HTC has a history of making enormous, feature-rich smartphones and the phone I’m looking at today is the pinnacle of those efforts so far. The HD2 incorporates an enormous 4.3in capacitive touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera, and plenty more besides, but with it running Windows Phone can it possibly be our favourite handset of the moment?
Well we weren’t joking when we said enormous. At 121mm tall and 67mm wide, the HD2 is some 5mm taller and wider than the iPhone 3G/3GS, which some people find too big too handle already. Now, 5mm may not sound like all that much but when added all over it makes for a significant increase. At 11mm thick, it’s at least a tad thinner than its fruity rival and it’s still markedly smaller than the behemoth that is the Toshiba TG01.
Adding to the feeling of this being a large phone is the size of its screen. While, the iPhone’s screen actually fits within the palm of your hand (even if the whole phone doesn’t) and is thus completely accessible using the thumb of one hand, the HD2’s screen always requires a readjustment of your grip or your other hand in order to use all of it. Again, this isn’t uncommon per se but it’s definitely the marker of a phone we feel goes beyond the point most people would find comfortable for everyday use. Also because the screen fills so much of the device, you’re left with very little room to position your hands without pressing and activating some part of it.
Nevertheless, if all you want is the biggest and best screen on your mobile then you won’t be disappointed. Not only is it enormous but its resolution of 800 x 480 pixels is equal to the best on the market and is double that of the iPhone’s and most Android phones. Combined with excellent brightness, pitch-like blacks, and wonderfully vivid colours, it is simply a joy to behold. In fact, because it uses standard LCD technology, rather than AMOLED, it seemed to suffer less from the slight over saturation that plagues devices like the Samsung Galaxy, and the Samsung Jet (Samsung does seem to be at the forefront of this display technology when it comes to phones).
Whatever task we put this phone to, its screen never failed to amaze us. Probably the most memorable thing was this phones ability to fit the entire TrustedReviews website on screen and still maintain readable text… when held in portrait mode! Of course, watching video, viewing photos, and all the other multimedia tasks one can enjoy on a modern mobile phone are dutifully taken care of as well.
Helping our perhaps (on second read) over-zealous enthusiasm for this phone’s screen is the fact that it’s glass is super tough and scratch resistant. You’ve probably also guessed from this that it uses capacitive touch sensing as well and, again, it is superbly implemented, reacting instantly to any gesture with the lightest of touches. Multitouch is also supported but more on that later.
Consumers won’t see a “Qualcomm Inside” sticker on new Windows Mobile phones, but the chip supplier is playing a big role in powering the first crop of phones based on Microsoft’s new operating system.
Microsoft announced on Tuesday, the first phones to carry the Windows Phone brand and run the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system–which offers Adobe Flash support, an upgraded browser, and menus that can be navigated with a finger. AT&T has already announced the smartphones, with dozens more expected to be rolled out by the end of the year.
The Tilt 2 and Pure both use Qualcomm MSM7000 series processors, as do a number of other new Windows Mobile phones. These chips typically run at 528GHz–a fairly common speed grade for mobile phones.
But it’s at the high end where things get interesting. The Apple iPhone-like HTC HD2 and Acer neoTouch use Qualcomm’s latest-and-greatest processor, the 1GHz Snapdragon, also known as the QSD8250.
The HTC HD2, for example, packs 512 MB of ROM memory, 448 MB of RAM, claims video playback battery life of up to 8 hours, and a uses a relatively large 4.3-inch diagonal screen (specifications here.) And Toshiba has been shipping a Windows phone since June that also uses the Snapdragon processor. Only 9.9 millimeters thick, it integrates a 4.1-inch WVGA 800×480 384k pixel resistive touchscreen and comes with support for 3G HSPA, Wi-Fi, GPS, and assisted-GPS.
Snapdragon itself supports high-definition (720p) video decode and cameras ranging up to 12 megapixels. Qualcomm won’t stop at 1GHz: the San Diego-based company has demonstrated Netbooks running a 1.3GHz Snapdragon processor and will eventually push the chip to 1.5GHz. Future Qualcomm chips will be dual-core and support 1080p (laptop-class) high-definition video.
But there is still plenty of chip competition in the smartphone market. Though Qualcomm’s presence is unmistakable in this first crop of Windows Mobile 6.5 phones, it competes with Texas Instruments in the broader cell phone and smartphone markets. “Qualcomm is a newcomer on the block in terms of applications processors,” said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at market researcher In-Stat, adding that TI’s OMAP processor is the most widely-used processor.
A standalone applications processor is roughly analogous to the main Intel or Advanced Micro Devices processor in a PC: it is basically the brains of a smartphone.