Capacitive with multi-touch
The HD2 is the one of the few WinMo phones that has a capacitive display that can follow multi-touch gestures.The only other device to be able to do that was from HTC only, its predessor – the HD.
After competing over megapixel counts and internal memory, the latest trend in the cellphone world is the size of the touchscreen. And that is the first thing that hits you about HTC’s latest WinMo child. Bordering a smartphone and an Internet tablet, the highlight of the HD2 is its massive 4.3 inch capacitive display. Now normally, anything that gets close to the four inch figure starts becoming both a pain to the hands and the pockets. And this is where we must commend HTC’s design team, because in spite of its masive footprint (it stands over 12cm tall!), the HD2 is very comfortable to use and lug.
HTC’s Sense UI
The HD2 is also special as it is the first Windows Mobile smartphone to be embedded with HTC’s Sense user interface,which we first saw on the Android-based Hero. HTC is famous (read infamous,if you work for a certain company in Redmond) for tweaking operating systems – be it Android or WinMo – to the extent that they bear little semblance to their original selves.And the HD2 is easily the pinnacle of that effort as HTC has virtually overhauled Windows Mobile. The Sense UI coupled with TouchFlo 3D homescreen is so deep-rooted that there is no option to turn it off and go back to default Windows Mobile UI. Officially, Windows Mobile does not support multi-touch,yet ,but the HD2 does in the browser,media gallery and even Google Maps! And of course, it uses Opera Mobile as its default browser instead of Internet Explorer (more winces from Redmond, we bet, but consumers will be cheering).
The result of all this customisation is a brilliant user interface.Coupled with Qualcomm’s 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, the interface is snappy (pun intended. Snap-dragon, geddit?) and things work as they should. The device didn’t freeze even once and neither did it show any signs of slowing down despite of heavy multi-tasking (five -six apps running simultaniously).
What’s dissapointing on the HD2 is the absence of apps on Microsoft’s application store that it calls Market Place. At the moment, there are less than 500 apps in the store and only a minority of them are free. Compare this with Apple’s App store with over 140,000 apps, many of them being free and over 10,000 on Android’s Market, with again no shortage of freebies, Yeah, the hardware rocks, but it is a pity seeing it backed up by so few apps. We mean, take the apps out of the iPhone and HTC Hero and what are ye left with?
HTC, on its part, has pre-installed a number of apps and has even embedded a few into its UI. like the Sense UI on the Hero, even the HD2 combines your online social networks with your phonebook. Then there is a very basic dedicated Twitter client. One o the pre-installed apps that we would like to highlight is the ‘Wi-Fi Router’ that converts the data connection from your carrier into a Wi-Fi hotspot to which other devices can latch on – very handy, especially if you have got lots of bandwidth to play with. We had a blast using it to get our iPod Touch online.
While HTC has done everything it could and then some more to make WinMo look classy, the only place where the HD2 falters is the lack of applications on Microsoft’s Marketplace fo mobile.
Another point where the HD2 falters is its battery life, which is comparable to that of the iPhone 3G (not the iPhone 3GS, mind you). After charging the battery in the morning ,we had to plug is again for charging early in the evening. We got about 15 hours of battery life with about an hour of calls and about two hours of Web browsing and Tweeting. The 4.3 inch display is the culprit here, we suspect. Its 5.0 megapixel camera is one of the few dissappointments on the device, with its result being nothing worth writing home about.
Retailing at about $500 (without contracts), the HD2 from HTC is the best WinMO smartphone that money can buy at the moment. But that doesn’t stop us from thinking that it would have done so much more had it been running Android. But that ain’t gonna stop us from kneeling to new WinMo king!