HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

Summary: The HTC Radar 4G will be available at T-Mobile on 2 November and is the first Windows Phone Mango device to hit the U.S. It is a good device at $100, but not the top dog with this OS.

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I purchased the T-Mobile HTC HD7 on launch day last year and have been using it and the Dell Venue Pro as my main Windows Phone devices for the last year. This year we see T-Mobile getting another new Windows Phone device, the HTC Radar 4G, and it is one to consider if you are looking for a WP device. You can check out several photos of the device in my image gallery along with a hands-on video and my experiences with the device below.


Image Gallery: Check out several photos of the HTC Radar 4G on T-Mobile. Image Gallery: Radar 4G retail box Image Gallery: HTC Flyer and Radar 4G

In the box, first impressions, and pricing

The HTC Radar 4G comes in the same type of rock solid box we are used to seeing from T-Mobile with a glossy image of the device on the front and a list of features on the back. Inside the box you will find the device, battery, USB to A/C charger, USB cable, SIM card, and Quick Start Guide.

The very first thing I noticed after taking the Radar 4G out of the box was that is looked just like a smaller brother of the HTC Flyer as you can see in my image gallery. It has a sleek unibody aluminum design with a white plastic upper piece around the camera and a lower plastic piece at the bottom. The front face is white with silver around the body and it feels and looks great in your hand.

The HTC Radar 4G will be available at T-Mobile retail stores and through select national retailers and dealers on Nov. 2. The HTC Radar 4G is expected to cost $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate card with a two-year service agreement and qualifying T-Mobile Classic voice and data plan, plus taxes and fees.

Specifications

Specifications for the HTC Radar 4G include the following:

  • Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) operating system
  • 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ radio
  • 1 GHz Snapdragon processor
  • 3.8 inch WVGA 800x480 pixels LCD display
  • Preinstalled 8GB storage with no expansion capability (about 6GB user accessible)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 5 megapixel camera with single LED flash and f/2.2 aperture
  • Integrated A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • 1520 mAh lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.4 x 0.44 inches and 4.83 ounces

The battery is non-removable and there is no expandable storage capability. I was disappointed to see only 8GB in the device (only about 6GB is actually usable though) and believe that all Windows Phone devices should have a minimum of 16GB, especially given how cheap flash memory is today. I am not that concerned about the 1 GHz processor since Windows Phone has been shown to fly with minimal processor specifications.

I also understand there is no digital compass in the HTC Radar 4G (kind of ironic given the name) and thus there will be limits on some app usage, such as augmented reality.

Walk around the hardware

The front of the HTC Radar 4G has a 3.8 inch WVGA 800x480 pixels LCD with the three capacitive Windows Phone buttons below the display. You will find a front facing camera on the upper right front, but at this time there is no application that can use it so it's value is a potential value and not something that can be realized now.

There is a large volume button and camera shutter button on the right side with a microUSB port on the left side. The power button and headset jack are found on the top with just a mic opening on the bottom

On the back you will find the 5 megapixel camera, single LED flash, and speaker grille inside a white plastic area that is not removable. The rest of the back has the unibody aluminum finish with HTC branding. The bottom part is also white plastic and can be removed to access the SIM card slot. Every review I read after I finished writing this one confirmed that the back bottom piece doesn't seem to fit up and in place as securely as it should and could have been better designed. There is no removable storage card or battery on this device.

Daily usage and experiences

Even though the Radar 4G has a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, it still flies like all the other existing devices upgraded to WP 7.5 (Mango) so I am not concerned at all with the processor. The 5 megapixel camera takes much better photos than the 5 megapixel camera on the HD7 and I do not see any of the pink camera problem found on the HD7. It is not as good as the Amaze 4G though and I am thinking I may hold out for a Nokia WP with Carl Zeiss optics.

The WiFi hotspot function, new to Mango, is in this device and works well. Unfortunately, the "4G" is limited to the 14.4 Mbps speed and not up to the full 42.2 Mbps found in the T-Mobile network in many locations and with the latest Android devices. Unfortunately, I found the RF reception to be a bit disappointing and in areas where I normally have a solid 3G signal I was seeing the words "2G" appear on the Radar 4G, which is something I haven't seen in a long time.

