In February 2010, Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 7 to the world. With the complete overhaul of its mobile operating system, Microsoft got the tech world excited about the OS again with its fresh user interface, added features, and promises of improved performance. We've had to wait a long time since then to see if Windows Phone 7 actually delivers everything it promises, but we finally got a chance to find out, and for the most part it does. There are certainly aspects that need to be fine-tuned and features that need to be added, but overall, Microsoft has created a very solid foundation to get them back in the game.
Now, as we enter the second week of November, the first wave of devices are ready to hit the streets, with the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround arriving at AT&T, and the HTC HD7 heading to T-Mobile, all available starting today. We have full reviews of all three smartphones, as well as a in-depth look at Microsoft's new operating system, so read on to get all the details.
Like the Surround, the Focus features a standard candy-bar design. The display is especially brilliant and we appreciated the great call quality and camera performance. On the downside, the Focus feels a bit plasticky and the Xbox Live games load too slowly.
The bottom line: For anyone looking for an alternative to the iPhone and who wants better multimedia features and a more organized user interface than Android offers, the Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7 has all that plus solid performance and a sleek design.
On the outside, we liked the speakers and the kickstand, and inside she appreciated the 1GHz processor, the 5-megapixel camera, and the full set of wireless options, Yet, we weren't crazy about the device's heft, the low speakerphone volume, and the limited support for landscape mode.
Bottom line: The HTC Surround features the high-quality design that we've come to expect from HTC, but the only thing its built-in speakers really add to the phone is weight. Unless you're set on the speakers, the Samsung Focus is a sleeker Windows Phone 7 device for AT&T with slightly better performance and options.
The HTC HD7 holds the distinction for having the largest display of all the Windows Phone 7 devices available in the U.S. At 4.3 inches, the touch screen certainly plays well with the operating system's multimedia and gaming capabilities. We certainly would have liked to seen a couple more hardware improvements but overall, the HD7 delivers in a big way.
Bottom line: The hardware could use a bit of updating, but the HTC HD7 for T-Mobile combines the power of Windows Phone 7 with a large touch screen and delivers satisfying performance.
Windows Phone 7 OS
Though it's missing some important features like copy/paste, third-party multitasking, and universal search, there's a lot we like about Windows Phone 7. The Zune integration is killer, the core apps are much improved, and we commend Microsoft for being big enough to acknowledge that its old OS wasn't working and taking a chance on rebuilding something from the ground up. The end result is something fresh, fun, and functional.
Editors' note: The original version of this story was posted October 20. It has been updated to reflect the November 8 launch of Windows Phone 7 handsets.