HTC HD2 review: Portrait of a rockstar

GSMArena team, 17 November 2009.

Windows Mobile 6.5 underneath the Sense

Pressing the Start button on the HD2 opens something similar to the menus found in non-smartphones. In the new main menu you've got all the installed programs plus shortcuts to the settings menu.

And of course, as of Windows Mobile 6.5 this Start menu comes in a honeycomb pattern, which is supposed to make touch control even more comfortable.

The perfectly flat structure of the Start menu can surely get a bit clumsy in time due to the huge number of icons piling up, but still we'd prefer that over the confusing experience that so many Widows Mobile new adopters have had in the past.

Icons within the main menu are easy to rearrange: a press and hold is enough to move the frequently used icons to the top.

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The customizable Start menu

Without a doubt, Windows Mobile 6.5 is the user-friendliest WinMo ever made. Unfortunately the improvements over its predecessor 6.1 aren't big enough to make it able to compete with the other contemporary platforms in terms of usability. Of course there is some touch optimization but the truth is a complete overhaul is needed rather than just the facelift it got.

We’re glad HTC have gone the extra length of skinning all the context Windows menus as well throughout the whole UI.

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6.5 has brought little changes to the deeper levels of the WinMo interface

We recently published a dedicated article on the new Windows Mobile 6.5. Feel free to take a closer look and see how far WinMo has gone.

The best contact manager to date

Contact management is usually considered one of the strongest points of Windows Mobile. You have an unlimited contact list, unlimited info fields for each contact and brilliant synchronization options.

Since the Diamond2, HTC have added a new interface which uses a small thumb icon for a person's picture, set against a gray background with nice font. You can scroll alphabetically using the letter column placed on the right.

You can search contacts by gradual typing of any of the names and you can find the dedicated search button in the upper right corner.

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Phonebook with thumb scrolling • searching by typing or via the alphabetical list • all events tab

The standard editing options are just great, but unfortunately advanced editing of contacts throws you back into the old WinMo depths. We find all the given options into the HTC interface pretty enough, so we can hardly imagine anyone digging in there. But hey, you still have a plethora of available info fields - and if by any rare chance those are not enough, you can always rename some of the existing ones and use them instead.

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Editing a contact • Advanced editing

Viewing a contact is a whole new experience. We find the HTC implementation of the contacts interface the best among smartphones and with the new additions in the HD2 it just has no competition.

First of all it's very stylish and visually attractive. The contact's information is neatly divided into categories - name, actions and information. There are five icons on a shortcut taskbar at the bottom - details, messaging, all emails, events and call history. You can scroll between the different tabs the same way you do it with the tabbed homescreens - by dragging a finger over the shortcut bar or by onscreen sweeps.

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Viewing a contact

You can compose a SMS/MMS directly from the message tab.

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Quick message composing

The Events tab is the new one and it's about social networking. You can associate every contact with its Facebook profile. If you do that, the HD2 will automatically set birthday and download the contact’s profile picture and use it for contact photo (regardless of whether you have previously assigned one or not). Consequently, in the events tab you can see the new Facebook profile updates of the particular person and in the contact list their mood message will appear just under their name.

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Events tab • Online albums

The other extra you receive with the Facebook link is the additional Online Album key in the General Information tab. It gives you full access to Facebook albums using the revamped HTC Albums gallery.

We really love the new phonebook and have never seen so much functionality so neatly organized and user-friendly. Good job, HTC.

Here's a video demonstrating the contacts app in action.

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