The HTC HD2 is an upcoming Windows phone with a feature set that few of its competitors will be able to match. This starts with a 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen and 1 GHz processor.
It’s not out yet, but Jason Mackenzie, the President of HTC America, was kind enough to loan me his for a few minutes.
The goal of the HD2 seems to have been to create a smartphone with the biggest screen practical. The designers picked a 4.3-inch one, noticeably larger than its predecessor’s.
The best feature of last year’s model was its generously-sized display, and the new model’s will be even larger.
A side effect of this, though, is that the HTC HD2 itself will be a fairly big device, if somewhat slim: 4.7 inches by 2.6 inches by 0.4 inches, and 5.5 ounces (121 mm x 67 mm x 11 mm, 157 g). It’s not big enough that you’re going to feel silly holding it up to your ear, and that nice screen will make it all worthwhile.
Especially as this will be the first Windows phone with a capacitive touchscreen. This type of display is widely used on devices like the iPhone, and is designed for for fingertip control, rather than stylus control — the HD2 won’t even come with a stylus.
It will come with a 3.5 mm headset jack, a GPS receiver, and a 5.0 MPx camera with flash, but I didn’t get a chance to test these features out in my brief time with this model.
The HTC HD2 will run Windows Mobile 6.5 Pro on a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, one of the first models to do so. This is welcome news to me, as I’m somewhat disappointed that so many of the latest-generation Windows phones have just 528 MHz chips.
I’m certainly not disappointed by my preliminary testing. The pre-release unit I got to try out had outstanding performance. Microsoft’s OS is powerful but not always quick, and the 1 GHz processor will give it a noticeable boost.
Overlaying Microsoft’s standard user interface will be a HTC’s proprietary user interface. — which used to be called TouchFLO but is being renamed HTC Sense. Like the earlier versions, this offers a series of finger-friendly homepages with large icons, each one dedicated to a different function, like playing music, reading e-mail, surfing the Web, or watching video. The new version will add some tabs, including one for Twitter.
Underneath all this eye-candy will still be Windows Mobile. While this brings advantages — including an amazing range of software — it is also one of my few concerns with the HD2. As I mentioned earlier, this smartphone won’t have a stylus, and it’s capacitive display means most styli won’t even work. A great many Windows Mobile applications, on the other hand, were designed to be used with a stylus, and frequently include screen elements too small to be tapped on with a finger. This device’s large screen will help by enlarging these elements, but only time will tell of it helps enough. A D-pad or trackball would have completely allayed my fears, but this HTC model won’t have either.
The unit I got to try out did not have support for 3G in the U.S., but that’s expected to come later. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will be included, too.
Testing other features, like battery life, will have to wait until I can get more time with this device.
PRICING & AVAILABILITY
The HTC HD2 will be available by the end of October from operators across Europe, and the company says it will be available in “other regions” in the coming months.
That definitely includes the U.S., as HTC’s CEO has promised a release in this country early in 2010. According to unconfirmed reports, T-Mobile will be offering this uber smartphone.
Expect more details on the HTC HD2 in the future, including an in-depth review.