HTC Radar

  • Editors' rating
    6.5 Good
  • $499.99
  • Average user rating

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Compact
  • Solid metal unibody chassis

Cons

  • No access to the battery
  • No support for external storage
  • No Flash support

Windows Phone is available in a fair number of handsets now, and is settling down as a smartphone operating system, having had a significant set of software updates and tweaks in the latter part of 2012. Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed Mango before its release, is the most recent version, and it's what you'll find in HTC's relatively affordable, no-frills Radar.

Design
The HTC Radar has a certain tactile appeal, although it looks broadly similar to every other Windows Phone on the market. The similarities come in the placement of three touch buttons beneath the screen — for Windows Start Screen, Back and Search functions — and a side button for launching the rear-facing camera.

HTC differentiates the Radar by giving it a 'unibody' design. The chassis is made from a single metal piece, curved round to form the handset's edges. This makes the 137g handset feel solid and robust, but also means there's no backplate, so you can't access the battery. The SIM card slot lies beneath a small plastic cover at the bottom back of the chassis. This wraps around the bottom of the handset appearing on the front as a sort of extension to the lower edge. Visually it's not unattractive, but it does mean you can't carry a second battery or replace the internal one yourself if it malfunctions.

As well as the camera shortcut button, the Radar's right side houses a long, thin volume button. The bottom edge is clear of connectors, thanks to that plastic cover arrangement, so the microUSB port sits on the left edge. The on/off switch is on the top edge, along with a 3.5mm headset jack.

The HTC Radar is at the upper end of mid-sized for a smartphone, measuring 61.5mm wide by 120.5mm deep by 10.9mm thick with a 3.8in. screen. Our small hands can just about reach across the screen for one-handed use.

The screen itself is bright and clear enough, although we've seen better. Its 480-by-800-pixel resolution is standard for Windows Phone handsets, and it delivers crisp, sharp text. Perusing long documents or emails is relatively easy on the eye. In many ways, this screen is preferable to that of the HTC Titan which, as we commented in our review, could have done with a higher resolution due to its 4.7in. size. Larger isn't necessarily better.

Top ZDNET Reviews

To give the Radar a little extra appeal, HTC has produced a dock (sample price £22 ex. VAT from Clove Technology). We remember when most smartphones came with a dock, but these days such things are a real novelty. Drop the Radar into the dock, in wide-screen format, and it pops itself into 'dock mode' offering a screen that shows the time and provides media controls. The dock holds the HTC Radar at a good angle for screen viewing, and it'll charge the device too.

Features
The HTC Radar is a well-connected smartphone with Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth (2.1), GPS and HSPA (14.4Mbps down, 5.76Mbs up) all present. As well as HSPA, the handset supports quad-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE.

As we've already noted, the HTC Radar runs Windows Phone 7.5. Microsoft locks a number of aspects of handsets carrying Windows Phone, including the user interface.

The more we use it, the more we're liking some aspects of Microsoft's tile-based Metro user interface. We particularly appreciate the ability to pin real information to the Start Screen, such as map locations. However, we're not sure that leaving hardware partners with no leeway for customising the UI really makes sense.

HTC has done what it can, offering its own HTC Hub as a Start Screen tile. Choose this and you are taken to a weather display very like the one HTC offers on its Android handsets. There are also the inevitable stocks updates, a news feed and links to a range of apps.

The extra apps include HTC Watch for hiring or buying movies, HTC Connected Media (a DLNA media streaming application) and HTC Location for sharing information about where you are with others. You can also add third-party applications via the Marketplace. The range of applications is growing steadily, but still can't compete with Android or iOS in this key respect.

Another feature Microsoft locks down is support for external memory. The HTC Radar doesn't have a microSD card slot — but nor do any other Windows Phone handsets. This means you have to make do with the device's 8GB of internal storage, of which 6.5GB is free in practice. It's a far cry from Android handsets which can be augmented with up to 32GB of external storage on microSD card.

Although there's only 512GB of RAM supporting the 1GHz Qualcomm processor, we found the device responsive enough in everyday use.

There is a 5-megapixel camera with a small LED flash at the back, and a front-facing VGA-resolution camera. The main camera can shoot 720p HD video, and you can get the HTC Radar to instantly upload photos to cloud-based SkyDrive storage (a standard Windows Phone feature).

The HTC Radar supports other generic Windows Phone capabilities such as over-the-air access to OneNote, Excel, Word and PowerPoint via SharePoint, Office 365 and SkyDrive, allowing the phone to support both business users and individuals wanting to take advantage of the cloud. But, unlike with other popular smartphone formats, there's no cabled synchronisation with a local PC for contacts or calendar. Cabled connectivity is only supported for audio and video content via Zune.

