Name: HTC Radar 4G
Price: $100 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story: To say most consumers and industry experts have written off Windows Phone 7 would be an overstatement. Introducing the Windows Phone 7 late last year, Microsoft’s handsets welcomed an attractive OS, jaw-dropping animations, and great multimedia options in the form of Zune and Xbox Live integration. But the product suffered from a limited and unbalanced features. So after months of revamping its new operating system, Windows Phone 7.5, the software giant looks to reign supreme on the mobile front by releasing its first Mango-ready device: the HTC Radar 4G.
Sporting a heavy set of new UI improvements, a beautiful design, and some awesome productivity features, Mango's full of tasty mobile savorings. But does the Radar 4G have enough flavor to stand strong amongst T-Mobile’s Android offerings? Or will it leave the same bitter taste as its predecessor?
• Sweet, sweet Mango: Microsoft finally nails it with its new OS. The Radar 4G does an immaculate job of bringing together a highly intuitive social media experience by introducing new enhancements such as Facebook contact and Twitter integration via the People Hub. The Bing search has been given a facelift and supports Voice Search, a Shazam-inspired music feature, and Bing Vision: a visual search tool that pulls up information on an item the rear camera is pointed at. Also, the real-time panel on the homescreen is another fresh take that makes keeping up with emails, SMS, and social updates much quicker. One of the more distinctive features we enjoyed most was the new shutdown screen, which lets you power off the phone by sliding down a window—a much simpler process than then the two-step touchscreen prompt found on every Android phone.
• Jack of all media trades: As with most Windows Phone 7 handsets, the Radar 4G excels in the multimedia class. New Mango updates such as Smart DJ introduce new innovative ways to enjoy music by automatically creating music mixes on the Zune software based on your favorite artist, album, or song. There’s an option to stream mixes through a Zune Music Pass account as well. On top of that, the company’s decided to expand its mobile Xbox Live service by providing users an open window to customize 3D avatars, track achievements, and much more. The phone can be synched to both PCs and Macs, giving Apple users the opportunity to import their iTunes library without any hassles.
• Striking design: The Radar 4G's slender form factor combined with its striking all-white shading make it T-Mobile’s sexiest handset available. Design-wise, the phone resembles another chic-trendy HTC handset, the smaller Wildfire S, rocking silver accents that encircle the 3.8-inch touchscreen and an aluminum back panel. The smaller screen, lightweight 4.83-ounce mass, and 0.43-inch thickness makes for a better in-pocket fit, too. In addition, the all-black Mango interface adds an aesthetic feel to the phone that blends perfectly with the pallid exterior.
• Impressive processing power: Even with an outdated 1GHz Qualcomm chip and minimal 512MB RAM space, the Radar 4G pumps out fast performance benchmarks. Web pages and apps opened instantly, Xbox Live games played great, and most media files ran without any stutter. Thanks to Mango’s new multitasking capabilities, users can easily switch apps by holding down the back button and choosing the respective thumbnail on the screen. Granted you won’t get the lag-free results most dual-core devices offer, but Qualcomm’s CPU does move at a speedy and effective rate.
• Unbeatable price: At just $100, the Mango-infused handset serves as a rewarding gamble for anyone interested in testing the Windows Phone 7 waters, as well as those seeking an Android or iPhone substitute.
• Weak 4G speeds and signal reception: Unfortunately, HTC's phone runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ 14.4 network instead of the carrier's faster 42Mbps network—delivering slower data and web browsing speeds in comparison to Sprint’s WiMax and Verizon’s LTE networks. Voice calling faired better than expected, but our coverage kept switching between 3G and 2G several times out in the Bay Area, resulting in a few dropped calls and imprecise clarity.
• Lack of memory and non-removable battery: With only 6GB of internal storage and no memory card slot, owners are practically forced to utilize Microsoft’s cloud-based service, SkyrDrive, which does offer 25GB of free storage. On the other hand, the more recent Android models are giving you more memory, a pre-installed microSD, and a cloud option. And like the Motorola Droid RAZR, the Radar 4G has a sealed rear that prevents users from swapping out the external battery.
• Windows Marketplace selection: Sitting on an estimated 35,000 apps, Microsoft's mobile online service fails to offer the robust and favorable selection found on the Android Marketplace, App Store, and even BlackBerry World.
Final Say: Windows Mango OS and its awesome feature set do a great job of selling you on the HTC Radar 4G. Small fancies such as real-time updates, Bing Vision, and Smart DJ enliven both the user-interface and its visual aesthetics—standing out as distinctive facets that help set the mobile operating system apart from the competition. It’s clearly one of the most gorgeous handsets on the market. Plus the second-gen processor delivers speedy and responsive results. Yet with so many upgrades, the Microsoft Phone 7 device still feels somewhat like a mid-level smartphone, which is attributed to its weak 4G support, small apps library, and outdated hardware. But at $100, the Radar 4G is definitely worth the look.