HTC 7 Pro: a flawed jewel

htc7pro1The HTC 7 Pro has 2 major faults – one due to HTC and the other due to Microsoft.

The Windows Phone 7 smartphone is the first serious contender for a landscape Windows phone 7 handset, with the LG Quantum, mainly due to aesthetics reasons, not doing it for most people.

The handset certainly does not suffer from that problem, with attractive styling which reminds one more of an expensive watch than the cheap messenger evoked by the LG Quantum.

Read the rest of the review after the break.

When closed the 3.6 inch screen is attractively framed by a chrome rim and fake speaker grill on both ends.  The sides are softly sloped at the edges, making the handset sit nicely in the hand and reducing its apparent thickness.

htc7proside

The sides are sloping, making the handset feel thinner.

P1020150The back has a two-tone design with a metallic battery cover which is extremely difficult to remove if you do not realize you have to slide the phone open first, and features a single, rather unnecessary exposed screw.

Overall the device is extremely attractive, looks expensive and oozes quality.

When slid open the raisonne d’etre of the phone, the  5 row keyboard, is revealed.  The off set keys are somewhat smaller than those on the HTC Touch Pro 2 and have good separation, and does not best that device, which I think may go down in history as the best keyboard ever. The screen locks into a groove when slid open fully, meaning there is little chance of the screen waggling in a few months. Both when in the open and closed position the device feels completely solid.

htc7prokeyboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HTC 7 Pro’s first big fault is due to the sliding mechanism itself however.  It feels very fragile, and it is possible to twist the device dangerously if pressure is not dead centre. This makes it difficult to open the device one-handed, not helped by the previously attractive sloping sides, which now means there is not much purchase for your fingers, and makes opening the device with either one or two hands feels like a dangerous exercise which may catapult the phone across the room, a feeling encouraged by the strong spring in the spring-loaded sliding mechanism, which means quite a lot of force is needed to open the handset.

This makes the main feature of the handset, the sliding landscape keyboard, a major chore to use, raising doubts regarding the price one pays in the form of greater thickness (15.5mm), 185g weight and smaller 3.6 inch screen.

The second major flaw of the handset is due to running Windows Phone 7.  We of course love the OS, but landscape support is at present atrocious, with many built-in apps not supporting this mode, even were text entry is available.  Presumably this is something that will improve in the future, but at present the soft keyboard is so good, and the hard keyboard opening mechanism so poorly implemented that it does not seem worth the hassle.

A point worthy of note however is that auto-correction is still available when using the landscape hard keyboard, which I feel is a really nice touch.

Another more minor design issue is the volume buttons, which are flush with the left edge of the handset, meaning it is impossible to find the very important keys without trial and error. The power button is also offset pretty far back, making it difficult to find some times.

htc7proleft

Screen quality is good, with good brightness, contrast, viewing angles and day-light visibility.  The smaller screen means great pixel density, meaning for my older eyes at least it is certainly a ‘retina’ display. There is certainly no issue with using Windows phone 7 on a 3.6 inch screen, and even the on-screen keyboard works great at the size.

camerabuttonThe handset of course has virtually the same innards as all of HTC’s other Windows Phones, and runs Windows Phone 7 equally as competently, smoothly and with no significant bugs or glitches.  Battery life was excellent for a smartphone, with a day of moderate activity usually ending with around 60%  of the 1500 mAh left over, meaning 36 hours or two full working days should be easily achievable.

The camera button, the only button on the right side of the handset is prominent with good travel, but could do with a more clearly defined difference between half-press and full press.

Camera quality is reasonable and more than good enough for the business demographic the device targets. At full size however it is clear the point and shoot preserves much more detail.

WP_000007
HTC 7 Pro
P1020129
Panasonic 14 megapixel Point and Shoot

Click for full-size pictures.

720p video quality was not too bad, but did suffer from frame-rate issues.

 

Call quality was good, with no complaints on the receiving side.  On my side however volume was a bit low, and the sweet spot a bit small.  Pity those speaker grills do not in fact conceal real massive speakers, which in fact could have been a compelling feature on the handset, much like it was on the Touch Pro 2.

Conclusion

The HTC 7 Pro was the Windows Phone 7 handset I have been waiting for, but unfortunately I must now admit, for me at least, the flaws have left me feeling one of the other Windows Phone 7 handsets, either a vertical slider like the Dell Venue Pro, or a keyboard-less device like most of the other Windows Phone 7 handsets will be a better choice for the vast majority of users.

Specs:

SIM Free & UnlockedYes
Operating SystemWindows Phone
Version7
Processor
Speed1GHz
Expansion SlotNo
RAM576 MB
ROM512 MB
Internal StorageYes
Capacity8 GB
Display/Screen
TouchscreenYes
Size3.6
TypeWVGA
Resolution480 x 800
OtherPinch-to-Zoom capability
GSM/GPRSYes
Frequencies850/900/1800/1900 MHz
SpeedUp to 114 kbps downloading
3G/HSPAYes
Frequencies900/2100 MHz
SpeedUp to 7.2 Mbps download speed, Up to 2 Mbps upload speed
BluetoothYes
Version2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate
FunctionsA2DP for wireless stereo headsets, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, PBAP
WiFiYes
VersionIEEE 802.11 b/g/n
DLNANo
Ports
DataMicroUSB
PowerMicroUSB
Audio3.5mm stereo audio jack
Video OutNo
FacebookYes
Device Controls
Keyboard5 row slide-out QWERTY
GPSYes
A-GPSYes
Built-in SoftwareBing Maps
CameraYes
Megapixels5
FlashAuto Focus and flash
OtherBuilt-in scenes include candlelight, landscape and portrait
Front Facing CameraNo
Sensors
G-SensorYes
Proximity SensorYes
Light SensorYes
Audio
Formatsm4a, .m4b, .mp3, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
Video
Formats.3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m4v, .mbr, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9 and VC-1)
Recording720p HD Video Recording (.mp4)
FM RadioYes
Battery
Capacity1500 mAh
TypeRechargeable Lithium-ion polymer or Lithium-ion battery
RemovableYes
Call Time
GSMUp to 330 mins
3GUp to 420 mins
Standby Time
GSMUp to 360 hours
3GUp to 420 hours
Dimensions15.5 x 59 x 117.5 (mm)
Weight 185g with battery
SoftwareMusic and Videos Hub powered by Zune lets you listen to radio, download music, and more
OtherPlay console-quality video games with XBox LIVE integration

With thanks to Clove for providing the HTC 7 Pro.

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