Bing Maps replaces Google Maps, and a service called Local Scout finds a variety of resources close to your location. We found this was very good in areas we know well, picking up a broad range of places to eat, tourist attractions and shopping facilities. But it wasn't foolproof: one pub we know whose name changed more than two years ago is still recorded with its old name, for example.

For all its features, Windows Phone 7.5 does not support Flash. We fail to see how a mobile phone can claim the term 'smartphone' and yet not play video that's embedded into, for example, the BBC news web site. It's a major fault in our view.

Nor does the screen fully support automatic reorientation into landscape and portrait modes as you turn the phone in your hands. Many apps do support this — the web browser obviously has to. But the start screen and hubs such as the Office Hub — where Excel, Word PowerPoint and OneNote material is accessed — do not. You have to use these in portrait mode, switching to landscape to view or edit content. It feels like a partial solution, even if Microsoft has good reasons for forcing portrait-mode working in some situations.

Performance & battery life
According to HTC, the Radar's1,520mAh battery will support up to 600 minutes of GSM talk and 480 hours on GSM standby. We found the battery lasted quite well for us, and we got through several two-day stretches without needing to charge it. But with no Flash streaming our usage patter was less strenuous than it is with our regular smartphone.

Remember, too, that if you're a demanding user who likes to carry a spare battery for situations when mains power isn't available, you can't access the HTC Radar's battery to swap in a replacement.

Conclusion
If you're a Windows Phone fan seeking a relatively compact and solidly built handset, the HTC Radar could fit the bill. The optional dock may prove attractive, although that must be balanced by the inaccessible battery.

We're still not convinced by the Windows Phone OS itself though. Hardware manufacturers can't skin it, there's no wired calendar or contacts synchronisation, external memory expansion is not supported, the marketplace still lacks some key applications and there's no Flash support.

Specifications

Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Application Software ActiveSync, Internet Explorer 9.0, Microsoft Office Mobile, Microsoft OneNote Mobile
Type smartphone (Windows OS)
Integrated Components FM radio, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider T-Mobile
Operating System Family Windows Phone 7
Operating System Windows Phone OS 7.5 Mango
User Interface HTC Hub
Input Device Touch screen
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Sensors Ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Additional Features Multitasking
General
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, FM radio, voice recorder, navigation
Body Color White
Miscellaneous
Sensors ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Color white
Color Category white
Body Material aluminum
Included Phone Accessories power adapter
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Messaging & Data Features Microsoft Excel support, Microsoft PowerPoint support, Microsoft Word support, PDF support
Mobile Services ActiveSync, Bing Maps, Windows Live, Windows Live SkyDrive (7GB of free online cloud storage), Windows Marketplace, Xbox LIVE, Yahoo! Mail plus, Zune, Gmail, HTC Watch, Internet Explorer 9.0, Microsoft Office Mobile, Microsoft OneNote Mobile, Netflix, T-Mobile TV, Video Call
Messaging Services Facebook Chat, MMS, SMS
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Facebook
Display
Display Resolution 800 x 480 pixels
Diagonal Size 3.8 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 9.7 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 3.8 in
Color Support color
Processor
Clock Speed 1 GHz
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Communications
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA
Wireless Interface Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11
WLAN Security WPA2
Bluetooth Profiles Hands Free Profile (HFP)
Organizer
Personal Information Management alarm clock, calculator, calendar, reminder, synchronization with PC
Camera
Camera Light Source LED light
Features Multi-shots, video recording
Memory
RAM 512 MB
Location
Navigation Software & Services Bing Maps
Battery
Run Time Details Talk - up to 462 min
Standby - up to 575 hrs
Capacity 1520 mAh
Digital Camera
Lens Aperture f/2.2
Camera Light Source LED light
Video Recorder Resolutions 1280 x 720 (720p)
Features Multi-shots, video recording
Navigation System
Navigation Software & Services Bing Maps
Header
Brand HTC
Product Line HTC Radar
Model 4G
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen
Features
Sensors ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Additional Features multitasking
RAM
Installed Size 512 MB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 8 GB
Dimensions & Weight
Width 2.4 in
Depth 0.4 in
Height 4.7 in
Weight 4.83 oz
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 5 pixels
Phone Connections
Type USB, headset jack
Qty 1
Connector Type mini-phone 3.5 mm
Run Time Details
Usage Mode standby, talk
Run Time (Up To) 462 min, 575

Topics: Smartphones, Reviews

Top ZDNET Reviews

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.
See All
See All