Hands-on with AT&T's Windows Phone 7 devices

AT&T is set to launch three Windows Phone 7 devices for the 2010 holiday season. How do they compare? Read on to get CNET's first impressions.

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.
Bonnie Cha
3 min read

Watch this: Windows Phone 7 for AT&T

As most of you have heard by now, Microsoft and AT&T took center stage in New York on Monday to officially launch Windows Phone 7.

Though handsets will launch with a variety of carriers, AT&T will soon offer three Windows Phone 7 handsets in the U.S.: the Samsung Focus, the HTC Surround, and the LG Quantum.

We got some brief hands-on time with all three phones from AT&T at the event, and you'll find first impressions, as well as some photos, below. In general, we were impressed with the hardware, and it's nice to see Microsoft and AT&T offering a variety of designs to ensure that there's a little something for everyone.

Samsung Focus: The Samsung Focus will be first out of the gate with a launch date of November 8. It felt very much like a Samsung Galaxy S device, just with Windows Phone 7. The 4-inch Super AMOLED screen continues to impress, and lends itself well to the phone's multimedia capabilities. Pictures looked awesome and when pitted against the iPhone 4, dare we say that videos looked better on the Focus. The one criticism we would have is that compared with the other devices, the Focus does feel a tad more plasticky, which is something we noticed on the Galaxy S series as well.

The Focus should be great for multimedia mavens, however. Aside from a casual game, we didn't get a chance to really dig into any Xbox Live video games, but the phone felt speedy in general. The Focus features a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 8GB of internal memory.

Samsung Focus, Omnia 7 hands-on (photos)

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HTC Surround: We've got to hand it to HTC for pushing the bar on smartphone design. Though we would have never thought of it, the Surround stands out from the crowd with slide-out speakers and offers Dolby Mobile and SRS WOW HD. We didn't get a really good sense of the sound quality since it was so loud at the event venue. Despite the noise, however, we could hear music pumping out of the phone, so at least we know it's loud. We'll definitely give it a sound check once we get a unit in for review, but I'm not sure how much value the speakers add to the phone. It feels more like a luxury item.

The construction of the phone is solid. The 3.8-inch, 480x800-pixel resolution touch screen was sharp and responsive. We brought up CNET's full Web site on the phone's Internet Explorer 8 browser, and the load time was decent. The performance felt quicker and smoother than what we experienced during our technical preview. With the built-in speakers and higher-end design, I can see the HTC Surround attracting customers who want more of a premium smartphone--perhaps the business user who also needs a device for play.

HTC Surround hands-on (photos)

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LG Quantum: Last but not least, we have the LG Quantum. The Quantum is billed as a smartphone designed for work and play. With its slide-out QWERTY keyboard, business users should be able to stay on top of their e-mail, and it is quite a decent keyboard. The buttons are a good size, and there's enough spacing between the keys that mispresses shouldn't be a problem.

However, the overall look and feel of the phone doesn't really scream business device. It doesn't have any metal parts to give it that high-quality feel, and though the all-black coloring is corporate appropriate, the overall design is very casual. To us, the Quantum felt more like a quick messaging device more than anything else, which isn't a bad thing, but since it's billed as a business device, we took note.

LG Quantum, Optimus 7 hands-on (photos)

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Obviously, we'll reserve final judgment on all these phones until we get them in for review, but we wanted to give you some of our initial thoughts. Now we'd love to hear from you. Which device are you most excited about?