HTC 7 Pro

Summary: Apart from its slide-out keyboard, the HTC 7 Pro is similar in many respects to other Windows Phone 7 handsets, thanks to the Microsoft platform's locked-down nature.

  • Editors' rating:
    8.0
  • User rating:
    0.0
  • RRP:
    USD $199.99

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Good build quality
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • SharePoint 2010 integration

Cons

  • No microSD storage expansion
  • No desktop Outlook sync (cloud-based only)
  • No backwards compatibility with Windows Mobile 6.5
  • Full Microsoft ecosystem buy-in required for maximum benefits

As well as being a leading maker of Android smartphones, HTC has supported Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 to the tune of four devices in the UK to date. We've already looked at the HTC HD7, HTC 7 Mozart, and HTC 7 Trophy; now we have the latest of the quartet, the HTC 7 Pro. Our review sample came from Clove Technology.

Unlike its stablemates, the HTC 7 Pro has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. That would once have made it the natural choice for professional users — but now that on-screen keyboards have improved, is that still the case?

Design
The HTC 7 Pro's physical keyboard makes for a somewhat chunky and weighty smartphone. At 185g it weighs even more than the HD7, which sports a huge 4.3in. screen and comes in at 162g.

At 15.5mm thick, the keyboard makes its presence felt (the HD 7 is just 11.2mm thick), but the HTC 7 Pro's remaining measurements — 59mm wide by 117.5mm deep — are not unduly large.

We couldn't quite reach right across the 3.6in. screen for one-handed use — but our hands are on the small side, and many will make the stretch with no trouble.

The 3.6in. screen is smaller than those of the HTC 7 Mozart (3.7in.) and HTC 7 Trophy (3.8in.). The resolution is the same on all of HTC's Windows Phone 7 devices: 480 by 800 pixels. It's just about large enough for efficient web browsing and is at its best in landscape mode.

Beneath the screen are three buttons for launching the Start screen, and Back and Search functions respectively. These buttons are touch sensitive rather than physical.

On the left edge is a volume rocker and a Micro-USB connector. The bottom is clear, while the top houses the on/off switch and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right is the Microsoft-specified camera button that can start the camera even when the handset is locked, making it relatively easy to take a quick snap.

The 3.6in. HTC 7 Pro is the company's first Windows Phone 7 handset with a physical QWERTY keyboard

HTC has come up with a clever slider system for the physical keyboard. You push the screen away from the keyboard in the usual way, and as it gets to the back a hinge kicks in, completing the process and pushing the screen up to an angle of about 45 degrees.

The device sits nicely on the desktop at this angle, being much easier to read than if the screen were flat in the hand. It's a good angle for tapping at the keyboard with two thumbs too.

This idea is not new: HTC's Touch Pro 2 was the last HTC device to sport this feature.

The HTC 7 Pro ships with an AC adapter, a PC connector cable, headphones, a printed getting-started guide and printed guide to Windows Phone.

Features
Apart from its keyboard, the HTC 7 Pro's headline feature is Windows Phone 7. It's an impeccably connected device with HSPA (7.2Mbps down, 2Mbps up), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) and GPS. Bing Maps is present rather than Google Maps, and we like the way Bing Maps automatically gives you a satellite view as you zoom in ever closer; the maps themselves lack the design panache of Google Maps.

The 1GHz processor is standard for Windows Phone 7 handsets. There's 8GB of internal storage alongside 512MB of ROM and 576MB of RAM. Some Windows Phone 7 handsets offer 16GB of built-in storage, but none accommodate external microSD cards. This is one of several Windows Phone 7 features that put it out of step with the smartphone competition.

Another decision Microsoft has taken is to support Windows Phone 7 calendar and contacts synchronisation over the air only. Exchange users will be accustomed to this, but those who are used to docking their smartphones to a local computer will find this an unfamiliar, and possibly unsatisfactory, solution.

To synchronise calendar and contacts information, you'll need either a Windows Live or a Google account. Microsoft's Zune software does allow you to synchronise music, video, pictures and podcasts with your desktop, which may merely double the frustration for desktop docking fans. Every other smartphone platform caters for desktop as well as cloud-based diary and contacts synchronisation.

The Windows Phone 7 user interface is locked down tightly, so the HTC 7 Pro experience is very similar to other Windows Phone 7 handsets. Arguably this makes it difficult for third parties to differentiate their handsets, although HTC does include its own hub, which provides access to weather, and some applications. The HTC hub is slow to load however, and is a far cry from HTC Sense on the company's Android handsets.

