We’ve already covered the HTC HD7, we’ve even managed to review the device in its international version, and the version that launched on November 8th for T-Mobile USA. Both reviews showed that Windows Phone 7 is out to a good start, but obviously there’s a few things that left us wanting more. Nothing’s perfect, but so far the Windows Phone 7 platform has launched on some impressive hardware. And now, we’re going to take a far more personal look at the device. This is the first part of a four-part series, where we’ll look at the device, its software, and other features in a more personal approach. This isn’t a review. Instead, I am going to see how well Windows Phone 7, and the HTC HD7, stands up after a week of usage, and you’ll be taking the ride with me.
Obviously, in the hardware department, this first article isn’t going to be all that long. We’ve already told you how the HD7 stacks up in the hardware department, in both previous reviews, so we’re looking at it in a more personal fashion. How does it feel? Is it pocketable? How’s that kickstand work? Is the display, measuring in at 4.3-inches, too big, or just right? Let’s find out, shall we?
When I unboxed the HD7, I immediately thought of the EVO 4G, the HD2, and even the Motorola Droid X. Not because they look similar in their construction, or even their button placements, but the gigantic screen. It’s the most obvious part of the phone, and considering the size of the device, that’s not surprising at all. I’m someone who believes that, while we’re focusing on the mobile world, having a larger display in your pocket, as long as the device is light enough to still fit in your pocket comfortably, isn’t a bad thing at all. When I removed the device, put the battery in, and started it up, my first thought was I’m going to enjoy using this. Not because of the software, but because the device just feels good in my hand. Yes, the display is big, and I don’t have all that large of hands so I have to negotiate proper angles to reach certain elements of the User Interface, but overall it’s just comfortable. The device isn’t heavy, but it’s solid, and it feels great. There’s no creaking, and despite the fact that HTC took some liberties with the design elements of the face of the device, I’m still a fan of the hardware.
I say that HTC took some liberties, because if you look at the HD7 head-on, you’ll notice that there’s a space between the edge of the device, and the actual face. On both the top, and the bottom. I didn’t really notice at first, but now I can’t stop staring at it. The design is meant to look like speaker grills, both above and below the display of the handset, and it’s certainly unique. Is it a deal breaker of any sort? No, I don’t believe so. If you like a handset that has a uniform design, with no separation between the display and the outside edge, then the HD7 won’t be your device of choice.
Holding the handset in your hand is comfortable. At least, it is in mine. Like I said, I don’t have all that big of hands, and it still didn’t take me long to get accustomed to finding my way through the UI, just with one hand. However, I do have one huge gripe. The power button is at the top, and at first glance you’d think that it’s in a perfect spot for usage, but it isn’t. It really, really isn’t. I find myself having to push down on the button several times to actually put the device to sleep, or wake it up. However, that’s not only the bad part. The volume rocker is on the right side of the device, which means, that if you’re right handed and trying to turn the device on with your index finger, your right thumb is usually right on the volume up rocker. Or the volume controls in general. I can’t tell you how many times, just by accident, I’ve been trying to turn on the device and listening to music at the same time, and freaked out because the volume skyrocketed. Sure, I’ve gotten used to the rocker’s location, and it hasn’t happened in awhile, but I’m now aware of it, and that’s not necessarily good.
The camera button is in a good place, but there’s nothing surprising about it. It works as well as you might expect. Interestingly enough, the best part of the button is the fact that if you need to access the camera on the fly, and you don’t want to turn on your device (and turn up your music), you can just push and hold the camera button for three seconds, and the camera will turn on. I’ve never thought about that feature in the past, as I’ve always grown used to activating the phone and finding the camera option, and I’ve got to admit: I like it. I’ve already found several situations I’ve needed it in, and it’s already got my stamp of approval.
The 3.5mm headphone jack, and the microUSB port are on the bottom of the device. That makes charging the phone so much easier, that I barely want to use another device that has the microUSB port anywhere else. As for the headphone location, I’ve always preferred that the port be at the top of the device, but after using the HD7 for awhile now, I’ve grown to like the location. I’ve grown to be a fan of just being able to slide the device out of the pocket, and I don’t need to flip it around, or turn it upside down to put it in the right position. Funny how changes like this aren’t noticeable in other devices, but with usage, your view changes.
The kick stand. I will tell you right now, that I’ve never thought a kick stand was an important aspect to a mobile phone. And, I still feel that way. Yes, I get the point: for long trips, you may want to watch a movie, and setting the device down with the kick stand out so you can watch it is a good idea. Personally though, I’m just not a fan. Perhaps I will be after some more usage, but as of right now, I’m perfectly happy with holding the HD7 in my hand as I’m watching my movie.
In all, the hardware gets a thumbs up from me. I feel like the HD7 just feels better in the hand, in general usage, and looks good while doing it. That’s the other thing: the HD7 just looks good. HTC did some minor tweaks to the aesthetics of the device, and I approve of the alterations.
After it’s all said and done, the hardware gets an A from me. Not an A+. because that volume rocker is still there, and it’s not my friend. But, right now, the HTC HD7 has a seal of approval from me. So, what’s next? Software, of course — the main course, in some aspects. On Tuesday, two days from now, I’m going to dive into the software, and tell you how it’s stood up for me over the last several days. So stay tuned.