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After Christmas last year, I had couple of hundred pounds left over from a combination of previous savings and presents and so I thought I'd treat myself to a smart phone.
After looking at the smart phones out there I noticed that each phone liked to boast a specific feature. For example the iPhone was all about downloading games and apps with ease, and the blackberry was focused on ease of communication (blackberry messenger). But when I saw the HTC HD7 with windows phone 7 technologies, I immediately noticed a mutual balance between work and play.
First off, I'll talk about the price. I payed £400 pounds for my phone from 02, which was the cheapest at the time and still retails for that now, however a variety of contracts do exist at a variety of costs, but that was an option I decided not to take up as I have never been a fan of contracts with phones. £400 pounds is the same retail price for an 8GB iPhone from Vodafone, however the windows phone had a bigger touch screen pad (4.3 inch compared to the iPhone 3.5 inch) and 12GB internal memory compared to 8GB.
First off, I will talk about the appearance. I immediately noticed that the sleek thin exterior with 3 'touch' screen button on the bottom that illuminate once the device is switched on. On the right hand side of the device there is a camera hard key, and above that a volume up and down keys. On the topside of the device there is the power hard key that turns the device on, but doubles up as a but that wakes the phone up from sleeping. On the back there is a 5 megapixel camera that sits about a 1 mm of the back of the phone unit, which is annoying because every time you put the phone down on a hard surface it feels like the camera lens is being scratched. Because of this I would definitely advise buying a phone case and a screen protector. One convenient feature about the phone is that there is a stand off the back of the camera that folds out and allows the phone to stand up like a picture frame. This is incredibly handy when watching any film or podcast however it does topple over easily but I like this none the less.
Now to the hardware. I decided to side with the windows phone 7 hardware because it appeared a lot more user friendly than its android counterpart and for me it was a fresh and unique approach to the user interfaces that so many of the earlier smart phones got wrong. The touch screen itself, with its impeccable responsiveness allows you to easily browse through tiles on your home screen by swiping up or down. Everything else appeared on a sub menus that were accessed by swiping to the left. Here you had all of your applications which you downloaded from zune marketplace except games; they appeared in the Xbox live application which I would describe as the 'games centre' of the phone. All of your music, videos and podcasts appeared in the zune application, which I would describe as the 'music centre' of the phone. I must admit Zune was surprisingly easier to navigate all my music and videos with its simplistic interface and let's face it, its overall appearance is so much better than that of its iPhone counterpart that uses iTunes as its music centre. A friend of mine has the latest iPhone and for me it looked 'too bland' and 'too white', navigation of music is just as easy as the HTC if not easier, but the HTC looks so much better. Another great feature about having Xbox live on your windows phone is that you can earn achievements, however this is only limited to specific games published by Xbox live, not independent games but this is great news if you have an Xbox live account. Being honest though, the iPhone has a lot wider choice of games, but in my opinion they play a lot better on the HTC HD7 (for example Angry Birds).
Now all the games and entertainment are out of the way, I can talk about other applications. One of the handiest applications is adobe reader which allows you to read and store PDF files. I found this particularly helpful as I did all my A-Level revision from PDF files from my college and is surprisingly easy to use however it took a while to load and render large PDF files. Another great feature is that the HTC comes fully loaded with Microsoft office, which allows you create and read Word, PowerPoint and Excel files. This can be particularly handy when doing last minute preparation for power points; however files are rendered differently from what you would see on your computer, and sometimes it renders it wrong and makes a mess of displaying the file. Excel files are exempt from this.
You can also link up multiple email addresses with your phone from most email servers such as hotmail, outlook express and g-mail. This for me was an incredibly handy feature and you received emails like texts, but one problem I found was downloading attachments from emails. You never knew if it was downloading, and how much it had downloaded. So you never knew if your files were downloading and there was no notification to tell you when it had finished downloading, but you will be glad to know, pictures, all office files and PDF files can be downloaded from email.
One annoying problem I noticed with my phone is that its slow rendering web pages , rendering maps on the 'Maps' application and downloading applications via the signal on my phone. I don't know if it's just because I was on 02, but iPhones, even with low signal could render maps and web pages fast, which is brilliant. I thought that this was just down to signal being poor, but even if I had full signal, it was still slow. This is really disappointing for the price I payed.
Ringtones is my next rant. You can't have your own ringtone, you have to select from a massive list of ring tones that are of overall poor quality. After looking through all of the ringtones I finally settled for the 'old phone' ringtone which was just about bearable. Its same story for message ringtones, except the list is shorter but these ringtones are a bit more bearable.
The calendar is also quite user friendly and easy to use with an attractive inter-face; however one thing I noticed is that when you set remainders to wake you up in the morning the ring tone doesn't always wake you up. Even when my phone was on the loudest it sometimes didn't wake me up as none of the alarms are 'up to the job'. Maybe that's just me just being picky but I didn't like this as I relied on my alarm quite a lot.
One thing I would like to mention however the app that comes programmed called 'attentive phone'. This gives you the choice to enable 4 features that I just loved. The features were:
* Flip for silent - when your phone is ringing, flip it over onto its face to silence the ringtone, without hanging up. Good for easily avoiding conversations.
* Flip for loud speaker - when you're midway through a conversation, flip to activate loudspeaker.
* Pocket mode - this made the ringtone slightly louder when the phone was in your pocket. This was activated by the constant movement of your phone in your pocket.
* Quite ring on pick up - basically as you picked up your phone the ringtone gets quieter so as you put it to your ear, you don't deafen yourself.
Personally I think that this app shows that HTC is thinking about the customer and being honest, I don't see apple coming up with these types of apps which is another reason I would side with Windows over Apple.
In terms of display customisation, you can change what you pin to your start menu by simply holding the app you want and clicking pin to start, once there you can hold the tile again and move it where you want on the menu which is simple yet attractive for the phone. The other things you can do are change the colour of the tiles and the colour of the back ground. For the colour of the tiles you have a choice of about 10 or so colours, but for the background you have two choices, black or white. I prefer the white cause it makes the overall appearance of the phone better, but the black option is also good however I would recommend choosing your colour schemes carefully because you can easily loose the visual appearance and attractiveness of the phone. Apart from that, not much else can be customised.
So to conclude, for visual effects and attractiveness the windows phone is your ideal smart-phone, but if you want something with a reputation for doing the job well, then the iPhone is for you. Recently my HTC HD7 has succumbed to water damage which is completely my fault as I went hiking in the Yorkshire dales on a rainy day. But if my phone cannot be repaired I am seriously considering purchasing an iPhone, as I feel it is more reliable and trustworthy, with a faster rendering speed which is essential for me, and this time, I won't forget to insure it!