End of the line for my T-Mobile HD2, I just can't take Windows Mobile anymore

End of the line for my T-Mobile HD2, I just can't take Windows Mobile anymore

Summary: I was enthusiastic about the launch of the T-Mobile HTC HD2 and at first most people will be impressed and awed by the device and experience. However, the device actually served to make me realize it is time to stop fighting and give up on Windows Mobile.

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For several years I have been a fan of the Windows Mobile platform, even when others told me to give it up and go with a more modern operating system. I was pretty lucky to have fairly stable devices and thought the T-Mobile HTC HD2 would be the pinnacle of my Windows Mobile usage with an amazing set of specifications. After several long years, I am now at the point that I am done with Windows Mobile until I see what Windows Phone 7 presents. What caused me to give up now? You may not believe this, but it actually was the T-Mobile HD2. I was quite excited when I was able to pick up an HD2 at the new subscriber price of $200 last month and for the first couple of weeks I was overcome by the fantastic 4.3 inch high resolution capacitive display and hardware. However, I have spent the last 10 days or so in near constant frustration every time I tried using the HD2 and I am just tired of the lock screen freezes, scattered operating system menus and pieces, inconsistent media experiences, limited 3rd party application availability, and more.

The T-Mobile HD2 seems to work best if you do not load up any 3rd party applications and keep it in stock configuration, but even then over time the device starts to drag and has many of these issues I listed below. There was quite a bit of excitement in the store on launch day and T-Mobile has been selling out regularly, but I am now very interested in seeing how many people returned their devices in sheer frustration.

Exchange experience

One of the main reasons I kept using a Windows Mobile device was the top notch Exchange support, but as I mentioned in my recent HTC Incredible post HTC has provided an Exchange experience with Sense 2.5 that meets 98% of my Exchange needs and thus I no longer need to use Windows Mobile for this functionality. Actually, the experience on Android is more user friendly and presents my data in a better format than on Windows Mobile.

Is it cold in here or what?

At least once over the last two weeks when I picked up the HD2 to use it I would press the power button and get to the lock screen only to discover I could not unlock the device (with a slide left or right). I had to pop the battery out to reset it and in today's day and age you should not have to do this with a modern high end smartphone.

I also have experienced regular freezes after launching an application as the device just sits there with the WM colors popping on the screen. I don't blame Microsoft either for all these freezes as the version of Sense on the HD2 seemed to consume way too many resources and I could sometimes get to the Start/application launcher screen without getting back out to the Sense/Today screen tabbed interface. Again, how in the world can a 1GHz Snapdragon processor device perform this poorly?

WM or HTC apps, who knows?

Even though HTC has done an admirable job of hiding Windows Mobile 6.5 (not even the latest version) on the HD2 there still exists several areas where menus and drop downs are barely usable with a capacitive display (such as in the time format selector). You will also find several HTC utilities that try to serve as the default programs and for the most part they are decent (Contacts, Calendar ), but the default Windows Mobile ones are still sprinkled throughout the device as well.

Speaking of sprinkled throughout, the Start page/launcher is a mess with some apps and utilities embedded in non-customizable folders and others placed on the main page. You can only move them up and down the page and that is it. I thought I would be smart and go into the File Explorer to move shortcuts around and create custom folders, but then I discovered in many cases that I then had multiple shortcuts in the Start page making things even messier than they already were.

You mean you don't want three different video player experiences?

The T-Mobile HD2 comes loaded with MobiTV with the intention that you can stream TV channels and episodes for a monthly subscription fee. As you dive into the application you will see it is quite a mess and it is virtually impossible to find any full length shows and are instead presented with several 3-5 minute clips. If you find something to watch and start watching it then you better not answer a call or go anywhere else because when you come back you have to start all over at the beginning again. It was painful to use and I would never recommend a subscription with this current version.

I was pretty excited when I heard about BlockBuster being on the HD2 and rented The Blind Side to test out the experience. It was quick and easy to use on the device, but as soon as you start playing the movie you see Windows Media Player Mobile start up and that is the video player used due to the DRM requirement. Windows Media Player Mobile is ancient and I personally cannot stand it as a media player. The movie played decently with only an occasional lag in play, after making sure no other applications were running with the Task Manager.

