HTC has firmly established itself as an innovative market leader in consumer tech. So it should come as no surprise then that the company is expanding its range to incorporate the long-awaited software update from Microsoft. The HTC Radar is one of the company’s first to showcase the new Windows Phone 7 operating system and we’ve managed to get an early sample in for testing.
The chassis of the Radar is typical of HTC; the unibody design that we first encountered on the original HD Windows efforts is back, meaning there’s only a small panel on the bottom of the rear that’s removable. You’ll not find yourself using this much though as its only purpose is to allow you to switch the SIM card; the 1520 mAH battery sits further up the handset and is securely fastened under the aluminium shell and as expected, there’s still no microSD slot to play with.
A 5 megapixel camera (complete with LED Flash) accompanies the detachable panel on the rear of the device, but apart from that there’s very little else. Flip the Radar over and it’s a similar story, the 3.8-inch Super LCD capacitive screen dominates the front facia but HTC has managed to squeeze the usual touch sensitive navigation buttons comprising of the usual Microsoft line up, Back, Windows and Search, at the foot of the screen.
The HTC Radar is similarly proportioned to the company’s Android-running Desire, and again they’ve managed to make a phone with a relatively large screen that is still extremely comfortable to use one-handed. It measures 120mm x 61.5mm x 10.8mm but the curved edges and svelte framework makes it appear far smaller than it actually is.
Power and Operating System
It’s fair to say that the Windows operating system was never as well received as Microsoft would have hoped, and despite churning out iteration after iteration, the platform always languished behind the likes of Android and iOS. At least until Windows Phone 7 arrived.
Windows Phone 7 brought a whole new user experience to the fore and was completely different to rival platforms. While it may not have set the world alight initially, there’s been a lot of interest surrounding the latest Mango update, which is exactly what can be found within the HTC Radar.
Microsoft has brought a raft of improvements to the software including better multitasking, an improved Hub system and Internet Explorer 9. The IE9 update brings hardware accelerated graphics and HTML5 support and has also undergone various superficial changes, one of which sees the address bar move to the foot of the screen which makes one-handed web surfing far easier.
The tiled interface remains, providing quick access to your most frequently used functions and it’s also fully customisable so users can pin whatever they see fit to the homescreen.
Another welcome improvement is true social network integration. Previously, Microsoft had slapped a ‘social tile’ onto the homescreen which provided a link to the appropriate site (in much the same way as a bookmark would) and left it at that. The new update however has taken this to the next level, allowing you to sync various social networking sites with individual contacts. Once you’ve connected to a person’s social feed it’ll not only display their latest update from Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, next to their profile picture on their contact card but also pull through their latest update in real time and display an animated notification if you pin that contact to your homepage as a tile.
There’s also far better social integration for your entire contact log within the People Hub – swipe to the ‘What’s New’ area and everyone’s updates that you’ve synced with, across various platforms, are displayed in one single feed.
In a bid to keep the Windows experience as pure as possible Microsoft has banned manufacturers from including their own skin. HTC has attempted to get round this by including the best bits from its Sense UI in something called the HTC Hub – behind this tile lies regular Sense features such as news, stocks and weather.
The HTC Radar comes with a Qualcomm MSM 8255 1GHz single-core CPU, which when coupled with 512MB RAM keeps all those clever homescreen animations running smoothly, betters the multitasking functionality and keeps everything in good working order.
The large WVGA touchscreen is well-sized for web perusal and the curvaceous bodywork makes it easy to surf the web one-handed. The Microsoft update to include the address bar at the bottom of the screen also aids single-handed use as does the inclusion of a pull up menu accessed by swiping from the foot of the screen. This houses all the different Internet options such as new tabs, favourites, browser settings etc.
The new software update also brings HTML5 support and Internet Explorer 9. There’s a noticeable difference in page load times and graphic rendering when compared to WP browsers of the past. The screen is also very responsive and delivers pin-point accuracy.
The HTC Radar comes with a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, it’s not too dissimilar to the plethora of 5 megapixel snappers that are currently included on smartphones available at the moment and would serve everyday photographers with ease. There are a few added extras that could sway those with a penchant for photography – the dedicated hardware camera key for example, allows you to capture images without unlocking the screen whilst the f/2.2 aperture lens and back-illuminated sensor ensures that you’ll still get good quality images even in poorly lit environments.
The panoramic feature is worth mentioning too – where you’d normally hold the camera in three different positions, taking a picture at each stage and then wait for the software to knit the three images together to create a landscape image, HTC has incorporated some clever technology that simplifies the process. All the user needs to do now is slowly pan the camera across whatever it is you want to capture and it’ll automatically take several photos and bind them together to create the perfect panoramic shot.
Other tech specs:
- 8GB internal memory
- Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
- Bluetooth 2.1
- 3.5mm audio jack
The HTC Radar is a well built piece of kit and there’s very little we’d change about it as it encompasses all the functionality synonymous with a mid-range device of this kind. If we were to pick fault though, it would be with the operating system, not the handset itself. It’s something that’s mentioned during every review but being limited to internal memory alone is a real bug bear. Whilst many might say that 8GB is not to be sniffed at, if you wish to use your phone for home and work life then you may struggle.
The HTC Radar is a brilliant all-rounder and does a very good job of showcasing the new Windows operating system. HTC has done its best to include a number of unique features all of which should help the Radar stand out from the rest of this year’s WP7 line-up. All in all, it’s another impressive effort from the Taiwanese manufacturer.