HTC’s new sleek Radar device is the second Windows Phone 7.5 available from the company this year. The Radar features moderate specs and an improved 5-megapixel camera alongside the latest forward facing camera support in Microsoft’s new and improved “Mango” operating system. The look and feel of the Radar is very similar to HTC’s original Trophy Windows Phone. Is it worth the upgrade? Read on to find out.
The Radar features HTC’s metal aluminium unibody design. The device packs a curvy design that is very similar to the original Trophy device. The Radar feels very well made and sturdy in the hand and does not feature the rubbery feel of the Trophy. It’s almost identical to the Trophy in dimensions but has managed to slim down to weigh in at 137 grams (4.83 ounces). The Radar is 10.9mm thick, 61.5mm wide and 120.5mm in height making it a more reasonable sized phone for the average consumer.
HTC hasn’t done much work in terms of the innards though. The Radar features an upgraded Qualcomm “Snapdragon” MSM 8255 chipset with a 1 GHz single-core processor. The company has upped the graphics to a Adreno 205 and kept the memory at 512 MB of RAM. Disappointingly, the device still includes just 8GB of storage. Despite the moderate specs, the Radar features the trusty 3.8-inch 480 x 800 (WVGA) S-LCD display. HTC has bumped the camera in the Radar to a 5 megapixel camera with F2.2 lens, LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures). The Radar also includes a VGA front facing camera for Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7.5 support.
It’s also worth noting that 3G speeds have improved to 14.4 Mbps download speed and the Radar does not feature a new gyro sensor. HTC has also opted to not make the battery removable in the Radar, an odd choice given the fact it’s a selling point over some competitors products.
Windows Phone 7.5 improvements
HTC’s Radar supports the latest features of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 operating system. Radar users can enable the Internet Sharing feature to turn their device into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot that supports data sharing with up to 5 wireless devices. The Radar also supports Visual Voicemail inside Windows Phone 7.5, dependent on your mobile operator. HTC has also included its attentive phone features:
- Quiet ring on pickup - Reduce ring volume when you move the phone
- Pocket mode - Increase ring volume while in pocket or bag
- Flip for speaker - Turn over the phone to activate the speaker during calls
- Flip to mute ringer - Turn over the phone to silence the ringer during an incoming call
HTC has also included its connected media, Flashlight, Hub, Watch, Locations and Photo Enhancer applications. HTC users also have the option of downloading their own YouTube app which provides quick and easy access to search and sign-in to YouTube. Overall the software shipped alongside Windows Phone 7.5 is identical to that inside the HTC TITAN and appears to be a standard moving forward. The lack of Gyro sensor support means any third party applications will not pick up this particular new capability in the Radar.
HTC has opted to include a 5 megapixel camera in the Radar. The Radar’s camera ships with a F2.2 lens, LED flash and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures). This is an improvement from the original Trophy device but falls short of the impressive 8 megapixel, dual LED flash of the HTC TITAN. The camera is clearly middle ground for a fairly average Windows Phone device. The new and improved lens shoots clear and colourful pictures in the day light and the flash is reasonable for low light and night time shots. HTC supports Panorama Shot and Burst Shots modes within the camera application. The Panorama Shot mode lets Windows Phone users easily create a panoramic shot using the inbuilt camera application. The Panorama Shot mode is easy to control and the controls track user movement and stitch each image into the final result. The Burst Shots mode is another useful improvement that allows users to take a number of images in rapid succession. The feature is useful for capturing movement in photos or events that require multiple versions of essentially the same photo.
HTC has kept the auto focus features of its Windows Phone devices. A half press of the camera button will allow users to auto-focus in on objects in view. Microsoft’s own Windows Phone 7.5 improvements also allow users to tap to auto-focus and take a picture instead of using the dedicated hardware button. The Radar also features the ability to change white balance, brightness, contract, saturation and sharpness of images. Advanced photographers can also play around with the ISO settings of the camera to improve their images, the Radar offers ISO settings from 100 through to 800.
The Radar also sports a forward facing VGA camera. It’s one of the first Windows Phone 7.5 devices to feature a front facing camera. Unfortunately there’s no applications that support the feature at the time of writing. The Tango video calling service is due to go live on Windows Phone shortly and Microsoft is expected to offer its Skype for Windows Phone application in the coming weeks. Both are expected to support the forward-facing camera support in Windows Phone 7.5.
Another new feature of HTC’s Radar device is the ability to track faces with the camera. The face tracking picks up multiple individuals in a shot and will focus on the most prominent one. The software detects the faces in the frame and balances exposure for the final image. The tracking works by bringing up a white box around each face, the most prominent face will be detected and highlighted with a green box. If you’re shooting just a single person then the box will change from white to green once it’s focused (see image above), allowing you to capture the best portrait images.
The results of the HTC Radar camera can be found below using default settings on the image side and 720p for video capture.
Performance and battery life
The performance of the Radar is greatly improved from the Trophy. Despite the specifications being similar, the Radar’s graphics jump has helped make the device feel more snappy and responsive. The graphics side is almost on par with HTC’s bigger brother, the TITAN. HTC has also clearly improved the type of memory and storage flash it uses on the device. Read and write speeds are improved, adding to the speed of the device. We tested a number of apps and games on the device and overall it seemed to perform faster than the older generation Windows Phone devices.
Battery life on the Radar is also improved from the Trophy. I used the Radar for a few days as my primary device and found I didn’t need to charge the device each day. I managed to get around a day and a half to two days of full usage on the Radar. The time will obviously vary per user but compared to the Trophy, this aspect is definitely improved. The disappointing side here is that Radar users will not be able to swap out their battery as there’s no immediate access to this part of the device.
WP Bench results, lower ms on CPU/Data tests better. Higher F/s on GPU tests better:
CPU – 20,179 ms
Data – 22,357 ms
GPU – 1098 frames, avg: 36 F/s
CPU – 13,919 ms
Data – 20,469 ms
GPU – 1234 frames, avg: 41 F/s
CPU – 20,807 ms
Data – 28,903 ms
GPU – 571 frames, avg: 19 F/s
Overview and conclusion
Overall the HTC Radar is the best small sized Windows Phone 7.5 device on the market right now. The improved performance and aesthetics will make it appealing to the masses who aren’t prepared to move to a 4.7-inch display right now. The improved camera will also interest those wanting to use their phone as a point and shoot replacement.
The HTC Radar is very much the new Trophy and the comparisons are evident throughout the device. The moderate specs and look and feel of the device in the silver edition could make it an interesting contender going head to head with Nokia this holiday season. HTC will also ship the Radar in a white color.
If you’re interested in a reasonably sized Windows Phone 7.5 device then the HTC Radar is the best in its class right now. Samsung and Nokia both have new Windows Phone 7.5 devices on the horizon that could potentially sway your opinion of the Radar but it’s definitely a device that will appeal thanks to HTC’s impressive build quality.