Editors' note: Portions of this review were taken from our evaluation of the unlocked HTC HD2 since the two devices are similar.
It's been a long wait but the HTC HD2 is now officially available from T-Mobile. Much like the unlocked version of the smartphone, which we reviewed in February, the T-Mobile version has awesome features, such as a luxurious 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and a 5-megapixel camera. T-Mobile even sweetens the deal by preloading the device with a ton of entertainment apps. However, the question is not so much whether the HD2 is awesome--because it is--but whether it's worth getting, now that Windows Phone 7 Series has been announced.
That's always the problem with tech though, isn't it? There's always something newer and better around the corner. However, by waiting and waiting for the next big thing, sometimes you miss out on some really great devices. That's sort of how we feel about the HD2. (Clearly, some of you feel the same way, as the HD2 sold out in many retail channels and were in short supply at T-Mobile stores on launch day.) Obviously, the size and older Windows Mobile 6.5 will turn off some people, but we think the HD2's power and the fact that it can legitimately double as a multimedia device makes it one of, if not the best smartphone in T-Mobile's lineup. The T-Mobile HTC HD2 is available for $199.99 with a two-year contract or $449.99 with an Even More Plus Plan, which doesn't require an annual contract.
Whether you have an allegiance to a particular brand or operating system, you have to admit that the HTC HD2's design is pretty impressive. At 4.74 inches tall by 2.64 inches wide and 5.54 ounces, the smartphone demands your attention and we don't deny it's a beast. In fact, we suspect its size will turn some people off; it's not exactly the most pocketable device and it's quite a handful to hold while on a call. That said, we have to give credit where credit is due. For the HD2 to pack in a massive 4.3-inch touch screen and all of its features and remain just 0.43 inch thick is no small feat. In addition, the hardware feels solid with a mix of stainless steel and soft-touch finish.
Of course, what really makes the HD2 stand apart from the sea of touch-screen smartphones is its display. The HD2's 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen is the largest we've seen on a smartphone to date. Couple the size with the sharp WVGA 480x800-pixel resolution, and you have one gorgeous mug. It's vibrant, sharp, and readable in various lighting conditions. Photos, videos, Web sites, and messages are all that much easier to see, thanks to the extra real estate. Clearly, T-Mobile saw the benefits of such a display and thus packed the HD2 with a ton of entertainment features that would take full advantage of the screen.
The virtual keyboard also benefits from the larger screen; both the portrait and landscape are spacious and quite easy to use. As a person who prefers physical keyboards and has a hard time adjusting to virtual ones, the HD2's roomy layout definitely made for an easier transition and allowed me to type faster compared with other onscreen keyboards. Even better, the T-Mobile HD2 offers Swype as an option.
Swype has quickly become one of our favorite options in terms of onscreen keyboards. It lets you input text by dragging your finger on the keyboard from letter to letter instead of pecking at each key individually. It also automatically enters a space after you complete a word and includes certain tricks, such as circling a key to input a letter twice. We know it sounds a bit crazy, and we were definitely skeptical but we've been pleasantly surprised by Swype's accuracy and efficiency every time we use it. It often takes less time to compose a message with Swype and the mistakes are minimal. It's a little tricky when you're spelling out longer words but overall, we're sold and even if you're not, you have your choice of other keyboard options.
As you might have guessed from the aforementioned portrait and landscape modes, the display has a built-in accelerometer. It was fairly responsive during our review period, changing the screen orientation within a second or two of rotating the phone. It also has a proximity sensor so the display will be inactive when you're on a phone call to prevent any accidental "mispresses" from your cheek. One other feature of note is the HD2's multitouch support. Yes, you can use the coveted pinch-to-zoom gesture in various apps, including the browser, photos, and e-mail.
Below the screen, there are a handful of quick-access buttons, including Talk and End keys, a Home button, a Start menu shortcut, and a back button. You also get a volume rocker on the left side, and you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Micro-USB port on the bottom. The camera and flash are on back as one would expect, and the microSD expansion slot is located behind the battery door.