The HTC HD7 is basically a reboot of the company's HD2 handset, except this time it runs Windows Phone 7 rather than the clunky, old Windows Mobile OS. Both handsets look remarkably similar and share much of the same hardware. But can a phone that uses components that were cutting edge back in 2009, still hold it’s own against more up-to-date models?
When the HD2 launched in late 2009 most people expected it to be upgradeable to Windows Phone 7 when the new OS appeared. Unfortunately that proved not to be the case, as Microsoft rejected it because it didn’t conform to its new hardware spec for Windows Phone 7 handsets. It had more than three buttons on the front and also lacked dedicated search and camera keys – so it didn’t make the cut on the minimum hardware requirements. However, the HD2 had been a popular phone, so HTC decided to re-jig the design to fit the new spec and re-launched it as the HD7.
Because it packs in a big 4.3inch screen, the HD7 is obviously a large phone. However, the thin bezel around the display and the slimness of the chassis means that although it feels noticeably larger in your hand than the likes of the HTC Mozart, it’s not monstrously so, and is much more comfortable to hold than the thick and chunky Dell Venue Pro, even though that handset is slightly narrower.
Along with the usual Windows, search and back buttons at the bottom of the screen, there’s also a dual function power and lock button at the top of the phone and a volume rocker switch and dedicated camera button on the right hand side. One of the things we love about Windows Phone is the way you can jump straight to the camera, even when the phone is locked, just by holding down the camera button.
We also like the way HTC has added a small, kickstand to the rear of the phone. This flips out from a mounting around the camera and is ace for using the phone to watch movies or TV shows on a plane or train. We’re not so keen on the headphone jack, being placed at the bottom of the phone but at least it's not on the side.
The HD7’s camera is a 5 megapixel model with autofocus and dual LED flash. As well as taking stills shots it can also record video at 720p HD resolution. Snaps look crisp and detailed, but colour reproduction isn’t wonderful and it has a tendency to burn out highlights when taking pictures outdoors when there’s lots of bright sun light. Indoors, the dual LED flash helps the camera to take better than average shots, although as with most LED flashes it tends to cast quite a harsh, cold light on proceedings, so portraits don’t look very flattering. Video recordings in 720p are pretty average too, as there’s quite a lot of blocking when there’s plenty of movement in the frame.