Review: HTC HD2


One of the more anticipated Windows phones of the past year has been the HTC HD2. Unlike it's predecessor, the Touch HD, which never made it to the U.S. market, the HD2 is scheduled for release on an as-yet-unannounced U.S. carrier in early 2010, and T-Mobile appears to be the leading candidate.

We've done a hands-on video of the HD2, now here comes the full review of the non-U.S. version. While it's possible the U.S. version of the HD2 won't be much different than the overseas model, we can't rule out that carriers or HTC won't tweak it a little. Keep in mind the version we're reviewing here won't work on U.S. 3G bands.


The first thing that stood out about the HD2 when the first product shots hit the Tnternet was "that's a big phone!" (And that's a sentiment echoed again in our third annual Smartphone Round Robin.) When I first got my hands on the HD2, my first thought was, "what an odd looking camera" (more on this later). The larger footprint of the HD2 also made an impression, but it wasn't as shocking as I imagined. I feared it would be dramatically larger than the Touch Pro 2, but the size was  manageable and comfortable.

The tale of the tape has the HD2 measuring 4.73 inches high, 2.64 inches wide and 0.43 inches in thickness. It weighs 5.54 ounces. Compared to other Windows phones, here's how the HD2 measures up.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
 Dimension (HxWxD)Weight
HTC HD24.73" x 2.64" x .43"5.54 oz
HTC Touch Pro 24.57" x 2.33" x .68"6.35 oz
HTC Imagio4.65" x 2.43" x .55"5.3 oz
Samnsung Omnia II
4.65" x 2.36" .47"4.34 oz
The iPhone4.5" x 2.4" .48"4.8 oz


The HD2 is larger than most phones, but it still has a long way to go until it reaches tablet PC status. It also has a way to go until it reaches the size of the old phones we used to lug around. The HD2 has a solid, comfortable feel to it.

On the left side of the HD2 you will find the volume key. There's nothing on the right.

The button row at the bottom of the screen has the answer, home, start, back and end buttons.

While there is no dedicated power button, the end button doubles as a power button, sleep button and end call button. This layout takes a little getting used to, especially if you are used to the end button sending you back to the home screen. After a week of using the HD2, I still found myself putting the phone to sleep thinking I was returning to the home screen.

The bottom of the HD2 is fitted with a 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB sync/charge port. A 5.0-megapixel camera and flash are on the back of the phone. Here is where I think HTC goofed in the design of the HD2.

The camera lens is noticeably raised from the back of the HD2. Initially, it stuck out like a sore thumb and while the impact would eventually diminish, I would have preferred a flush backside to the HD2. It would give the phone a more contoured look and may offer a little more protection to the lens. As is, if dropped, the camera lens could take the brunt of a fall. That said, it does raise the phone off the table when it's on its back, so that you can hear the speakerphone.

The HD2 has 512MB of ROM, 448MB RAM and is powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor (more on that in a minute). It also has a microSD expansion slot. While "what's under the hood" may be a metaphor, it's not far from the truth with the HD2.  I'm used to a sturdy plastic battery door. But on the HD2, the battery door is metal and is a little tricky to remove.

Beneath this "hood" the HD2 is powered by a 1230mAh battery, which at first seemed a little on the weak side. I was surprised that it easily lasted a full day with moderate use (push e-mail, voice calls, light Internet surfing), and the Snapdragon processor likely has a lot to do with that. Beneath the battery cover you will also find the reset button and microSD card slot.


The large 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen is impressive. Screen resolution, (480x800) colors and performance were exceptional.  While I will agree that capacitive touchscreens are nice, I don't believe they are a necessity. The screen was very responsive, but not much different than the screen on my Tilt2.

I think where you see the difference between capacitive and resistive screens is in the horizontal and vertical swipes. HTC's custom Sense UI was effortless, and I experience no swipes being confused as taps.  You still have the challenge of large fingers trying to tap small targets (e.g. keyboard keys) on the screen, but we may see that change with Windows Mobile 6.5.x.

Capacitive or not, the larger screen brings new life to watching videos, reading e-mails, viewing Web sites and just about everything else. Image quality with this screen was spot on.


I don't want to spend too much time on the software this HD2 is running because what will end up on the U.S. version of the HD2 may be different. The HD2 is fitted with a digital compass application, which likely is a requirement for Windows Mobile 7, making it likely to be carried over to the U.S. model.

The HD2 comes loaded with Windows Mobile 6.5 and HTC's Sense UI (Manila 2.5.19202525.0 to be exact).  The HD2 has Opera 9, Office Mobile, Google Maps, and the usual apps you'd expect.

The 1GHz Snapdragon processor moves things along nicely. Loading times slight, and multitasking was a breeze. The HD2 did not have HTC's drop down task manager, so I often forgot I had applications running in the background. But the HD2 never missed a beat with a half-dozen apps running in the background.

