Desire HD v/s HD7: Fight!
A few weeks back I got the HTC siblings for trial. One is the HD7 running on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and the other Desire HD running on Google’s Android. Below is a feature-by-feature review of the two devices.
Design & Hardware:
Both the HTC devices have a 4.3 inch screen and at a glance one can say that they are not pocket-able at all, but let me tell you they are very pocket friendly and I did not have any issues carrying them individually as well as both together.
On front of the device we have a large 4.3 inch LCD Capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 800 x 400 pixels. Yes it’s an LCD screen with all latest and greatest devices coming up with CBD, AMOLED and Super AMOLED this device comes with an LCD screen. With the large screen viewing photos, videos and browsing is bliss.
Below the screen we have three touch buttons Back, Windows (Home) and Search keys. The keys are touch sensitive and not actual hardware keys. There is a slight vibrate feedback alert when a keys are pressed. Personally I had no issues with them. Two large grille’s one on the top and the other at the bottom for earpiece and mic respectively.
On the top grille slight to the right we have a small LED light which blinks when a new mail, message arrives, missed call and blinks continuously when the battery needs to be charged. It stays ON when connected to the charger.
All of these are covered with a huge metal rim carrying the power and screen lock button on the top right, volume rocker and two stage camera key on the right, a 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroUSB port for charging and connecting it to your PC and Mic at the bottom. The metallic rim gives a shiny look to the device.
The back of the device is fully matte. On the top of the device we have the Dual LED flash, 5MP camera and speaker covered by the kick stand. The HD7 comes with a kick stand which lets your phone to rest on a flat surface and let you watch movies, browse pictures in an easy way. The hinges of the kick stand are pretty tough and durable.
Coming to towards the internal hardware the HD7 has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon chipset, 512MB ROM and 576MB of RAM. Memory is non-expandable so you are stuck with the internal device memory. HD7 comes with two different models; 8GB for European and 16GB for Asian Countries.
I would give a 8/10 to the HD7 for amazing build quality zero squeaks or light leak. A minus two because the matte paint coating on the kick stand was getting washed off and a few marks of stain were present on the volume rocker.
The Desire HD runs on Google’s Android OS and is somewhat like the HD7 in terms of hardware. There are some elements taken from the HD7 yet giving the Desire HD its own identity. Like the HD7 it also has a 4.3 inch LCD Capacitive touchscreen. The metallic rim is not present on the Desire HD but that doesn’t mean that the device is not good in looks. The Desire HD has an aluminum unibody construction which is pretty good and makes the device feel good in the hands also the device is quite strong and can survive occasional drops .above the screen we have the earpiece and a small LED indicator to its left.
The LED light blinks incase a new mail/message arrives, missed call and when the phone’s battery is about to die. It stays ON when connected to a charger.
Below the screen we have the general touch keys seen on any general Android device i.e the Home, Menu, Back and Search. The Home key takes the user back to the Main homescreen, Menu key is used for general option and is app specific plus it can also be used to pop-up the on-screen keyboard (depends on which app you are in), Back key doesn’t really need a description and finally the Search key which pops up the Google Search. On the front the aluminum bar is slightly raised-up, this doesn’t come into notice at once but when you swipe your finger over the edges of the device the raise can be felt.
Top we have the power and screen lock key on the left side.
Coming to the left side we have the volume rocker. The Desire HD does not have physical camera shutter button so you have to rely on the on-screen capture controls.
On the bottom we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and MicroUSB for charging and connecting with a PC.
Back of the device is finished in matte like the HD7. At the back, on the top of the device also looks like HD7 minus the kick stand. It features a dual LED Flash, 8MP auto-focus camera and a speaker. The camera module has no protection at all so it’s prone to scratches if placed on back side down. Just below it we have the HTC logo embossed on the phone giving it a premium feel. On right to the logo we have the battery slot which is joined with the volume rocker and I faced certain issues opening the battery cover because of that. The battery comes out by itself just by tilting the phone.
At the bottom we have slots for SIM card and MicroSD card. It gives you access to the SIM and MicroSD card without actually removing the battery. Well the SIM card slot is not hot-swappable so you will have to restart the phone if you change the SIM. It bears an opening for the headphone jack, MicroUSB and a small hole for the Mic.