HTC also provides a media player that is used for the two free Transformer movies. It is a basic player, but I honestly found it to be an enjoyable experience with great playback of the movies. You may also have movies that you converted to play on the HD2 and wish to view them with the HD2 player. You can do this, but it is not a straight forward process and you have to go through several layers of the file explorer in the Photos and Videos tab as I detailed here. Why couldn't we just have a movie player tab right in Sense on the Today screen interface?

Hello, are there any developers in here?

Windows Marketplace for Mobile launched in October 2009 and by my count on the site today there are 924 applications available (20 of these are books and 308 are games). This is pretty pathetic for an operating system that has been available for years. I know there are more applications available than this that can be purchased outside the Marketplace, but if you compare the Marketplace to other mobile operating system stores the Windows Marketplace falls well below all the rest and has the second highest average price. There are a few good applications, but honestly many cannot compete with the high quality apps we see on the Apple iPhone, Palm webOS, or Google Android platforms and after using apps on these the platforms Windows Mobile apps seem even more lame.

I was able to find many of the applications I enjoy using so I wasn't that concerned about the limited application availability, but the longer you use a platform the more limited it starts to feel. You also realize that there is not enough value in many of these applications to justify the premium price.

Will I miss anything?

I wanted to try out the free in-flight WiFi service, but I fly mostly to Alaska and there are no planes with support for the network so it is not practical to keep the device for that. The big screen is fantastic for GPS navigation with CoPilot Live 8, but I can run CoPilot on Android devices and Google Maps Navigation is very good. The large screen plays movies pretty well and movie watching was nice, but it is easier to get video content onto devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Zune. The Barnes & Noble eReader app was nice to have as well, but not necessary when I have so many other ways to enjoy books on the go.

I am past the return period and there are no other options other than to sell my HD2 so I will be putting it up on Craigslist soon. I could keep it and try out some experimental ROMs on the device, but I am pleased with my Palm Pre Plus and Google Nexus One so I won't spend any more time messing around with the device and let someone else try to make it work for them. I am also giving up on Windows Mobile for the next several months and will wait to see if Microsoft can win me back with Windows Phone 7 devices.

If you are on T-Mobile and are looking for a good high end smartphone, then I recommend you take a look at a device like the Google Nexus One before the HD2.

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

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41 comments
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  • I found that once

    I disabled the Samsung apps on my WM phone, and used the WM interface, it just worked better. I also use the WM media player and have no complaints.

    Apps, yes, planty of them outside the store, which is why I went with the WM phone, (I had the apps I wanted from before) but agreed, not many apps in the apps store, though that does make sense as it will be discontinued in something like 5 months.

    As a developer, I would not waste time with WM6 when there is WMP 7 on the horizon, a more capable OS from what I have read.
    GuidingLight
  • WARNING: Avoid all Windows Phones like the Plague

    It gets worse. You can't use the HD2 as a business phone. Most business apps don't work on the capacitive screen. Even Microsoft Excel is unusable, as you can't swipe a row of cells (on the HD2, the page scrolls instead). When Windows Phone 7 arrives, the situation will get even worse. That doesn't allow Copy & Paste, which will make you want to smash your Windows Phone on the ground. Please, do yourself a favor, and get an Android phone (like Mathew suggests).
    Vbitrate
    • "get an Android phone"

      You mean the Android phone that doesn't run Excel at all?? If I'd throw a WinMo away over bad Excel experience, wouldn't I wanna take a flamethrower to Google for not even running Excel in there at all?

      LOL, nice FUD try.
      LBiege
      • Have you heard of Documents To Go?

        NT
        ckl_88
        • Unlikely

          He is, like all MS trolls, deaf to the idea of using anything other than an
          MS product.
          rahbm
          • From One Troll to another apparently...

            HaHaHa... you are so dumb you don't even realise it. Thanks for brightening up my day nice'n'early though.

            Next time try responding with something positive and related to the story.

            I like the look of the Android personally, and I like a keyboard, but then I like some Apple apps. Sadly the choices are great as are the costs and risks. Compromises have to be made in user requirements.... maybe excel in the writers case. I'm in the market and can't decide yet. Your comment doesn't help in the least.
            johnmckay
      • Don't rely on *any* Microsoft software...

        Time to move on from "Excel".
        Does OpenOffice run on Android yet?
        bbneo
    • WARNING: Avoid all Market Analyst posts like the Plague!

      Because after reading his drivel, you will feel the need to bash your own head against the ground to get his stench off!

