Microsoft

Could the HTC HD2 be the best phone ever?

Htc_hd2

Over the past month or so, there have been numerous postings across the web about the HTC HD2 (aka Leo), which is the successor to the Touch HD smartphone that was never released here in the US. Because of this, I never paid real close attention to the forthcoming HD2, figuring I would never see an American-spec version of it.

Looks like I was wrong, because according to the guys over at SlashGear, HTC CEO Peter Chou has confirmed a Q1 2010 launch. While most people in Europe will be able to pick up an HD2 within the next month or so, we'll have to remain patient for a bit longer, and that will be hard to do because the HD2 is looking like it could possibly be the best phone ever. Yes, those are strong words, but HTC is clearly on a hot streak and packing everything it can into this phone, with the exception of the kitchen sink.

On paper, the specs of the HD2 shine brightly, starting with the 1GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm and the 5MP camera with a dual-LED flash. Of course, the usual assortment of wireless radios (802.11bg, BT 2.1, 900 & 2100 MHz HSPA, GPS, FM radio) are also included, along with a 3.5mm headset jack and micro-USB connector. Another innovative feature is a replacement battery cover with special attachment for the optional car kit, which makes the HD2 a perfect alternative to portable GPS units and helps to eliminate those bulky cradles that some devices use.

Switching over to the software, the HD2 is running Windows Mobile 6.5 (aka Windows phone). The Sense UI also makes an appearance for the first time on a WinMo device, since it has been only for HTC's Android phones up until now. Opera Mobile is the browser of choice, and that's a good thing because there is nothing better out there for this platform.

Htc_size

But what really makes the HD2 stand out is the thin-bezel, capacitive screen that measures in at 4.3" and has a resolution of 480×800. Even though the screen is larger than any other phone since HTC's former flagship, the Advantage, the overall device size is kept to a minimum. As a matter of fact, in this Sizeasy comparison chart, it is very easy to see that the phone is not much larger than the iPhone 3GS and the Sprint HTC Hero. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me, but I would gladly deal with a larger device if it meant less zooming while web browsing and a wider on-screen keyboard.

So who else is excited about this phone, or is it just easier to ask who isn't? For me, I think it's extremely cool to know that I could possibly be carrying a 1GHz minicomputer in my shirt pocket within the next six months, so that finally has me excited about the HTC HD2.

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

Avatar of Chris King

44 thoughts on “Could the HTC HD2 be the best phone ever?

  • In my opinion, as long as it’s running Windows Mobile, it’s not even on the podium for ‘best phone ever’.

    Reply
  • excellent hardware doesn’t matter when determining the greatest smartphone of all, a great OS/HW combination does.

    Yes, wm 6.5 and their sense stuff truly is beautiful, but beautiful means nothing to power users (is blackberry os beautiful?)

    Anyway, can you imagine what Maemo 5 would look on this thing? Seriously! complete with total Skype integration and 850/1900 3G, it would be seriously incredible.

    I wonder how the 5mp camera compared to the N900’s, which from what I can see is top of the line, specially with the ultra-quick captures, 16:9 3mpx+ photos and 854×400 video resolution.

    Hardware keyboard? Who needs that when you have a FOUR POINT 3 INCH screen, seriously. I’m the biggest BB/HW keyboard lover but come on.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Dennis

    I’m watching this phone as well as the Nokia N900. I’m really curious about battery life for both of these phones, since the processors are both new, and they both feature high resolution screens.

    Reply
  • Avatar of StarTAC Fan

    900/2100 3G isn’t going to work where I live.

    Reply
  • Nowadays, WinMo would probably not be my first choice either, but HTC has done a very good job redoing the parts of the OS they think could use an upgrade.

