T-Mobile HTC HD2

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INTRODUCTION

   The European HD2 was pretty
popular. It was the first Windows Phone with a capacitive multitouch screen, and
it had the largest screen on the market. T-Mobile’s version adds a few hardware
and software enhancements along with some great value-added bundles and a
fantastic price to make the HD2 a top selling phone in the U.S. Heck, for the
first few weeks since its release, HTC can’t make enough!  Everytime
T-Mobile gets a fresh shipment of HD2s, they sell out before the end of the
week… with the exception of the launch day, where they sold out in about four
hours.  Did HTC and T-Mobile grossly underestimate the popularity and
powerful potential of Windows Mobile 6.5?  Read on to find out what makes
this device such a crazy hot seller.

Warning: Some other reviewers may complain about the HD2 occasionally slowing
down or freezing at times.  Be sure to check out page 4 where we discuss
some bugs HTC overlooked and how you can easily avoid/fix them in order to make
your HD2 rock solid and fantastic.  

WHAT’S HOT

    The HTC HD2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 processor running at 1024MHz. It
has 1GB ROM, 576MB RAM, 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 (1700/2100) with HSDPA and HSUPA. It also has assisted GPS, WiFi b/g
(n can be enabled with a registry hack), 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 or to see how the T-Mobile HD2 specs compare to the European HD2, click
here
.

(all
images link to higher resolution)



The
HD2 is adorned with a large piece of glass on the front that spans almost from edge to
edge. Despite having the largest screen of any
smartphone on the market, it’s just 11mm thick. Here you see it showing the
pictures tab from Sense in landscape mode.

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, silicone case, headphones, 16GB
MicroSD card,
software and manuals

THE DEVICE



The multimedia experience on the HD2 is amazing. Every time I show anyone one of
the Transformers movies playing on the HD2’s screen, all they have to say, after
a short pause, is "WOW!"



 

The
device comes with a silicone rubber case with big circular textures and an HTC
logo on the back.



The case does not protect the front of the device or screen at all, however you
do have some small rubber areas around the edges that should protect a bit if
dropped on a flat surface.



I prefer the device without the rubber case since it’s thinner and there’s less
friction when slipping it into my pocket.

 

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.



Outdoor direct sunlight visibility is not fantastic, but certainly usable.



At the top of the device you see an ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, the
speaker grill, and T-Mobile logo. Inside the speaker grill on the left corner is
an LED indicator light.



 

On
the left side of the device we have the volume rocker.



On
the bottom, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack, plus microUSB for syncing and
charging. Gone is the single-plug that handles both charging, input/output, and
audio all at the same time.

 

The
right side of the device is bare except for a little notch to help you open the
battery cover.



As is the top.



There are five hardware buttons on the bottom of the screen. Only the send key
(holding it) is programmable. By default, it’s set to Voice Command. 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, and combined it with the call end button.

 

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 we
reveal the SIM card slot.



Near the red soft reset button is the microSD slot. The T-Mobile HD2 comes with
a 16GB Micro SD card pre-installed and pre-loaded with Transformers 1 and 2.



Here’s a tour of the hardware features.



 

Here’s a comparison shot. From left to right we have: T-Mobile HTC HD2, HTC HD,
HTC Touch Pro 2, and T-Mobile Dash 3G.



 

Here
they are stacked.

 

T-MOBILE CUSTOMIZATIONS

    While many of the software
features in T-Mobile’s HD2 have been brought over from the European HD2 that
you’re already familiar with, T-Mobile has added a variety of great features
that T-Mobile users can be excited about. 

 

First off, the HD2 comes with Transformers part 1 and 2 preloaded on the
included 16Gb memory card. These are full 800×480 resolution, and look fantastic
on the HD2’s screen.  These movies are sure to impress.

After you get tired of Transformers, you can easily buy or rent new movies from
Blockbuster. The device includes a Blockbuster store where you can browse,
search for, rent and buy movies.  You can also order movies from the Blockbuster website and download them
on your device. When you create an account with Blockbuster, you’ll also get two
free movie rentals (Forrest
Gump
and Ferris Buellers Day Off), one month free Blockbuster by Mail service, one night
free rental from Blockbuster Express, one free BlueRay movie rental, and 50% off
one night rental from Blockbuster OnDemand.  Movies that you rent from the
Blockbuster app can only be watched where you first started downloading it.
However, movies that you buy can be watched on your PC and a variety of other
set-top devices
that support Blockbuster movies.  Yes, Blockbuster’s
services are similar to NetFlix these days, however, Blockbuster has the
advantage of offering new releases for rent as soon as they’re available.

