Everyone may be waiting to see what exactly Nokia does with Windows Phone 7.5, as the company is expected to announce its first Microsoft powered handset at Nokia World in London this week. However, HTC has been quietly getting on with things on the Windows Phone front and we've already seen its humongous Titan handset. If that phone is a bit too big and bulky for your tastes, then you might find the Radar a better fit. It's essentially a mid-range smartphone, that supersedes the Trophy and Mozart and as a result fits in somewhere between the two.
The Radar turns out to be a very neat package, offering most of the features you could want from a mid priced smartphone. It's got a good screen, 5.0 megapixel camera, decent battery life and the Window Phone 7.5 UI turns out to be a pleasure to use.
HTC is offering the phone in two colour schemes: white and silver or black and gun metal grey. We had the black and grey version, but we've seen the white version in the flesh and think it looks a bit more funky. Either way, neither handset is a real stand out in the looks department, but they're both attractive enough, feel very robust, and their curvy designs makes them comfortable to hold.
Along with the three usual Windows Phone touch buttons at the bottom of the display, the Radar makes do with just three other controls – a combined power button/lock switch at the top along with a volume rocker switch and dedicated camera button, which are both found on the right-hand edge. Thankfully, the phone also has a normal 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a microUSB port that's used for both charging and syncing – although the phone can also be synced over Wi-Fi if you prefer.
The comfort factor of the Radar is much better than the Titan, mainly because it's narrower due to its more normal 3.8inch sized screen. The display doesn't have the extreme sharpness of the iPhone 4's screen, as it instead tops out at 480 x 800 pixels, but bear in mind that this a mid-range rather than a high-end device. And besides, the screen is actually one of the phone strengths as its black levels are deep and colours are bold and strong. It's bright too, and very responsive to the touch, so quick flicks across the screen or pinch to zoom gestures are instantly responded to.
It's easy to look at the Radar's specs and feel that it's outdated before it has even hit the market. After all, it relies on a 1Ghz processor and has just 512MB of Ram. However, this would be a mistake because the phone actually feels very quick and responsive to use. In fact it feels as fast as many of the supposedly higher-end Android devices we've laid our hands on recently. A large part of this seems to be down to the OS, as Windows Phone 7.5 seems to be quite happy running on less demanding hardware. That's a sentence that we though we'd never write about a Microsoft operating system.
Really, Windows Phone 7.5 does shift along nicely on this phone. Microsoft has written the UI to take advantage of graphics hardware acceleration, so the 3D flip effect used on the menus, as well as vertical and horizontal scrolling is always beautifully smooth and slick.
The Mango update has also finally brought multitasking to the party. Press and hold the back button and a deck-of-cards type view of currently loaded apps pops up for you to select between. Not all apps actually run in the background -- many are just suspended, especially those that haven’t had a proper Mango update yet. However, the resuming is quite quick and apps that have been updated, such as the eBay app, are now able to do notifications -- say for when you've been outbid on an item.
The updated IE browser is also significantly faster at rendering pages and there is now support for conversation treading in emails. The excellent People Hub – where all your contacts and social networking feeds are grouped together – has also been improved and now includes LinkedIn and Twitter support. And that's really a large part of the charm of Windows Phone 7.5. Many of the things you want to do with your phone are just built into the OS, especially on the social networking side, so you don’t have to rely on loads of third party apps.