I liked Sense on the HD2 better than TouchFLO 3D, which is on the Touch Pro 2. It has extra tabs for Twitter interface and Footprint (geotagging photos) tabs. It also includes animated weather and application launchers on the home tab. (Note that you can get this version of Sense in various cooked ROMs for HTC phones.)

While many can enjoy cooked ROMs with this version of Sense, let's hope the Touch Pro 2 and Touch Diamond 2 lines will see official updates.


A quick word on the GPS performance of the HD2: In using Google Maps, from a cold start, it took the HD2 almost five minutes to acquire a satellite fix. In the process, the map bounced my location around about a 10-mile perimeter until it settled in placing me across the street from my actual location.

From a warm start, it took less than a minute to acquire a signal and my location move a little more closer to being accurate. Map refresh rates were slower but that is likely due to only getting EDGE download speeds. I don't know if the odd behavior is due to the non-U.S. branding or the overcast skies present when I tested the GPS.


No complaints here. The 5.0-megapixel, variable focus camera is among the best I've tested on a phone. Image quality was good, with only a little softness detected (likely due to movement of the phone), and at times a color cast was present.  All of which can be corrected or compensated for with a little editing.

The software driving the HD2 is the typical HTC camera software, allowing you to shoot still photos, videos, panoramas, contact photos, and MMS videos. You also have the photo/video browser that is customary with HTC phones.

The HD2 has a flash to help with low light situations. The lamp can be turned on, off or set to automatic. It also serves as a focus assist lamp to light your subject when the shutter snaps. The flash is useful, but the closer you get to your subject, the light will over-expose areas of your subject. At farther distances, the light is more productive.

The video capture is, again, among the best I've seen with a phone camera.

It focused well, kept pace with moving subjects, and playback was very nice on the 4.3-inch screen.


The HD2 performed well, despite my not having access to 3G. Call quality over EDGE was very good. I could hear callers, and they could hear me. The speakerphone performed well. I'd give the edge to the Touch Pro 2 in this area, but the HD2's speaker wasn't too shabby.

The biggest challenge with the HD2's performance was the different button layout. It's not so much a negative, just something new to learn. I can imagine a lot of excited utterances from users who haven't gotten used to the end button putting the phone to sleep.

Buy now or wait?

The non-U.S. model of the HD2 is available now through various online merchants, for around $800.  If the HD2 is what you've set your sights on, should you go ahead and take the plunge or wait for the U.S. model to hit the shelves?

I'd be reluctant to take the plunge because I have gotten too accustomed to 3G data speeds. If you can live without 3G then it may be worth considering.

Overall Impression

I had concerns that the HD2 was simply going to be too big. The initial pictures gave me the impression that it couldn't be comfortable to carry, hold or use. I'm glad that first impression was way off target.

I found the HD2 very comfortable, and the large 4.3-inch screen a joy to use. The capacitive screen is nice, but had HTC chosen a resistive screen, I believe the HD2 would still be a solid performer. Call quality is very good and the Snapdragon processor moves things along nicely.

My only nit with the HD2 is the camera design. I would have preferred a flush backing to the phone to make it more contoured and maybe more secure from accidental drops. Performance wise, the camera is amongst the best I've used.

So, would I go out and buy a non-U.S. model? I'd be reluctant to take the plunge because I have gotten too accustomed to 3G data speeds, and a U.S. version likely is on the way.  If you can live without 3G, then it may be worth considering.