      Quite interesting that for someone who has never used or even touched a Microsoft product to have so much "knowledge", and of course it is all bad.

      Quite interesting indeed.......

      GuidingLight
  • RE: End of the line for my T-Mobile HD2, I just can't take Windows Mobile anymore

    If the cooked ROM "support" wasnt available I might be in the same boat. I expected to flash a ROM at some point but not on the 2nd day owning my HD2! Been more then happy ever since.
    brainless1
    • What He Said

      Stock ROMs for WinMo are terrible metrics of how good a phone is, Matt. Check out the list of ROMs here:

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=534

      I personally prefer the Cell ROM series, but I know that EnergyROM is very popular, along with a few others.

      As far as the WinMo Marketplace, don't forget that Handango has been doing it longer than even Apple, and they have a catalog of apps specific to the HD2:

      http://www.handango.com/catalog/SoftwareCatalog.jsp?storeId=2218&deviceId=2276&platformId=30&categoryId=0

      Not exactly the 150,000 apps that the iPhone can boast, but 5,500 isn't a number to sneeze at, either. Don't forget, of course, that there's always Google and Softpedia. Even the xda-developers site has links to a couple hundred programs for the HD2. There's also oMarket (http://www.freewarepocketpc.net/omarket/)...yes, an application repository COMPETING with WinMo's Marketplace.

      Does WinMo require more work than an iPhone or Android to get exactly how you want it? I guess you can argue that (though running a HardSPL and a ROM installer are Installshield simple). Is it worth it? As a VERY happy owner of a Touch Pro2, I'll give an emphatic 'yes'.

      Joey
      voyager529
  • HD2 SPB Mobile Shell = great

    I had SPB Mobile Shell on my HD, and after trying the HTC Sense and WM6.5 shell on the HD2, I went back to SPB MS. Much wider and deeper finger friendliness.

    The greatest thing about the HD2 is the WiFi router. It just works, and is so much simpler than Bluetooth to hook my laptop up to it. Also, I am not limited to 1Mbps up and down speeds.
    Patanjali
  • Don't blame you - The HD2's got issues

    I'm happy with my Touch Pro 2, but it doesn't have the issues that the HD2 has.

    My wife has the HD2 and there are some strange bugs in the stock ROM that my phone does not have. The issue with the capacitive touch screen not working well with older programs is really annoying too.

    The HD2 has a slightly higher build of WinMo 6.5 than the TP2, and I know how to cook my own ROMs so I'm thinking about cooking her a custom ROM with the same build of Windows Mobile 6.5 than my TP2 has to see if the weird bugs might be related to the OS build.

    I'm not thrilled about the direction Microsoft is taken Windows Mobile, so our next phones will most likely be Android phones. Or maybe Nokia phones that run Linux, like the N900.
    toadlife
  • Nice crust, shame about the filling

    I'm about 24hrs into my HD2 experience and I am already seeing the frustrations you've mentioned. It seems that HTC have made a really quite nice but only partial shell underneath which lies a very patchy OS. The marketplace experience is appalling- software that is there is unfindable, and the installation crashes out part way through requiring a hard reboot and an orphanned application, unmanageable via any interface. In fact overall the interface is a trainwreck of inconsistent antipatterns- with just enough realy rather lovely bits to tease you in. Unfortunately this is a work phone supplied by my employer so I'll have to soldier on, but it will e with gritted teeth at the very least!
    meeware
  • RE: End of the line for my T-Mobile HD2, I just can't take Windows Mobile anymore

    I agree with your frustrations, but the HD2 is the best replacement I've found for my hx4700 PDA (I've been looking for over 2 years), so I'm going to keep it. Also, my wife has a android phone, and that isn't all a bed of roses either (although it's really hard to keep the jealousy down over the app store experience.)
    GaryFe
  • RE: End of the line for my T-Mobile HD2, I just can't take Windows Mobile anymore

    No Data? We may have a fix! 04-29-2010

    http://forums.t-mobile.com/t5/HTC-HD2/No-Data-We-may-have-a-fix/td-p/364154
    authorityfigure
  • RE: End of the line for my T-Mobile HD2, I just can't take Windows Mobile anymore

    I find my HTC HD2 a nice addition to my phone collection .. persoally mine has 3 front pages each consisting of 25 app placements..which i still haven`t filled after 3 months of use...for those interested...there are a cpl of links below to help you get more from your handset!!

