If you don't see an app or task on that list, don't worry. The Home screen offers additional quick link boxes where you can choose to create a shortcut for almost any app available on the phone as well as for contacts and bookmarks. Also on the Home screen, you can view any upcoming appointments and get real-time weather information. The forecast will automatically update depending on your location and you can even choose the animated weather wallpaper (for example, snowflakes will fall down the screen or if it's raining, a windshield wiper will clear away the raindrops), which is a bit gimmicky but also kind of cool.
HTC Sense isn't just about making the user interface prettier or making things more accessible from the Home screen. Sense also extends to other areas of the phone. You'll see HTC's touch in everything from the People/Contacts page to the Calendar to the media player. Oh, sure Windows Media Player is still there but why would you want to use that stale app when HTC offers its own media player that has a much more attractive Cover Flow-like interface and a more intuitive menu system? There are also little, thoughtful things, such as the fact that the HD2 will automatically lower the volume of your ringtone as you pick up the phone so you don't annoy your neighbors by blasting them away with your samba music.
HTC Sense isn't the cure-all for Windows Mobile. Once you dig into some of those core apps, such as Outlook, you'll see some of Windows Mobile's notorious usability issues rear their ugly heads. That said, Sense makes a huge difference in making this Windows phone easier to use, and more personal and functional.
We'll dive deeper into the HTC HD2's features once the T-Mobile version is released, but here's an overview of the basics. Beyond HTC Sense, the HD2's feature set is pretty much what you'd expect from a high-end smartphone. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, but the quad-band world phone does not offer U.S. 3G support. Obviously, this is where the T-Mobile HTC HD2 will take care of that issue.
Phone features include a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The HD2 does a nice job of integrating the communication features. On a contact page, you can see all your interactions with that person, whether it be a phone call or text message, as well as any updates they've posted to social networking sites. From an e-mail, you can call the sender or recipient of the message with a single tap of the phone icon provided there is a number associated with that contact, and if there are multiple people in an e-mail thread, you can quickly make a conference call to all using a similar method.
We touched on the media player briefly in the section above, and in addition to that, the HD2 is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus, dual LED flash, video-recording capabilities, and the standard editing options. Picture quality was quite good. We took the photo below in a relatively dimly lit room. We were satisfied with how the colors of the objects turned out and were certainly happy with the photo's sharpness. The flash can sometimes do more harm than good, blowing out an entire shot. Also, there is the slightest bit of shutter lag. Recorded video clips looked decent. Some scenes could get a bit fuzzy but overall, for a camera phone, the HD2 did a commendable job with videos.
Now, T-Mobile's version will offer plenty more entertainment options. At Mobile World Congress 2010, the carrier announced that it would ship the HD2 with both "Transformer" movies, Barnes & Noble's e-book reader, Blockbuster's On Demand video download app, and more. The unlocked HD2 comes with some extras of its own, including HTC's Twitter app, Peep, the Opera mobile Web browser, and CoPilot Live 8 for voice-guided navigation.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC HD2 in New York using AT&T service and call quality was good. On our end of the conversation, voices sounded loud and clear with very little background disruption. Every once in a while, a call would break up but we think that's more of an AT&T issue than a phone issue, as we've experienced the same thing on other phones using AT&T service in New York. Meanwhile, our friends had high praises for the call quality, commenting on the rich sound and lack of background noise.
Unfortunately, the speakerphone didn't produce quite the same results. On both sides of the call, we had a hard time hearing one another and had to repeatedly ask the other person to repeat himself or herself as the end of sentences often chopped off. Also, voices sounded quite tinny. Despite the occasional breakup mentioned before, we didn't experience any dropped calls during our testing period and we had no problem pairing the phone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
Without 3G support, browsing the Web over AT&T's 3G network was, not surprisingly, a bit pokey. Using the Opera browser, CNET's full site loaded in 1 minute and 26 seconds, while CNN and ESPN's mobile sites came up in 10 seconds and 13 seconds, respectively. Thankfully, you have Wi-Fi to fall back on if you're within range of a network. While we're partial to Opera, Internet Explorer Mobile 6 has the advantage of Flash Lite support so you can view Flash sites and Flash videos right from the browser.
Using a Wi-Fi connection, YouTube clips buffered in just a couple of seconds and played back smoothly. We also put a couple of MP4 movie trailers on the device and had a great viewing experience with uninterrupted play back. Obviously, the HD2's extralarge display added much value to the experience. Sound quality for both movies and music through the phone's speakers sounded fairly weak, but after plugging in our Bose On-Ear headphones, we were amazed at how the phone could pump out such rich-sounding audio. The HD2 has 512MB ROM/448MB RAM and a microSD expansion slot.
Equipped with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, the HD2 performed without a problem during our review period. Though we weren't blown away by any blazing speeds, the smartphone was snappy and much more responsive than other Windows Mobile devices. There was hardly any delay when launching or working in multiple apps, and even multimedia apps performed smoothly. Not once did we feel like the HD2 couldn't keep up with our demands, nor did we experience any type of crash, which would require a reboot.
The HTC HD2 ships with a 1230mAh lithium-ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 20 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results.