Internal hardware of the Desire HD is slightly higher to that of the HD7. A 1 GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon and 768MB of RAM. The internal memory is only1.5 GB and can be expanded using a MicroSD card. In the case of Desire HD, the user will be required to insert a MicroSD card as Camera, Multemedia, OS updates etc. do not work without it.
I would give 8/10 to the Desire HD in terms of build quality. The bottom SIM and MicroSD card cover becomes loose after frequent use and removing the battery cover becomes difficult due to the presence of a volume rocker.
HD7 and Desire HD Size Comparison:
The HD7 comes with a 5 MP auto focus camera supporting full 720p high definition video recording. The camera app can be started by pressing the camera button on the right side of the phone. The start-up is pretty quick thanks to the internal hardware and no-clutter Windows Phone7 OS. The auto focus is pretty fast also – point the device at the subject and it automatically focuses. The time taken to focus on particular subject is very less and un-noticeable for a normal user. The picture quality is pretty decent. Low light photos are taken care of by the dual LED flash. Pictures appear very clear in low light conditions. Although there is some noise present on some of the pictures but it’s not that bad.
The swipe and pinch to zoom feature in the camera app is also amazing, I have never seen it on any phone at least till now. After starting the camera app / taking a photo there is a black bar visible on the left side of the screen, pull it towards the right and you can see all the pictures/videos taken from the device, a shortcut to the gallery. Pinch on the photos and the photos are zoomed out a bit (kind of aerial view of all the photos/videos taken), what about the camera you might enquire? The answer is, NO it does not, it’s still on and you can see the live view finder while browsing media in zoom out mode. Here’s a pic so you can get an idea of what I am saying.
Other camera features include Flicker Adjustment, Various scene modes as:
- Candle Light
A few Camera Samples (click to enlarge):
Videos get recorded at 480p by default, which can be later changed to 720p from the settings. Audio recorded in the videos is clear and thanks to the noise cancellation feature.
Video Sample 1:
Video Sample 2:
I would give an 8/10 to the HD7 in terms of camera and video recording. The LED flash is quite capable for indoor and low light photos. But some pictures appear to be noisy at times
The Desire HD comes with an improved 8 MP auto focus camera like the HD7 it also supports 720p High Definition recording. I know I’m repeating myself but just like the HD7 the auto focus works as expected fast and accurate, point at an object and it gets focused automatically. There is no physical camera key present on the Desire HD so users will have to rely on the on-screen key. Personally, I did not face any issues with it, it’s just that on certain occasions I felt a need for a physical key. The picture quality is also good thanks to the enhanced 8MP camera. Low light photos are also pretty good on this as the same flash module of HD7 is used.
A few Camera Samples (click to enlarge):
Video recording on the Desire HD is also good but the audio quality is not that good. Noise cancellation in video recording is very bad as a result the audio gets very poor.
Video Sample 1:
Video Sample 2:
One thing I did not like in both the devices is that camera settings are not remembered after restarting the camera application. Both devices have video recording in 480p by default.
The LED flash can also be used as a torch in case of emergencies on both the devices with the help of Flashlight application which is pre-installed on both the devices. You can also toggle with three brightness levels Low, Medium and Full.
I would also give 7/10 to the Desire HD for Camera and video recording. Photos appear to be quite decent, low light and indoor photos are taken care by the LED flash. It’s just the poor audio quality in videos is stopping me to increase the rating.
Multimedia on the HD7 is quite good thanks to the on-board Zune software. In order to sync music, videos, pictures etc. you will require Zune software to be installed on your computer. Talking about video playback the HD7 plays MP4 and WMV files very well. For other video formats the Zune desktop software will convert them automatically, this might take some time depending on the performance of your computer. I did not have any problems syncing multimedia files via Zune. Video playback is very smooth also on heavy files.
Music playback on the HD7 is also pretty good. The audio quality on both supplied headset and the speakers is also decent. Control music playback from the top notification bar. The top bar allows you to shuffle between tracks and play/pause current track. Dedicated volume keys let you control volume level and a play/pause key to control your music without unlocking the device. The HD7 comes with Dolby Mobile and SRS sound enhancements which enhance the audio quality for music and videos.
