HTC Radar: Review of the Titan's little brother

HTC Radar Review

HTC Radar is the latest Windows Phone from the HTC stable. Dubbed as the little brother of the HTC Titan, it comes with a 3.8 inch SLCD display, 5 MP Camera and a sturdy metal unibody design. It is also one of the few phones to come out pre-loaded with WP7.5 Mango.

Hardware

HTC Radar is a beautiful looking phone and is sturdy and well-built. The metal design adds to its weight but it feels very solid in the hands and has a very rich and elegant look, all thanks to its metal unibody design. Gorilla glass sits on top of 3.8 inch multi-touch display. The WVGA resolution of the display makes the text and images look very crisp and sharp. The performance is decent in bright sunlight. The black levels are deep enough if the display is set on auto-brightness mode.

Front plate

The front features a proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and a front facing VGA camera for video calling. Down below there are three standard Windows Phone control touch-sensitive buttons (back, home and search).

The left side of the phone doesn't have any buttons; just a micro-USB port for charging and sync. The right side features volume controls and a dedicated camera button. On the top, you have a lock-screen button and a standard 3.5mm audio jack.

On the back you'll find the speaker and 5 MP Camera with single LED flash. Though the speaker is loud and clear indoors, you'll find that the sound gets muffled when the phone is placed on a table or covered in pouch. This happens due to the placement of the speaker on the back. It should have been placed on the top or bottom.

Metal unibody design

Due to the metal unibody design of the device, the battery is non-removable. This can pose a problem to frequent travelers and people who like to keep extra set of batteries. The battery life is decent. During the test, the battery lasted for about 1 and half day with some calls, downloading apps on Wi-Fi and not to mention that EDGE was always on for syncing. If you're low on battery, the all new battery saver feature will come to rescue. The outer skin of the device is not full metal; it also has some plastic bits for connectivity. HTC Radar has inbuilt A-GPS receiver, Stereo FM Radio, Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP which is common in smartphones available these days.

Software

HTC Radar runs the latest flavor of the Windows Phone OS called Mango (WP7.5). Windows Phone 7.5 was previewed in May last year. There are as many as 500 new features in Mango; some of the notable features include the new task switcher, voice search, Twitter and LinkedIn integration and improved messaging. HTC Radar comes loaded with some HTC apps such as HTC Hub, HTC Watch, Locations, Connected Media, Photo Enhancer, Flashlight and notes.

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango

IE9 comes bundled with Mango. The page rendering is fast and the text looks good. Overall performance of the browser is very good. As a former Android user, the only thing that bugged me is that when you zoom-in, the text doesn't reflow or auto-align itself. Although it looks like a small issue but in my opinion it spoils the browsing experience as you have to flick left and right constantly to read the text. If you're one of those who often visit Flash sites then you'll be disappointed as there is no support for Adobe Flash and surprisingly there is no Silverlight support as well. The multiple tabs feature is great but there is no easy way to switch between tabs.

5MP camera

The Radar has a 5 Megapixel camera with autofocus and a single LED flash. The f/2.2 lens captures quality pictures and works well in low-light situations too. The camera app comes with a few extra features such as panorama, facial recognition and burst mode. The panorama mode allows you to take beautiful panoramic pictures. The panorama mode makes use of the phone's accelerometer and stitches the pictures to create a panoramic image. Unlocking the phone and going to the camera app takes time but HTC has added a neat little feature where the phone unlocks directly in to the camera app if you press the shutter button for 2 seconds. The camera is capable of recording 720p HD videos at 30fps. The quality of the captured video is very good and sharp. The continuous focus mode tends to blur the videos when the camera is panned. Camera takes some time to adjust to the light levels around you.

Social services like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are integrated in to the contacts. There is no option to import or export contacts. Windows Live, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail are supported right out of the box.

Performance

The Radar houses a 1GHz Scorpion CPU and Adreno 205 GPU. It has 512 MB of ROM and RAM. Although dual core CPUs are the norm these days, I felt the Radar was fast and snappy. I didn't experience any lag while using any application or playing games. Even after installing 10+ apps the performance was consistent. The inbuilt memory is 8GB and there is no room for expansion as there is no expandable memory slot. Also, the OS and the apps consume some memory so only 6.5GB is left for user consumption. This might be a deal breaker for music lovers who like to carry their whole library with them.

Back plate

Verdict

The HTC Radar is a decent looking handset and fairly responsive. If you're on the lookout for a budget smartphone and won't settle for Apple or Android then this might be a good choice. Before buying it you might want to take a look at its competition. The Samsung Omnia W and Nokia Lumia 710 are both in the same bracket as the HTC Radar but are cheaper, faster and more or less better than the Radar. Both, Lumia 710 and Omnia W run on 1.4GHz processor and have their own proprietary AMOLED displays.

Thumbs Up

  • Windows Phone 7.5
  • Gorilla glass
  • Metal unibody design
  • Good battery life

Thumbs Down

  • No expansion slot
  • Non-removable battery
  • No Flash support
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