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

  • ScooterG: Drools uncontrollably...
    ScooterG: Looks at bank account...
    ScooterG: Cries uncontrollably... Nice review though!
  • Can't wait for this on T-Mobile in march. This will be my next upgrade and i can finally sell my unlocked Iphone for this. I'll take Wm over Apple anyday !
  • The first thing you need to do is download "Update for HTC HD2 - Digital Picture Enhancement" that HTC posted on 12/10. Both the image of the elf and the dog video are good examples of the color balance flaw, magenta bias in the center and cyan bias towards the edges, that all HD2's shipped with. Since the flaw appears to be in hardware and consistent for all HD2's, I think HTC just added an additive mask to correct the issue, which from my tests, addresses the problem. HTC went with the same camera module that can be found in the HD. Unfortunately, the size of the module required the bump out in the thinner HD2. The edges of the bump are quite sharp and will scratch a soft surface. If also causes the phone to wobble noticeably when resting on a flat surface while using the touch screen. The metal battery cover does take a little practice to remove and adds to the weight of this noticeable heavy phone. The reason the cover is metal is to match HTC's yet-to-be-release car cradle's metal cover - which must be metal to fix the phone securely while in the cradle. HTC could've used plastic for the standard back, but that would have added an extra part. I've owned several HTC phones including the original Touch, the HD, and the D2. After extended use, I can say that it's by far the most responsive to finger touch. It's a good demonstration for those wishing to go without a stylus of why, at the current state of the art, capacitive is the only way to go. One issue I've encountered is with older applications designed for use with a stylus: the onscreen buttons can be too small to use comfortably. It's an issue that no version of WM6.5 or 7 can fix, only the application authors. I've had none of the problems with the internal GPS you've describe with OCN8 and BackCountry Navigator installed and used regularly. I have seen the issue with my D2. Could there be a set of issues that sporadically effect all late-model HTC handsets? P.S. I like the compass app but wish there was a way to enter coordinates without Google Maps or a way to specify a Google Favorite as a destination. One reason people might want to wait on an HD2 purchase is the lack of accessories, more so that any other HTC introduction in recent memory. For instance, check out the following lengthy XDA-Developers thread of owners trying to locate a desktop cradle: There are some interesting omissions on the HD2 and honestly, I don't know what they mean. HTC dropped the excellent TouchFlo task manager. Thankfully, it can be restored with a third-part fix. More surprisingly, the HD2 doesn't come with a link to the venerable Solitaire game! (A link can be added manually.) Is HTC sending a subtle message to Redmond? Finally, the HD2 continues HTC's apparent quest to pave over WM. Where WM does surface, the combination of Sense and WM is ungainly at best. This is no more apparent than with launchers (the highly customizable HTC version appears in abbreviated form on the home screen, the terrible Microsoft version accessed with the onscreen button and hard key) and browsers (HTC decided to stay with Opera though buried IS is in there in well.) HTC needs to decide at some point to back off or finish the job! Just one more thing - thanks for at least acknowledging that many of us do go out and import phones, even if they lack U.S. 3G frequencies. (I can just hear AT&T saying "Amen, brother!") Many of the past "Expert" comments in WMExperts led be to believe that they actually approved of the anti-competitive exclusionary practices of U.S. carriers when it comes to phones and high-interest loans, excuse me, "subsidies."
  • I was with you up until the Auburn gnome. Roll Tide! ;)
  • War Eagle and good luck in Pasadena!
  • That little Gnome gets more face time on this site than Steve Ballmer. Roll Tide!
  • Excellent video sample George. I didn't know you subscribed to the wiener-dog video performance testing school of thought. lol
  • I was just wondering, I know that T-Mobile is getting the HD2 and I am getting it for sure, but are we expecting the form-factor not to change at all when it hits T-mobile. The reason I ask is that, with the exception of the original touch, have any carriers in the US gotten an HTC phone that was exactly the same as that of another carrier? I mean Tmobile may shrink the phone maybe to 4.1" I mean Verizon stretched the Diamond two from 3.2 to 3.6.
  • Yes, as pelona said, we can witness the color balance flaw / camera pink defect / pink aura, in the videos above. Just scroll back up this page and see the image of the 2 dachshund dogs. See that pink aura. I don't call that the best camera ever. I think it's one of the worst. HTC released a software fix which you can install, as a remedy to the pink camera defect. But like pelona, it applies a reverse color mask to the image. However, it doesn't work on video. So every single HTC HD2 unit has this color flaw on all videos. It's more noticeable if you video a black wall, or a scene without much detail. The other frustrating thing about shooting video on the HD2 is that it should be captured in high-definition 720p. The Snapdragon processor has an onboard 720p processor to handle it. But this hardware feature has been disabled by Windows Mobile. WinMo can't deal with HD video. The Android version of this phone, called the Passion / Bravo / Dragon / Nexus, depending on what country it is sold, has full 720p HD video capture enabled. There's also an SMS sending bug in the HTC HD2. HTC released a second software patch for this. But that has done nothing, and the problem persists.
