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Hands on with the HTC HD2

Beauty, power and Windows Mobile — something seems out of place. We take our time pawing over the upcoming HTC HD2 and ask the question, can Windows Mobile ever be sexy?

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Joseph Hanlon
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You sexy thang

Windows Mobile is the operating system for corporate slaves chained to strict IT management policies, right? Not if HTC's upcoming HD2 smartphone has anything to say about it.

Even previously disgruntled WinMo users will concede that the HD2's 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen and 1GHz Snapdragon processor are reason enough to do a double take in your neighbourhood phone store. Take our word for it, the combination of these two important components in unison with HTC's Sense UI make the HD2 a Windows Mobile phone like we've never seen before.

HTC CEO Peter Chou says HTC is putting the beauty back into Windows Mobile with the HD2. In our opinion, HTC is putting beauty into Windows Mobile that was never there before. The 4.3-inch screen may sound bigger than you'd like to have swing about in your trouser pockets, but this size is offset by its wafer-like waist line. The improved home screen now features multiple places for application shortcuts under the time and weather.

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Tubes

The Opera web browser used by HTC in all of its WinMo products is back, with smooth scrolling performance unheard of in this handset's predecessors.

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Speed bump

Another common HTC application where the speed bump is glaringly obvious is the home screen image gallery. This tool uses a vertical scrolling gesture to change the image on the screen, but we've never experienced the accuracy of response to finger gestures that we did when playing with the HD2. If you're looking for a comparison refer to the iPhone.

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Sweet as honey

Running Windows Mobile 6.5, the HD2 features Microsoft's new honeycomb-style programs grid. If you look closely you can see shortcuts to some pretty fun apps, like YouTube and the Windows Mobile Marketplace.

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Pimp your ride

The number of home screen widgets has increased quite a bit since HTC first released TouchFlo3D. To make using these widgets manageable HTC includes an option in the setting to rearrange the widgets in the order you'll use most, putting important things like the calendar closer to the front, while pushing others like media or stocks to the end of the list.

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Facebook friendly

As with HTC's recent Android releases (the Tattoo and Hero), the HD2 features Facebook integration — a feature of the Sense UI. When first setting up the phone you'll be asked a few more questions than you might be used to, including your Facebook and Twitter log-in details. Once synced, your address will auto-fill with your Facebook details, birthdays and email addresses plus current profile photos used by your Facebook friends. You can also access your Facebook buddies' photo albums through the phone.

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Getting your flow on

To view your Facebook friend's photo albums the phone takes you into a Cover Flow-style landscape view. This picture may look like we're playing Farmville on the phone, but it's actually a screenshot saved by a friend to his Facebook account.

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Snappy flasher

The HD2 comes with a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and an LED flash. If this gallery has rekindled your faith in Windows Mobile you don't have to wait long until you can get face-time with HD2 yourself. The latest (dare we say greatest?) HTC WinMo handset will be in stores mid to late January 2010.

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