HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile) review: HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile)

HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile)

Bonnie Cha

Bonnie Cha

Former Editor

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

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6 min read

In early September, HTC stopped by the CNET offices to show off its new Windows Phone devices, the HTC Titan and HTC Radar. Though the Titan was the better phone in terms of specs, it was the Radar that grabbed my attention, with its combination of a beautiful design and the slickness of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. Now, T-Mobile customers get to experience the same thing with the HTC Radar 4G, which is available now for $99.99 with a two-year contract. It's a great price for a great phone that might not attract the early adopters and gadget heads but should please everyone else.

HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile)

HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile)

The Good

The <b>HTC Radar 4G</b> boasts a beautiful, high-quality design. Windows Phone Mango offers a smooth user experience and some great feature enhancements. The smartphone's 5-megapixel camera is fast and delivers great photos; a front-facing camera also allows for video calls.

The Bad

The Radar 4G doesn't offer expandable memory or a user-replaceable battery. Call quality could be better.

The Bottom Line

The combination of a beautiful design, Windows Phone, and an affordable price tag makes the HTC Radar 4G a great smartphone for first-time buyers and those who don't need all the bells and whistles.

The HTC Radar 4G is one of the more striking smartphones I've seen in a while. The white-and-silver color scheme helps it stand out from the crowd, and its sleek, aluminum unibody design makes for a very high-quality-feeling phone. At 4.74 inches tall by 2.42 inches wide by 0.43 inch thick and 4.83 ounces, it's also nice and compact, and the tapered edges make it even easier to slip the handset into your pocket. The Radar 4G is pretty much everything I'm looking for when it comes to the design, but if there's one downside it's that the smartphone doesn't have a user-replaceable battery.

In today's sea of large, black touch-screen phones, the HTC Radar 4G is a refreshing change.

On front, you get a 3.8-inch WVGA (480x800) touch screen. With more and more smartphones featuring displays that measure 4 inches or larger, the Radar's screen might seem small to some folks, and admittedly, it didn't provide the best video viewing experience. That said, I found it fine for everything else. Reading messages was a breeze. Pictures looked vibrant and clear on screen, and with the built-in accelometer, viewing Web pages was not a problem.

The touch screen is also very responsive. Windows Phone offers a gorgeous and fluid user interface, and the touch screen let me navigate through the various menus and hubs quickly and easily. I think the Windows Phone virtual keyboard is outstanding and one of the best out there, but I would still like to have a choice, and unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't give me that option.

Below the display, you'll find the back, Start, and search buttons, which are required on all Windows Phone devices. Also required is a dedicated camera button, which sits on the right side, along with a volume rocker. Meanwhile, there's a Micro-USB port on the left spine, and a 3.5mm headphone jack and power/lock button on top.

The Radar features a main 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and a backside-illuminated sensor.

The main 5-megapixel camera is located on back along with an LED flash. There is also a front-facing VGA camera for video calls. As with most Windows Phone devices, the Radar 4G does not offer expandable memory, so you will have to be OK with phone's 8GB of internal memory.

The HTC Radar 4G comes packaged with just the basic accessories: an AC adapter, a USB cable, and reference material.

The HTC Radar 4G ships running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, which brings such improvements as Twitter integration in the People hub, threaded messaging, multitasking, and a more robust Bing search engine. You can read about all the new features and enhancements in our in-depth review of Windows Phone Mango here.

Though Microsoft restricts much customization from OEMs and carriers, they still have an opportunity to add some flair. For example, the Radar features the HTC hub, where HTC fans can find the company's clock and weather widget, featured apps, and news and stock feeds. The smartphone also comes with several apps preloaded by T-Mobile, such as T-Mobile TV, TeleNav GPS Navigator, and Netflix. By default, some are pinned to the Start screen as live tiles, but you can unpin them or uninstall the apps completely, which is nice.

Additional titles are available through the Windows Phone Marketplace, which has more than 35,000 apps in its catalog.

The HTC Radar 4G is a quad-band world phone with a speakerphone, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, voice dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. The smartphone is compatible with T-Mobile's HSPA+ 14.4 network and also includes Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), and GPS.

The smartphone does not support T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling feature, but with Windows Phone Mango and the front-facing VGA camera, you can make video calls. I didn't see any preloaded video chat clients on my review unit, so I downloaded the Tango app from the Marketplace to make video calls. Calls can be made over 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi.

With Windows Phone, you'll have no shortage of entertainment options. The Zune integration continues to be top notch, and Mango brings even more features like SmartDJ. Gamers also get access to more tools and information in Xbox Live, with the ability to customize their 3D avatars, track achievements, discover new games, and more.

As I mentioned in the Design section, the Radar 4G has a 5-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 lens, backside-illuminated sensor (BSI) for better low-light performance, and LED flash. With a dedicated camera key, it's easy to start taking photos right away, even if your phone is locked. The camera app provides various editing tools, including white balance controls, saturation settings, effects, and panorama and burst shot modes.

The Radar's camera took sharp photos, but low-light performance could be better.

Picture quality was great. The BSI sensor helped produce bright and sharp photos even when lighting conditions weren't ideal, and there was very little shutter lag. Pictures taken outdoors also looked fabulous. The camera is capable of 720p HD video capture, and video quality was generally good. However, in bright sunshine, the picture could look blown out.

We tested the quad-band HTC Radar 4G in San Francisco and call quality was OK. I could hear my callers just fine, but the audio wasn't pristine. There was some background hissing and static that got to be a bit distracting, and even at the highest level, volume was a bit low. Meanwhile, my friends had no major complaints about the sound quality.

HTC Radar 4G call quality sample Listen now:

The speakerphone doesn't escape the hissing issue, and the calls sounded pretty hollow. On the bright side, there is plenty of volume to carry on conversations even in louder environments. I had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones to make calls and listen to music.

Using T-Mobile's "4G" network, CNET's full site came up in 27 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN loaded in 6 seconds and 11 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos loaded in a couple of seconds and played back without interruption. I also streamed some shows and movies from Netflix, and the viewing experience was OK. There were a few times where the Internet connection was too slow, so the stream would be interrupted, but once going, the quality was good.

Powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm processor and 512MB RAM, the Radar 4G may not be the fastest smartphone on the block, but it is responsive. There were no delays in navigating the phone or launching apps. The new multitasking capabilities of Windows Phone Mango also make it a snap to switch between tasks.

The HTC Radar 4G ships with a 1,520mAh lithium-ion battery with a rated talk time of 7.7 hours and up to 24 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests, but so far, I've been able to get through a full day before needing to recharge. We will update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the Radar 4G has a digital SAR rating of 0.476W/kg and a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M3/T3.

The HTC Radar 4G isn't the most advanced smartphone on the market, far from it. However, it shouldn't be dismissed because of it. Sure, some will scoff the lack of a dual-core processor, a bigger screen, and support for faster 4G speeds, but HTC has, once again, churned out a beautifully designed product and the new improvements of Windows Phone Mango bring a great user experience with well-integrated features that should please many users. Plus, at $100, it's a pretty decent value.

HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile)

HTC Radar 4G (T-Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7
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