Phone call quality sounded OK, but also sounded a bit hollow and was not as solid and clear as other phones I have tested recently on T-Mobile. Mobileburn.com also noted there was some hissing noise in calls.

I personally like the form factor and still enjoy using the Windows Phone operating system. However, the limited selection of devices on all carriers, but AT&T, is not a good thing and IMHO is one major factor keeping Windows Phone down in market share figures.

I have only been using the Radar 4G for about 4 days and am finding the battery life to be quite acceptable and much better than the HD7 or Dell Venue Pro I have been using over the past year. It also seems to be beating out my new iPhone 4S.

Will I be buying an HTC Radar 4G?

My wife has been using a blue Nokia N8 since last year and won't give it up because the camera is fantastic and that is something she values. She doesn't particularly like the OS though and is tired of lockups, misdialing, etc. I was hoping to see a Windows Phone similar to the HTC Amaze 4G with a great camera since I know she would like WP on a device. The 5 megapixel shooter on the Radar 4G is OK, but as soon as I gave her the device she handed it back and said she did not like the feel of it and wouldn't consider it.

I love my HTC Flyer Android tablet with very similar form factor and design so I am considering the Radar 4G for myself. However, the limited 8GB internal storage, lack of battery replacement, and camera that is just OK and not super are causing me to hesitate a bit. If I end up being eligible for the full upgrade price of just $100 I will likely pick one up on Wednseday, but I am not going to pay the $450+ that it will probably cost for the unsubsidized phone.

First time buyers who are eligible for the $100 price will like the solid design and form factor and smooth operation, but there are some compelling Android devices on T-Mobile too that do offer more.

Other HTC Radar 4G reviews

The opinions above are mine alone and I always recommend you check out other reviews. You can find a couple others online here:

Topics: HTC, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Wi-Fi, Windows

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15 comments
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  • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

    Although Android seems to be getting the best hardware at the moment, the OS leaves a lot to be desired. I plan on upgrading my HTC Surround in about a year and there should be some really nice Nokia phones by then. Can't wait!
    kstap
  • No expandable memory

    Equals a fail, especially with only 8gfb on onboard storage
    tgschmidt
    • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

      @tgschmidt Exactly! Apple should even realize that in this day and age, 8GB isn't enough room to sneeze, let alone store apps, music, and imagery.
      Champ_Kind
  • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

    Do HTC people have no sense? Why will some one introduce a smart phone in this generation with just 8GB and no expansion slot? Do they think they are Apple to get away? WP7 does not have the good will like Apple nor does it have the apps collection like Android. The only way to grab market attention for WP7 product is to get the best hardware. Unfortunately MS does n't give a damn and neither do the phone manufacturers. I think one has to be lame and blind to pick a windows phone, today.
    I hope MS looks back the way they are placing themselves in the market and start to introduce quality, rather than trying to flood in with quantity alone(they fail there too)
    krishnansriram
    • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

      @krishnansriram

      I think you have to be lame and blind to not recognize there are a lot of benefits WP7 has over the other OSes that make it compelling without better hardware.

      No one needs 500,000+ apps. And statistically, people actually don't use apps that much. A quick Google search will give you that info. Plus, WP7 as an OS does a lot more without the need of a third party apps. Everything is so seamlessly integrated.

      Android is still a clunky OS that has fragmentation nightmares, and leaves more and more people questioning the investment into a platform that may improve a year down the road, but they won't be able to benefit from.

      iOS is a solid OS but it's still very married to depending on 3rd party apps. While WP7 has mastered the ballance between a independently effective OS that is only enriched by apps.

      I have an HTC Surround, and while from a hardware standpoint its average. I LOVE WP7 and wouldn't trade it for the best Android device or a brand new iPhone 4S.

      That being said, the hardware available for new WP7 phones is not that impressive yet. But its also cheap.
      spaulagain2
      • Yeah Apps are overrated

        Most of the Android store is garbage. There are a few key Apps that everyone uses and maybe some want a few more, but other than that, the rest is pure crap.