    If I had a choice, I would take Maemo 5 from the N900 and the hardware from the HD2 and combine them into my perfect device. Keyboard-less, large capacitive screen, thin form factor…

    Reply
  • I wasn’t really paying attention to this one earlier either, but now that it’s official and will be shipping soon, I’m suddenly very interested. I’m tempted to import a non-US version and just use it as a non-phone with WiFi and BT. A waste of money, sure, but there are times when I’d gladly choose “extra cost” over “extra wait.” By the time Q1 2010 comes around, there’ll be something even better to want!

    Has a ballpark price been mentioned anywhere yet?

    Reply
  • +1. I have been using the Xperia for less than a year with wm6.1. I have flashed numerous custom ROMs, and I have even cooked my own ROMs to my liking, with all this shiny new Manila/TouchFlo you see in the pic, and of course on top of wm6.5.

    I could never accomplish any task quickly and efficiently, not to mention none of the apps is finger friendly. I was faced with crashes and resets trying to google a restaurant #. What a nightmare. I am on the iphone 3gs now and can’t be any happier.

    As long as it’s built on windows mobile, it’s a failure.

    Reply
  • Avatar of StarTAC Fan

    I read somewhere (don’t recall source off hand) $800 unsubsidized. This first WinMo device with capacitive multi touch is not going to be cheap.

    Reply
  • I am pretty sure you can still use it as a phone. You are just stuck with edge speed on data. Price is probably around 700-800.

    Reply
  • I’ll agree with you on the hardware, other than the lack of a keyboard. Have there been any benchmarks between the 600mHz Cortex A8 in the N900 vs the 1 GHz Snapdragon?

    From what I’ve heard they’re pretty equivalent, though I don’t know of any definitive test on the subject.

    Reply
  • Avatar of johnkzin

    It has 3 strikes against it, IMO:

    1) no hardware keyboard (a _must_ for me)
    2) no dpad/arrow keys (pref. a dpad on the face, but arrow keys on a keyboard are acceptable)
    3) no useful OS

    So, despite the fact that it’s the right screen size, and otherwise seems quite sexy … it’s not on my horizon. An android version, with a keyboard like the Touch Pro 2 … _that_ would be awesome. A Maemo version is a pipe-dream, but would be even more awesome :-}

    Reply
  • Avatar of squirrel

    I think HD2 and Archos are competitors

    Reply
  • Avatar of The Niles

    The phone has €600 suggested retail price in the Netherlands.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the link, Chris :) I only had a half hour or so with the HD2, but I’m already very impressed. Windows Mobile 6.5 may not be all that tempting on its own, but HTC have pretty much reskinned, reworked and replaced every part of it you’ll ever come into contact with HTC Sense. The onscreen keyboard is huge, even in portrait orientation, and the capacitive display is a real joy. Obviously I couldn’t run any benchmarks on it, but zooming, panning and text-reflowing in Opera was instantaneous; I’ve not seen a faster mobile device for that than the HD2.

    Our review unit should be coming in v.soon – they’re just waiting to flash with the final firmware – and I’m genuinely excited about it. Haven’t felt that way about a WinMo device since the Touch HD in 2008.

    Reply
  • Avatar of John in Norway

    No, it couldn’t. No resistive touch screen for notetaking and no keyboard? As for the OS, I don’t care how shiny it is, if it can’t do basic tasks that I need to do (fruit) then it’s useless.

    Reply
  • Avatar of christopher

    WinMo is a very good OS. The knee-jerk response is unwarranted in this case: for industrial use this is a workhorse OS. I’m pretty sure detractors are equating Win desktop with WinMo — big mistake.

    However, capacitive screen is wrong for this, as it is for every non-trivial task on a small form factor device. Unless icons are 64×64, you’ll start missing them and get frustrated with the futility of it. A resistive screen would have made this perfect.

    Reply
  • Finally someone has the idea of a faster phone with a better processer :) I hope this is the start of things to come.

    Whatever you say about WM, its still a big player out there. As for HTC, Ive been a fan for a while now, with both style and substance in going along way to improving the WM experience.

    Ive got a touch pro 2 which although is like the Xperia, is alot better.

