The last of HTC’s first line-up of Windows Phone 7 devices (and the first with a full Qwerty keypad) arrives after Microsoft’s new mobile platform has proved itself to be something of a success. While not perfect, Windows Phone 7 has proved itself to be popular with consumers. Whether or not the Qwerty-toting 7 Pro can tempt fans away from Team BlackBerry (or anyone wanting a smartphone with a physical keyboard) remains to be seen.
What we like
A plus of Microsoft’s demanding hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7 phones is that you’re guaranteed a level of quality.
To whit, the HTC 7 Pro features a capacitive touchscreen with a WVGA screen res (480 x 800), guaranteeing that the screen is both easy to use/type on and displays menus, maps, websites and pictures clearly and legibly.
As with other Windows Phone 7 phones like the HTC HD7, we found that the Bing Maps application worked particularly well, picking up our location and plotting destinations in no time at all.
It’s nice that you get to choose between typing on the touchscreen and the slide out Qwerty pad of the 7 Pro. We found it easier to tap out text messages and short emails on the virtual keypad, and switching over to the physical keys for anything longer.
It’s good to note that for a phone which comes with a full Qwerty keypad, the HTC 7 Pro is a lot slimmer than you’d think. It doesn’t occupy a lot of pocket space and doesn’t look as bulky as you might think.
We liked that the 5-megapixel camera takes and processes pictures really quickly, allowing you to reel off plenty of shots quickly. The dedicated camera button on the side also wakes up the phone from standby with a firm press as well, saving you from having to unlock the 7 Pro and find the camera app short cut on the homescreen.
The 7 Pro’s camera comes with HTC’s built in enhancements (effects like High Contrast, Sepia, Glimmer, etc) which you can add after you’ve taken pics in the Photo Enhancer edit suite. You can also take pictures with some basic effects like Negative and Solarise as well. It’s not quite as cool as Hipstamtic, but it’s always nice to have some fun photo effects to play with.
Plus, you can upload pictures taken on your 7 Pro directly to Windows Live SkyDrive, which gives you 25GB of extra storage for free. This is great as it means you can use the 8GB internal memory of the 7 Pro for other things, like storing playlists.
Much else of what we like about the HTC 7 Pro can be attributed to the Windows Phone 7 OS. In the interests of space, feel free to read our lowdown on Windows Phone 7.
What we don’t like
Compared to the HTC Desire Z, which also features a slide out Qwerty pad (but runs on Android) we found the 7 Pro a little harder to type on that we’d have liked.
This is mainly due to the layout of the keys; with just one ‘function’/FN key available to access it makes accessing certain symbols (and capitalising letters like A, Z, S, and C) difficult at times.
While easy to slide open, its often hard to shut the HTC 7 Pro. The hinge mechanism in particular doesn’t inspire a great amount of confidence (again, it doesn’t feel as robust as that of the Desire Z). This could well be a problem with our review model though.
We found the positioning of the camera button to be frustrating – it’s on the screen part of the phone (i.e. a moveable part) and needs to be pressed down pretty firmly. Both of these things often lead to some blurred and unnecessarily messy shots. As there’s no virtual shutter key on the screen, there’s also no way to escape this.
Before we mentioned the various plusses of Windows Phone 7 – minuses include there being no microSD slot (which will frustrate some who’ve saved previous contacts, pictures and music to SD cards) and – pending the first wave of Windows Phone 7 updates – no option to copy and paste text.
App wise, there’s not nearly as much on offer on the Windows Marketplace as there is on iTunes App Store or the Android Market. Obviously this will change in time, and you get the essentials like Shazam, Twitter and YouTube. But for now the Windows Marketplace feels a little on the quiet side.
The HTC 7 Pro’s keypad is really easy to type on and Windows Phone 7’s neat tiles interface works like a charm on the glossy 3.7-inch touchscreen.
Little things such as the positioning of the camera button may irritate after a while and the selection of apps available from the Windows Marketplace is (for now) rather limited.
In terms of performance and overall feel, there’s little to really distinguish this between the HTC HD7, aside from the obvious differences; that one has a bigger screen and one has a slide-out keypad.
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