The minimum camera requirement for Windows Phone 7 is 5 megapixels, and that's exactly what you get with the HTC HD7S. The camera settings include six different resolutions, effects, scenes, and flicker adjustment. HTC also offers a Photo Enhancer app--available as a free download from the HTC Hub or Windows Phone 7 Marketplace--with which you can touch up photos and add effects.
HTC does a lot of things well, but one area where it really needs to improve is camera software. As we've seen on a number of the company's other smartphones, the HD7S' picture quality left much to be desired. Though we could make out the objects in the photos, the images looked flat with washed-out colors and a grayish overtone. The camera did slightly better with outdoor scenes, but also struggled in camcorder mode, as our 720p HD video clips looked discolored and murky.
We tested the quad-band HTC HD7S in New York using AT&T service, and call quality was an issue. Though our callers reported good results, we could hear a constant hissing in the background on our end. It wasn't bad enough that we couldn't hear voices, but it was noticeable and at times distracting.
HTC HD7S call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was OK. The hissing was gone once we activated the speakerphone, and though slightly tinny the sound was clear. When volume was set to the highest level, it was just enough so we could hear our callers in a noisier environment. We had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
Using AT&T's 3G network, CNET's full site loaded in 40 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 5 seconds and 12 seconds. YouTube videos took a few seconds to load, but played back continuously after buffering.
With its 1GHz Snapdragon processor and NoDo performance improvements, the HTC HD7S proved to be a very capable performer during our test period. There was very little delay when launching apps and navigating through the menus. The load time for games was much faster than we saw on the first batch of Windows Phone devices, and gameplay was smooth.
The HTC HD7S ships with a 1,230mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 4.5 hours and up to 11 days of standby time. As we stated in our HD7 review, it's disappointing to see such a small battery in a larger device, but so far battery life hasn't been an issue. With moderate usage (checking e-mail and Facebook, few calls, and occasional browsing), we were able to get through a full work day before needing to recharge. We are still conducting our battery drain tests, and will update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the HD7S has a digital SAR rating of 0.956W/kg and a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M3.
The HTC HD7S delivers on many fronts, including a large, crisp display and fast performance. Unfortunately, the subpar camera and call quality prevent us from giving it a higher score. Unless you absolutely crave the larger screen, the Samsung Focus is still our top pick of AT&T's Windows Phone devices. The HTC HD7S will be available starting June 5 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.