Better late than never, Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango powered devices are finally in India, in a market already flooded with budget Android devices, iOS fanatics and Nokia loyalists. Can these devices bear fruit or is this just another bad Mango?
Today we have the HTC Radar, one of the many devices that will launch in India powered by Microsoft's latest mobile OS. (Click here for in depth review of Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango)Hardware and Styling
'A handset with a difference' is the first thought that comes to mind when you look at the HTC Radar. The device has a unique look that not only sets it apart from the other Windows Phone devices out there, but from the HTC smartphone stable as well.
The device is constructed from a single block of aluminum similar to what we find on Apple's various Mac lineups. It has a dual colour tone with shimmering pearl white and a matte silver finish. It has a very distinct and classy look. You would give this device a second look if it were placed next to any leading Android smartphone.
The screen of the device is a 3.8-inch SLCD display with a resolution of 480x800. The device isn't very big and feels comfortable in ones hands. The right of the device houses the volume rocker and the dedicated camera shutter button. The left side has the micro USB port that also doubles up as the charging port. The top of the device has the 3.5mm headphones jack along with the on/off/sleep/wake button. The rear houses the 5MP autofocus camera with an LED flash.
Below the screen on the front of the device, we have the standard Windows Phone keys i.e., back, home and search. These are touch sensitive keys and give you a tactile feedback every time you use them.
The device also has a front facing VGA camera.
The battery of the device is concealed and there is no option to expand the memory. You are stuck with the 8GB internal storage of the device.
All-in-all, the device is stylish, elegant bordering on sexy and feels very light at 160gms.
If Android is the king of widgets and iOS the master of simple icons, Windows Phone 7.5 takes on a new approach called 'live tiles'. The UI is called the Metro UI and as the name suggests, all the tiles on the device display information live, i.e., in real time. For absolutely new users, this interface may take bit of getting used to.
You can have a large number of tiles on the home screen and all of them will display information and notifications in real time. The phone icon will indicate when you have a missed call, similar for mail, and the "Me" tile which houses all information about the user of the device will display notifications each time you have a comment or update on the social networking accounts that you have synced on the device.
The interface is fairly simple to get used to and the black backdrop of the screen makes the on screen colours look vibrant.
Despite the fact that the device runs on a 1GHz Scorpion processor with 512MB RAM, the interface is extremely smooth. Transitions between the tiles, animations, unlocking the screen, swiping between messages all look fantastic.
Each tile/app has a swipe interface. For example, if you open the people tile, it displays all your contacts. Swipe left and you are greeted with the social networking updates feed. Swipe left again and you can see you recently used contacts. This "Swipe" interface is applicable for a lot of the preloaded apps and it is a neat and unique way of displaying content.
Overall, the interface is identical to Windows Phone 7, but Microsoft claims there are 500 new additions in terms of features to Windows Phone 7.5. (Click here for an in depth look at these new features)
The multimedia on a Windows Phone 7.5 device is at its very nascent stages. To get the worst out of the way, the YouTube experience is browser-based. The experience can in no way be matched to the one you get on an Android or an iOS device. Now, that being said, the pictures and music are a different story.
The Zune music player makes an appearance on the device. Even though Microsoft's portable music player is long dead, its digital avatar lives on in all windows devices. If your music library is empty on the phone, you are greeted with a message that says, "It's lonely here. Connect to your computer to synchronize music." Your music is divided on the basis of songs, artists, playlists and albums. You also have access to the Zune marketplace, radio, podcasts, and news from the Zune app. Overall, the Zune experience combined with the swipe interface is unique and is easy to adapt to. The audio output from the provided headphones isn't the best, though, and you'd do well to use your personal or just a better set of headphones.
The pictures tile on the home screen rotates between the preloaded images and your camera roll. It's a nice touch and adds liveliness to the home screen. The camera can be quickly accessed from the dedicated shutter button. You get the standard array of shooting modes and setting in the camera app.
The picture quality from the camera is fairly standard and at par with what the other 5MP smartphones have to offer in the market. A plus point however is that the camera shoots video in 720p HD. For a device that costs about Rs. 25,000 we wish the camera was an 8MP as that is the standard for high end smartphones these days - but this is really nitpicking.
You also have a photo enhancer app that lets you add effects to photos after you have clicked them.
The Internet explorer on the device too is one of its best selling features. Unlike other operating systems, the address bar is at the bottom of the screen. The web pages render really fast and there is absolutely no lag. You can pinch to zoom and the rendering is so smooth, it could give the iPhone a run for its money. However, there is one major disadvantage. At the time of reviewing the device, Windows Phone Mango doesn't support flash. Without flash, the browsing experience felt very incomplete.
PC Sync and Market
Syncing your contacts to a Windows Phone Mango device is as easy as doing it on any Android device. Just enter your Gmail, Exchange, Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail and any other accounts you may have and voila, all your data is on the device. The syncing is seamless and, on a good Wi-Fi network, swift.
As easy as syncing the device may be, the marketplace is a different experience all together. The app ecosystem isn't quite there yet when compared to the plethora of apps available for the iOS and Android devices.Nonetheless, Microsoft claims this ecosystem is growing. Performance
No matter what OS a phone runs on, if it doesn't perform the basic function of making calls, what's the use? Out here, the device is pretty good. The call quality is excellent at both ends. The bundled headphones may not be ideal for you music fanatics, but they do a damn good job during a conversation. The audio is loud and clear at both ends, and the microphone is sensitive enough to catch the speakers' voice quite well even in a crowded mall.
The SMS experience is right up there with the best of the best. In portrait mode, the keyboard doesn't feel cramped and is responsive even to feather touch. In the landscape mode, the QWERTY keypad is even better. There are black bars on either side of the keyboard. This isn't a bad thing, as your thumb movements feel natural and comfortable even while pressing the cornermost keys.
The battery life of the device is at par with what the competition has to offer. It will last you about 10 hours if used to its maximum potential and almost 2 days if you use the device very conservatively.
In terms of settings, altering information, tile placement andlinking duplicate contacts, the interface is fairly simple to understand and use. Verdict
To sum up, the HTC Radar is a bit pricey for a single core processor phone with a 5MP camera. You can get the very best Android smartphones available for the same price. The OS is refreshing and fun to use but the lack of apps and flash support in an otherwise great web browser can be a downer. If you haven't invested in a variety of iOS or Android paid apps, you may want to give the Radar or any other Windows Phone 7.5 Mango device a shot. But if you aren't a risk taker, we suggest you stick to the tried and tested formula.Price:
Great new UI
No expandable memory
App store is lacking
No flash support
Ease of Setup: 4
Wow Factor: 4
Want to know which is the Windows Phone 7.5 device for you? Watch our battle of the Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones below: