The HD7 has a great touch-screen keyboard, but the poor battery life is disappointing. And while Microsoft has put a lot of effort into the Windows Phone 7 platform making it a definite improvement over Windows Mobile, it still has a way to go before it can challenge Android and iOS4. However, if the battery life can be improved with a software update, and the IE crashing issues we experienced are fixed, business users may be tempted by the HD7.
Good mobile Microsoft Office experience; excellent touch-screen keyboard; stylish and simple interface; integrated Zune Player
Disappointing battery life; lack of manual Wi-Fi search feature; no SD-card slot; no Flash support
Free on a £40 per month, 24-month contract or £379 on Pay and Go
Windows Phone 7 OS, 4.3in display with 400 x 800 capacitive touch screen, 1GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, 16GB of internal memory, 512MB ROM, 576MB RAM, 720p HD video recording, 162g
The HD7 is one of five phones from HTC that will run on the redesigned and much hyped Windows Phone 7 platform. The handset is available exclusively from O2 starting today.
Hardware specifications are similar to the HD2, and up there with high-end devices. The HD7 looks to be targeting the multimedia business user with its 4.3in, 400 x 800 capacitive touch screen, 1GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera and 16GB of internal memory.
The HD7 is a huge device that just about manages to fit into the palm of the hand. At 68mm x 122mm x 11.2mm, it is one of the largest on the market, and a little bigger than the 64.2mm x 122.4mm x 9.9mm dimensions of the Samsung Galaxy S.
The screen is crisp and clear and its size allowed us to browse the internet and watch videos comfortably. However, glare from overhead lights was a problem. At 162g, the HD7 is heavier than the Galaxy S which is 119g and the iPhone 4 which weighs 137g.
At the bottom of the device are three touchscreen buttons: Back, Home and Search. Holding the Home button activates speech recognition, so users can say 'call John' or 'open calendar', for example, to launch the commands. The search button automatically launches Microsoft's Bing search engine.
Windows Phone 7 OS
As Windows Mobile has been faltering behind pretty much every smartphone platform with the exception of Palm's WebOS, Microsoft didn't really have much to lose when it chose to start from scratch with Windows Phone 7.
The interface has a very stylish look and feel, and has been simplified considerably. The home screen consists of a list of tiles, which open applications such as messaging, internet, calendar and settings.
A small arrow accesses a more comprehensive list, and users can pin applications from here to the home screen if they wish.
Within an application there is generally the option to slide across panels to bring up menus, and the platform supports a maximum of four panels.
Transition between opening applications and swiping between panels is impressively swift thanks to the 1GHz processor. The HD7 is noticeably faster than the Nokia N8 and on par with the iPhone 4 and Galaxy S.