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.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile has preloaded the smartphone with a number of extras, including Slacker, Netflix, TeleNav GPS Navigator, and T-Mobile TV. The latter lets you stream live and on-demand content from channels such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, ESPN, and VH1. You get a 30-day complimentary trial of the service, but afterward you will need to pay a $9.99-per-month subscription fee. The HD7 is also the first device to come with T-Mobile's Family Room app. Here you can share calendar events, notes, and photos with a user-defined group of family members.
Of course, you can download more apps from the Windows Phone Marketplace. At launch, Microsoft estimates that there will be 1,000 apps in the store, with several hundred apps planned for release each week until the end of the year. You can check out some of the available titles in our hands-on gallery of Windows Phone 7 apps.
Be aware that the HTC HD7 has 16GB of internal memory but no expansion slot. This should be enough for most people, but if you've got a huge multimedia library or like to load up your phone with apps and games, keep an eye on your available memory. One tip for freeing up storage while still being able to enjoy tunes is to stream music from services, such as Zune Pass, Slacker, and I Heart Radio, or use the Zune's built-in radio.
The minimum camera requirement for Windows Phone 7 is 5 megapixels, and that's exactly what you get with the HTC HD7. The camera has various settings, including six different resolutions, effects, scenes, and flicker adjustment. HTC also offers a free Photo Enhancer app--available as a free download from the HTC Hub or Windows Phone Marketplace--that allows you to touch up photos and add effects.
It certainly came in handy; the picture quality on our standard camera phone shot didn't turn out all that great. With the autoflash setting, images came out pinkish and soft, but when we turned the flash on, it was too harsh. That's when we turned to the "Auto enhance" option in Photo Enhancer app. Though it didn't improve the sharpness all that much, it did do away with some of the pinkish hue and brightened up the photo overall. The camera did much better with outdoor shots, producing clear shots with more accurate colors. It's also capable of HD video capture. Video quality was decent but also could have a slightly hazy effect to it.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC HD7 in New York using T-Mobile service, and call quality was good. On our end of the conversation, the audio was rich without any type of voice distortion. We detected some slight background hissing but nothing that interrupted or distracted us from the conversation. Meanwhile, friends had mostly positive things to say, though one caller did mention that our voice occasionally sounded muffled, but again, not enough to disrupt the call.
HTC HD7 call quality sample
Unfortunately, speakerphone quality wasn't all that great. Even with the volume cranked up to the highest level, we had a hard time hearing our callers in a room with an open window, and voices sounded tinny. Our callers also reported that we sounded far away. On the bright side, we had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
As we mentioned earlier, the HTC HD7 doesn't support T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, but we still had good data speeds over its regular 3G network. CNET's full site loaded in 16 seconds, while CNN and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 8 seconds and 5 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos took a few seconds to load but played back without interruption and with synchronized audio and video. T-Mobile TV episodes also took several seconds to load, but looked great on the HD7's large screen. As you would expect, video quality was better over a strong Wi-Fi network than over a 3G connection.
The HTC HD7 is equipped with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB ROM/576MB RAM. The processor isn't the next-gen Snapdragon processor found in the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G; in fact, it's the same processor found in the HD2. It would have been nice if there had been more hardware upgrades, including the processor and display, but the smartphone was generally responsive during our review period. Applications launched almost immediately, and we didn't experience any major delays or crashes. However, as on the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround, it took a little while for Xbox Live games to load, but once going, the gameplay was smooth and fun.
The HTC HD7 ships with a 1,230mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.5 hours and up to 14.5 days of standby time. It's a smaller battery for a device of its stature, so that's a bit disappointing. We certainly noticed an effect on battery life when we played games and watched video. However, the smartphone did meet its rated talk time in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the HD7 has a digital SAR rating of 1.15 watts per kilogram.