Of course, the phone’s key feature is the slide out keyboard. To accommodate this HTC has had to make the phone a lot thicker than normal. For example, although it’s roughly the same height and width as the HTC Mozart - another Windows Phone - it’s around half as thick again as that model, measuring a full 16mm deep. At 185g it feels very heavy to hold too, and you certainly notice it when it’s resting in your pocket.
That said, the keyboard sliding mechanism is excellent. It slides out smoothly and as it does so it tilts the screen up at a 45 degree angle. The slider also feels chunky and well bolted together, giving you the confidence that it’ll take a fair bit of punishment over the phone’s lifetime without failing to pieces.
The keyboard itself is a bit of a mixed bag, though. The keys are quite large and nicely space, but unfortunately they don’t have much in the way of travel. The spacebar, in particular, is difficult to get a feel for as it’s tricky to know whether you’ve actually hit it properly or not when you’re tapping out quick emails or text messages. Instead you find yourself having to look again at the screen to make sure it’s been registered, which isn’t ideal. Also, HTC hasn’t used the full width available, so some common punctuation marks, such as inverted commas and the ‘@’ symbol, have to be accessed via the function key. This seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to us.
Microsoft has set the minimum specification for Windows Phone handsets quite high, so you always know you’re getting a pretty meaty phone in terms of raw hardware features.
The Pro 7 certainly doesn’t disappoint on this front. It’s built around a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor that has 576MB of RAM to play with. This keeps Windows Phone 7 ticking over at a speedy pace, especially now that Microsoft has updated the OS to speed up application load and resume times. However, like the Mozart, while the Pro 7 has 8GB of built-in storage space, it doesn’t have a MicroSD card slot, so there’s no way of boosting this with memory cards.
The phone’s five megapixel shooter is a bit of a let down. It sports both autofocus and an LED flash, but colours look a bit over saturated and the amount of detail captured doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Videos shot at 720p aren’t bad though as motion looks smooth and they don’t block up as much when faced with lots of fast motion as some others we’ve seen.
When it comes to battery life though, the phone is a bit of an under performer. You’re likely to get just a day to a day and a half’s worth of usage out of it before it needs a recharge. This suggests to us that Microsoft still needs to do a bit of work on the battery management in Windows Phone 7 before it can match the performance of Android on similarly specified handsets.
Overall, the Pro7 is a pretty good handset, but it’s not a really great one. It is fast and responsive, has a good screen and easy to use OS, but the keyboard - it’s key feature, just isn’t as good as we hoped it would be and the camera and battery life cold be improved.