Microsoft’s Window Phone OS was actually surprisingly well received upon its launch back in October last year. However, despite an initially flurry of handset releases, it’s been a while since we’ve had a new Windows Phone handset in to cast our eye over. However, HTC has finally gotten around to launching the HTC Pro 7, the fourth and final handset in the line up of phones that was announced at the Windows Phone launch. The Pro 7 is primarily being targeted at business users, but with its slide out QWERTY keyboard it’s also likely to appeal to messaging fiends.
From the front the phone looks pretty much like a million other smartphones because the face of the handset is almost entirely taken up by the large, 3.6inch touch screen display. Naturally the display uses capacitive technology, but it’s the high resolution of 480 x 800 pixels that impresses, as it means that text and graphics look very sharp. It might not be in the same league as the iPhone 4’s retina display, but it’s impressive none the less. Beneath the display there’s a row of three touch buttons, which are standard across all Windows Phone handsets. The central button acts as the home key and is flanked by a back button and search button.
Unusually, the glossy black finish surrounding the screen doesn’t extend the whole way to the top and bottom of the phone. Instead, in between HTC has added small, thin grills. To be honest, we’re not convinced that this improves the design much, as we reckon they’re likely to become a bit mucky from dust and grime over the longer term.
Around the sides of the handset you’ll find the usual controls, such as the power button/lock switch at the top, volume rocker on the left and a dedicated camera button on the bottom right. The latter is even more useful than on most handsets as even if your phone is locked you can press and hold the camera button to jump straight to taking pictures.
As you would expect the 7 Pro charges and syncs via its microUSB port, although you can also set up wireless syncing with the desktop Zune software. If you choose this option the phone will automatically sync stuff like photos, music and videos with your computer as long as they’re both connected to the same Wi-Fi network and the phone is plugged in (not necessarily to the computer) and on charge.
This is definitely one of the coolest features of Window Phone. However, you don’t have direct control over the syncing process in wireless mode. You can’t manually start a wireless sync, for example. Instead you have to plug the handset into the charger and wait around 10minutes before it decides it is the right time to sync. Basically, the thinking behind this is that it all happens seamlessly in the background and although it sounds a bit strange, in practice it works quite well.
In fact, Windows Phone has a lot going for it overall. The design looks slick and modern with funky and fast transitions between various apps and menus. The live tiles also look good, and crucially are quite useful too. Microsoft has also recently updated the OS to support cut and paste. Another update is on the horizon but we're yet to confirm exactly what it will feature. However, the big let downs are the lack of multitasking (which seems to be still some way off) and the paucity of apps in the market place compared to the iPhone and Android on-phone stores.