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HTC HD2 (Leo). Short preview of a big phone
Live images of the HTC HD2
Given the tiny length of this write-up, it'd be fair to classify it not as a preview, but rather a collection of live photos of the HTC HD2 coupled with our hands-on impressions, as we managed to play arond with it during Microsoft's latest press event regarding the transformation of Windows Mobile into the mysterious "Windows Phone". Curious what it means? We'll break it down for you a bit later in a separate article, and for now enjoy the images of the immense HD2.
Curiously, long before the phone's official announcement I had stumbled upon a plethora of comments claiming that the HD2 wouldn't have even halfway decent design due to its gigantic size. In my opinion, though, the HD2 is well-designed, benefiting from the combination of a thin casing, top-notch materials and a 4.3" screen. You won't be able to appreciate it, though, until you play around with the phone for a while.
Hardware controls found on the HD2 are few and far between - there is the volume rocker on the left-hand spine and five buttons sitting beneath the screen. It doesn't have a joystick or a trackball, furthermore, the power button is nowhere to be found, which is quite strange. I suppose it's easy to forget about a dedicated camera key or a five-way navigation pad, and honestly I could see that coming, but the missing power button is a serious misstep.
On a side note, it turned out that pressing these buttons with the thumb of the hand holding the phone was quite challenging - the HD2 was simply too hefty for single-handed operation.
By the way, the HTC HD2 is the company's first offering to feature a 3.5 mm audio jack and a microUSB socket. In fact, the presence of the microUSB interface is such a big deal that it almost makes up for the lack of a separate power button. Thanks to Nokia and Samsung, microUSB will soon become the industry standard, so HTC have picked the right time to ditch their proprietary ExtUSB slot.
I'm curious as to what audio quality the HD2 will offer?
If I had to name one key feature of the HTC HD2, it'd definitely be its display. In spite of it having capped color palette at 65K colors and resolution of 800x480 pixels (which seems insufficient for a screen of this size), the HD2's display delivers.
This image can tell, better than any words, how big the HD2's display really is.
It measures 4.3 inches from corner to corner, leaving the Nokia N900 with its 3.5 inches and HTC MAX 4G, Touch HD with their 3.8 inches far behind. In actuality, when it comes to displays HTC has always been the #1, and the release of the HD2 only proves the point. One could argue that Samsung have recently come up with a new type of display, but the HD2's 4.3" diagonal just trumps all advantages of other screens. Apart from that, this screen is extremely bright and offers decent contrast level along with wide viewing angles. If it wasn't for the screen, the HD2's size would have been more like that of an ordinary touchscreen-enabled phone, but these extra centimeters are well worth it. The display employs the capacitive technology, and, remarkably, the phone doesn't come boxed with a stylus. I can't say what it'll feel like to use Pocket Informant and other similar apps on the HD2 yet - we'll have to wait for a release candidate and test the display's ergonomics on it.
I won't take too long here - just skim through the images where we put the HD2 face to face with other phones; and to make it easier for you, here is the chart showing how it stacks up against other touchscreen-enabled devices:
The HD2 is HTC's first device to run the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon platform boasting a whopping 1 Ghz CPU and other impressive feats, such as the ability to play non-converted videos in 480p resolution and 448 Mb of RAM, which is the absolute record amongst WM-powered phones. Details to follow.
It also packs in a 5 MP camera, but all test samples we got our hands on managed to output pretty mediocre shots, so we'll have to reserve our final judgment on this department.
All there is left to say is that the HD2 also comes armed with a whole array of minor enhancements that we'll need to examine closer before making any definitive conclusions. But for now let us say that the "brand-new" Sense user interface is nothing but another way to generate hype around the HD2 - in reality, that's exactly the codename HTC will be using for their WM- and Android-based interfaces from now on. Furthermore, the HD2's Sense is the good old TouchFLO 3D - in a new wrapping, with some major improvements and a plethora of new features, yet the same UI and menu setup.
I believe that the HD2 will come jam-packed with various wow-features, such as animated weather effects on the home screen - whereas previously you had to jump into a separate tab to enjoy the sight of raindrops falling on the screen or floating clouds, the HD2 offers these marvels right on the standby screen.
But rest assured, upon closer examination we'll find a whole bunch of shortcomings in the HD2 (and I feel like the first drawback we'll run into will be its battery time), but since I'm yet to delve deep into its features, let me share my personal thoughts about the device. It does impress, just like the iPhone stunned us with its sleek design or the Diamond with its incredibly pocketable casing, or the original Touch. When you start playing around with the HD2 you suddenly realize that it's still possible to find mind-boggling phones even these days, and that's worth something already. And by the way, if you have come like it, better start saving money now, as the HD2 is very unlikely to retail for less than 900-1000$.
Published 11 October 2009
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