Movies are great, but how about some TV too?  The HD comes with Mobi TV and
30 days of free service. After the free trial, continued service will cost an
additional $10 per month.

Maybe you’d rather read a book?  No problem. The HD2 also comes with the
Barnes & Noble eReader.  This application lets you download any of the
eBooks available on Barnes & Noble.  It also syncs with your Nook eReader,
and even lets you download eBooks you may have purchased back in 2001 when
Barnes & Noble originally started selling eBooks for the Pocket PCs and Windows
Tablet PCs of the time. The BN eReader isn’t as advanced as the eBook readers
from long ago as it does not have a dictionary look-up feature, bookmarking,
highlighting, or text-to-speech reading.

For the jet-setters, when you buy the HTC HD2, you also get 6 months of free
Gogo Inflight Internet service across the continental US.  That’s right,
free internet in the plane while you fly!

T-Mobile also includes the Facebook app for Windows Mobile.  You’ll see
there’s also some heavy Facebook integration in the Sense UI too.

The HD2 includes a full version of Guitar Hero Mobile.  This is a great
addition and a lot of fun. You also get demo versions of Prince of Persia HD,
Ferrari GT Evolution, Millionaire 2010, and Tetris.

 

For your navigation needs, Telenav is included, but this requires a subscription
fee of $10/month after the initial 60 day free trial.

A big touch-friendly NaviPanel is available when you plug the HD2 into its car
cradle.  The navigation features link to the TeleNav software included on
the device.

The NaviPanel has an easy way of calling people in both your favorites list and
recent calls.

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.

HTC’s Sense interface has been hugely revamped for the HD2 and sports a very
deep integration with Windows Mobile.

Weather animations fill the home screen periodically and depending on the
current weather.

The quick links on the home page are pre-populated with some of the featured
applications T-Mobile has added. Of course you can customize these to your
choosing using the menu in the lower right.



 

In
this video (taken from the European HD2 review), we cover HTC Sense in depth. As you can see, HTC has essentially
built an entirely new interface on top of Windows
Mobile.

The T-Mobile HD2 also gets a Documents tab where you can flick through documents
on your device as well as attachments in your emails.  The attachments
don’t show thumbnails unless you’ve specified to download them.

HTC now has a nice Twitter tab built into Sense. Unfortunately, if you download
too many tweets, it can significantly slow you down. We recommend disabling the
tab and using a different Twitter program.

The Footprints tab is not enabled by default, but it is there.  You can
enable it in the settings.

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.

If you don’t want Opera to be the default browser, you can easily uncheck this
option in Opera’s settings page. 

 

Since Opera 9.7 does not support Flash, Internet Explorer 6 is also included
with built in support for Flash 8.  If you remember some of the earlier
Windows Phone’s that supported Flash, it was a painful experience since the
Flash animations took up so much memory. The HD2 is much more powerful and
therefore handles most Flash animations quite well.  If IE6 isn’t enough
for you, you can always download Skyfire for even better Flash support.

Another great feature that HTC has added is the consolidation of Internet
Favorites!  They sync with Windows Mobile Device Center on the desktop, but
are also available in both Opera and Internet Explorer.  That means if you
want to browse the web from Opera for some sites or Internet Explorer for other
sites, your favorites listing is the same in both places.  This is
extremely useful!



 

In
this

video (taken from the European HD2 review), 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 (taken from the HD2 review), 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.

MESSAGING

HTC has replaced the usual Windows Mobile text messaging application with their
own.  This one looks great, and has some nice features, but unfortunately
it does not work with Microsoft Voice Command.

The T-Mobile HD2 comes with the Swype keyboard for high-speed text input if you
can learn how to use it. 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.

HTC’s full Qwerty keyboard is also available.

HTC’s Compact Qwerty keyboard is thankfully back.

And there’s a T9 style keyboard for even better one-handed input.

T-Mobile includes an instant messaging client that supports AIM, Google Talk,
Windows Live, MySpace IM, and Yahoo.  If you want a better Windows Live
Messenger client, the native Windows Mobile version is also included in a
different folder.

FACEBOOK

The HD2’s Sense UI has some heavily integrated Facebook features. From the
settings or "All People" section you can set up your device with your Facebook
account. Then you’ll be able to link your friends in your contacts listing with
your friends in Facebook. 

Facebook updates also appear in each contact’s information card.

You can even access your friends’ photo galleries from their contact card.

