As these new WP7 devices become more and more available, slight differences are starting to become evident. One of those differences appears to be load times for video games, with the Samsung clearly beating the HTC 7 Trophy out in a head-to-head.
Much speculation has been circulating that the reason for the difference is the memory: the Omnia 7 uses Samsung's NAND chips while HTC uses internal memory with expandable microSD, causing slower performance. While this was "theory" a few days ago, it appears now to be accurate and we agree with that this is the culprit (but are open to other ideas).
So that may be the trade off folks: expandable memory vs. faster speeds. Which do you prefer? It is worth noting for U.S. customers that the HD7, Samsung Focus and Surround all have microSD cards (and probably Dell Venue Pro), so there's really not much choice. Only the LG Optimus is unconfirmed for its memory configuration.
The HTC Surround is right around the corner from hitting the shelves at AT&T and we were able to spend some time with the new Windows Phone over the past few days. The HTC Surround lives up to HTC's reputation for quality phones. It's not without shortcomings but overall, the Surround is a nice addition to the Windows Phone family.
The tell of the tape has the HTC Surround measuring 4.71" x 2.42" x .51" and weighs 5.82 ounces. The Surround was thinner than expected but after using the HTC Tilt2 for the past year, most phones would come across thinner than expected. The 3.8" WVGA screen may not be as large as the HD7's 4.3" big screen but it has plenty of real estate.
Follow the break to read more of our review on the HTC Surround...
Although we've known about this device for quite some time now, the HTC T9199 aka the Oboe is close to a release in China as it was just "officially" announced. The device is actually quite nice, even if it is still running WM6.5.3. Think HD2 but dual CDMA and GSM. No date or price has been announced but we imagine it is imminent.
Rest of the specs, to refresh are as follows:
512MB RAM/512 ROM
BT 2.1, Wifi, aGPS, 3.5mm headset, etc.
800x480 4.3" screen
It actually seems like quite a nice phone, albeit 6 months too late for the U.S. market. Still, for China, it may do well, even with Windows Phone 7 on the horizon there.
Well, there's no direct evidence to support this, though we've heard rumors internally that this was coming real soon in addition to this new tidbit: MS_Nerd is reporting that Sprint will begin pre-orders for the much anticipated Sprint 7 Pro on Wednesday, December 8th.
No word on actual release date, though we can guess.
Update:BGR is reporting that this pre-order is happening, but only for Microsoft employees. That's certainly a new one on us, though perhaps it has to do with those 89,000 devices they have to give out. We also think that a public pre-order can't be to far behind this one.
Some preliminary news coming from O2 suggests that the HTC HD7 is quite the hit, with pre-orders being sold out and the telecom reporting "at least five-digit sales". O2 also have an exclusive on the device till an unknown time, similar to T-Mobile U.S.
So far, no word on our side of the pond on HD7 pre-orders and it will be interesting to see how next Monday goes when the device is finally made available. It's not clear if T-Mo will carry it in stores that day too, but we'll keep an ear out. Any of you get your orders in or are you waiting?
Likewise, some TV & YouTube spots are now appearing, including the three after the break. All three are very short (15 second spots) and continue the theme of "we need a phone to save us from our phones", which some people like and others are 'meh' about. We fall into the former category as we think they're at least conversation starters, mildly shocking and certainly entertaining.
Still no word about T-Mobile ads as they get ready to launch their HD7 next Monday as well. Check the ads after the break, especially the "bedroom" one. Saucy.
Windows Phone 7 has some speed to it. From running apps to simply starting up your Windows Phone, the zip Windows Phone 7 has is a noticeable improvement over Windows Mobile. The 1ghz processor helps speed things along nicely.
While the HTC Surround's start-up speed isn't as fast as what we've seen with the HTC HD7 boot times, it's still very respectable. From pressing the power button to seeing the Start Screen is just a smidgen over thirty seconds.
When you remove the battery cover, you'll see the SIM card slot and next to it a metal cover that's just about the right size for a memory card. The cover is secured by the phone's backing that is riddled with tiny screws with "VOID" stickers covering them. You also have several metal tabs/hooks that pinch into the backing to help hold it in place plus, what appears to be, a plastic rivet holding things down as well. On top of all that, there's no mention of accessing the microSD card slot in the User's Manual.