    The only thing that concerns me with this is the battery life, weighing in at 1200ma. My TP2 has 1500 – just using here and there, it goes for a couple of days, but add push mail and it will barely last the day….and if you use for internet chat etc, only a few hours.

    So with a bigger screen and bigger processor, flash etc…a smaller battery puzzles me.

    Reply
  • As a Windows Mobile user there is one feature that I absolutely need for work and was only available with Windows Mobile: remote desktop.
    However, I look on in total envy at iPhone & Android users as I fumbled my way though the clunky Window UI. Even 6.5 fells dated, clunky and the application selection stinks. Some one please make a decent remote desktop application for the iphone or android so you can end my suffering.

    Reply
  • I can understand the hate for WinMo Op system, I’ve been using WinMo phones since the SPV C600 & not a great deal has changed. I recently sold my HTC Touch Diamond 2 & bought an Iphone 3GS. Now I’m not ditching WinMo altogther just trying out different OS’s out there.

    I’m pretty sure I’ll be back to WinMo as soon as WinMo 7 is here. But the HD2 is seriously enticing me, if I know for sure that I can ugrade to WinMo 7 I’d get it. HTC UI does a great job of masking the deficiencies of WinMo, 90% of the time you wouldn’t need to go into stock WinMo.

    I was also looking forward to the Nokia N900 until I discovered it doesn’t support Asian languages.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Soul_Est

    First off, I love the look of the phone and the technology packed inside especially the snapdragon. It all works beautifully and if it weren’t my main phone, I believe I’d be very happy to own an HTC again (the original Touch left an awful taste in my mouth). Got some thoughts on the phone though:

    As for the best phone ever that’s debatable. Best slate smartphone? Yes it is. It definitely can’t hang out with those hybrids and candybar style smartphones though.

    As an iPhone killer? Yes and No. My comments above on the technology and the power still stand. The Sense UI is incredibly smooth and consistent. But I feel the amount of work that went into this was just too much. Ripping apart an entire OS and putting it back together is something I’d expect those in the various WinMo forums to be doing because well we all want more from our phones with A LOT less bloat right? I know WinMo has supported the 800×480 resolution for a long time but Android will also get that pretty soon and Maemo supports in OOTB. It just seems a waste to support a product from a company (Microsoft) that can’t allocate the resources needed to produce the proper product (WinMo 6.5, Windows Vista) the first time they try.

    I know I’m ranting now but these are my thoughts on the matter.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Vakeros

    A lot of negative thoughts about WinMo – will be interesting both to see how good 6.5 is and how well HTC Sense covers potential problems.
    Re. Flash in the article about N900, this phone should work with it too. I know which I would prefer 4.3″ of screen goodness or a chunky phone with a useless keyboard. (Only question is – will HTC bring out a version of this with a keyboard ala Pro2?)

    Reply
  • Avatar of lexxxa2oo8

    I find it amazing how people can have such definitive opinions on a device they haven’t used yet. I think peoples prejudices are clouding their objectivity.

    I have a BlackBerry Bold and a HTC Touch Pro. I was so disappointing after buying the Touch Pro, the WinMo 6.1 OS was horrible to use and the TouchFlo interface was slow at best and buggy at worst. After approx 1 months use I put it back in the box and purchased the BB!

    The BB is a great tool, it does everything well, nothing exceptional. But it was also frustrating as a business device; incompatibility to my office Windows PC, no native pdf reader and limited 3rd party software support to name a few things.

    I used the BB for approx a year and then I noticed leaked WinMo 6.5 ROMs appearing with the latest TouchFlo interface and decided to give the Touch Pro another try…

    What a transformation the new software has made! The Touch Pro is now the device it should have been at launch. HTC have replaced everything that was bad about the OS with a sleek UI that is a pleasure to use. I haven’t had to use the stylus in weeks!!

    So I can only imagine what the newer HTC Sense UI will be like and together with this hardware platform I think all the doubters may be in for quite a surprise.

