Getting back to the core hardware of the phone, below the screen sit five small buttons that conform to the usual HTC Windows Mobile/Phone configuration of Call Answer/Home/Start/Back/Call End. These buttons are actually disappointingly small and wobbly, though still just about usable.
A volume control rocker switch is situated on the left edge while the bottom edge is home to a 3.5mm headphone jack and standard micro-USB data and charging socket. The headphone jack would of course have been a welcome addition wherever it was positioned but to find it at the bottom, where it is most practical is a real plus. As for the micro-USB socket, that’s even more interesting as HTC has been clinging onto its ExtUSB (essentially mini-USB) socket for quite a while as it can carry data, power, and audio for headsets. With the public so rapturously demanding 3.5mm headphone jacks and the vast majority of the mobile phone industry having signed up to use micro-USB as a standard data and charging socket, HTC has realised that it has to change and we think this is a great thing.
The main bulk of the HD2 is finished in a very pleasant soft touch grey plastic and together with its brushed metal backplate the entire handset feels very solidly made. The backplate wraps around the central portion of the phone and clips to the sides, which is quite a neat trick. Under it sits the SIM slot, battery, and microSD slot, which can accommodate cards up to 16GB. The battery is an 1100mAh unit which kept the phone going for a couple of days of extensive usage.
Above the backplate sit pin-holes for the impressively loud speaker and the 5-megapixel camera with its twin-LED flashes. The camera is possibly the best we’ve seen on a smartphone both in terms of operation and quality. The camera application, for instance, has the same level of usability as that of dedicated camera phones; responding quickly, offering plenty of options including manual exposure and focus (both using an on screen slider and by pointing at your subject on screen), and giving impressive shot to shot times.
Images viewed on the phone look sublime though inevitably viewing them on a computer monitor does reveal the cameras limitations. In particular, there’s a distinct lack of dynamic range so highlights are nearly always blown out and dark areas lacking in detail. The auto white balance also struggles at times, as demonstrated in the second of the ‘lawn & trees’ shots. For the most part, though, it’s simply the case that these tiny little lenses can’t pick out the detail to justify the sensor resolution, but at least the LED flash does a good job at close range.
Video is also onboard and it can shoot to a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. It maintains a good enough refresh rate to capture smooth motion and is quite impressive for a phone camera. You can even use the LEDs when shooting video too. It’s only the lack of any autofocus that really lets things down on the video front.
Finally, in terms of internal features, you get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, a digital compass, HSDPA, GPRS, EDGE, GSM, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 448MB RAM and 512MB ROM. In other words, you’re left wanting for nothing.