The Radar’s defining feature is its Windows Phone software, but it’s also a superbly- crafted phone. Its solid aluminum body feels reassuringly hefty, and its curves are perfectly defined to fit in the hand. The battery is built in, the SIM card slips underneath a removable plastic chin and there’s no microSD or other expansion slot. The 3.8-inch touch screen is crisp and vibrant, with the OS’s stark neon icons standing out against their black background. The Radar runs on a 1 GHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM, with 8 GB of storage space, which is decidedly mid-range for a smartphone today. You also get Bluetooth, Wi-Fi b/g/n, 3G, an accelerometer, a proximity sensor, and GPS positioning.
WP’s iconic ‘Metro’ visual style is a far cry from the grids, icons and lists we’re used to, making even iOS and Android feel rather dated. Still, it’s not for everyone —the look is stark and modern, text titles are stylistically blown up so that they fall off the screen’s edges, and it’ll take a while to get used to the way things are organised and laid out. Most notably, the traditional phone book has been transformed into a ‘People Hub’, with live updates from Facebook, Windows Live, and even Twitter. This lets you focus on people, rather than the apps required for each kind of interaction. The downside is that things can quickly get cluttered, especially if your email accounts automatically add contacts you don’t want. Luckily, you can filter out individual sources and link contacts across them.
The Messaging app lets you pick up a conversation via SMS, Facebook chat or Windows LiveMessenger. The built-in Bing search can recognise voice commands and music lyrics, and you can even hold up the camera to a QR code or scan text for instant (though only semi accurate) language translation. The on-screen keyboard is well spaced, and a smart autocorrect system replaces obvious typos.
The attention to detail WP7.5 is amazing — even the ringtones have been designed to fit into a certain aesthetic sensibility.
The Radar didn’t feel underpowered at all during use; WP’s menus and animations were consistently smooth, and even the few games we tried were a pleasure to play. However, 8 GB of storage space will fill up very quickly. Photos taken with the camera lacked definition in low light. Call quality was disappointing. Voices consistently sounded tinny and machine-like. The Radar easily lasted through a day of normal usage without needing a recharge. With Wi-Fi turned off and the brightness set to ‘Medium’, the Radar’s battery lasted an amazing 7 hours, 19 minutes in our looped video playback test before the phone shut down automatically.
Windows Phone feels
refreshing and exciting to use. HTC has done a fine job with the Radar, which easily stands out against the host of mid-range Android phones in this price bracket. If you’re looking for a unique, modern, social experience, you’ll be more than happy with this phone.