While I'm sure some creative minds will find a way to disassemble the Surround and expose the microSD slot, a few thoughts come to mind:
If HTC wanted us to have access to the slot, they would have made it easier to get to
Even though you could probably disassemble/reassemble the Surround you void the warranty and there's no guarantee it will accept another card
As secure as the Surround's backing appears to be, you run the risk of damaging something. Making re-assembly all the more difficult.
While it would have been nice to see an openly accessible expansion slot, I'm sure 16gb's of memory will be plenty for most users.
Someone had some extra time at XDA and went the extra mile, tearing down their Omnia 7 to its barest parts. Pretty amazing to see it all stripped down.
Unfortunately, it looks like Samsung opted for soldered NAND memory instead of an replaceable microSD card, meaning the Omnia 7 is stuck at just 8GB (or 16GB on some models) for eternity. Of course, this makes us wonder about the decision process in regards to memory and it being user-replaceable or not. It seems that if Samsung never wanted you to touch it, they would just use NAND, which we now know they have access to and no problem using.
For those of you excited about driving simulated race cars on a 4" screen, boy has EA Mobile made your day! They posted up a few screenshots of the upcoming Need for Speed: Undercover video game for Windows Phone 7, which works with Xbox Live as well.
And in case still photos don't do it for ya, you can watch a hands on video by Laptop Mag after the break.
In an interesting follow up to the "beware if you install more memory to WP7!" advice from Microsoft, AT&T seems to have no problem with you doing so. If you recall, in the article, the responsibility was basically passed off to the carriers if they want to "support" such behavior. Microsoft had said that many of the microSD cards out on the market were unreliable and therefore may cause problems.
Thanks for your interest in our new Windows Phone 7 devices. We are very excited as well about this great new experience being delivered on some very cool devices on the nation’s fastest network.
The devices will support the addition of up to a 32GB class 2 (or higher) microSD card. You need to insert the card before you power up the device the first time so that the operating system can map it as available memory to maximize its utilization. This is outlined in the Quick Start Guide you receive in the box. I encourage you to read this before you launch the device the first time to have the best experience with a microSD card.
Thanks again for your interest. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you have a moment, please let me know your experience.
So there you go. The max (at this point) seems to be 32GB and AT&T has no issue with you doing this and in fact, they give you explicit instructions on how to go about doing it. Sounds good to us. Hopefully other carriers will take a more lenient approach. Though this still raises the question if there will be a "warranty void sticker" and if so, will AT&T still enforce that or not?
We've made mention that one way to prepare for Windows Phone 7 is to establish a Windows Live ID. If you times slipped by and you haven't created a Windows Live ID, don't worry. During the initial set-up of your Windows Phone 7 device, you're given the option to sign in with an existing Live ID, skip the step all together or create a Windows Live ID from your phone.
While some may opt to choose "not now" and skip the Windows Live ID all together, to make the most of Windows Phone 7 you really need the ID. As the screen shot mentions,
"To get apps, play games, use a Zune Pass, automatically sync Windows Live information to the web, and more, you need a Windows Live ID."
In establishing a Windows Live ID doesn't mean you can't use Google, Yahoo, or another Exchange Server for your email, contacts and calendar. It simply opens more doors for your Windows Phone to access.
While we're a little over a week away from Windows Phone 7 devices hitting the shelves in the U.S., we've gotten the opportunity to review the HTC Surround.
Scheduled to land on AT&T's shelves on November 8th, the Surround's first impressions was rather surprising. The phone felt good in the hand and was thinner than expected. I half expected the sliding speaker to add more thickness to the phone. The Surround makes such a strong first impression, I'm re-thinking my original choice for my Windows Phone 7 device.
We'll get a full review up shortly but in the meantime, we've put together a short un-boxing video to tide everyone over.
For you developer types out there, Microsoft has updated their Windows Phone 7 Application Certification Requirements. The long and the short of it is that Microsoft has a set of rules that all of the apps in the Marketplace must follow; this would be that set of rules. Most of the changes are of the "Revised" and "Updated" varieties, but it’s at least good to know that Microsoft is serious about making sure these apps are fit for public consumption.
Update: CNet's Ina Fried gives us some more details via the Beyond Binary blog. It looks like at least a portion of these updates are focused toward applications that need to run while the screen is off. This quote from the CNet post gives you the jist...
Until now, applications that wanted to run when the screen was locked had to get the user's explicit permission. Under new rules announced on Friday, programs can do so without permission--provided they first demonstrate to Microsoft that they only use a reasonable amount of battery life (allowing more than six hours of use for an app playing audio and more than 120 hours for a program that does not play audio).