        I just want a smartphone OS that is easy to use. Android has been wearing on my lately and maybe I should give WP7 a try. I only chose Android because it was the only OS that supported 4G LTE.
        otaddy
      • Re: WP7 "compelling without better hardware"

        @spaulagain The customers don't seem to agree, though. Windows doesn't seem to be a selling point to make up for the worse hardware, it seems quite capable of putting people off all on its own.
        ldo17
      • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

        @spaulagain I have a HTC Trophy and it has 16gb, I have not even used up 4gb yet and I have all I need on my phone now. 8gb is plenty, 16gb is overkill on the WP7 OS. Now the only drawback is no native USB storage, I want to plug it into any computer and use it as storage or put whatever files I want on it and use those files. If they fix this big big drawback, I would give the phone a 98 out of 100...
        ldselder
      • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

        @spaulagain I was waiting for a Mango phone. Until I found out they still do not allow direct syncing to Outlook on my computer. I had WM phones for years. I have now switched to iphone.
        elvisfan0108
  • 8GB Memory

    I wonder if you can take the phone apart like the HD7 and put a larger microSD card in it. I did that with my HD7 and it had a 16gb microSD card as the memory. So I put a 32gb microSD in its place and it worked like a charm.
    mrmerk05
    • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

      @mrmerk05 Yes you can...
      ldselder
  • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

    The hardware specs of WP7 makes it very difficult to win in the market share game. Samsung released some really cheap Android phones in India with 256MB internal memory and 1GB microSD card. They sell easily. 50 out of 100% users here are using those cheap Android phones; and btw, they don't know they are using Android. They don't care abt the OS too. They need a touch screen device like iPhone (expensive). Microsoft still seem to be lazy about working with carriers, ODMs, app developers and other industries.
    sandeep.splash
  • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

    I'd personally be worried about the inability to remove and or replace the battery. My HTC HD2 (WM 6.5) crashes so often that I can probably remove and reinsert the battery in my sleep... it's the only way I can reboot the sucker...So, after seriously considering upgrading, I think I'll limp along until there's a WM 7.5 phone with better memory options, and a removable battery just in case the Radar 4g has as much "dog" in it as the HD2 (and that's a lot!)

    BobJ
    bj@...
  • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

    HTC Radar has hit Indian market too and I am sure consumers will like it. The price of the phone is affordable and it looks stunning. Online shops like saholic.com are giving good deal on this phone.
    smriti.r
  • RE: HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S. (review)

    I just bought the HTC Radar 4G. Like the author of this article, I bought a HD7 last year. I won't get into all the features of Mango (too many folks have doe it already) but I will not a few things about the Radar:

    - Small size. Yes, I like the smaller size of the Radar over the HD7. It fits nicely in my pocket and my hand. I don't feel like I am holding a brick when I am talking on the phone. And a 3.8" sceen is large enough for the Metro UI.

    - 4G Tethering. Actually the Radar will act as a hotspot, allowing up to 5 users to connect to the phone. I did this for about 2 days, before I received a text from T-mobile informing me that I needed to add the tethering option to my plan. It is 15 bucks extra a month, but it gives you another 5G of high speed data.

    - Camera Features. It is only a 5MP camera, but the f2.2 lens take great pics in many situations (understand it is a PHONE. It obviously will not compare to my Nikkon D5100, but it takes good enough pictures. Especially like the panoramic feature, very easy to use. Take the first picture, and then align the camera with the guidelines and automatically stitches them together.

    - Voice Integration. From Bing Searches, to Text messaging, to opening apps and listening to music, I think the Mago implementation is more efficient than Siri (besides, I have friends to make smart ass comments, don't need my phone to make em!)

    - Skydrive. 25 gigs. I don't think the 8GB on the phone is a detriment, as the skydrive can access anything that you need. 8G can fit enough pictures and music for your immediate needs. I had 16G on the HD7 and probably only filled up 4G.

    The only thing I am not too fond of is the speaker is a little tinnish at max volume. But again, I can live with it.

    Bottom line, it is a great phone, has good battery life, and has a durable feel. And you can get it for free now with a new 2 year contract and your old phone. But don't take my word for it, go try it for yourself.

    And I hate you trolls as well and I said it first ! :P
    hamster huey