Review: HTC Radar

By Tom Warren, on 17th Oct 11 8:57 am with 43 Comments

HTC Radar

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 Radar in brown

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 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.

HTC Radar

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.

HTC Radar image sample - click to see original

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.

HTC Radar

WP Bench results, lower ms on CPU/Data tests better. Higher F/s on GPU tests better:

HTC Radar:

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

HTC Trophy:

CPU – 20,807 ms
Data – 28,903 ms
GPU – 571 frames, avg: 19 F/s

HTC Trophy, HTC Radar and HTC TITAN

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.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a very good phone, but 8GB is a show stopper, unfortunately.

    • notePAD

      Plus 25 GB Skydrive storage…

    • Anonymous

      I can’t install apps to SkyDrive, don’t want to drain battery by streaming music etc. I do use SkyDrive a lot, but it’s not a substitute for local storage, rather an awesome addition. On my phone, I have about 8GB of apps and their data and about 4GB of music.

  • Penta2100

    Do you have to buy all of these phones yourself? That must cost a fortune!!!!

    • Tom W

      Yes I do apart from the Radar.

    • notePAD

      Tom, can I have one of them?

    • Gamer

      Gimme instead!!

    • Sergio

      Why? I bet u would b the first one to b able to get review units…

      Much Love!

    • Tom W

      Yes I do get review units but it’s useful to have devices to keep for comparison purposes. I used to use the Samsung Focus as my personal device but I now use the HTC TITAN.

    • Gamer

      Wow, I thought HTC sponsored you./

  • majankajan

    Wp7 has very old specs. One should not believe what Microsoft PR department says, simply because they are lagging behind in development.         They do everything for us to believe otherwise

    • phil jay

      That shoul keep the phones at lower price… I mean everything is fast and fluid anyways on wp7… They would just need a killer phone for marketing.

    • majankajan

      I have a HTC Trophy. I am not happy with it lags a little, maybe it will be better with Mango. It closes down a few times everyday. 

    • AlienSix

      So you come here, claim to have a Windows Phone and yet DONT have Mango on your handset?

      More trolling curiosity of Translatethis27 and his incessant old talking points

    • Gamer

      stfu you wh0re

    • Anonymous

      @”majankajan” a.k.a “casandrasdream” you don’t even have HTC Tropy, you fandroid troll! GTFO!

    • Ef Jay

      Just for everyone’s attention, this poster is a known troll, posting the same thing on multiple sites for quite a while now. Ignore anything he says.

    • Anonymous

      What efjay said. Apparently his English is quite limited as he uses the same phrase time and time again. I imagine him sitting by his computer hitting refresh on the 12 tabs he has open with windows phone sites and then just hitting comment and paste over and over.

    • Anonymous

      You are right, I don’t believe Microsoft PR.  Instead I believe my own eyes when I look at the performance of my Focus against the dual core Android phones of my friends.  My phone is smoother, faster, and last a lot longer on battery.  One of my friends was bragging about how powerful his dual core phone was (forget what model, may have been Atrix).  I asked him to show me, and he said “oh I can’t right now, the battery is almost dead”.

    • majankajan

      LOL sorry but you have very old specs……

    • Anonymous

      LOL, sorry, but you failed to address my point….

    • Matt Baldwin

      The point is WP7 performs amazing on old specs vs. other phone operating systems.  So keep your narrow view on “old specs” and enjoy your sluggish OS on next gen specs while we enjoy next gen performance on old specs.

    • Mohammad

      OMG someone ban this idiot from WP7 blogs… he is everywhere, engadget, wpCentral & WMPU. dude get a life! you stuck up moron

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      Leave and let us enjoy are crappy phones.

    • Gamer

      troll, stfu.

    • Anonymous

      BAN this TROLL! ^

    • Anonymous

      BEWARE: “majankajan” a.k.a “casandrasdream” is known troll on internet, I advise moderator to take a notice!

  • Ef Jay

    Don’t think this will compare to a Nokia or a Samsung with SAMOLED.

  • sarkis chamelian

    Samsung or Nokia for Me !

    • casandrasdream

      I updated my phone to 7.5 and it is now useless, keyboard disappears all the time, the battery life is crap now ?!?!?!, and it freezes all the time.I have had most of the bugshere… going back to IOS where I should have stayed after my contract is up, Im trying to see If I can get out of it as basically the phone they have given me is “not fit for purpose”Microsoft needs to sort this crap out…………………………………

    • Anonymous

      Did you just copy and pasted from your post at WMPoweruser site? Should I point you to your craap like a puppy dog, you troll?

    • Top

      which phone is that? My Samsung Focus seems to last longer with Mango-Green tea. From lasting only a day it is now 2 days.

      I notice it is hung for sometimes when you change the zone from 3G to Edge and back to 3G but it is not that annoying. Overall Mango is a great result (update) from Microsoft.

      I don’t see the point to keep whining if you dont do a proper research before purchasing the phone anyway. Good luck with IOS …. I love to stay tune with WP

  • alexzzz

    is there a gray tile color on the new phones that originaly come with mango?

  • Tommoo

    Terrible focussing in the vid guys.

    • Tom W

      Yeah sorry about that, I usually demo the handsets flat on a surface but tried something different. I voiced over the video to make the audio a bit more clear as people complain they can’t hear me right.

  • Neville Carpenter

    8gb is fine for me, otherwise i just fill it up with stuff i dont use. That includes music  and applications.

  • Simon Karlskov

    I got this phone last Thursday and I’m very happy.. I’m a former iPhone4 owner so it’s my first time on WP.. I must say taht everything is super snappy and works great im really really impressed with the OS and with the build quality of the Radar..
    Considering it is a “low end” device I havent noticed any kind of slow down or framerate drop anywhere in the OS or in any applications.

    I’m a happy camper and would recommend this phone for anyone who wants to try ot WP7 for a reasonable price :)

  • JimmyFal

    They need to do something much greater than what is already happening. The ball is heavy in Nokias court right now. Time to deliver is NOW, not 2012. Sure I can wait, and I will but opportunity is knocking. Right now Nokia, right NOW.

  • Anonymous

    Tom, you can’t do away with the MURMURS, can you?
    The video review is INCOMPREHENSIBLE, same with your other reviews.
    Can’t you get a mic on that DSLR?
    Don’t be SHY when doing the hands on previews, it make you sound horrible on video, for your own good, please.
    Though you’re no way official it also adds to MS’ bad marketing image.

  • Afilush

    A few questions…Is this coming to any carriers in the US? Or do you have to buy it direct from HTC? And is it GSM or CDMA?


  • Richard Bijster

    After having an iPhone for several years, I decided it was time for a change and went for an HTC Radar Windows Phone. I have been using it every day for about 3 weeks now. As an actual user of a phone running Windows Phone Mango, I can only say that it is a very nice operating system, in which social media is exceptionally well integrated (all under one Tile updates from Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Windows Live & Google). The phone has not dropped one call. Getting used to Zune is simple and synchronisation of my HTC Radar in Zune is far quicker than my last iPhone synching with iTunes. So far, I have not come across any annoying bugs. The OS just seems to work and it works well.

    I can only say that that my experience of using WIndows Phone Mango in the real world has only been positive. I’m not going to bash the iPhone in any way here, as my experience with iOS was also positive but I was simply getting bored with looking at the same old operating system and fancied a change.

    Whether Windows Phone will now actually take off is yet to be seem. From using it daily, I can’t see any reason for it not to. As for Android, I have no experience of using it and can’t comment. I have no problems in recommending Windows Phone Mango as a nice, well thought out and reliable OS. I certainly have no regrets about changing from my iPhone to a Window Phone.