The HTC HD7 is T-Mobile's first Windows Phone 7 device and makes its debut on November 8, along with the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround for AT&T. The HD7, however, holds the distinction of having the largest display of any Windows Phone 7 handset in the U.S., and certainly the extra screen real estate plays well with the platform's multimedia and gaming abilities. That said, it doesn't have the crispness and vibrancy of some of the latest smartphone displays, and in general, we would have liked to see more improvements or upgrades to the HD7 in comparison to its predecessor, the HTC HD2, as the two phones share the same screen, processor, and battery. Still, the HD7 performs well and as we discussed in our review of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's revamped mobile operating system is solid, so if you crave a big display, the HD7 is the way to go. The HTC HD7 will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate.
Of the Windows Phone 7 devices we've reviewed so far--the Samsung Focus and the HTC Surround--the HTC HD7 is certainly the most eye-catching. For one, it's the largest of the group, taking after its predecessor, the HTC HD2. The smartphone measures 4.8 inches tall by 2.7 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick and weighs 5.7 ounces. The size won't appeal to everyone, as it is a handful, but to HTC's credit, the company kept the handset pretty thin so you can still manage to slip it into a pants pocket. The build quality of the phone is solid, and the soft-touch finish on the back prevents it from feeling too plasticky and slick.
Of course, the whole reason for the HD7's bigger size is the 4.3-inch touch screen. It's currently the largest display offered on a Windows Phone 7 device here in the U.S. There are several benefits to that. The extra screen real estate makes it great for multimedia, playing games, and Web browsing--features which are well-implemented on Windows Phone 7. When the Amazon Kindle app for Windows Phone 7 is released, you'll also be able to read e-books right on the phone.
Another advantage is that you get a larger keyboard. Windows Phone 7 already offers a pretty great and accurate keyboard, and we had no problems using it on the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround, but we did find we were able to type much faster using the HD7. One thing that doesn't change, however, is the number of tiles and apps that are viewable from the Start screen and apps menu list. They're simply enlarged on the HD7, so you're seeing the same amount that you would on the Focus or Surround.
The touch screen is responsive. Apps and hubs launched as soon as we tapped on the tiles or shortcuts, and we were able to quickly move through the hubs. Scrolling and pinch-to-zoom were also smooth. Overall, the display is bright and clear, showing off 480x800 pixels, but we definitely noticed a difference in quality compared with some of the higher-resolution displays on some of the today's latest smartphones. It just wasn't as sharp or crisp as some of the latest smartphones, and colors looked a bit dull compared with the Super AMOLED screen on the Focus. It's not a deal breaker, and the touch screen works well with Windows Phone 7; we just think the experience could have been that much better with a sharper display.
Below the display, you will find the back, start, and search buttons, which are required by Microsoft. They're of the touch-sensitive variety, but there are also several physical buttons on the device, including a volume rocker and a camera key on the right side, and a power button on top of the phone.
Rounding out things is a Micro-USB port and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on the bottom, and the camera and dual-LED flash on back. HTC cleverly incorporated a metal kickstand around the latter. There's a small gap where you can use your finger to pop the kickstand open and lay the phone on a flat surface so you can enjoy videos and music hands-free. The phone's speakers are visible just above and below the touch screen.
The HTC HD7 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, and reference material.
We won't dive into every feature of Windows Phone 7 here; you can read more about the operating system in our in-depth review here. Instead, for this review, we'll focus more on the features that are specific to the HTC HD7.
The phone features are pretty much what you would expect: quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, voice dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. The HD7 doesn't support T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, but it is 3G-capable and has Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS. As a limitation of Windows Phone 7, there is no tethering support right now.
Though customization is limited on Windows Phone 7, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and carrier partners can still put their own spin on the devices, and T-Mobile and HTC have done so. On the HTC side, the company has added its own HTC Hub (also available as a live tile) where you will find some old HTC favorites like its animated clock and weather widget, as well as HTC apps.