I would like to give 7/10 to the HD7 in terms of Multimedia. Lack of support for various formats is holding me, but there is Zune Desktop to convert the video into appropriate format so that it can be played on the phone. Not really a efficient solution, but it will have to do.
The Desire HD’s default video player supports most of the popular video formats. Video playback is quite smooth. Just like the HD7 the Desire HD also handles large files very easily.
The music player is also pretty good. It has a ‘coverflow’esque UI in both landscape as well as portrait mode. The app is pretty simple, no complications in using it. Music can also be controlled from the Notification bar at the top. As for changing tracks is concerned it can be done with the headset supplied with the phone so there is no need to unlock the device. The audio quality on the Desire HD is also good as it also has Dolby Mobile and SRS Sound enhancements.
The headsets supplied with both the devices are the same, but function differently. On the Desire HD’s headset pressing the arrow keys changes the track where as on the HD7 the arrow keys controls the volume level.
I would like to give 8/10 to the device in terms of music and video playback. Audio quality is pretty good thanks to the sound enhancements
As you know the HD7 runs on Windows Phone 7 OS. The unit which I had was running on the NoDo update. This NoDo update brings in copy-paste functionality to the device. The phone runs on Metro UI which is very smooth on the 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. I just fell in love with the UI. It’s very smooth and snappy. The homescreen is filled with various tiles in two columns. Tiles can be re-arranged; you can pin applications to tile for easier access. There are notifications for missed call, new message, and email in their respective tiles. On the top we have the notification bar it’s not like the one seen on Android and iOS devices but a rather simple and slim bar which gives you a preview of a new message / IM / email received.
Then we have a ‘People’ tile which is basically your contacts, the tile displays a small grid of avatars aka display pic and keeps on shuffling it randomly. Some tiles are extended to two columns like the Picture, Stocks, and Photo Enhancer etc. The Pictures tile also keeps shuffling photos captured from the device.
From the homescreen swipe to the left and we get a list of all the system and installed applications in an alphabetical order. Now this can really be a pain for some who has installed many applications. Talking about installing apps we have the Windows Marketplace.
The Marketplace is your all in one stop for all kinds of applications, well the number of apps is not as many as found on other platforms but it is improving from time to time. Unfortunately Marketplace is only available for some countries at the moment, but Windows Phone team is working on other countries also. As Windows Marketplace is not available in India yet, we had to change the Country Settings to Australia to access the Marketplace. Changing the country was the only option we had as it is not possible to install applications otherwise.
There are certain limitations on Windows Phone 7. Lack of multitasking is one followed by no tethering, no built-in file manager, lack of bluetooth file transfer, multitasking, better integration of social applications, Bing maps etc. will be rectified in the soon to come Mango i.e Windows Phone 7.1 update. The 7.1 update will likely come to the HTC HD7 in coming weeks.
Internet browsing is taken care by Internet Explorer mobile. Well talking about Internet Explorer which is barely used on my PC, the Internet Explorer Mobile is completely different on phone. Its blazing fast, has multi tab support but lacks flash and their own Silverlight support while this is a limitation to web browsing but if you see it the other way it makes web browsing fast and smooth. Pages are rendered in decent desktop like quality. Scrolling is a bliss, so is zooming in and out. Internet Explorer mobile supports both Pinch-to-zoom and double tap zoom, double tap zoom works perfect and wraps the text to fit the screen whether landscape or portrait. Another limitation or a goof-up is that there is no full screen support in portrait mode it is only available in landscape and likewise the address bar is visible only in portrait mode and not in landscape. There is a thin loading bar thankfully which is there for both the modes. The reason for calling this a limitation or a goof-up is because in-order to change or enter a web address while browsing in landscape you will have to change the orientation to portrait mode and then return back to landscape, no doubt that the change is flawless and fast but its tiring for some to change orientations frequently.
The Windows Phone 7 keyboard is the best on screen keyboard I have ever tried. It is simply smooth and being multi touch, typing was much faster than on any other keyboard. One thing I liked about Android was that symbols and numbers were available on long press of a key, while on Windows Phone I had to tap the 123 button to bring out dedicated keys for symbols and numbers. As I got used to them this one seemed to be much faster than long pressing a key for desired symbol or number.
