HTC Radar review

We review the HTC Radar, one of the 2011’s first Windows Phone 7 Mango handsets. But has it been worth the wait? We find out

Rating: 
4
Pros: 
Great operating system, speedy multitasking, great performance, superior build quality, excellant battery
Cons: 
Limited storage, Zune doesn't work with Mac PCs
Verdict: 
Overall, this is a thoroughly impressive handset. It’s priced rather affordably on contract and will set you back around £329 SIM-free. We like the way it looks. It performs admirably well and there’s little to no lag, even when you’re pushing it hard

Historically speaking, HTC and Microsoft go way back. And while HTC has grown remarkably over the years, largely thanks to Android and some seminal handsets, such as the HTC Desire, it seems that the Redmond/Taiwan twosome are still very much an item – technologically speaking.

2011 has seen the release of both the HTC Radar and its larger (higher-specced) sibling, the 4.7-inch-screen-toting HTC Titan. Both handsets feature the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Mango, which adds about 500 or so new features to the platform including Twitter integration, multitasking and an updated browser in the shape of Internet Explorer 9.

Out of the two handsets, the HTC Radar is the more affordable option. It’s essentially a reboot of 2010’s HTC Trophy and has remarkably similar specs. For instance, it’s got the same display resolution, storage, RAM and camera.

Looks
Looks-wise, the Radar is quite different to the Trophy. For starters, 2010’s Trophy was plasticky and, whilst not being a bad device, didn’t exactly feel ‘premium’. This isn’t the case with the Radar, however, with its aluminium unibody and trademark soft-touch pads, which sit at the top and bottom of the back-panel.

On first inspection the HTC Radar seems to bare more than a passing resemblance to 2011’s HTC Desire S. The Radar is slightly larger than the Desire S but it does share similar attributes – it’s svelte, features a rounded aluminium chassis and has exactly the same display resolution of 480x800 pixels – as the Desire S.

The exact dimensions of the Radar are 120.5x61.5x10.9mm and it weighs just 137g – that’s 3g lighter than the HTC Trophy. The display is the same as the Trophy’s being a 3.8-inch S-LCD display (480x800 pixels), which means there’s been no advancement in the handset’s display ppi – it’s the same at a respectable 246.

Curiously, HTC, possibly in a bid to differentiate the handset from the Trophy, has moved around all the hardware keys. The volume rocker, which on the Trophy was on the left, is now on the right-hand side. It’s a similar story with the unlock/power button, which is now located on the top right corner, as opposed to the more tradition positioning on the left.

These are not big changes, but when you’ve come straight from using a HTC Trophy to the HTC Radar (as we did) they’re rather confusing ones all the same. Having said all that, we do really like the look of the HTC Radar. It’s professional looking, perfectly proportioned and will almost certainly age graciously just as the original Desire has done.

Internals
If you’re expecting a big bump in specs with HTC Radar, you’ll be in for a nasty shock as the specs, bar a few caveats, are essentially the same as the one’s found inside the HTC Trophy. Its got a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, just like the Trophy, and features the same internal storage of 8GB and 512MB of RAM.

One big change aboard the Radar though is the inclusion of the new Qualcomm Adreno 205 GPU, which kicks out around four times the performance of the Adreno 200 GPU. And while a 1Ghz processor might sound a little paltry in today’s world of 1.5GHz dual core CPUs, it really isn’t – the Radar performs admirably well and multitasks brilliantly. We’ve been testing the handset hard during the past week and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it – Windows Phone 7 Mango, its updates and Microsoft’s attention to hardware detail have ensured that everything works as it should.

For instance, you won’t run into any lag. Scrolling down menus is as smooth as it is on the iPhone 4 and the addition of multitasking hasn’t hampered this at all. We’re slowly becoming massive fans of Windows Phone 7, which we now definitely consider a viable option to Android or iOS. This wasn’t the case last year. But now Mango is here things are decidedly different.

Operating System
Windows Phone 7 Mango is the update anyone that bought a Windows Phone 7 handset last year has been waiting for. Not only does it bring multitasking and deeper Twitter integration to the fore, but it also adds around 500 new features, improvements and tweaks. To say that this update is extensive would be an understatement – it is gargantuan!

We’ve been over and over the features of Mango though many times before, so we won’t be going into too much detail here. However if you’re new to the world of Windows Phone 7 Mango, you might want to check out our extensive feature on the update by clicking here.

The big draws in Mango are plentiful. Microsoft has essentially done in one update something that took Apple nearly four years. There’s third party multitasking for applications – although it’s not quite on a par with Android’s laissez faire approach to multitasking, if we’re honest. But it’s certainly up there with Apple’s iOS-based attempts.

There have also been some serious developments within Windows Phone 7 Mango’s browser capabilities. Internet Explorer 9 Mobile is now a staple of Mango and features a drastically improved JavaScript engine that ensures super speedy browsing, one that’s easily on a par with anything we’ve used this year – and that includes Apple’s Safari and Google’s stock Android browser.

There’s no Flash-support, which is slightly disappointing. But in a world where HTML5 is fast becoming to norm, it’s not really that much of a big deal in our opinion. The browser’s website site address bar now sits at the bottom of the display for easier access, as well, which isn’t a big change but it’s one that we very much appreciated.

Other highlights of Mango include deeply integrated Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn support, which you can access via the People Hub, a constantly updating Marketplace with literally thousands upon thousands of applications, Xbox Live connectivity and some of the best voice recognition software we’ve ever used.

Specifications

Typical Price £329.99
UK Launch 2011, September
Network Orange, Vodafone
Frequency Quad
Phone Style Touchscreen Candybar
Thickness 10.9 mm
Length 120.5
Width 61.5
Weight 137g
Built-in Memory 8GB 512MB RAM
Additional Memory -
High-speed Data GPRS, EDGE, 3G and Wi-Fi
Connectivity Bluetooth, microUSB
Screen Size 3.3-inches (480x800 pixels)
Screen Colours 16M
Camera Yes
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 5-Megapixels 2560х1920 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Zoom Yes
Flash LED Flash
Video Resolution 720p
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/AAC+/WAV/WMA9 player
Radio Yes
Speaker Yes
Video Calling Yes — not active until Tango update though
Internet Yes
Browser HTML5
Games Yes

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