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Review: HTC HD2 Hardware Impressions

I was really impressed by a smartphone for the first time, when i got an MDA Compact (aka HTC Magician) many years ago. Back then the HTC Magician represented the high-end mobile experience for tech-savvy users, as you had a big Windows Mobile app catalogue, great hardware specs and a huge amount of customizing possibilities starting from today plugins to registry tweaks. To me no other device could match the features of the HTC Magician. Fast forward to 2010, today HTC has become a well known name in the smartphone business as one of the most important and innovative smartphone manufacturers world-wide. Gone are the days where HTC would only produce devices for carriers, and act in the background. The company matured to a real brand, and their product portfolio is top-notch.

Besides many great Android devices, HTC keeps producing Windows Mobile smartphones too. And the current Windows Mobile flagship called HTC HD2 comes with incredible hardware specs. I got my hands on a testdevice recently and after playing around with it for a few days, i’d like to share my thoughts on the HTC HD2 hardware in this review. As always i will also write a follow-up review about the software and HTC Sense for Windows Mobile 6.5 soon. Also please keep in mind that i’m reviewing the european HTC HD2 here, other versions might vary in RAM/ROM size and accessories included in the packaging.

htc hd2 package 2

The HTC HD2 comes with a stylish package containing the regular accessories like an usb cable, manual, headset, 2GB micro sd card, ac adaptor and a battery. But you won’t pay much attention to those things when you open the package for the first time, as the HTC HD2 will get all the focus because of it’s huge touchscreen and great overall looks. You will see on first sight that this is an high-end smartphone which doesn’t have to hide from the stiff competition. And the hardware specs can keep up with the first impressons you get by looking at the HTC HD2 too. Coming with an 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU, 448 MB RAM, 4,3″ WVGA capacitive touchscreen, g-sensor, digital compass, approximity sensor, micro-sd card slot, 5 MP cam and dual flash light as well as an 3.5 mm audio jack there is not much left to be desired.

The HTC HD2 sports a huge capacitive touchscreen, which takes most of the space on the front, besides the 5 hardware buttons: ‘call’, ‘home’, ‘windows (will open the windows mobile start menu)’, ‘back’ and ‘end call’. All buttons have a nice pressure point, and every input is immediately recognized. One thing which is new for Windows Mobile devices is the fact that the HTC HD2 doesn’t come with a stylus. HTC went the whole way and implemented capacitive screen usage for Windows Mobile, as it isn’t officially supported by Windows Mobile. This could be a huge deal for longterm Windows Mobile users which might think that the stylus is a must. I will get into details about this on my follow-up software review, but let me tell you that HTC managed to create a very good user experience with this hardware setup. It makes a real difference to work with a capacitive screen because it’s so much more comfortable to use your fingers for input, compared to resistive screens where you have to put some pressure on the screen to react. Overall i clearly prefer capacitive touchscreens over resistive ones.

htc hd2 front 3

Volume controls can be found on the left side of the device. And you can also see on that screenshot how slim the HTC HD2 really is. HTC did a great job by fitting those hardware specs into such a slim but still very sturdy and high-class casing.

htc hd2 left side

The right side doesn’t sport any buttons. Instead this is where you can open the backcover to access the battery, sim card slot and micro sd card slot.

htc hd2 right side

HTC placed the headset and mini-usb slots at the bottom of the HTC HD2. I prefer this to the HTC Hero design, where the headset slot is placed at the top of the device. Having the earplug cable at the bottom of the device doesn’t disturb as much as having it at the top.

htc hd2 bottom

There are no buttons whatsoever on the top side of the HTC HD2.

htc hd2 top

Two Camera LEDs can be found on the backside, along with the camera lens and the loudspeaker.

htc hd2 backside

Opening the backcover will reveal the battery, simcard slot and micro-sd card slot. It’s good to see that you can swap the sd card without taking out the battery. Another thing i noticed is that the backcover feels very high quality as it’s not some cheap plastic but some aluminium/metal mixture.

htc hd2 backcover open

Overall the HTC HD2 is a very impressive piece of hardware. HTC has chosen a good mix of metal and plastic elements, which result in a high quality feel in a very slim casing. Using hardware buttons is also a good decision, and personally i prefer them to touchsensitive buttons. The georgeous 4.3″ WVGA capacitive touchscreen is of course the main eyecatcher of the HTC HD2 and it performs very well. All graphics are very sharp and colors are vivid. Furthermore the performance of the HTC HD2 is great. Having an 1ghz cpu and 448 MB of RAM really pays out here. Based on the quality of the hardware and the hardware specs the HTC HD2 deserves the near-perfect 4.5 stars rating. One thing you have to keep in mind is that we are talking about quite a big smartphone here, so anybody thinking about getting an HTC HD2 should definetly see it in physical form first and then decide if the form-factor fits the needs or if a more compact device like the HTC Hero or the HTC Desire are better suited. Stay tuned for the HTC HD2 software review coming soon, with all details about HTC Sense on Windows Mobile.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

HTC HD 2 hardware specs (european version)

Processor: Qualcomm 1 GHz Snapdragon
Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.5
Memory ROM: 512 MB
RAM: 448 MB
Dimensions (LxWxT): 120,5 x 67 x 11 mm
Weight: 157 grams with battery
Display: 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen with 480 x 800 Pixel (WVGA) resolution
Network HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz
Quad-band GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
GPS: Internal GPS antenna
Connectivity: Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, 5-pin micro-USB 2.0 slot, 3.5 mm audio jack
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
Camera: 5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus and two LED lights
Audio supported formats: .aac, .amr, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .mp4, .qcp, .wav, .wma
Video supported formats: .wmv, .asf, .mp4, .3gp, .3g2, .m4v, .avi
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Capacity: 1230 mAh
Talk time: Up to 320 minutes for WCDMA
Up to 380 minutes for GSM
Standby time: Up to 390 hours for WCDMA
Up to 490 hours for GSM
Expansion Slot: microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
Special Features: G-sensor
Digital Compass
Proximity sensor