Review: HTC HD2



HTC’s HD2 is a powerful smartphone with a superb touchscreen that rivals anything else on the market but its use of Windows Mobile as an operating system is the one thing that holds it back from being truly great.

Taiwanese manufacturer HTC has had a good year in Ireland and internationally. Its Hero handset, available from Meteor at the moment, has sold well and received much praise while it’s work with Google and the Android platform has turned plenty of heads over the past twelve months.

The company has been prolific too, launching numerous handsets towards the end of 2009 and lining up a lot more for the first half of 2010. Its HD2 is the first of these handsets to reach Irish shores and on paper at least it is a very significant opening gambit for the year ahead.

Sporting a substantial but responsive and sharp 4.3” touchscreen the HD2 instantly stakes a claim as a phone worthy of attention, while its 1GHz Snapdragon processor promises to cater to all tasks asked of it with the minimum of fuss.

Despite this large screen – and the beefy tech under the hood – the phone is surprisingly sleek and slim, fitting relatively comfortably in a jeans or shirt pocket and not weighing too much to become a nuisance.

However it is not its physical appearance that is the problem.

The phone itself runs on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6, though not that you would know too quickly thanks to the sterling work done by HTC to hide it. The aging operating system, built for a time before touchscreens really caught on, is glossed over with the company’s impressive Sense user interface (UI) and is generally very usable and intuitive.

A good house built on bad foundations is still going to have its problems, however, and so does the HD2. At times the Windows Mobile interface peeks through the Sense UI and does its best to frustrate – usually by giving users a button too small to press with their finger. Its functions – particularly when it comes to simple settings – are also scattered around in an odd way and at best hard to find in less than a minute.

Of course it would not be Windows without a few crashes either and the HD2 provided plenty of them; though bear in mind that the unit reviewed was pre-release and so could have problems that have been ironed out by release.

That said the device would become unresponsive at times, horrendously slow at others and downright unco-operative at the drop of a hat; resulting in many restarts and battery removals to try to set things straight.

It is a shame to see too as the HD2 is clearly a superb phone just waiting to prove its might against anything else on the market – if only for the iffy software. In terms of hardware the thing is absolutely spot on and if HTC were to re-release it with an equally polished version of Google’s Android 2.1 it would certainly be a very tempting proposition.

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