The Windows Phone Marketplace has also had a make over and now has a much improved search feature. The range of apps is improving too, with the likes of Tripit having recently been ported to the platform. It’s still got a long, long way to go before it can rival Apple’s App Store or even Android’s Market, though. Also, it’s difficult to understand why Skype is taking so long to appear on the platform when it’s now officially a Microsoft owned product.
This is especially galling as unlike the older models the Radar has dual cameras – a VGA camera on the front along with the 5.0 megapixel shooter on the back. You can flick between the two in the phone’s camera software, but currently there are few other apps that support this feature.
Sadly the Xenon flash hasn’t been carried over from the Mozart, so instead you’re left with a more normal LED flash. However, the camera has been upgraded with a back illuminated sensor that’s design to help it take better photos in low light. Back to back comparisons with the Mozart showed that it is better in this regard, but still some way off the best on the market.
The good news, though, is that there’s very little shutter lag when taking photos. The camera app has some neat features, too. For example, the panorama mode – which stitches together three photos in a super wide panorama shots – not only shows you where to move the phone to take the next shot in the sequence, but also displays a spirit level line on the screen to help you keep each of the shots level with each other. Another feature that’s new is the burst mode. This quickly takes a succession of shots one after the other and is handy when you’re trying to capture pictures of something that’s moving at speed.
Overall, the camera does a decent job of capturing stills. It’s not exceptionally good, but it’s far form the worst we’ve seen either. The camera also support video at up to 720p resolution, but even when working at the highest sharpness setting video isn’t all that great. The apparent resolution drops significantly when faced with much movement in the frame and video shot indoors tend to look quite noisy.
Apart from the video issue, we’ve got a couple of other little bug bears with this phone. Firstly, there’s no miroSD card slot, so you’re limited to the 8GB of internal storage. Whether that’s a problem or not really really depends on how much media you’re planning on stuffing this handset full off. If you want to load up your entire library of tunes, or add an a series of your favourite TV shows, then it may be become a issue. However, if you’re more a grazer who’s happy to add and remove a collection of media as you go using the excellent Zune software, then it may not be a problem. Still, we would like to see Windows Phone handsets starting to come with microSD card slots, especially as high capacity microSD cards are so cheap now.
Also unlike the Mozart, this model doesn’t have a removable battery. However, to somewhat compensate for this the handset has a larger 1520mAh battery. Battery life also seemed to be better than the Mozart, as whereas that model really needs to be recharged every day, the Radar seems to have better battery management and will go for a day and a half to two days before it needs a recharge.
Call quality was first rate too, and a noticeable improvement on HTC’ previous generation of Windows Phone handsets. The ear piece is louder than on the Mozart and delivers crisper and more distinct audio. The phone also seems to do a better job of holding on to a weaker signal and we very rarely had any problems with dropped calls.
Overall, the HTC radar is an excellent mid-range smartphone. Sure, it has some issues, such as the lack of support for microSD cards. However, the phone looks stylish, feels very robust and is speedy too. In fact, the whole package feels very slick and easy to use, in an almost iPhone-esque way.