    ALL things HTC...... http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=531

    They have a section for US T-Mobile users also!!
    ==========


    Free Windows Mobile Apps
    More than 6,700 free windows mobile games, tools and themes. Download software for HTC Touch Diamond / Pro / HD / Fuze, Samsung Omnia and other smartphones.

    http://www.freewarepocketpc.net/ppc-tag-file.html

    Hope some of you find what you want here...AS for windows Marketplace..NAH NO TY!!
    cannon@...
  • Go BlackBerry people!!

    I recently switched from WM to BB device and will probably never go back to WM! Ever!
    RCM_z
    • Funny, I came to opposite direction

      Different strokes for different folks!
      toadlife
  • WInMo are for PRO only, Avoid it like plague if you are not tech savvy

    so sorry to hear that. But WinMo6 are never designed for capacitive touch screen. Hence its very frustrating to use sometimes. But to be fair,most of your frustration can be solved by doing some searching online. Especially about the list of shortcuts,there are just too many solutions for that! People at XDA-dev have all the things that you'll need to improve your experience.Using WinMo devices is never easy, coz in its bare setup, it suXks!! It need heavy customization, so its not for average consumer like you. Apple is the best bet for average Joes and Janes. But a WInMo device with Proper ROM and customizations can do crazy things that will put shame on Iphone and Ipad.

    However, the truth remains,I tried but failed to install a couple of programs in my friend's HD2, everything just seems too small for my finger to touch and get registered. So, users will need lots of patience to search for programs made specially for HD2.But once you iron out all the wrinkles n kinks, it will be your best buddy. Anyway, If you run out of patience with WinMo, Android is your better choice.Having said that, Apple is still the best choice for non-enthusiast, average consumer, although abit boring.
    nswprop
  • HD2 has serious issues - what a shame

    This phone is great on paper but in real life...lacking so much! I purchased 6 of these devices on launch date (24 March 2010) and I can tell you the biggest problem that we are experiencing with the device is the dropping of internet connection. If you need a reliable internet connection for business (e-mail, etc...) forget this phone. HTC and T-Mobile USA have stated to me on the phone that they knew of this issue prior to launching the device on 24 March 2010, and they still don't have a fix for this problem. That is just silly! Now mind you that they have been swapping out the phones for us several times now with brand new devices, but still no joy! Out of the 6 original devices purchased, only 1 does not have this problem (nor the freezing screen issues).

    As for the freezing of the device and the non responsive screens, they tell me that they are aware of those issues also and they are working on a fix that will deploy over the air. Come on!!! why not work all these issues out prior to releasing the phone??

    But, if you are a long time user or WinMobile, you get used to a freeze here and there (I can live with that). And as for apps, hell, there are a ton all over the web...many of them are for free, they are just not organized in one centralized location as with Android and iPhone. I have never had a problem finding an app for what I needed to get done on any of my WinMo devices. But yes, if you want 300 different apps all doing the same thing and in a locked down environment, get an iPhone, WinMo will not be right for you.

    I would get rid of our HD2 devices, but for now there is really nothing that I like better with regards to the hardware, and I really don't like the iPhone due to the limitations (no apps other than via app store, no tethering, no flash, no multi tasking, no swappable battery, no SDcard slot - all though it does come with plenty of memory on board, etc...). Also, I am no fan of what Windows Phone 7 is expected to be like. It appears that it will lose the multi tasking initially, no SDcard slot accessible by the owner, apps only from the app store, etc... Hmmmmmmmmmmm, sounds like the iPhone. I think I will pass on that also.

    It really looks like Google's Android is going to be on our next phones. I am just buying time right now, as the Android OS matures and gets even better. So for now, HD2 gets to stay, but I think it is the last Windows Mobile phone we will own. It is a shame because I am so used to WinMo devices and there is so much you can do with this OS, just take a look at the work done by the people over at xda-developers and others. Amazing what you can do with a device running WinMo...I know I will get slammed by saying this, but WinMo on a device makes it a real work horse that can be used for limitless tasks and possibilities. From my experience (about 4 weeks using the iPhone) the iPhone is a nice device with some PDA capabilities, but not a device that I could use in my work or rely on for my changing needs...I would recommend the iPhone for college students, teenagers, not for the work place. Android on the other hand, if they include Office Mobile features and integration with Outlook etc...could become a great OS in my opinion.
    johnfarhat@...