HTC Touch HD2 review

£500
Price when reviewed

So many smartphones are flooding onto the market right now it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees, but the hotly-anticipated HTC Touch HD2 is one of the few that stands out.

Big, bold and desperate for attention, this is an absolutely huge phone, measuring a pocket-stretching 67mm wide and 120.8mm tall – it’s not what you’d call shy and retiring. The size is largely due to the screen, which is the largest and brightest screen we’ve ever come across on any phone. It measures 4.3in across, boasts a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and is eye-poppingly bright.

But it isn’t just impressive on paper. The first time you meet this phone in the flesh it makes you go weak at the knees. It’s the perfect smartphone specimen: shapely in all the right places, tightly knitted together and with the sort of quality feel that even Apple would be envious of. It’s a phone that’ll make you dribble like a fool the first time you clap eyes and fingers on it, and it makes every other phone on the planet look second-rate.

Screen test

Start using the Touch HD2 and that love affair may well continue, for though this phone does unfortunately run Windows Phone, it’s the first we’ve come across with a capacitive touchscreen. All others Windows phones we’ve seen, including HTC’s, make use of resistive touchscreens – the reason is to keep the potential for stylus operation and handwriting recognition alive.

Fortunately, HTC has layered its own touch-friendly user interface over the top of Windows Phone, which makes a stylus unnecessary, and it’s a great decision. Where the resistive touchscreen of the original HTC Touch HD required pressure, or the end of a nail, to activate, you can merely brush the display of the HD2 with a touch as light as a feather and it will respond instantly.

It’s multitouch too, so where BlackBerry Storm2 and Android handset owners are left tapping feverishly at their screens to zoom in and out, those lucky enough to have an HD2 can use iPhone-alike pinch gestures. Again, the response of the Opera browser is instantaneous, with very little lag on zoom operations, adding to the feeling that this is a phone that means business.

Under the hood

In fact, in general operation, the HTC Touch HD2 feels more like an iPhone 3GS than any other smartphone we’ve tested and that’s largely down to what’s inside. Instead of simply transplanting the innards from its last Touch HD – a practice that HTC has been following with every one of its smartphones over the past couple of years – this second generation boasts the cutting-edge Snapdragon chipset.

HTC Touch HD2 side view

The clockspeed is an impressive 1GHz, backed up with 448MB of RAM, and this helps it feel like there’s nothing the HD2 can’t do. Want to watch video at native resolution? Check. Edit video? Check. Browse websites without having to wait an age? Check. In fact it’s the only phone we’ve found that can come close to the iPhone 3GS for speed, loading up the BBC homepage over Wi-Fi in an average of 13 seconds compared to 8 secondsfor Apple’s finest. And don’t forget the HD2 is having to render more pixels than the iPhone too.

Elsewhere, the phone is very well equipped – as you’d expect of a top-end luxury handset like this – with GPS, digital compass, HSDPA, 802.11g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an FM radio tuner. You also get a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and such niceties as face detection and touch autofocus. Plus, of course, it shoots video – in this instance at up to VGA resolutions and 25fps.

Sound quality is decent and picture quality from the camera good too, with clean colours and crisp detail capture, but video is not up to the same standard. Movies looked soft and blurry and the phone has a tendency to burn out highlights badly.

Software

HTC’s TouchFLO 3D UI is still firmly nailed down over the top of Windows Phone and that’s a good thing as Microsoft’s mobile OS didn’t impress us with its overhaul earlier in the year. It’s had a little lip gloss applied this time around, with customisable application shortcuts added to the main home screen and thumbnail shortcuts added to the browser home screen.

Details

Cheapest price on contract £0
Contract monthly charge £35.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider T-Mobile

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 380hrs
Standby, quoted 20 days

Physical

Dimensions 67 x 12.7 x 120.8mm (WDH)
Weight 157.000kg
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 448MB
ROM size 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.3in
Resolution 480 x 800
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Windows Mobile

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