First Look: HTC HD7 review

0 out of 5
Dependent on contract

For

4.3-inch screen, HTC Hub, 16GB of storage

Against

It's big, more expensive than other Windows Phone handsets

Are you looking for our full review of the HTC HD7? If so, you can find it here.

With five handsets to choose from on the 21 October in the UK, anyone wanting to go Windows Phone 7 before Christmas has a tough job on their hands. That is if you aren't locked into a particular network already, otherwise you'll have to take what your preferred network offers you. If you don't know, we've covered all the details here. Slowly creeping out as the flagship device is the HTC HD7, mainly due to its sheer size.

We managed to get a series of hands-on sessions with the phone; ahead of launch day, on launch day with HTC, on launch day with O2, and on launch day with Oded Ran in a one-to-one Microsoft briefing. While all our time combined is still brief - this is a First Look after all - it's enough we feel to start giving you our first thoughts on the mammoth handset.

It's one of the biggest handsets available, packing a 4.3-inch LCD display with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution. That screen as you can imagine dominates the proceedings, harking back to the HD2, the best Windows Mobile phone in our minds on the market. We'll say big again because that's what the screen actually is. Big.

But before you are put you off by the size, if screen real estate is your thing, then big is good. While the HTC HD7 doesn't sport the AMOLED screen of the Samsung Omnia 7, it is bright, crisp, and easy to get immersed in. It's great for watching movies, it's great for seeing all those new panoramic hubs you'll be swiping through, and great for looking at HTC's 3D weather.

Unlike the other Windows Phone 7 handsets from Samsung, LG, and even HTC themselves, rather than just using the front to present the screen and the standard three buttons (back, Start, search), nestled down the two side edges (looking in landscape mode) are what looks like two speakers making this ideal for watching movies.

The environments we saw the handset in (four different locations) were, annoyingly, all noisy so we weren't able to judge how well the speakers stood up in a quiet environment like your bedroom. However, in those noisy locations the speakers did well to give us enough volume that we could still hear the action be it music or video. That's partly due to HTC teaming up with Dolby Mobile and SRS for improved audio capabilities, and party down to a dedicated equaliser to let you customise how the sound is processed. Want more treble? No problem.

Elsewhere on the outside of the HTC HD7 you'll get the usual array of volume buttons, a 3.5mm headphones jack and a 5-megapixel camera around the back. There is no front-facing camera for video calling. Inside and the specs don't stop. You'll get a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 576MB of ROM with storage options either coming in 8GB or 16GB versions. The inclusion of a 16GB model, remember there is no removable storage, will be welcomed; especially if you want to take advantage of that big screen to watch movies or TV shows.

The other feature that plays to its movie credentials is a kickstand around the back. This forms the camera surround and flips out to prop up the phone on a table. 

Aside from that screen, yes we really must mention it again, HTC is hoping to break out from the crowd with its HTC Hub. With Microsoft, rightly or wrongly, locking down the Windows Phone 7 operating system, HTC has tried to get around the limitations of the OS by creating a Hub that once in, looks a little like the Sense UI HTC users will be used to.

Here you get weather, stocks, notes and something called "love" - we still aren't sure what "love" is, but then... all you need is love. The apps do bring something a little extra to the table, but we do mean a little. Think of it as a nice extra, rather than a reason to buy the handset.

Verdict

The HTC HD7 is the big daddy of the Windows Phone 7 crowd, playing heavily on that big screen and the usual fantastic build quality of HTC. To put it simply, you aren't going to be buying into a phone that will be crapping out on you in 6 months time. If you were impressed by the HD2, or have one, and feel that it's time to shed Windows Mobile 6.5 (we can't believe you've been that loyal) this is the perfect upgrade.

But be warned, while it packs a powerful punch so will the monthly contract. While the HTC 7 Trophy is just £25 a month on a 2-year contract on Vodafone, the HTC HD7 is £40 a month on O2. Still, if you've got the cash, from our quick plays with the handset we are impressed.

The HTC HD7 is available on the 21 October exclusively with O2 in the UK.

We will bring you a full, more in depth review of all the features of the phone nearer the time.

UPDATE: Check out our full HTC HD7 review.