HTC HD2

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INTRODUCTION

    The HD2 is a legend. Not only is it the first Windows Mobile device with a capacitive multitouch display (and you thought it wasn’t possible!), but it has the largest screen of any smartphone on the market at 4.3". The display, coupled with a screaming fast 1GHz Snapdragon processor, tons of RAM, and a robust GPU, equates to a device that is not only gorgeous but also very fast. The HD2 is now shipping in Europe, and is slated for a US release in Q1 2010. Is this your next phone? Read on for our full review!

WHAT’S HOT

    The HTC HD2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 processor running at 1024MHz. It has 512MB ROM (201MB accessible), 448MB RAM (207MB accessible), and has a microSD/HC expansion slot for added memory. The capacitive touchscreen is 4.3" and is WVGA 480×800 resolution. It’s a quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900) phone with dualband UMTS (900/2100) with HSDPA and HSUPA. It also has assisted GPS, WiFi b & g, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, USB 2.0, an accelerometer, FM radio, proximity sensor, and a digital compass. For audio, the HD2 has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and for syncing and charging there is a microUSB port. The rear camera is
5MP with auto focus and a dual flash. Powering the device is a 1230mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

(all images link to higher resolution)

The HD2 is adorned with a large piece of glass on the front that spans from edge to edge. Despite having the largest screen of any smartphone on the market, it’s just 11mm thick.

Device
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
4.44" x 2.47" x 0.52"

132 | 4.65
4.44" x 2.27" x 0.63"

156 | 5.61
4.74" x 2.63" x 0.43"

157 | 5.53
4.33" x 2.09" x 0.59"

117 | 4.12
4.66" x 2.48" x 0.47"

130 | 4.58
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.64" x 2.36" x 0.48"

129 | 4.55
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"

133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"

120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"

178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"

137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"

117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"

151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"

140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"

130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"

120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"

146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"

125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"

133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"

124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"

640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"

154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"

147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"

165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"

140 | 4.94
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"

110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"

134 | 4.70

4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70

WHAT’S IN
THE BOX



The HD2 comes with a USB sync cable, wall charger, real leather case, headphones, software and manuals.

THE DEVICE

 

HTC made great use of the huge screen with many enhancements made to the multimedia applications. Shown here is the new coverflow display for the music player. Beautiful!

The device comes with a high quality leather case. At first, it’s a very tight fit, but it quickly loosens up.

The case includes no belt clip and is essentially a sleeve.

In-hand, the device does feel large, but not massive, and the high level of build quality is apparent from the moment you hold the device for the first time.

The photo viewing experience on the HD2 is incredible. The quality of the screen itself is top notch with bright colors and even backlighting.

This is a look at the new photo/video gallery, which allows you to beautifully flick through your media. More on this on page two.

This picture doesn’t quite capture the visibility of the screen in bright light, which is actually above average.

On the left side of the device we have the volume rocker. From this view you can see the nice brushed metal texture used for the buttons.

On the bottom, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack, plus microUSB for syncing and charging. This is the first time HTC has gone with microUSB.

The right side of the device is bare.

There are five hardware buttons on the bottom of the screen, none of which are programmable, sadly. These buttons will glow when the ambient light conditions are dim. Interestingly, HTC has placed the power/standby button on the bottom of the device, instead of on the top as with previous devices. For the sake of one-handed usability, this new placement is better.

Flipping over to the back, we reveal the 5.0MP camera with the dual LED flash. The back battery cover is real brushed metal. Above and below the brushed metal is a rubbery texture that makes the device feel secure in hand.

Zooming into the camera we get a closer look at the speaker, camera sensor, and flash. Sadly, the speakerphone distorts too easily. Even at minimum volume, there is distortion. Another problem is that the area around the camera lens is very sharp.

Taking off the back battery cover (which requires a fair amount of effort) we reveal the SIM card slot. Near the red dot (which is the soft reset hole) is the microSD slot.