Email again works flawless and accurate; pages rendered are in true HTML. We have individual mail boxes for each mail. As soon as I logged into my Google Account it automatically synced all my emails and contacts along with their profile picture. Attachments are handled the way they should be. Email retrieval can be set to as soon as they arrive aka Push mail or you can set it to check for mails after a specific period.
The HD7 also has integrated Office Hub, giving you full office viewing and editing support. View and edit documents and spreadsheets on the go, unfortunately we cannot create Powerpoint files on the phone we just view them and edit text present in the presentation. Create notes using Microsoft OneNote and collaborate with Microsoft SharePoint. A part of this review is also written on the HD7.
Bing Maps is integrated into the device. Bing maps is also pretty smooth, you can get directions from point A to B with-in seconds but no support for voice guided navigation. The GPS is also accurate enough to show you your current location quickly. There are two view modes Aerial and Map mode, Map mode is the default view. Zooming can be done by double tap or pinch-to-zoom.
Coming towards social integration, the Windows Phone 7 comes with a limited built-in Facebook support. Limited in the sense that it is limited to the ‘People’ application, once linked you can see your friends updated inside the application under ‘What’s new’ tab. Like and Add your comments instantly, links are opened in Internet Explorer. As for more functionality, we have the Official Facebook application for Windows Phone 7. Official Facebook applications has all the features one Facebooker will need to stay in touch with friends and post updates and upload / view pictures straight from the device.
For Twitter there are several applications like the Official Twitter client, Seesmic for Windows Phone, Tweetcaster for Windows Phone (both Free and Pro), and Rowi (Free and Pro). The free versions have ad’s displayed below the updates but they are pretty much functional. Amongst the above I very much like the Official Twitter client for its simplicity and smoothness but lately have shifted to Rowi. Rowi is a nice and decent twitter client supports adding and viewing geo-locations, image previews (Twitpic, yFrog), reply, send direct messages, auto complete usernames etc. URLs are opened in a built-in browser which can be saved to Instapaper or Read It Later for later reading or can be opened in Internet Explorer. The Free version has Ads displayed and lacks push notifications.
Windows Phone 7 is pretty decent but lack of Multitasking and other features which make it old school OS as other OS’s which are in comparison already have them for quite a long time now. Hopefully all these drawbacks are going to be solved in the upcoming updates.
I would give a 6.5/10 to Windows in terms of OS. It’s not that bad and also team Microsoft is coming up with promising updates to improve the OS and add missing features. Though, it has taken too long to address these flaws.
The Desire HD runs on Android 2.3.3 aka Gingerbread. With HTC’s own Sense UI. I personally did not find any issues with Sense UI. The 1Ghz Scorpion processor is pretty capable and the phone runs pretty well on it. Plus the dedicated Adreno 205 GPU handles graphics easily. The Sense UI supports up to 7 customizable homescreens with multiple widgets on each screen. HTC has made a lot of useful and good widgets which one can use on daily basis including email, calendar, weather, music, radio, social networks (Friends Stream and HTC Peep), RSS feeds, multiple clocks, app shortcuts.
You can also move applications, widgets from one screen to another just tap holding the app/widget and drop it to the desired screen. Pinch to zoom out and jump directly to the desired homescreen or swipe your fingers left or right. Customize the Sense UI with various scenes, skins and wallpapers which are installed and more can be downloaded from the market. On the Homescreen tap the phone button which launches the dialer, which also has an auto search feature so just type in the phone number or the name of person you want to call and it lists out all the matching entries. Left of the Phone button we have the menu button and customize button to the right.
On the top we have the notification bar which includes last used applications. New mail, message, IM etc. notifications are also shown along with USB and charging status. A Quick Settings tab is also present on the notifications bar which gives you quick access to WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Data, GPS. Coming to the menu apps again are arranged alphabetically, frequently used and downloaded.
Contacts, Messages, Calendar entries, etc. got synced with my E72 with the Transfer data application. Transferring PIM data has never been easier than this. Just select your phone manufacturer-> Model No. and the data to be transferred that’s it all data gets transferred from your Old device to this in no time.