    Don’t be so blind as to think just because the OS in MS it’s automatically going to be a ‘dog’.

    Reply
  • You’ll definitely have to let us know how the review unit is, Chris.

    I’m already jealous that you had a few minutes to see one in person, all I get to see are pictures and videos :-)

    Reply
  • I’ve had a terrible, incredibly frustrating relationship with my Xperia over the past 9 months, and things improved remarkably when I tried one of the custom ROMs found online.

    But many of these ROMs are smooth because the people who compile them take the liberty to remove a lot of things that drag down the system, and often also fine-tune the system for speed. For this reason I would never assume a factory copy of WinMo is as good as one of the custom ROMs I try. All it does is give base to the idea that WinMo at its core may indeed be a nice workhorse system (I find that to be true with WinXP as well), but some of MS’ bells & whistles will turn it into more of a dog.

    When a system needs a) so much work done on HTC’s part to make people drool (I saw somewhere that they shouldered the entire workload to make capacitive work on WinMo, really?), and needs b) so much work done by a group of kind bootlegging? people to turn into wonderful custom ROMs, I wouldn’t blame anyone for the kneejerk comments.

    As for accuracy, I think there’s a learning curve to using the touch screen. If you take the time to learn, it should become easier to navigate, even if you by nature have larger fingers. Over my 9 months with the shrew that is the Xperia, I’ve become a lot better at using any touch screen. After wrestling with its hardware keyboard, I can now type fairly smoothly on many other virtual keyboards. In fact there’s an ipod touch in my future, because I can manage to type with so much less effort than on a hardware keyboard.

    Reply
  • Just to answer another couple of points people have made (now that I think about it), while there’s no hardware keyboard it’s worth remembering that the HD2 supports not only the Bluetooth HID profile, for using a wireless ‘board, but USB Host on its microUSB port. That would mean you could plug in a full sized keyboard and mouse if you wanted (or a compact version of both if you want to stay “Pocketable”!)

    Reply
  • The HD2 includes a variety of sensors including a proximity sensor that is used to prevent false screen touches when the phone is picked up to answer or make a call. Its powerful messaging, browsing and productivity capabilities delivered by Windows Mobile® 6.5.

    Reply
  • That is a good point, and one of the advantages of WinMo is the maturation of the OS, including the ability to use a keyboard or mouse, Bluetooth or not.

    Reply
  • Avatar of medah4rick

    i used to think that the best phone out there required a keyboard but now that i have an iphone 3gs that idea is out the window. the iphone 3gs with its capactive screen and on screen keyboard is very good. since im a man with big hands i tried out the htc touch pro 2 keyboard and even that is not big enough for me. having a bigger capacitive screen than the iphone should make typing on this a breeze. so yes this could be the best phone ever and this will be my next phone.

    Reply
  • Why with Windows Mobile?! Why not with Android? The specs are great. I just hope they will create a version of this phone using Android.

    Reply
  • Avatar of sere83

    hmmm it’s a tough one. Although this phone has a great feature set, there are a couple of key issues that I think are inhibiting this phone and WinMo 6.5 in general from being a truly great mobile platform at this time. Firstly as people have mentioned the battery capacity seems too low for such a large screened hi res device. Secondly…While winmo 6.5 certainly looks like an improvement and while HTC have done a fantastic job of skinning the OS there are still screens/sub menus where the dated un touch freindly Winmo still rears it’s ugly head, although far less so than in stock Winmo 6.5.

    This is not acceptable when almost all the othe mobile OS’s (OSX, Android, Web OS, Maemo, symbian etc) all showing complete visual continuity accross their platforms.

