Style and handling summary for HTC HD7 review
A huge 4.3-inch display may dominate proceedings, but the HTC HD7 has a minimalist yet fetching appeal

User friendliness summary for HTC HD7 review
The Windows Phone 7 operating system is far easier to negotiate than previous incarnations, and the virtual keyboard is one of the best we've encountered

Feature set summary for HTC HD7 review
With the ability to record high definition video, access to Xbox LIVE gaming, a handy kickstand, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and A-GPS, the HD7 is feature packed

Performance summary for HTC HD7 review
The multimedia functions are excellent, and bar the odd scrolling issues, so is the browsing experience

Battery power summary for HTC HD7 review
With a battery life of 320 minutes talktime (3G) and 320 hours (3G) standby time, you won't want to be without your charger for too long

Full Review and Specification for the HTC HD7

You might remember that we loved the HTC HD2, which was a bit of a departure for us because in general, we loathed Windows Mobile devices. But that has all been forgotten, as Microsoft's mobile operating system has been updated - and not only are we rather keen on it - but HTC has been quick to load it on to the successor to the HD2. We give you the HTC HD7...


In case you're wondering, the latest HTC phone has been named after Windows new operating system Windows Phone 7. Like its predecessor, the HD7 has a massive 4.3in display, which reaches right to the edge of the handset. This time around, the screen has been upgraded to an S-LCD. At the moment, the jury is out on whether these displays measure up to the AMOLED. But to our untrained eye, while the HD7's screen is as vibrant as the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy, for instance, it doesn't offer quite the same level of crispness and boldness when it comes to text. Having said that, unless you put the phones next to each other, you wouldn't really be able to notice the difference.

Underneath the screen, you'll find three touch-responsive keys - the Windows home key, a back button and the Bing key (this is Microsoft's own search engine, denoted by a magnifying glass icon). While the HTC manages to retain a slim profile, it definitely has some weight to it. Turn the handset over and you'll find a kickstand on the back; this can be pulled out so that the phone can stand on a flat surface in a horizontal position. It's a nifty addition, and a clue to the HD7's multimedia aspirations. Mind you, we'd suggest that you are careful with the kickstand, as it would be easy to catch it on something while it was in a bag or pocket, and snap it off.

Microsoft has a lot invested in its new Windows Phone 7 operating system. In the past, its menu systems have been fiddly - often requiring the use of a stylus - but now there is a home screen, featuring big ‘live' squares, with each one representing one of the phone's capabilities. These cover everything from Windows Marketplace, to accessing your photo collection or your contacts lists. While we're on the subject of contacts, sign in to your Windows Live or Facebook account and the HD7 will aggregate all your contacts into one list, bringing up any details available, such as birthdays, place of work and email address. It is even possible to assign one of the live tiles to your favourite contacts, so you can instant message, text or call them in no time at all. Another nice touch is that the HD7 pulls any of your photo albums from Facebook and places them, in the phone's photo folder, along with the latest images posted by your Facebook friends, as well as any snaps you've taken with your phone.

The HTC Hub also sits on one of the ‘live' tiles. Now, while this may look pretty good - and it's where you'll find the HTC's 3D weather feature - we're somewhat puzzled by it. From the Hub it is possible to download a few select apps that have been optimised for the HTC HD7. Once you have bought and downloaded them, they stay in the Hub. But you can also add them to the home screen. So unless you want to check the weather or download new apps, we can't see you wanting to spend a lot of time in the Hub.

A touching display

We found the capacitive display very responsive, providing a really fluid experience as we scrolled through the pages. If you're using an application with multiple features, you'll see that the next page ever-so-slightly creeps onto the page. We found this a bit distracting at first, but then realised that it is a good way of making the user aware that there are several pages to swipe between. However, we were hugely impressed by the virtual QWERTY keyboard. It's very spacious, particularly in landscape mode, but the bonus is that the operating system uses an intelligence technology to offer a more accurate typing experience. The phone is capable of recognising common letter patterns, so if you type a ‘t' and an ‘h', it is able to open up the margin of error around the ‘e' key, as it recognises that you are most likely to be typing ‘the'.

Another major feature is the HD7's gaming capabilities. Microsoft has ensured the device has access to a wealth of Xbox LIVE games. Once you have paid for your game (it is possible to try them out before buying), you are then able to play against yourself or against other Xbox LIVE players. The graphics are fabulous, and while gameplay will obviously vary from title to title, we found the touch-screen offered an excellent experience in all the games we had a go at. The device also comes with Zune, Microsoft's version of iTunes, which allows you to buy and download music and films, which can be stored on your phone and your PC.

Picture perfect

The HD7 comes with a not-too-shabby 5-megapixel camera, which also boasts a dual-LED flash. You can turn on the snapper from any application, even if the handset's screen is locked - just hold down the dedicated camera button on the side of the handset. Mind you, we're not too keen on the position of this key - it's a bit too central and feels a bit uncomfortable. Zooming in is a bit of a letdown too - not the fluid experience we had hoped for. However, the video camera is more promising, as it records in high definition. Also, if you use Microsoft's SkyDrive feature, it is possible to store up to 26GB of photos and videos, which leaves the HD7's onboard memory free. That's good news as the HD7 is lacking a memory card slot - bit of a shame, that.

As the HD7 is a Windows device, it's no surprise to find Microsoft's own search engine, Bing, on board. Enter the search term and you can either search the whole internet, locally or for related news stories. The search results were excellent and appeared quickly, but the scrolling process is rather sluggish, which led to us accidentally zooming rather than scrolling. Overall, however, we found the HD7 makes an excellent browsing tool.

The verdict

Now we've seen the HTC HD7, we're both relieved and excited about the future of Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7 has given the operating system the revamp we had hoped to see, and with the added bonus of Xbox LIVE and other multimedia facilities, it should appeal to consumers in a way previous Windows Mobile phones have not. As for the HTC HD7 itself - well we have exhausted ourselves when it comes to saying good things about HTC's devices. In the past, we've said the HD2 was the best Windows Mobile handset we'd ever seen. We've just had our mind changed...