Here’s a tour of the hardware features.

Here’s a comparison shot. From left to right we have: Acer neoTouch S200, HTC Touch HD, HTC HD2, iPhone 3GS, Verizon HTC Imagio.

Here they are stacked.

Click onto the next page where we’ll cover the new Sense user interface on the HD2!

FIRST TIME SETUP



In this video, we cover the first-time setup for the HTC HD2, which takes you through several wizards to get you set up with social networks. There’s also one to get you acclimated with the keyboard.

HTC SENSE

Every time you tap the Standby button on the device, the device suspends. When you flip it back on, you are taken to the Windows Mobile 6.5 lock screen. You can customize the wallpaper here.

HTC’s Sense interface has been hugely revamped for the HD2 and sports a very deep integration with Windows Mobile. Sense is HTC’s new name for what we previously knew as TouchFLO 3D (or Manila).



In this video, we cover HTC Sense in depth. As you can see, HTC has essentially built an entirely new interface on top of Windows Mobile.

INTERNET

The HD2 uses a customized version of Opera Mobile 9.7 that allows for multitouch. You can launch the browser from the Internet tab, which also lets you save live thumbnails of sites you visit often.



In this video, we take a deep look at the internet experience on the HD2, and compare it to the iPhone 3GS. We find that remarkably, the HD2’s internet experience is as good as it is on the iPhone, thanks in part to the huge screen and super fast page load times.

MULTITOUCH

In many applications, the HD2 makes use of multitouch to pinch and zoom.



In this video, we go through the programs that can utilize the pinch to zoom feature. These include: Office Mobile apps, photo gallery, PDF reader, Outlook, NewsBreak, Internet Explorer mobile, Remote Desktop Mobile, and Google Maps.

Thanks to the high level of sensitivity of the screen, entering text is very easy on the HD2. Also, it helps that the screen has a ton of surface area.

The widescreen keyboard may be a bit too big for some, as it requires a ton of finger travel across the expansive screen.

You also get the SureType keyboard option.

Plus the T9 style keyboard.


OTHER PROGRAMS

If we bounce into the plain Windows Mobile menu, we see many shortcuts to areas of HTC Sense.

One particularly unique feature of the HD2 is the digital compass. If you tap on the Destination button, it will bring up Google Maps mobile. You can then tap and hold on an area on the map. Then, back in the compass, the green light will guide you in the direction of your destination. Nice!

Using a video player like CorePlayer, the HD2 can play high definition video with ease, and with the huge screen, it’s a fantastic viewing experience. HTC should consider including a more robust video player on future devices; it’s very much needed.



In this video, we cover the other pieces of software on the HTC HD2. In future posts to pocketnow.com, we’ll talk in more detail about CoPilot Live and Remote Desktop Mobile (which now has multitouch!).

COMMUNICATION

The Phone application on the HD2 is almost identical to that of recent HTC devices. From this screen you can SmartDial a contact.

When someone calls, you get a large picture for the CallerID, plus an easy way to answer or ignore the call. The HD2 has two neat features for incoming calls: the device can sense that it’s in your pocket or in a bag, and will increase the ringer volume. It can also sense when you’ve moved the phone to quiet the ringer (perfect if you keep your phone out on a table).

When on a call, you get the "window shade" to avoid accidental key presses. It’s strange that HTC included this, since the device has a proximity sensor to turn off the screen when you put the device up to your face.

And here are the in-call options. Turning the device on its face will put the phone into speakerphone mode.

On the next page we’ll cover device settings, plus camera quality.

SETTINGS

For most device settings, you can stay in the comfort of HTC Sense without going into the drab Windows Mobile interface.

If you need to dig a bit deeper, you can still access the usual Windows Mobile settings.



In this video we cover all of the settings for the HD2, both through Sense and through the main Settings menu.

