HTC 7 Mozart review: HTC 7 Mozart

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The Good Xenon flash is great for taking shots in the dark; decent sound quality; good music store; simple, attractive user interface.

The Bad 8GB of storage can't be expanded; volume could go higher; app store is just getting going.

The Bottom Line The HTC 7 Mozart isn't the awesome camera phone that it claims to be, and an 8GB memory limit is its Achilles heel as a music phone. But its xenon flash, excellent music store and fresh Windows Phone 7 OS, mean it's still music to our ears.

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7.5 Overall

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The HTC 7 Mozart strives to set itself apart from the Windows Phone 7 pack with a xenon flash and 8-megapixel camera. But that's really just gravy on top of a solid, shapely phone that offers a simple, slick user interface. If you buy the Mozart, you'll have to wait for Microsoft's app store to fill up, and the operating system has a few early quirks, but the Mozart sings a happy tune overall.

The Mozart is available for free on a £32.50-per-month contract, exclusively on Orange. You can also buy it SIM-free for around £470.

Have we met before?

The Mozart has the challenge of differentiating itself from the other phones that launched alongside Windows Phone 7. Because of Microsoft's strict minimum specs, each launch phone has around 8GB of memory, a 1GHz processor, at least a 5-megapixel camera, and a large screen.

Since all Windows Phone 7 handsets have the same user interface, we invite you to read our full review of the new OS. In a nutshell, we think it's very finger-friendly and simple, but has plenty of room to grow. The Xbox Live, Zune music and Office features are already crave-worthy, but the app store has plenty of catching up to do.

Both HTC and Orange have contributed to the OS in the only way they've been able to -- by slapping some of their own apps on there. None of them are worth buying the phone for specifically, although the Orange Wednesdays app is definitely worth having. Not only does it offer a quick way to grab two-for-one cinema tickets, it does a great job of displaying movie reviews, trailers, show times and nearby cinemas.

Although the Mozart has a 1GHz processor, we found it slightly less perky than the HTC HD7. Occasionally, the screen didn't unlock on our first swipe, and apps didn't open as quickly as we expected. It's not a terrible problem, but it does slow down the swoopy Windows Phone 7 OS somewhat. 

Taking the shot

The Mozart sings a slightly different tune to rival Windows Phone 7 handsets, thanks to its 8-megapixel camera and xenon flash. This type of flash is brighter and delivers better results than the LED photo light typically found on mobile phones, but it will drain the battery faster and can take a second to warm up.

Indeed, in our tests, the Mozart's camera wasn't particularly fast to capture shots, with or without the flash. We found the delay between pressing the dedicated camera button and capturing an image to be longer than with some of the Mozart's competitors, like the Android-based HTC Desire HD, although we still think you'll see an improvement if you're upgrading from an older camera phone.

The xenon flash also can't be using for shooting video, since it can't be left on like an LED can. In general, however, LED lights are so unflattering and harsh that we prefer to leave them off anyway.

To test the xenon flash, we retreated into the dark, mysterious cave that is the CNET UK TV testing room. We pitted the Mozart against a Desire HD, which has an 8-megapixel camera with two LED lights. (For more on the Desire HD's camera, check out our Desire HD camera test.) We also pitted the Mozart against a decent compact camera, the Fujifilm FinePix J150w.

We've collated the images so you can compare them more easily. Click the pictures below to see larger versions, or click the following links to see the original, full-sized camera photo, Mozart photo and Desire HD photo. All the photos were taken under fully automatic settings.

In the photos above, although the camera soundly beats both phones, and does a better job of exposing Ian's massive napkin collection, the Mozart's xenon flash trounces the Desire HD's LED lights. Although the colour isn't accurate, the flash is less harsh and delivers a better image overall. It's worth noting that, with the flash turned off, the Mozart refused to even take a shot in very dark conditions, while the Desire HD made a valiant effort to focus.

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