HTC HD2 review: Portrait of a rockstar

GSMArena team, 17 November 2009.

Design and construction (continued)

The bottom part of the phone hosts the microUSB port, the microphone pinhole and the 3.5mm standard audio jack. Understandably there's no stylus this time. This is the first phone by HTC to come equipped with a microUSB port as up until now they used the miniUSB variety.

The 3.5mm standard audio jack, the microUSB port and the microphone pinhole are all at the bottom

At the back of the HTC HD2 is the 5 megapixel camera lens, stuck between the loudspeaker grill and the dual LED flash. It's a good thing that HTC decided to do something about low-light shooting this time by including a LED flash but we would have really preferred a dedicated camera key instead.

The camera lens sticks out a mile and we didn't quite like how your index finger somehow always landed on the lens. The lens protection also seems quite insufficient and if you carry your handset in the pocket, it would most definitely get scratched. A plus is the neat pouch we found in the retail package which should protect not only the camera lens but the screen as well.

The camera is nestled between the loudspeaker grill and the dual LED flash

Removing the steel back cover reveals the 1230 mAh battery (the predecessor came with a much more promising 1350 mAh battery). Here, you'll also find the reset pinhole along with the microSD card slot. The location of the card slot might not be good news to those of you that like using the card for transferring data. There is some good news though: the phone supports microSDHC cards and handled our reasonably full 16GB microSD card problem-free.

Surprisingly, battery life turned out very good. Battery performance was better than the iPhone 3G, for instance, even though Apple's smartphone has a slower paced CPU. The HD2 managed to make it for 2.5 days with Wi-Fi constantly on, taking some pictures with the inbuilt camera and listening to music. So, if you turn the Wi-Fi on only when needed and don't talk too much, you can probably expect the device to stay alive for a good 2-3 days before recharge.

Update: We managed to make a dedicated real life battery test of the HTC HD2 and the results turned out better than expected given the highly clocked CPU and the large screen. The HTC HD2 stayed up and running for good 52 hours connected to 3G network with the following usage pattern:

  • 40 minutes of voice calls;
  • 30 minutes of web browsing;
  • 30 minutes of guided GPS navigation (CoPilot);
  • 50 minutes of video playback;
  • 2 hours of music playback;

You can check more details about some other battery life tests we did with the HD2 in our GSMArena team blog.

The microSD card slot and the reset pinhole are under the battery cover the 1230 mAh Li-Ion battery

The HD2 feels pretty solid. The steel battery cover and the fingerprint resistant plastic around it are certainly welcome additions.

In most cases, using the phone with only one hand shouldn't be a problem for you. However, reaching the corners of the display (when holding the phone with the right hand) might be difficult if not impossible without having to move the phone up or down.

So, height poses problems for single-handed use and width is a bit uncomfortable in actual phone calls. These are inconveniences that cannot go unnoticed but we still believe the HD2 is well worth the extra effort. The capacitive screen and powerful CPU give the phone remarkable response and speed. Screen size makes browsing, viewing images and docs a pleasure.

The HTC HD2 is a handful

The display comes from outer space

Nearly the whole front is taken up by the 4.3" monster display of the HTC HD2. Sporting WVGA resolution, the screen is the largest we have ever seen on a mobile phone (the two HTC Advantage devices don't exactly qualify as mobile phones here).

The HTC HD2 is also the first in the WinMo family to use the capacitive technology, which takes precision and responsiveness to a higher level. A conventional stylus is no longer an option but on the large WVGA screen even the tiniest interface elements are easy to press with a finger.

We hardly have any complaints about sensitivity and what's more, the screen gives the impression that the OS is more responsive than on past devices. This might just be a subjective feeling of course, and we won't really know it before we see an implementation of the capacitive screen without the Snapdragon CPU.

Unfortunately, the large size of the display easily exposes the display's 65K-color limitation. Color banding is easily visible on multiple screens throughout the interface and on some of the preinstalled wallpapers as well.

Another downer is that legibility under direct sunlight is far from perfect. The display mirror finish and the fingerprint smudges make it really hard to discern what's on screen when you're out and about.

The whole 4.3 inches

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