on its loudest setting just so I could see it was at its highest. The right side has the volume up and down button that is flush with the plastic bezel of the phone which although feels a tad bit loose, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall off. You also have the camera button on the bottom of the right side which adds instant camera access while the phone is locked with just a quick push. The bottom of the HD7 has your microUSB port and 3.5mm headset jack and the left is straight flush to show off the prettiness of the plastic. On the back you have the 5MP camera with dual LED flash and a kickstand to make the HD7 a nice movie/photo viewer for the multimedia hungry. Last but not least we have the top of the phone, which houses your power/sleep button.
Microsoft calls the UI on WP7 Metro. While Metro means products and services related to urban areas, this version of Metro doesn’t mean urban at the moment. When I received the HD7, it didn’t have the latest update that Microsoft offers at the moment for its WP7 devices, the “NoDo” update. It was completely stock like it just left the factory a couple of hours prior. Toying with the device prior to the update made me realized how spoiled I was with iOS and Android devices being able to copy/paste and place the cursor wherever I pleased; making me forget that I once waited for copy/paste on both platforms. The first day had me thinking I was playing with an iPhone 2G, a very plain sight to look at. Though while the OS is still young, it did get me to do my usual things on a phone with a breeze due to its 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 576MB of RAM. There weren’t really too many hiccups and it handled what I threw at it pretty well for the most part, but it just wasn’t snappy enough for me. Applications took fairly long to update on both wifi and 3G connections, and that didn’t look good in my eyes. The device finally decided to let me know there was an update for it and for the most part, it really didn’t do anything but just add copy/paste and fix a few bugs. After the update, I thought the device would perform a little bit better and to be honest, it didn’t. It stood exactly the same.
Besides the software woes, the OS really shines in it’s plainness. Ironic, but its true. Its almost looking at iOS 1.0, well not really, but you get the drift. The tiles are there to help you get in and get out as fast as you can just as the commercial says, “It’s the phone to save you from all phones”. The built-in apps that Microsoft added like Office and XBOX Live are a real treat. The Office suite that is there is a nice quicker upper for starting and editing drafts of documents you need to be done. Now I wouldn’t do any major fiddling with it like write a whole term paper, but its there just to help you out. XBOX Live on the phone is pretty slick. It lets you sign in and you get to see your avatar, friends online, games you’ve played recently, etc., just like when you sign on the actual console. I didn’t get to try out all the extras the XBOX Live application offered because my gold membership expired about three years ago, but the idea of seeing who’s online and playing what is pretty neat because you know who’s doing what and what game to play once you get home. I don’t think you’d like to play Call of Duty: Black Ops on that tiny screen right?
The on-screen keyboard on WP7 is a complete joy to type on. Whether its the 4.3in screen or Microsoft’s calibration, the keyboard just works. It is almost as good as typing on an iPhone and beats the new keyboard that Android is offering with Gingerbread 2.3. The keys are nice and large with the same amount of space that an iPhone has on its keyboard. Although it is not complete error proof, you do make a little bit of mistakes (we’re not perfect ok) but you get over it eventually. The only issue I had with the keyboard was its inability to transition from the extra characters back to letters. You had to manually press the ABC/123 key at the bottom left to go back to typing regularly. Typing in landscape mode was a pleasure to type on as well due to the screen’s extra real estate that it offers.
The battery life on the HD7 is the exact same as the one on the HD2. Its a 1,230 mAh and almost one of the smallest offerings of battery life to date for being a smartphone. I’m not sure HTC thought they had managed battery optimization better on the 7 than the 2, but no change has been made. With little to no usage, you’re guaranteed to get through a whole day or more like every other phone. Moderate usage will get you throughout the day or until the time you get home. Power users should keep a spare in their backpacks. The only plus this phone has with battery life is that their is currently no multitasking, so this takes a load off of the processor and phone itself which results in minor battery improvement.
I feel that this device was rushed and the software is very immature in its current state. Eventually it will start to shine once more updates have been given to this OS. Microsoft wanted to make a complete change of what it was doing and for the most part it did. Microsoft’s strict guidelines for its OS is pretty simple; no custom UIs, no themes, no nothing. Vanilla (stock) is the way to go nowadays. Vanilla versions of the OS get the updates faster since there is no extra APIs to mess with and it is complete stock, the OEMs don’t have to worry about what works with their custom UI or not and the OS gets noticed more. While at an immature state, the OS is one of the slickest on the market right now. It gets you from point A to point B in no time and you don’t have to swipe screens which gets things done faster since it is right in front of you. If you’re on T-Mobile, I wouldn’t jump to get this device for two reasons:
- If you have an HD2, its pretty much the same device
- I would wait for T-Mobile’s next WP7 phone, the HTC Bresson, which is rumored to come out late 2011 and will have the next update “Mango” and is equipped with a 16MP shooter
There are some things I like about the phone and some things I don’t, when these “don’ts” get fixed, I wouldn’t be surprised if WP7 passes iOS and Android in the near future. You can read a review on its sibling, the HD7S right here as well to compare both devices/reviews to see which one suits you better. Hopefully the bugs and kinks I encountered were looked into and fixed for the most part. It took Android around three years to become the number one OS in the US, why not give this one two?