CAMERA

 

The HD2 has a 5MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash. The camera application is the same as found on newer HTC devices (like the Touch Pro2), but has an option for flash. The camera app performance is excellent. As you can see from this indoor shot, sometimes the dual flash provides too much light on the subject.

Here’s an outdoor shot, which looks clear and crisp once reduced. If you click on the image to get the original, you won’t be as impressed.

The selective autofocus works very well, but at the expense of making the background look muddy.

This picture, which was taken on a cloudy day, came out quite nice.

Also, for a sample of the video recording capability, click here to download the MP4 (5MB).

Click onto the last page of the review, where we’ll cover battery life, benchmarks, and more!

BENCHMARKS

The benchmarks results aren’t surprising. In most of the tests the HD2 gets beat by the Acer neoTouch S200, a device which feels faster than the HD2 in day to day operation. Think about it this way: the HD2 feels like a really fast Touch Pro2. The neoTouch feels like…something else, with almost instant responses to your every press. That said, you won’t be disappointed by the HD2. With well over 200MB of accessible RAM, a 1GHz CPU and a well-tuned GPU, expect fantastic video performance and no lag when moving in and out of programs.

BATTERY LIFE

     The HD2 has a curiously small battery at just 1230mAh. Recent devices like the Touch Pro2 and Diamond2 have batteries of size 1500mAh. You’d think that with a huge screen and a 1GHz CPU, the HD2 would have paltry battery life, but it doesn’t. The battery life on the HD2 can be classified as "good"…not amazing, but good. That means that with moderate use (several calls, a couple GPS sessions, and a fair amount of web browsing), you’ll go a day and a quarter, probably a day and a half before you need a charge. With heavy use, expect a full day, and with light use, you’ll last two to three days without plugging in.

BUGS AND
WISHES

    There are some bugs to speak of, all of which will probably be fixed with an upcoming ROM update. First, there’s the calendar bug which doesn’t let you go past a certain time period in week view. Then, there’s a slight level of instability in the HD2. In my first two days of use with the device, I had to soft reset it three times. Sometimes the Sense UI would hang, or sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get past the lock screen. Either way, I can grant HTC a pardon for these issues since there’s a lot of new stuff that the HD2 is doing, and it’s bound to have bugs.

    The speakerphone on the HD2 is sub-par. Even at minimum volume, it’s too loud, causing the speaker to distort. Considering that HTC pioneered the amazing StraightTalk speakerphone found on the Touch Pro2, it’s not acceptable the their new flagship device has this flaw.

    More so than ever, HTC is trying to control the experience. They want you to stay in Sense UI as much as possible. Along with that, they don’t want you changing the function of the hardware keys. Never have I seen a Windows Mobile device with zero programmable hardware keys. For some, this may not be a problem, but for others that like to assigned a program to launch with the press of a hardware button (even a tap and hold of Call Start), the feature will be missed.

PURCHASING

    The HD2 is shipping overseas currently. You can grab one from Clove for £439, which comes to about $740. The device should see release on many global carriers at a lower, subsidized price.

PROS

  • Capacitive touch finally makes it to Windows Mobile
  • Sense UI is deeply integrated
  • Hardware is thin, gorgeous, and made from quality materials
  • Snapdragon is fast
  • Multitouch is smoothly implemented
  • Huge screen is beautiful and crisp
  • Digital compass is helpful
  • Super fast GPS fix times
  • Text entry is easy
  • Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Good battery life
  • Many little innovative features

CONS

  • A bit buggy
  • Poor speakerphone
  • No programmable hardware buttons
  • Expensive (unsubsidized)
  • Should come with CorePlayer

 

Value
Ease of Use
Features

Overall

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The HD2 lives up the hype. It’s fast, gorgeous, a joy to use, and attracts attention wherever it goes. It’s fantastic to finally see the usability of a capacitive touchscreen married with the power of Windows Mobile. Never have I given a device a 5/5 rating, but the HD2 absolutely deserves it. Now we must wait for the HD2 Pro :).

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.