HTC HD2 - The review

Lately I have been through a small motorcycle accident and had to slow down my activities for some days. Well, thanks to my friends at Newpan, the local HTC distributor, this has become a less difficult task when they lent me an HTC Touch HD2 so that I can get a review done.

The original review (in Hebrew), has been posted at MobilityFreak at this link.

So here is the baby:

I think I can begin by saying that this phone is a design masterpiece. I have never touched a phone which is so big in size and screen and yet feels so right in the hand and so comfortable in the pocket. So this is a first point to HTC.

You will be able to see the full review with many more pictures and a video demonstration in the full article page.

 Here is a small size comparison between the HD2 and my Omnia:

Well, we can see here that they are almost the same height (the HD2 is a bit higher) and that the HD2 is around 1cm wider than the Omnia. Now note what a difference that makes in the screen size, and how the HD2 utilizes much more of its front space for the screen: the buttons are stuck to the very bottom of the device, the HTC logo takes much less space than the Samsung logo, and at the top the screen ends much nearer to the top of the device. So the difference translates itself into a much bigger and readable screen.

Another thing that I must say about the device before I begin going picture by picture: performance. This Snapdragon 1GHz processor is a real beast, and does boost the performance of the device. But I believe that parts of the credit needs to go also to WM6.5 which looks much faster and smoother than 6.1, and to the new Manilla version which seems optimized and very fast.

The battery is another thing: it is a simple 1230mAh battery, and I could use the device for 1.5 days straight without needing to recharge. It seems that the capacitive screen really saves some battery comparing to the older technology displays.

1. Hardware

So, let's see some more detailed pictures of the hardware:

Here is the top of the device. As you can see, it has nothing on it. Turning on/off is done with the end button at the front of the device.

The right side of the device. Again, nothing there.

The bottom of the device shows the MicroUSB charge/sync slot and the 3.5mm jack connector for the headset. BTW, I tested charging with a Nokia N97 charger, and it did work, so I believe that every charger of this type will work as well.

Left side: here we can see the volume button.

The back of the device: here we see the 5MP camera and the double-led flash. The two leds do make a better flash experience than the single led that we were used to see in these devices, but it is still not perfect.

Please don't ask me what is the wording at the battery cover. Since this is an engineering device, I believe it is only marking the place where something else will be written.

Five buttons in the bottom complete the hardware: Send, Home, Windows Mobile Menu, Back, and End. All the rest is done on the screen.

You can see a RAM of 320MB and Flash ROM of 512MB, from which 209MB are user accessible. This means I don't expect you will ever be out of memory with this device. Add a 8GB or higher MicroSD card, and you can carry your life in it.

So, in terms of hardware, what is missing: in my opinion, only one thing: a camera button. I believe the camera is something that we want to catch-and-shoot, without going through menus in order to access. A direct button for a camera is in my opinion something important, and it is a pity that HTC forgot to put it there.

2. Software

Software is one of the strong parts of HTC phones in general, and the HD2 is not an exception to that rule. The phone comes packed with the new Manilla version which fits HTC's new HTC Sense UI. After playing for 3 days with the device, I can surely say that "HTC Sense really does make sense".

This is the phone home page. You have the option of a clock, local weather (your location for the weather is brought from the GPS and, according to what I saw, is always updated), next appointment, and three shortcuts that can be applications or contact quick-dials.

Pressing the Start button on the screen or the hardware button at the bottom of the device takes us to the Windows Mobile Menu. It includes many nice goodies, including the Search widget, Google Maps, Facebook and YouTube applications. The device is clearly a business device with a great focus on private entertainment apart from business.

The definition of your Youtube and Facebook accounts is done already at the first startup of the device. Then when you need the applications for the first time, you already go directly in.

YouTube brings a personalized view when you enter the software, and you can fully see the videos there at the device screen.

As we know, the Microsoft Facebook application lacks some functions we would like to see, like synchonizing contact data and pictures to our phonebook. But the rest works pretty well. The squares you see in the screen are Hebrew charaters that were presented this way since I did not have Hebrew support installed in the device (still in development works).

Contacts and calendar have become finger friendly, both in the presentation and in the Edit screens. The contacts screen is very functional - search is quick, and scrolling can be done both by dragging your finger on the contacts or by dragging it over the letters at th right-hand side, which will scrolls through the letters and make you jump directly to the letter you want.

The mail preview is very comfortable. You can scroll between mails and see their first lines before you digg in.

The Internet screen allows you to preset two favorite sites or fill the name of the site you want to visit. I am not fully happy with this screen, I still believe I prefer to get direct access to the browser.

The calendar screen shows the next appointments and the local weather.

The pictures screen brings a surprise to the new user: after entering the desired picture, you can zoom in and out using multi-touch gestures. Scrolling in the main screen is done by gestures up and down.

Media player works great, and I must say that the loudspeakers are very good for a phone. Sure, using headsets will let you enjoy the music much more.

Footprints is a nice application: it lets you write a Journey journal, or just details about specific places you've visited, including picture and GPS location.

Last page is for settings. HTC divides the settings differently from Microsoft, so until you get used to this you may find yourself trying to figure out where things are hidden. But in general, everything can be found.

3. Video Demo

As I said, the title of this device is "Performance". This is something that cannot be seen in pictures or read in a review. So I have recorded a 7 minute video of the operation of the device so that you can understand what I am talking about. Here is it:

Looks impressive? Believe me, in real life it is much more.

4. Conclusions

HTC has done a great job with this device. It is sleek, fast and comfortable.

I try to find some bad things on it, and it is just very difficult. The only thing that comes to my head is the missing camera button. It is a real pity that HTC has decided to leave it out, and this is the only reason why this phone won't get a 10 from me. So it ends my review with an honorable 9.5.

Now I am just waiting to see it with the Hebrew support, and maybe some Israeli carrier logo. Who will be the first?