Hands-on with NGM's Harley Davidson-adorned Windows Phone

I wasn't sure what to expect when I was told there was a Harley Davidson-branded Windows Phone lurking about the halls of IFA 2014. The idea of such fancified devices — be it Samsung's Giorgio Armani Samsung Galaxy S or LG's Prada line — isn't entirely unheard of. And Harley Davidson has become something of a fashion brand in certain circles, though not the same circles as the Armani and Prada crowd. So it was with some trepidation that I found the booth of NGM and asked to see their first Windows Phone.

The phone is topped by a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1280x720. Inside is a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. Inside is a healthy 1GB of RAM with 8GB for internal storage. The rear camera is an 8-megapixel shooter while there's a 2-megapixel sensor up front. The phone measures 144mm (5.6 inches) tall by 72mm wide (2.8 inches), and a relatively svelte 8.5mm (0.33 inches) thick. That's with a glass front, metal frame around the sides, and a plastic back.

NGM Harley Davidson Windows Phone

Software-wise, this is running Windows Phone 8.1, though NGM isn't really adding any customizations or apps to the experience. It's Windows Phone 8.1 and not much more, not that there's anything wrong with that. In our brief time with it the phone was quite responsive, certainly what we'd expect from a Snapdragon 400-powered Windows Phone.

But really, when we're talking about a Windows Phone with Harley Davidson branding, the appearance of it is something we really need to discuss. The front is, as you might expect, a single piece of black glass, though in this case it bears Harley Davidson's script wordmark in the space between the screen and the speaker. The standard set of Windows keys sit below the display.

NGM Harley Davidson Windows Phone back

The metal frame around the phone is lightly brushed and has a nice rounding to its corners, unlike the sharper edges you'll find on the likes of the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The back panel is where the real action happens, with a faux leather texture (though not really that soft of a finish) with fake stitching around the edge. It's the kind of look we would have readily mocked on Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, but once you slap a shiny metallic Harley Davidson badge on the back it suddenly seems like the most obvious thing to do.

The packaging is also quite impressive, with a design that evokes a classic leather saddlebag with its wrap-around straps (in this case the buckles are purely decorative and a small magnet holds the straps down. The presentation is impressive for a smartphone box, with a large metal plate in the top bearing the Harley Davidson logo and the phone nestled in a black foam cutout with a silk pull to lift it out.

NGM Harley Davidson Windows Phone packaging

There's just one thing about the NGM Harley Davidson Windows Phone that kind of irked us: it comes out of the box with a screen protector applied, and a second in the box. In a day and age where even the cheapest phones come equipped with screens covered with chemically-hardened scratch-resistant glass, it's frustrating to have a smartphone that's as surprisingly decent as this saddled with an out-of-the-box experience of slightly tacky plastic instead of sleek glass.

NGM is projecting availability in Italy for the Harley Davidson Windows Phone in the week of September 21st, with additional European countries to see the phone later on. A US launch, alas, doesn't look to be in the cards at this time, despite the brand appeal we could imagine a Harley Davidson Windows Phone having in the States. Especially when the European price is set at €249 unlocked and off contract.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.