Coming towards the keyboard; Desire HD comes with a customized keyboard by HTC giving you a good spaced out keyboard, nice and haptic feedback of every key pressed, predictive text, autocomplete and long key press for number and most frequently used symbols. There are a lot of keyboards available from the Android Market; I personally liked Gingerbread keyboard from Android and Swype. I simply could not decide which one is the best amongst them, but then I came out with a solution for one hand typing swipe was the best and when typing with two hands (mostly in landscape mode) Gingerbread keyboard best suited me.
Tons of applications and Games can be downloaded from the Android Market on the phone using your Google Account. The Android Market has both Free and Paid applications.
Internet experience is termed as the best on Android. The default web browser handled almost every webpage I loaded. It also comes with multiple tab support; addition to that it also supports flash (Adobe Flash available free on the Android Market). There are many other browsers like Opera Mini (if having a low data plan or a slower connection), Opera Mobile, Dolphin HD, Firefox for Android and so-on. These browsers are integrated within applications allowing you to select a browser of your choice while opening a link from a messages/mail/IM or any other app.
Email is also flawless on this phone with the default Gmail application. Emails are displayed in full HTML. Gmail application supports attachments and handles them pretty well. Support for Labels and the Latest Priority Inbox makes Gmail on Android stand apart from other messaging clients.
Instant Messaging is also taken care by the pre-installed Gtalk application which works smoothly and tightly integrated with the OS as well as on the web. Many other instant messaging services are available for Android Users like Whatsapp, Live Profile which are phone number and Pin based messaging applications and IMO.IM, Nimbuzz, Ebuddy which are multi service based applications which support Gtalk, Yahoo, MSN etc. We also have a dedicated Skype application for chat and Voice calls.
Talking about attachments there is Quickoffice pre-installed which comes with only view support. But being an Android phone there are a lot of alternate applications from the Android Market which let you view and edit documents on the go. Desire HD also handles PDF’s quite easily with the Adobe Reader application which is available for free from the Android Market.
Google Maps is part and parcel of the Android OS. There is nothing much to say about Google Maps. Google Maps allows you to search for a restaurant, Bars, ATM’s, Gas Stations etc. and also lets you share / and read reviews of a restaurant, place of attraction etc. View Transit Lines, Public Transport routes, Share location with friends and family with Latitude. Last but not the least it offers free Voice Guided Navigation from A to B.
Social Integration on Android is also pretty good with the Friends Stream application for Facebook, there are alternatives to it like the Official Facebook application or Mobile website. Friend Stream is tightly integrated to the OS, lets you view your friends timeline, updates, events, messages etc. Plus enables sharing of photos and videos from the Gallery or right from the Camera application after the photo is taken. The Official Facebook app is also pretty good, lets you view events birthdays, check-in via Places also find directions from a place to another, view news feed, videos, photos, friends timeline, messages, groups etc.
HTC Peep is a Twitter client made by HTC. Needless to say this is also integrated with the OS. It features viewing your friends’ timeline, posting updates, replies, direct messages, posting photos etc. Apart from HTC Peep we also have the Official Twitter Client which now supports push notifications. The most preferred twitter clients are Tweetdeck, Seesmic for Android, Tweetcaster for Android, Twicca – the list is never ending, each with a specialty of its own.
Google’s Android OS is pretty much matured since its initial days and is now becoming popular and a favourite with many. With daily increase in number of applications/games and community support it’s really going to be tough for other manufactures to close in.
No doubt the Desire HD is getting an 8/10 in terms of OS. During my trial I never experienced any ling of hangs or crashes etc. Well thought of additions and the HTC finish make it brilliant.
It’s hard to choose between these two devices. It totally depends on the users’ usage and choice of OS. I would however be recommending the Desire HD for its nice build, decent multimedia, large application support and the overall Android experience.
This doesn’t mean that the HD7 is bad. But there are certain limitations/drawbacks (As for now) which I have mentioned above. These limitations when addressed and with a better offering of apps should see the WP7 make it a potent platform and choice of OS for many.
A few more camera samples, device pics and screenshots: