The entertainment-filled HTC HD2 is bound for T-Mobile this spring, but we just couldn't wait that long. Ever since we got a glimpse of the HD2 at Fall CTIA 2009, we've been dying to get our hands on this device and thanks to Expansys USA, we were able to get an unlocked version of the smartphone for review. In short, the HD2 doesn't disappoint. The phone's luxurious 4.3-inch touch screen is the absolute highlight of the device, while the HTC Sense user experience makes Windows Mobile quite tolerable and usable and the 1GHz Snapdragon processor keeps the smartphone humming along smoothly.
There's no question that the HTC HD2 is the best Windows Mobile phone on the market right now. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the HD2 will hold any appeal by the time it gets to T-Mobile, considering that Windows Phone 7 Series is on the horizon. The size of the phone alone is enough to deter some people, but will the promise of something completely new and exciting keep potential buyers at bay? Obviously, it's a bit hard to say without any Windows Phone 7 Series devices to compare it to at the moment. Plus, we still have a long way to go until we see any Windows Phone 7 Series handsets actually for sale, so we think the HD2 might have a fighting chance. We'll take a look again when we finally get T-Mobile's HTC HD2 in for review. You can now purchase the HTC HD2 unlocked for about $650, but for that kind of money, we'd think you'd want to wait around for the extra entertainment features and 3G support.
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 be a turnoff for some; 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) 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. The virtual keyboard also benefits from the larger screen as 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.
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, while the microSD expansion slot is located behind the battery door.
Our unlocked HTC HD2 came packed with an AC adapter (though the plug is U.K. standard, so you'll have to get an adapter to use it in the States or elsewhere), a USB cable, a 2GB microSD card, a wired stereo headset, a soft protective pouch, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check out our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
At its core, the HTC HD2 is another Windows Mobile 6.5 device with the staple apps like Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, Internet Explorer Mobile, and Windows Media Player, as well as Windows Marketplace for Mobile and Microsoft My Phone backup service. However, the HD2 also employs the HTC Sense user experience, which masks the traditional Windows Mobile UI and that's a good thing.
Similar to the versions running on HTC's Android devices, Sense offers a tabbed toolbar along the bottom of the screen that allows you to easily run through and launch various apps by dragging your finger left to right, or vice versa, and then letting go when you reach the desired program. There are 11 available tabs in total, including ones for people, calendar, Internet, music, and stocks, and you can always add or remove tabs from the home screen by pressing the Menu key or going to the Settings and checking off the appropriate boxes in the list.