The photo albums from Facebook then load in HTC’s Album software and you can
view each photo full screen and flip through them. Multi-touch pince-to-zoom and
flick panning all work here on Facebook photos, too.

 

SETTINGS

 

For
most device settings, you can stay in the comfort of HTC Sense without going into the Windows Mobile interface. This is all well
and good unless the Sense UI freezes and then you can’t do anything.

If
you need to dig a bit deeper, you can still access the usual Windows Mobile settings from the bottom right softkey menu and its "All
Settings" command.

One
important addition to the T-Mobile HD2 is Microsoft Voice Command 1.6.2. 
If you want your text messages to be read to you, you’ll need to disable HTC’s Messaging app.  Also there’s an issue with HTC’s
non-standard Bluetooth software that does not allow incoming caller ID name
announcements to route through the Bluetooth headset.



In
this video (taken from the European HD2 review) 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.  Above is a night shot taken using the flash.



Outdoor shots can
look very nice if you get the lighting right and are going to use the image at a
lower downsampled resolution. If you click on the image to get
the original, you won’t be very impressed.



While older mobile phone cameras often took a very long time to load, a long
time to focus, and a long time to save a photo, the HD2 is very quick. 
This makes it much easier to quickly snap photos without having to stand around
being obtrusive waiting for your camera to run.

 

 

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

   While HTC’s Sense UI is pretty cool and puts a new face on Windows Mobile, it
can also have its issues.  First off is the Contacts Bug. You might run into that one if you’ve synced your contacts
with other HTC phones in the past. The people tab may cause the entire Sense UI
to freeze, requiring a soft reset.  Luckily, the fix is pretty simple.

    Next up is the text messaging application. While HTC’s
version looks great and is certainly functional, it disable’s Voice Command’s
ability to read incoming text messages to you.  There’s a fix for that too. If you don’t care about having your text
messages read to you, then don’t worry about it.

    As mentioned earlier, the Twitter tab and HTC Peep Twitter
applications have no way of clearing out old tweets. This means you’ll get a
huge list of Twitter tweets pretty quickly, and that can seriously slow down
your Sense UI. Deleting
the Twitter cache database is a pretty easy fix
, but I’d recommend disabling
the Twitter tab and using a better Twitter app instead.

    Another possible source of annoying slow-downs (and certainly
battery life reducers) are the scheduled automatic cloud syncs. By default, the
HD2 likes to automatically keep in sync with Facebook, the Weather, Stocks, and
Twitter. Disabling the automatic syncing for those services will reduce apparent
random heavey load requirements on the processor and network.  Twitter
tends to be the biggest culprit, especially if you are following a lot of heaver
tweeters. 

   
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. I also greatly miss the Touch Pro2’s ability
to create conference calls so easily.

PURCHASING

   The HD2 is available from T-Mobile retail stores, partner stores, and online for $199 with a 2 year contract… if you can find one that has them
in stock. You can also get the HD2 from Wirefly for about $120 with contract.

PROS

  • Capacitive touch on 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
  • 16GB Micro SD included
  • Transformers 1 and 2 high resolution movies included
  • Six months free Inflight Internet
  • Guitar Hero included
  • Blockbuster movie rentals
  • Barnes & Nobel eReader
  • Microsoft Voice Command
  • Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Great price
  • 5MP Camera with Flash is very fast
  • Good battery life
  • The nation’s actual fastest 3G network

CONS

  • Sense UI has some bugs
  • Poor speakerphone
  • No kickstand for watching
    movies
  • No Straight Talk conference
    calling features
  • Voice Command does not
    announce caller names via Bluetooth
  • HTC Messaging app is
    incompatible with Voice Command
  • HTC’s Twitter tab becomes very
    slow very quickly
Value
Ease of Use
Features

Overall

OVERALL IMPRESSION

   Let’s look at the T-Mobile HD2 in summary…  For $200
you get the best Windows Phone to date, with a beautiful large multitouch
screen, extremely fast processor, tons of RAM, 17Gb of storage, 5Mp camera w/
bright flash, full web browsing with Flash support, free better-than-DVD quality
copies of Transformers 1 and 2 movies, a couple free Blockbuster movie rentals,
a few other Blockbuster discount promotions, Barnes & Nobel eBooks, MobiTV, FM
Radio, Guitar Hero, 6 months of free Gogo Inflight Internet, great Facebook
integration, and extremely high speed 3G internet speeds (depending on where you
live).  That sounds like a pretty awesome deal to me! 

    Who cares if it won’t be upgradable to Windows Phone 7? 
This phone has it all! 

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002.Read more about Adam Lein!