    In addition with the re-lauch as windows phone and with the new market place it seems microsoft are very much behind phones like the iphone in terms of developer support and applictaions. You could argue that winmo has always had apps for years and I presume some older winmo apps will work but they lack any kind of infrastructure to organise them or any type of constraints or management with regards to how well they will run on higher res screens or what they will look like visually. Chances are if they were made to run on older winmo platforms they will look like crap and not be optimized for finger touch or capacitive screens. Which brings me to another thing, the lack of capcitive support in 6.5. While HTC have done a great job to bring capacitive touch to windows mobile, it is esentially a first and probably one off until windows 7 arrives.

    The dated architecture of 6.5 stil continues to be a thorn in Microsofts side. There is a severe lack of visual continuity across it’s platform which hopefully will be adressed in windows 7 although supporting earlier apps will still lead to a lack in useability partiucularly on touch based devices(we will have to see how it pans out). Not to mention outdated source code which is being patched up in an effort to keep up with current hardware and sofware trends/features being used in mobile devices (eg high res screen, capacitive touch panels).

    One manaufacturer making a good looking/functioning winmo device will not imo fix the serious holes in the OS. Although tempting, as this HTC hardware looks exceptional, i’m not sure I would want to invest in a Winmo handset at this time when we all know next year Windows Phone 7 will be bringing a wealth of new features/functionality and support.

    In my mind if you want a smart phone based on a next gen cpu and don’t want an iphone, the Nokia N900 is looking like the best option IMO.

    Reply
  • Avatar of sere83

    oh yeah and I definitely agree, HTC need to start using this type of hardware with android ASAP(i’m sure they already are), then we will have a very serious contender for best phone ever.

    Reply
  • Avatar of tapius

    TLTDR Comments, but if this had Android and a slide-out keyboard like N900, this this would kick ass. Absolutely.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Absolutley NoOne

    Maybe you should have downgraded to 5! I have an 8125 that I have never NEVER had to reset… no soft reset, no battery replacing, nothing. It has a great keyboard, to.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Absolutley NoOne

    Cheaper than the Euro Touch Pro 2! Geez, some people have weird pricing.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Absolutley NoOne

    That would be the Dragon… supposedly the same thing but with Android. HTC hasn’t announced it yet.

    Reply
  • Avatar of coolfx35

    My name is Lorin and I’m an owner of a 2 months old HTC Touch Pro 2 and I’m thinking of getting the HD2 this week or the beginning of the next week. I’ll keep both phone because i like to have a physical keyboard but i want that huge screen and that speedy processor

    Anyway, i looked on xda and here for solutions to all the issues mentioned in reviews and by users and i found everything except one thing. I also saw some good reviews on http://www.HTCHD2Forum.com so if you have anything good to share, please feel free.

    Reply
  • Avatar of joeyjuviyani

    Highly anticipated because it has the new version 6.5 of Windows Mobile from Microsoft. A Phone that has Windows as its OS, they are especially characteristic of the terminal that most experts were eager to see how does it work. Indeed, it is a leading mobile market after Toshiba TG01 to be equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor clocked at 1GHz. And on paper, HTC seems to have earned on the other components that accompany it. And to enjoy it all, a beautiful screen and high resolution capacitive was grafted to the mobile, and finally a multitouch on a phone using Microsoft operating system.
    For more on this you may visit at:
    http://www.techarena.in/review/24542-htc-hd2-windows-mobile-phone.htm

    Reply
  • at the moment i have both. N900 and HD2. if you need better battery, hd2 is better offer for you. cz even if you are not using n900, battery will die within 3-4 day’s if u will use wifi, gps and etc, quite much… damn you’ll be required to switch it to charging.

    Reply
  • the stock phone is total crap. has nothing. on winmo it’s impossible to find a game, or just something. no apps at all (free). ofc on market you can get some apps, but are you ready to pay 20$ per app, which is total shit.
    so how to make it the best phone ever ? install android on it. (xda-developers.com)
    that’s all, i have android on it myself and i love it (ALOT of FREE apps, games and so on)
    btw on winmo there are no games at all (except tetris, that was made by a 8th grader programmer)

    Reply

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