Review: HTC 7 Mozart

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By Francis Tan

From the huge, chunky Windows PDA phones of yesteryears, Microsoft has managed to pull off a complete 180-degree turn and completely revamp its image to a new modern, trendy platform that is Windows Phone 7. HTC, on the other hand, is known to deliver some of the most fine-looking smartphones in the planet that boasts of style and performance. Combine these two and we have the HTC 7 Mozart, the first Windows Phone 7 device to be released in the Philippines.

The HTC 7 Mozart is complete eye candy, built from a dark aluminum unibody construction. The 3.7-inch LCD touchscreen is as beautiful as it gets, occupying the entire front of the phone, which lacks any physical keys. The multitouch-enabled screen is one of the most responsive we have tested thus far, and the Windows keys are no exception. It has a 480×800 WVGA resolution that is satisfyingly bright. This makes the display absolutely clean and crisp down to the last pixel. Conversely, the volume rockers are in an awkward position; a bit too low compared with the standard, which makes it especially hard to reach for people with a predominant left hand. Overall, the phone feels absolutely great on the hand—hold the device and you can easily tell that it’s not one cheap gadget.

The back of the phone is just as sexy with a unique design that is truly captivating. There are three partitions, the bottom being a detachable rubber cover with a removable Li-ion 1300 mAh battery and a standard SIM card slot underneath. The memory is not expandable so the micro-SD card slot is nowhere to be found. The camera and flash are completely exposed which makes us hesitant to lay this phone on its back without protection. The speakers are located on the back of the unit as well so naturally, sound gets a bit muffled.

The inside of the HTC 7 Mozart impresses just as much. It runs on a decent 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU with 576 RAM and 512 ROM, which allows for smooth transitions when switching in and between different apps. It also has 8 GB of storage that—unless you’re a media buff with an elaborate collection of music and video—would pretty much suffice. It has built-in Dolby Mobile and SRS sound enhancement which makes listening to music a real charm—it’s loud and crisp, which is highly commendable considering this is just a phone. The same could be said when making calls. All other standard connectivity features are present: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HSDPA, and GPS.

The performance of Windows Phone 7 is simply phenomenal on the HTC 7 Mozart. It’s fast and snappy. I couldn’t feel any noticeable lag whatsoever. There are however, considerable delays when it comes to loading some third-party applications, which I believe is more of a flaw in the OS rather than the hardware. There is much to talk about with the new Windows Phone 7 operating system; it deserves an article of its own so be sure to check our features section for an in-depth review right after. For what it’s worth, it runs splendidly on this device.

HTC is fond of creating a custom user interface for its devices. But due to the Windows Phone 7 restriction against skinning, HTC had to compromise and came up with the HTC Hub app instead. This is a standard for all Windows Phone 7 devices. This isn’t nearly as remarkable as its Android counterpart as this one is more like a cool-looking weather app with a portal to a handful of HTC apps rather than that the widget-filled custom user interface we are familiar with. There aren’t exactly any note-worthy bundled apps on the HTC 7 Mozart, save for the Photo Enhancer and the Sound Enhancer.

Among the first batch of Windows Phone 7 devices that have been released, the HTC 7 Mozart has one of the best cameras, boasting an 8-megapixel autofocus camera with Xenon flash, geo-tagging, and 720p video recording. With specs of this magnitude, it deserves a dedicated shutter key for the trigger-happy photographers, which can be found on the lower right side of the phone. Sad to say that it couldn’t impress us beyond what is on paper. The images from the camera are completely washed-out, even when used on good lighting conditions. The camcorder disappoints as well, suffering from frame rate issues and poor color reception.

We managed to get an average of 7 to 8 hours of battery life with standard use, which is pretty much a standard for a smartphone with these specs. Take note, however, that this is without support for third-party multitasking yet. When the update for multitasking arrives, it may or may not affect the battery life; but based from experience, I’m more skeptical rather than optimistic on this one.

Currently, the HTC 7 Mozart is only officially available as a bundle with a Smart subscription (free at Plan 4000). It’s not unlikely that this phone will be sold as a prepaid device in the future but we have yet to confirm the actual date of its availability. Interestingly, the device that we tested is not operator locked so we have high hopes for subscribers of different networks as well.

What’s Hot:

• Stylish design
• Robust specs
• Premium Finish
• Impressive screen

What’s Not:

• Poor camera performance
• Limited capacity

Bottomline:

The HTC 7 Mozart is no doubt one of the most stylish WP7 devices right now but the poor camera performance could potentially be a deal-breaker.

Buy Meter: 8.5

 

Tech Specs:

Display: 3.7” LCD touchscreen of WVGA resolution (480 x 800 pixels)
Processor: 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 576MB RAM, 512MB ROM
Camera: 8 megapixel autofocus camera with Xenon flash, 720p video recording
Memory: 8GB of built-in storage
Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP

[This review originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]