Is there room at the top, along side Apple and Android, for the likes of Windows Phone 7? Well, considering the support it has received from manufacturers – HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell have all confirmed devices. It would certainly seem so.
But how would a high-end Windows Phone 7 device stack up against arguably the best Android device around at the moment? It’s certainly a tantalising thought. So to find out we take a look at the HTC HD7 and the HTC Desire HD to find out which looks best, and why.
Build quality and Measurements
Both devices are made by HTC, so you’d assume they’d be of a similar build quality. In this instance, you’d be right as both devices are built to a very high standard.
The HD7 has metallic ‘gunmetal’ edging around it and a brushed metal kickstand located round the back. The chassis is made up of hard matte plastic but it’s the 4.3-inch display that really takes centre stage with very little else on the front apart from three virtual keys.
On the Desire HD, the chassis is made of aluminium and sports four virtual navigation keys instead of the HD7’s three. There’s also no kickstand present, but this shouldn’t really bother too many users.
Size wise, the Desire HD at 164g (123mm x 68mm x 11.2mm) is 2g heavier than the 162g Windows Phone 7-powered (122 x 68 x 11.2mm) HTC HD7.
All in all, we think that both devices are good-looking, well built and have a nice weight to them. But after seeing and using both we have to give the Desire HD favour in this instance, simply because it has an aluminium body – something we always prefer over plastic. Sure, the HD7 is lighter and has a kickstand, but this still doesn’t make up for its plasticky in-hand feel – it’s like the Galaxy S all over again.
Verdict – HTC Desire HD
As we said, both devices have 4.3-inch (800 x 480-pixel resolution) displays, which means both are perfect for web browsing, watching videos and generally looking pretty damn impressive when handled in front of anyone that doesn’t really know what a smartphone is.
But aside from the screen real estate what, if anything, separates the two device’s displays?
The Desire HD uses a Super LCD display and the HD7 uses an LCD one. Obviously, the ‘super’ version sounds a lot better but this could just as easily be ‘sales-talk’ for another silly gimmick that doesn’t really make any actual difference. So, what does the ‘Super’ actually entail when found in front of ‘LCD’ and, more importantly, does it make much difference?
Put simply, the answer is a resounding yes. Super LCD is a lot better than normal LCD. Why? Simple: Super LCD has about five times better power management than earlier versions of the technology and has vastly improved viewing angles, meaning there’s less colour degradation when you view the screen from anything but straight on. Couple this with the fact that there’s less colour saturation on Super LCD than AMOLED and you’re on to a winner.
Verdict – Desire HD
Storage is important. You always want to have as much media as possible on your device – be it music, video or pictures. To do so you need either lots of onboard storage, MicroSD cards or some sort of integration with the Cloud.
The Desire HD, when compared with the HD7, has a very little onboard storage – a paltry 1.5GB, believe it or not – and the HD7 will ship with 8GB. Nonetheless, the Desire HD has microSD support and can be upgraded to 32GB via this, but you’ll have to cough up for the memory card, though.
In this respect then, the Desire HD has a lot more potential space on it – providing you cough up for that memory card – than the HD 7. That said, all Windows Phone 7 devices will have access to SkyDrive, the cloud-based storage service, pre-built into the UI, meaning you can select an item and send it to SkyDrive with a single tap – plus, you get 25GB of storage for free on this service, too.
SkyDrive in itself is an awesome service. It’s easy-to-use, free and well integrated into the new Windows Phone 7 platform so you can send pictures, documents, films and music to it.
All of which are very good things, as we’re sure you’ll agree. But there is one big smelly elephant in the room: Data – and the fact that you will need access to it to use the service.
Plus, 25GB on the cloud and 8GB on the device
The Desire HD has an 8-megapixel camera with auto focus and a dual LED flash. The HD7, on the other hand, has a 5-megapixel camera with auto focus and a dual LED flash, which, while being pretty decent, is still a little below the Desire HD in the raw megapixels stakes. Both can shoot video in HD 720p quality as well.
In terms of built-in features, the Desire HD has both depth of field and face detection capabilities, as well as vignette and a few others as well. The HD7 has built-in scenes, which include candlelight, landscape and portrait, as well as the ability to match the environment of your subject.
This is a tough one to call, both have very good cameras, and, yes, we know “it’s not all about megapixels” but in the grand scheme of things, we’re generally more impressed with the Desire HD’s ‘out-of-the-box’ capabilities.
Verdict – Desire HD
This one is simple: Both the HTC Desire HD and the HTC HD7 use Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon processors – although the Desire HD’s is a slightly newer version. Overall, though, we wouldn’t expect there to be too much in it with regards to processing speeds and the like.
One gripe we do have though, with regards to the processors, is that HTC hasn’t upped the ante whatsoever in terms of actual processing power on either device – both use 1GHz chips – meaning there isn’t much difference between these new-gen models and the older HTC HD2 and the HTC Desire.
Verdict – Draw
Whether you view app stores by their numbers, quality of service or ease of use, you cannot escape the fact that the Android Market has a lot more applications than Windows Marketplace – most likely somewhere in the region of 80,000 versus 2,000.
Nevertheless, there has been a lot of interest in Windows Phone 7 from both consumers and developers alike – Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 SDK has been downloaded 500,000 times since it went live. Couple this with Windows Phone 7’s Zune and Xbox integration and you’ve got a serious amount of potential – both on the gaming and general applications fronts.
Again, this is a seriously difficult one to call. For sheer numbers, but not necessarily quality, we’d say go the Android route. But if you like gaming, have an Xbox and believe that Microsoft is going to blow open the smartphone market, we’d say go for the HD7.
At the moment, our general feeling is that Microsoft isn’t messing around with Windows Phone 7 and it’s really going to push it – and by push, we mean really PUSH, like it did with the Xbox. For this reason alone – plus, we’re not massively keen on the Android Market – we have very high hopes for Windows Marketplace.
Expect lots of very cool applications, big name developers getting in on the action (Konami, Lionhead Studios) and, quite possibly, a serious challenge to Apple’s supremacy.
Verdict – Undecided
As many of you will have noticed, we didn’t look into either of the device’s user interfaces, operating systems and usability. This is for two reasons: 1. Embargos; and 2: we haven’t spent enough time with both devices to really comment on which OS or UI is better.
The Desire HD came out trumps in a lot of the above rounds, but do not be perturbed Windows Phone 7 fans – the HTC HD7 is an awesome device and Windows Phone 7 is most definitely going to be a contender in 2011’s smartphone market.
In short, if Microsoft gets its arse in gear on the apps front (which it already has from the sounds of things) and ensures that there are plenty of OS and UI updates pushed out, which constantly improve the device’s usability and performance, then both Apple and Google have something to worry about…
We’ll be doing an in-depth review of both the devices in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.