  • Applying a reverse color masking or adding a mask are mathematical equivalent operations. The important point is that for the hot fix to work, it had to be a flaw effecting all HD2s, or else the patch would create the problem, not fix it. I agree the HD2's camera isn't very good, relying as it does on a slow small aperture. Unfortunately, HTC has choose to play the pixel number game, instead of making improvements where it would count, in the optics. This also says something about the camera in the HD, D2, and TP2, since they all share the same cheap camera module. It also says why HTC choose not to include 720P video capture in the HD2: the processor can support it, the camera optics can't, at least not at the quality we would expect for 720P.
  • Just one thing,
    GET ONE, i don't know how it works in the us with carrier, but here in France, with a soupscription of a 24 monts, you can get one at 99
  • I'm just trying to get information. I use ATT, will I be able to buy an unlooked version of HD2, so that I can use it?
  • I use me HD2 on both AT&T and T-Mobile. The only caveat is it is Edge only. That is why I made the remark about AT&T; their 3G network is so overloaded in some areas that 3G performance is no better than Edge.
  • Thanks for the great reviews.
    I must admit I almost lost hope in Windows Mobile but this one
  • I hope there are no more capacitive screen Windows Mobile phones. Most business apps on Windows Mobile are stylus apps. Business users on Windows Mobile should stay with the resistive screens. On other platforms, such as Android, a multi-touch capacitive screen is fine. Just not WinMo.
  • Why does T Mobile have to have this AWESOME phone...Kinda wish it was for Verizon....I mean, T Mobile's plans are kinda crazy ever since they got rid of the My Fav's and you have to either buy the plans or buy the phone straight up. I say this only because I have of course Verizon. Happy New year to all!
  • I recently read that the Windows Mobile kernel has not been updated since 2004. That means it's not optimized for the Snapdragon processor. HTC is going to release a plethora of phones in January, running the Android operating system on the Snapdragon processor. There's the HTC Passion (US), which will be called the HTC Bravo in Europe. Its 720p video will be working, showing that it is possible. I think the Android phones will be superior to the HD2, and Android seems to be the direction that HTC (and everyone else) is headed.
  • Hey George, Any chance you can tell me which HSDPA frequencies your test model sported? Cheers,
  • I will see if I can get them. The phone should be with Dieter in Florida by now and I will ask him to check the frequencies.
  • Finally a WinMo phone that can be taken seriously..
  • Brand new mobile phone unloked , laptop , come with complete accessories with one year international warranty. Email address: HTC HD2 $400usd Sony Ericsson Hazel (Unlocked Quadband) GSM Cell Phone $380usd Sony ericsson Satio Idou......$350usd Samsung S9110 watchphone unlocked....$350usd Apple iphone 3Gs 32gb........$350usd Nokia n900 $300usd Nokia n97 32GB $300USD Blackberry Bold $280USD Blackberry Curve..$250USD HTC TOUCH PRO2..............$350USD Sony Ericsson Xperia X2.....$300usd LG BL40 New Chocolate.....$400usd Nokia X6 unlocked.............$300usd Samsung i8910 Omnia HDUnlocked..$400usd We make shipment via Ups and Fedex shipping company 2days Contact Person : Hassan Hammod Contact Email : Contact Email : Contact Phone Number#+447024026736
  • XMAS BONANZA:buy 2 get 1 free We Are Importer And Exporter Of All Kinds Of Mobile Phones And All Others.
    We are currently on a 2nd year anniversary and New year bonanza,If you order for 2 mobile phone,you will get 1 mobile phone for free Email:CHOICEPHONE@HOTMAIL.COM Tel:+447024055532 Apple Iphone 3Gs 32GB;$300
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  • I echo the mails above. Windows Mobile becomes awesome, thanks to the efficacy that TouchFLO brings to the table. The htc hd2 deals with both power users and casual consumer needs in equal measure...It just needs to be cheaper.
  • i just got the hd2 I am very impressed it is fast responsive
    i had before the hd2 pro a big difference in performance
    miner glitches should be fixed lens for the camera was not fast enough pic some time get blurry the icons link at the bottom of the screen you cant change them or change there link ie if you run browser the Microsoft browser comes on you cannot link it to opera if you want to change or add you cannot thees are the major problems i faced other wise
    it is a great phone if they add a couple of pages to add
    more icons
    HTC Desire for $360usd
    HTC Legend for $340usd
    HTC HD mini for $350usd
    Google Nexus One for $330usd
    Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro for $370usd And Many More of Your Choices Available HTC HD2 Specifications:
    * 67
  • I bought an unlocked HTC H2 it was working
    fine but now I cannot use internet or mms. Can someone
    please help me!!
  • I bought HTC H2 unlocked using it with At&t
    it was working fine but now I can't use internet or
  • DO NOT GET THIS PHONE. i got hooked on all the hype for this phone. I saw my chance to get it so i did. The sales guy was even like
  • this is a fantastic unlocked gsm phone. easy to use, screen is HUGE so the facebook and internet surfing is great. texting is surprisingly easy to use even though there's no keys and it keep my wife and kids busy on the road with all the games and apps. much better than my old unlocked phone. got my last couple at and we love them. htc is really stepping up their game lately!
  • i agree. this is definitely a great unlocked phone!! i started getting unlocked phones a few years ago when i switched over to at&t. it's so much easier and cheaper than waiting 2 years to renew my contract or to buy a full priced phone online. i got my last 2 on and although i love the hd2 i'd have to say i prefer the iphone. mine broke so i had to go with a cheaper phone this time.
  • The reviewer casually passes over the (highly unusual for HTC)2.5/3.5mm (what ever size it it) headphone jack. This makes the review seem very amateur, any professional phone reviewer would have instantly focused on this feature.
    scrub m65
    Now if only we can get that headphone jack on the Sprint version and a launch date!
  • i got this phone a couple days a go and it rocks on my old phone the camera sucked and it always crashed but this phone never has stop working i love it