The Start screen comprises a vertically scrollable array of tiles that can contain data or links to applications or hubs — collections of similar apps or data in one place. The Office hub, for example, is where your OneNote, Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents reside, and where you access SharePoint 2010 services.

One frustrating aspect of hubs is the lack of ability to integrate third-party services. For example, HTC includes both an equaliser and SRS sound enhancement for tweaking the already good sound output. But you can't access either from within the Music and Videos hub. Instead, you have to use a separate Sound Enhancer app.

Microsoft has its own Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, but the number and range of available titles lags far behind both the Android and iPhone platforms. This may not matter too much in a locked-down business environment, but the lack of backwards compatibility with Windows Mobile 6 applications may be an issue.

The keyboard contains a separate number row and a miniature set of cursor keys. It's quite well made, and the keys fall nicely under the thumbs. There's a dedicated key for emoticons where we might have preferred an '@' symbol, but this is accessible if you hold down the '2' key.

You can type reasonably fast on the keyboard, but in practice we found it no faster than using the on-screen keyboard on the very responsive capacitive screen. What we did appreciate when using the physical keyboard was the space gained for viewing text. With the default text size there are only four lines visible with the on-screen keyboard, compared to eleven with the slide-out keyboard deployed. The latter is by far the better choice when you're working on Word documents or longer emails.

Screen rotation is only implemented where you can enter text — when creating text messages, emails and Word documents, for example. But if you revert to the Start screen with the keyboard out, you'll need to swivel the HTC 7 Pro back to portrait mode to see it properly.

Performance & battery life
We found the HTC 7 Pro responsive in use thanks to its 1GHz processor, and the battery held out well too: we actually got past the 24-hour mark that many smartphones fail to achieve.

However, we didn't make especially heavy use of mobile email, Exchange services or GPS during the trial period and it's likely that a daily battery charge will be required when the HTC 7 Pro is used even moderately heavily. For the record, HTC claims 7 hours 3G talk time and 420 hours on standby.

Conclusion
Windows Phone 7's locked-down nature makes the HTC 7 Pro similar in many respects to other Windows Phone handsets, although the slide-out keyboard is an obvious differentiator.

The key criticisms are those we have already levelled at Windows Phone 7: the lack of desktop synchronisation for Outlook; the lack of backwards compatibility with Windows Mobile 6.5; and the need to buy into the Microsoft ecosystem for full document sharing in a corporate environment. It remains to be seen whether this approach will prove beneficial for Microsoft.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Integrated Components FM radio, GPS receiver, digital camera, digital player, voice recorder
Width 2.32 in
Depth 0.61 in
Height 4.63 in
Weight 6.5 oz
Cellular
Technology CDMA2000 1X
Band CDMA2000 1X 1900/800
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Service Provider U.S. Cellular
Operating System Microsoft Windows Phone 7 OS
User Interface HTC Hub
Application Software Microsoft Office Mobile
Input Device(s) QWERTY, multi-touch , capacitive
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Instant Messaging Services Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger)
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Facebook, Flickr
Messaging & Data Features Microsoft Excel support, Microsoft PowerPoint support, Microsoft Word support
Mobile Services Netflix, Windows Live, Windows Marketplace, Xbox LIVE, Zune
Communications
Data Transmission EV-DO
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), Hands Free Profile (HFP), Headset Profile (HSP), Phonebook Access Profile (PBAP)
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Phone Features
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Polyphonic Ringer Yes
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor
Additional Features TTY compatible, flash light
Organizer
Personal Information Management alarm clock, calculator, calendar, reminder, stopwatch, synchronization with PC, unit conversion
Processor
Clock Speed 1 GHz
Memory
Bult-in Memory 16 GB
User Memory 16 GB
Digital Camera
Sensor Resolution 5 pixels
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Video Recorder Resolutions 1280 x 720 (720p)
Features video recording
Navigation System
Navigation GPS receiver
Navigation Software & Services Bing Maps, Navigator Deluxe
Display
Diagonal Size 3.6 in
Display Resolution 800 x 480 pixels
Features wallpaper
Battery
Technology lithium ion
Capacity 1500 mAh
Miscellaneous
Compliant Standards HAC(Hearing Aid Compatible)

Topics: Smartphones, Reviews

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