HTC, Samsung and LG have unveiled the Windows Phone 7 handsets that will accompany the UK launch of Microsoft's new mobile operating system.
Windows Phone 7, which will enter the smartphone market on 21 October in the UK, is a completely different OS to its predecessor, Windows Mobile 6.5. Featuring no backwards compatibility to WM 6.5, Windows Phone 7 — officially detailed on Monday — is being targeted more at the consumer market than enterprise customers, at least initially.
HTC has four models planned for the Windows Phone 7 launch: the HTC 7 Surround (pictured on the far left), which is solely for the North American market, and three handsets — the Mozart, Trophy and HD7 — that are being released in exclusive deals with various UK operators. A fifth handset, the HTC 7 Pro with a Qwerty keyboard, will be available in Europe later in 2010 both through operators and SIM-free.
All of HTC's models will feature much less customisation of the user interface than the manufacturer applied to earlier Windows Mobile phones. This is because Microsoft is now much stricter about the type of experience its customers will receive. However, according to HTC's UK product chief, Philip Blair, the manufacturer will try to put more customisation into its Windows Phone 7 implementations down the line.
"Windows Phone 7 is restricted and locked down... in comparison to what went before with the Windows Mobile platform," Blair said at a pre-launch briefing last week. "[Microsoft is] probably right to do this for consistency [but] we will continue to push Microsoft in order to enable us to continue to deliver a differentiated HTC experience."
For now, the main differentiator between HTC's Windows Phone 7 handsets and others that use the platform is the manufacturer's inclusion of Dolby surround sound. The manufacturer has also pre-installed weather, stock and photo-enhancer apps, along with an HTC Hub app repository.
Blair, who noted that HTC had never before "launched four phones in one go", added that he hoped that, on 21 October, "there will be people queuing up in their sleeping bags outside the phone stores" for Windows Phone 7 handsets.
Also on Monday, Samsung unveiled the Omnia 7 and LG debuted the Optimus 7. Both devices are set to be available on 21 October.
All the phones unveiled by HTC on Monday have roughly the same specifications: a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 512MB of ROM, 576MB of RAM, a 480-by-800-pixel screen resolution and a camera with 720p, 24 frames-per-second video-recording capabilities.
The differences between the handsets are to be found in screen size, camera resolution and flash type. In addition, although all handsets are available with 8GB of onboard storage, the HTC HD7 and the upcoming HTC 7 Pro will also have 16GB options. For many users, the main factor in choosing between the devices will be which operator has exclusivity on which handset.
The HTC 7 Mozart (pictured) will be exclusive to the now-merged T-Mobile and Orange. It weighs 130g and has the smallest screen of those on offer, at 3.7 inches, but the greatest camera resolution, at 8 megapixels. It also has a Xenon flash, which is superior to LED phone flashes for still photography but not usable for video recording.
The Mozart's casing is made out of a single piece of anodised aluminium, continuing an HTC design approach that began with the Android-based Legend handset.
The HTC 7 Trophy is the cheapest of the three HTC handsets being made available at Windows Phone 7's launch, and it is a Vodafone exclusive.
This 140g device has a 3.8-inch screen and a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash.
The HTC HD7 has the largest screen of all the manufacturer's Windows Phone 7 devices, at 4.3 inches.
The 162g handset is being pitched as a multimedia phone, which is why it has a built-in kickstand to make it easier to watch videos. It has a 5-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash that should be useful for video recording. O2 will be the exclusive UK carrier.
The HTC 7 Pro is the only one of the manufacturer's Windows Phone 7 handsets to have been announced that will have a slide-out keyboard. As such, it will be aimed more at the enterprise market than its consumer-oriented stablemates.
The 183.5g handset will have a 3.6-inch touchscreen and a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash. It will be released in Europe by the end of the calendar year, but will only reach the US in the first half of 2011.
Samsung's Windows Phone 7 handset is the Omnia 7, also known as the GT-I8700. It will be available via the mobile operators 3, T-Mobile and Orange.
The handset has a 4-inch Super Amoled screen. This type of screen is brighter than the thin-film transistor (TFT) screens used on HTC's handsets. HTC's Philip Blair said at last week's briefing that his company had avoided Amoled due to supply constraints.
Like HTC's phones, the Omnia 7 has a 1GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera with HD video recording. It comes with a Reuters-powered 'Now Hub' that provides news, weather and stock information, and Samsung's 'enhanced camera experience' for posting photos to multiple social networks.
LG's Optimus 7 has a 3.8-inch screen and 16GB of on-board storage. It also has a 5-megapixel camera.
The device includes LG-specific features such as an augmented-reality app, a DLNA-based 'Play To' media-streaming app and voice-to-text functionality.
The Optimus 7 will be offered exclusively by Vodafone in the UK.