Hands-on with the HTC HD2, most impressive Windows Mobile device to date

Summary:We wrapped up the Mobius 2009 event last night and since we spent most of the time talking about topics under NDA there isn't much of anything I can share with your at this time. I recommend you check out Jason Dunn's post on his new Windows Phone Thoughts site for coverage of what could be shared. HTC was kind enough to give each attendee an HTC HD2 device to evaluate so I wanted to post some first thoughts after spending the full day with it as my main device. I posted a video on YouTube with a short walk around the device and will post a full review early next week after a few more days with it. There is a ton of excitement about this device and after showing it to an iPhone owner here at work he said, "So this is what the next generation iPhone may look like." HTC pushed Windows Mobile to the extreme with this device and it shows in an amazing product.

We wrapped up the Mobius 2009 event last night and since we spent most of the time talking about topics under NDA there isn't much of anything I can share with your at this time. I recommend you check out Jason Dunn's post on his new Windows Phone Thoughts site for coverage of what could be shared. HTC was kind enough to give each attendee an HTC HD2 device to evaluate so I wanted to post some first thoughts after spending the full day with it as my main device. I posted a video on YouTube with a short walk around the device and will post a full review early next week after a few more days with it. There is a ton of excitement about this device and after showing it to an iPhone owner here at work he said, "So this is what the next generation iPhone may look like." HTC pushed Windows Mobile to the extreme with this device and it shows in an amazing product.

Hardware

Without even turning on the device you can tell there is something special about the HTC HD2. The device is a large black slab, but is thin at only about 3/8ths of an inch. It feels dense and a bit hefty, but like I have mentioned before I personally like devices that have good heft and density to them. The back metal battery cover is sleek and feels cool to the touch. It is surrounded by soft touch coated panels giving your a smooth touch. The edges of the protruded camera lens are a bit sharp so watch out for scratching wood tables if you try to slide it around. The 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB ports on the bottom melt into the device with excellent transitions. There is nothing along the right side or top as minimalization lends itself to elegance on the HD2. There are five bottom hardware buttons below the massive 4.3 inch 800x480 resolution capacitive display for send, end, home, Start, and back. The lovely display is capacitive and responsive, thanks in part to the 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

Software

The HTC HD2 runs Windows Mobile 6.5, but is optimized further by HTC to support the capacitive display. TouchFLO 3D is rebranded as Sense UI and it is beautiful on the HD2. I have Spb Mobile Shell loaded on my T-Mobile Touch Pro2 because I find it gives me quicker, more efficient access to the information and apps I need. I have no plans to load it up on the HD2 because I find the Sense UI to be quite good, plus I am not sure Mobile Shell is ready for such a device as this. HTC includes Facebook integration like on the TP2 and also adds their Peep Twitter client found on Google Android devices. The icons at the bottom of the Home screen tabs are now in full color and the transitions are flawless between tabs. Their media player looks like the iPod touch with cover flow when rotated into landscape and is nice to see on a Windows Mobile device.

One of the sexiest pieces of the software has to be the weather application and even if you don't care much about the weather it is fun to watch the animations and transitions. I have locations loaded for places I live and work in, along with common business travel destinations. There is currently snow in Juneau, Alaska and you will find the display with snowflakes and then ice buildup along the sides (see the attached screenshot). You may want to find a winter location in December to give your HD2 a Christmas look and feel :)

Opera Mobile 9.7 is the default browser and gives you a full Internet experience with support for pinch and zoom via multi-touch support (another HTC customization). Mult-touch is also supported in the photo browser. The WorldCard Mobile application is provided and I used it to capture and export several business cards in seconds, thanks in large part to the 5 megapixel camera. A few other applications loaded by default include a RSS reader, Bing, Google Maps, Facebook, YouTube, MyPhone, and a European version of CoPilot Live 8.

Pricing and availability

The HD2 is shipping in Europe (subsidization can be as low as free) and can be found through US importers for around $800. HTC announced that a major US wireless carrier will get the device in early 2010, but we have no information on who that may be. I am using the European one on T-Mobile now so I am getting EDGE data speeds, but I am also pairing it up to my new Verizon Wireless MiFi for 3G speeds when I surf on the device.

The HTC HD2 is a beautiful device for the high end mobile user who doesn't mind carrying a large device. I'll keep putting it through its paces and post a more in-depth review early next week. Feel free to post any questions about things you want me to try out and I'll try to include all you ask. I plan to test the following:

  • GPS navigation
  • Movie playing capability
  • Zune subscription music support
  • Text entry keyboard accuracy and speed
  • Image/video capture quality

Disclosure: I took two days off from my "day job" and was not compensated by Microsoft for this time. I also paid for my own hotel (there was no travel cost since I live in the Seattle area) to participate in the event. Microsoft did give each attendee a Zune HD while HTC gave us each an HTC HD2 and a T-shirt with no expectations or strings attached to these devices.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, HTC, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Wi-Fi, Windows

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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