HTC Radar Review.
Design and Build
The HTC Radar features the unibody aluminium design with the plastic portion around the base opening up to insert your SIM card. There is no way to access the battery and when you insert or remove your SIM card, the phone tends to restart. The silver colour of the unibody finish runs along the edge on the front portion and covers a majority of the rear portion. We had got the white coloured model. It is also available in black. On the front fascia you have the three touch sensitive buttons - Back, Home and Bing search. On the top left hand corner you have the proximity sensor and the VGA front facing camera on the right hand corner. Coming to the top you have the power/sleep button on the right hand side and a 3.5mm audio jack on the left hand side. The left hand edge has the micro USB slot whereas on the right hand edge you have long volume rocker on the top edge and camera shutter button below. Flip around the phone and you get the 5MP camera which has a fixed aperture of F2.2 beside which you have the LED flash and a speaker section on the other side.
The 3.8-inch screen phone feels quite solid in the hand and metal finish still manages to give a very good grip. One hand operation is quite easy.
The HTC Radar is a 3.8-inch capacitive touchscreen phone having an S-LCD screen with the gorilla glass on top. It houses the Qualcomm MSM 8255 system-on-chip with a 1 GHz Scorpion processor and Adreno 205 GPU. It comes with an internal storage of 8 GB without any option to add external memory, which effectively means that you have only 6.54 GB at your disposal after budgeting the memory taken up by the OS and native apps.
AS you cannot skin Windows Phone OS, HTC has added some native apps. Some of the interesting ones are HTC Hub - which gives you the weather readings of your area and you can add around five other cities; Photo Enhancer allows you to add filters to photos; Flashlight allows you to use your LED flash as a flashlight; Locations is very similar to FootPrints seen on Android phones which allows you to take pictures and geo tag them along with information such as directions, website etc and finally HTC Watch allows you to purchase movies and TV shows, but we could not get this working here as the screen always used to prompt us to download updates and it only had Trailers tab.
The interface as is the case with Windows Phone OS, does not appear cluttered and the live tiles are carried forward in this update. If you have more than 45 applications, then it divides them into alphabets which makes accessing them easy.
Multitasking is a major feature of this iteration, allowing you to play music in the background while you are on another app. But if you are downloading stuff and minimise the screen, it resumes from where it had stopped when its reactivated. Social integration includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and you can sync your Yahoo, Gmail and Windows Live account.
Users who are migrating from Android and Apple will have to do a lot of unlearning as the tile interface is the underlying theme in most apps. Twitter and Facebook apps for instance are completely different from those seen on the other OSes. Facebook tile on the homepage keeps flipping photos of your contacts. Messaging and Mail tiles keep getting updated the moment you get any new message, giving you a quick view of unread mails or messages.
You will need to download the latest Zune software to sync the phone with your system. By default all your content will be synced with your Windows Library. As long as you have every thing in the library, in the right correct format we might add (specially in case of videos), syncing is a piece of cake. But we still prefer the drag and drop offered by Android phones.
The integration philosophy around contacts is quite good. You can have all your social connectivity and contact information under one umbrella, so that you get all the notifications related to a particular contact in one place. You can also create groups for group messaging.
Call Quality: Call quality was brilliant and we did not experience any dropped calls. In dead zones such as inside an elevator, we did not get a signal. The sound clarity on the phone's speaker is quite good.
Keypad: The onscreen keypad seems cramped in the portrait mode and you will need some practise to avoid spelling mistakes. In the landscape mode the keys are more spaced out but it occupies more than half the screen real estate.
Response: For a 1GHz phone with only 512 MB of RAM, its response was very quick and we did not notice any slowing down or hanging of apps.
Display: The display was quite crisp making the text and videos pop out. Of course, the highly reflective screen will affect the experience in dark scenes, but on the whole we found the display to be quite good. Viewing angles are great and we did not notice any colour cast on the screen. The blacks are deep but nowhere close to what is offered by Samsung's Super AMOLED screen.
Camera: Camera quality is quite good and you get to play around with a lot of options. Colour appear natural and crisp in outdoor shooting. Even indoor shots were devoid of any prominent noise, which is common with most cameras in phones. We really liked the Auto-fix utility which retouches your images with impressive results. Panorama mode is a joy to work with where in you just have to move your camera along the imaginary line which has huge dots, once you circle that dot, the camera will fire automatically. Three such shots will be taken and then stitched to give you a panoramic image. You can go upto ISO 800, although at that level, noise does creep in. The still camera can also be activated while the phone is in the sleep mode, but hard pressing on the shutter button. The autofocus is not as fast as we would have liked it to be, but there is minimal time lag between image to image shot, which is impressive.
The HTC Radar can shoot at 720p and we found the video quality to be quite crisp. The continuous focussing mode is quite good but it tends to blur a bit while panning which was the only hitch. Also while shooting in contrasting light - such as going from a highly lit area to a comparitively darker area, the camera takes some time to adjust. So if you are shooting indoors and suddenly point the camera to the window, you will see blow out highlights which will slowly get more detailed as the camera focusses onto the outdoor scene and vice versa.
Web: The HTC Radar like all other Windows Phone devices comes bundled with Internet Explorer 9. Page loading was quite fast and text is rendered quite sharp even when it is completely zoomed into, showing no jaggies. At a time you can only have one tab open. Text does not auto-align when zoomed into, something we would have liked to see.
Voice Recognition: If you hold down the Home button, you enter the Voice recognition app offered by the phone. It does require a lot of training and you would be much better off using your fingers to get the work done. With Siri as the benchmark, WP clearly has some work cut out in this direction.
Battery Life: The battery of the HTC Radar lasted for a good day and a half with regular usage which included surfing the web over EDGE and WiFi, calling, messaging and listening to music. The battery will last about a day with video consumption.
HTC Radar has elegant aesthetics, sturdy build, a responsive user interface and great camera response. Call quality was top notch and we did not experience any dropped calls. WP7.5 has an evidently improved user experience. The handset has everything going for it except the pricing. At an MRP of Rs. 23,990 it has tough competition from Samsung Omnia W which has a powerful processor and the Super AMOLED screen. If the pricing is got to the same level (better still, under Omnia W's price) this phone can surely be recommended.
Overall Rating: 7.0
Our Samsung Omnia W review
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