HTC has emerged as a leading smartphone manufacturer in the past few years, producing a wide array of very well made handsets. Whilst not quite challenging the big two of Samsung and Apple in terms of sales, the Taiwanese firm has nevertheless broken boundaries, being amongst the first to bring a quad-core processor to the market with its flagship One X.
The company’s range also spreads beyond its many Android handsets, with the firm having produced several devices built to run Microsoft’s mobile platform, Windows Phone. The HTC Mozart is an inexpensive handset that carries the Redmond-based software giant’s operating system, with some excellent touches added by the manufacturer.
- 1 GHz single-core processor
- 3.7-inch S-LCD display
- 8 GB internal storage
- 8 megapixel camera
- 720p video recording
- 11.9 mm thick
- 130g weight
- Windows Phone 7.5
- 1300 mAh battery
- HTC Attentive Phone
- HTC Sound Enhancer
- Xbox Live integration
Design and Build
The HTC Mozart is not a super-slim handset, with its frame feeling somewhat chunkier than its already quite thick 11.9mm. However, the handset’s form factor is not unpleasant and we found that it was satisfyingly bulky and sturdy – whereas many modern smartphones make us feel that they would require a case to protect them for regular, everyday use, the Mozart doesn’t.
The phone’s backplate is, in the main, constructed from a lightweight aluminium giving the device a solid appearance. On the whole, HTC produces good looking handsets and the Mozart is no different, with its rounded edges also making it comfortable in the hand and easy to grip be it in portrait or landscape mode.
The 3.7-inch, S-LCD display features a resolution of 480×800 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 252. While this is nowhere near that which can be boasted by the Retina display of the iPhone4S it is nevertheless a decent screen more than capable of showing off the Windows Phone interface graphics well.
While the Windows Phone visuals themselves are big and blocky, requiring little in terms of detailed resolution, some websites looked cluttered on the Mozart’s screen. This problem isn’t something that really affects the use of the device much at all but we did find that many websites had to be zoomed in upon before text would display clearly enough to read.
The capacitive touchscreen is responsive and we didn’t notice any problems with its performance at all with it being able to tell the difference between deliberate gestures and accidental brushes very well indeed.
Under the Hood
Inside the Mozart’s body is a single-core, 1GHz Qualcomm processor with 576 MB of RAM. These specs are nowhere near those boasted by stablemate the quad-core One X or the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S III, but since Windows Phone 7 doesn’t support multi-core processors anything more in terms of processing power would be wasted.
What the Mozart does have though is more than adequate, with the processor boasting only slightly less power than Nokia’s flagship Lumia 900. The Windows Phone OS clearly isn’t processor-intensive which allows the specs (and therefore the price) of the devices running it to be kept to a minimum, meaning it can run on handsets like the Mozart.
Navigating around the phone’s screens and functions is smooth and easy with no noticeable lag or hold ups. The only problems that emerge in terms of speed is when online services are being used. Loading webpages with the browser or using apps that display online content was particularly sluggish. Although web browsing performance is noticeably slower than on other Windows Phone devices, it isn’t anything particularly annoying and doesn’t detract from the overall user experience.
Whilst a Li-Lion 1300 mAh battery is certainly not the biggest power source even seen in a mobile device there are no real problems with battery longevity with the Mozart. One big advantage that stems from Windows Phone’s lack of support for multi-core processors is that the required single-cores are far less of a drain on power resources, ensuring that the device keeps a reasonable charge even through frequent use.
What seems to be the case with this HTC device is that its so-called ‘lesser’ features (that processor and the passable but not perfect display) give it an advantage here. The handset may not house premium components, but top-spec parts would have a much greater drain on the device’s charge.
Operating System and User Interface
HTC’s Android devices are notorious for featuring dramatic alterations to the basic user interface, in the form of the Sense UI, although when the result is some great looking and intuitive software, few complaints can be had. However, Microsoft is far more restrictive than Google when it comes to its mobile platform and doesn’t allow hardware producers to make anywhere near as many changes.
As a result, Windows Phone 7.5 looks almost the same on the HTC Mozart as it does on other recent WP devices – packed full of colourful, animated Live Tiles and very easy to navigate. HTC has managed to put its own mark on the software however, but only in a few, extremely subtle ways.
There is a large Live Tile on the homescreen called the HTC Hub. Tapping on it brings up an app which is very much an HTC creation, featuring animated weather information which looks a lot like that displayed in the firm’s Android-focused Sense UI. As well as the weather info, the Hub contains links to a small range of HTC-specific apps and games.
While there is a virtual compass and sat nav service in there, the most useful app we found is Attentive Phone – essentially an update to the device which uses its accelerometer and proximity sensor to tailor call functions. Activating various options allows the user to do things like silencing the ringer by turning the phone over or increasing the volume when it is in a pocket.
Since HTC is known for making some big customisations to the Android user interface it was always going to be interesting to see what the manufacturer would do to Windows Phone if Microsoft allowed it. However, it is debatable that that opportunity will ever arise, and even if it did it would be very unlikely to affect a handset like the Mozart.
Windows Phone itself is refreshingly clear of bloatware, with native apps tending to be quite useful. Local Scout reads your location and gives you local information on services and facilities in the area, providing a genuinely informative function.
With the platform being built by Microsoft, there is also integration with Xbox Live, providing information on games being played through the service and allowing the user to check and update their account and gamerscore information.
Camera and Video
When it comes to optics, the Mozart really has something that it can brag about. An 8 megapixel camera is included which on specs alone can rival those attached to high-end handsets that could cost nearly five times as much as this device. The phone’s budget status becomes apparent though, with extra features such as touch focus missing from the camera app. The resulting images are still of a remarkably good quality however.
HTC has included a basic photo-editing app but its functions are limited and it really only offers a small range of post-production effects. The handset is also at a disadvantage in that Windows Phone does not have anywhere near the number of third party post-processing apps that are available for iOS and Android, meaning that options for editing photos are limited. Still, an 8 megapixel camera on a device that costs less than £100 is an attractive prospect.
Video footage at 720p is also of a good quality, with the camera handling movement and shake quite well. The way in which the camera refocuses itself whilst recording footage is especially impressive and whilst the Mozart’s screen isn’t great for showing off video footage the results look surprisingly good when played back on the device.
Connectivity and Multimedia
As mentioned earlier, the weaknesses of the Mozart’s single-core processor become apparent when loading webpages, which can be quite slow even over Wi-Fi. The low resolution of the screen also causes some details to appear squashed when displayed, meaning that zooming in is necessary to read many websites.
Apps that show online content, such as those that deal with news and weather, can also be a little slow in operation, although all get the job done eventually without crashing. Where there is a delay, it is only for a matter of seconds rather than any longer hold-up and it is something that is a minor inconvenience rather than a real issue.
The Zune media player (which comes as standard with Windows Phone) is basic but functional, organising content into different sections for music, video etc. The media player pulls through album artwork to create a background for its media section, creating a well-designed and easy to navigate centre for all your digital content.
Whilst music player is basic, HTC has added a fantastic Sound Enhancer function which allows the user to manipulate audio output to their own tastes. Along with pre-determined settings designed for different styles of music there are a number of all-round effects which improve audio quality immensely. The Dolby Mobile feature is particularly impressive, creating a really rounded, spacious stereo sound when used with headphones.
Performance and Verdict
If you disregard the low price of the Mozart and judge it solely on its features, functions and specs then it still stands up as an impressive handset. The compact form factor is atypical but not at all unwelcome, and when combined with the chunky build fits well in the hand.
When taking the price into account the device is even more of a success. Windows Phone itself is a great operating system and the small but significant embellishments that HTC has made to it have coaxed even greater functionality out of the platform. Add to this a more than capable 8 megapixel camera and the value offered is astounding.
Overall, HTC has created a low-cost phone which functions really well. Considering that an upgrade to the new Windows Phone 7.8 operating system is rumoured to be in the pipeline, bringing extra features and an even better looking user interface, we think that the Mozart is one of the best budget phones available right now.