HTC Touch HD2 review

£500
Price when reviewed

The big bonus is that it’s now harder than ever to drop into the ugliness of Windows Phone. Appointments, contacts and alarms can all be added without recourse to tiny checkboxes and fiddly dropdowns. And the new Windows Phone honeycomb application launcher grid helps to shield you even further, to the extent that it’s actually quite hard to find those old, PDA-style settings screens.

HTC has included a host of social networking tools, with apps for Facebook, Twitter and Windows Live preloaded. And the phone also comes stacked with useful applications and tools. There’s a trial version of CoPilot Live 8 (satnav never looked so good), a utility that lets you set the phone up as a mobile Wi-Fi router complete with encryption (WEP not WPA), plus an MP3 audio trimmer and a YouTube viewer for when you get bored on the road.

Plus, there are all the traditional benefits of owning a Windows Mobile phone too. Although this phone is firmly in the consumer camp, you benefit from tight synchronisation with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange, plus there’s the full suite of mobile Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Weaknesses

But this is not a perfect phone by any means. The size might have obvious benefits for browsing and videos, but try squeezing this phone into your jeans pocket and you’re going to struggle. It’s not just the size that gets in the way – the sharp-edged camera lens housing protrudes a couple of millimetres from the main body of the phone and catches on the lip of your pocket.

Hold it up to your ear to make a phone call and you’ll likely feel a little silly, not to mention uncomfortable. The five buttons below the screen don’t feel as well made as the rest of the phone either. They might look nice in their black brushed-aluminium-effect finish, but there’s little travel or click to any of them.

HTC Touch HD2 buttons

Performance, while excellent most of the time, isn’t quite up to the mark when it comes to spinning the screen around from portrait to landscape, with a two-second delay rudely interrupting an otherwise responsive experience. We also found it wasn’t 100% stable, with the phone falling over from time to time while browsing.

Although HTC would like us to forget that the dowdy Windows Phone sits underneath all that glitz and glamour, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that it occasionally rears its ugly head. Read an email message, for instance, or fire up any of the Office applications and the bland screen that results can be quite jarring.

And, no matter how hard HTC tries, its Windows Phone handsets will always be more complicated and confusing for consumers than its main rivals. Witness the way synchronising Gmail and Facebook contacts is handled: with Android handsets, Gmail messages and contacts are synchronised with one simple sign-in; here you have one for email and another set of credentials to add to synchronise contacts. And oddly the main People view doesn’t integrate all of your contacts in the same way as the same tool on HTC’s Hero phone.

The final weak point is battery life, which is far from stellar. In our new battery tests we attempt to simulate a day of medium-intensity use and record how much charge remains after 24 hours; the HD2 only had 37% remaining. That compares unfavourably to every phone we’ve tested in this way to date – worse than the HTC Touch2 (60%), the BlackBerry Bold 9700 (70%), the Samsung Galaxy (61%) and the iPhone 3GS (55%). Only the abysmal LG Chocolate proved worse, failing to even make it to the end of a day.

Conclusion

Don’t get us wrong, there are many reasons to love the HTC Touch HD2. Its screen is quite brilliant, its build quality droolworthy, and performance is generally excellent too. It has a competent camera, leaves no feature unincluded and is available on some surprisingly reasonable deals from T-Mobile. Pay £166.37 inc VAT for the phone and you’ll only have to fork out £22.50 per month for a contract that includes 200 minutes and texts plus unlimited internet. But, if you’re seriously considering buying one, you need to be prepared for the occasional rough edge.

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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