HTC Radar 4G, A TmoNews Review

It’s review time again, and this time I got my hands on some new hardware.  Now, it doesn’t have Android (OH NO!) so it may not be on many of your lists, but it really should be considered.  T-Mobile made the mistake of sending me a Radar 4G to play with and I may, just may, keep it (I’m totally kidding T-Mobile, seriously).  Read on and see how it stacks up!

Software

I’ve made it no secret that I love Windows Phone 7.  I would shout it from the rooftops and the mountains, but I am apart of a website so why go outside, especially since it is cold outside.  I’ve raved about the HD7 on many occasions, and have even said some pretty amazing things about Mango.  That being said, I’m not going to waste your time with talk about how much I love that the arrow rotates as you switch between the start page and app page, or how the UI is uniform and beautiful throughout.  No, no…. you can go here for that.

Oh what the hell, here are some previous choice quotes from my Mango review back on September 30th:

I get it, you like Android and you can customize it (and I recommend it), but you shouldn’t have to customize it just to like your phone.  I have spent entirely too much time trying new homescreen replacements, adding homescreens, removing homescreens, trying widgets, changing the size of widgets and then just scrapping it all and starting over again.  With WP7 (and some other notable operating systems) you don’t have much of a choice, but it is simple and functional, just the way it should be on a phone.

They changed some things, of course.  One of the biggest changes is within the Bing search app.  Now, I don’t really like Bing out of principle (I am loyal to Google after all), but they did a great job with this.  Voice search is, I would say, much more accurate than Android’s.  The image search is quick and accurate as well, identifying my book in less than 5 seconds.  My favorite part, though, is the music identification search.  In my tests it was just as accurate as Soundhound and Shazam, and as fast as Soundhound, which makes it very effective.

Social integration.  I guess this is the new thing that all the cool kids are doing.  We are talking Facebook and Twitter integration galore.  It’s kind of cool, actually, especially with the way it is done on Mango.  So I did it, jut to see how it works. I love it.  For one, and as it should be, all of my contacts are synced with their corresponding Facebook and Twitter accounts.  It also aggregates all of your notifications into one panel, found in the “me” tile.  You can post from there too, to all of your accounts, at the same time.  It even aggregates all of the status updates in the “people” tile, which you can then view all at once or sorted by account.  It is all very clean, and very minimalistic.

So I have some words to back up now, huh?  I’ll stress the wording…I am referring to myself.  I wonder why “I” would ever use another OS.  A lot of you questioned me about this, so I really had to think, especially since I challenged Mango just as many times as I applauded it.  I found that my problems with Mango are small, and are more often than not missed opportunities to innovate rather than follow the lead.  In addition, Mango is very functional, with little to no hang-ups, stuttering or crashing.

So why do I praise Mango over the rest, and why do I think you should give it a try?  Easy, because I simply enjoy using it (yes, that is entirely opinionated).  It is simple and elegant, quick and functional.  It does everything I need it to do, and it does it well.  Other phones, with their flashing LED notifications, want me to make time for them.  Windows Phone 7, and Mango specifically, allows you to check your phone on your time.  Your life, simplified.

 

I will, though, discuss how the very same Mango version of WP7 runs on the Radar 4G, and I have no complaints.  It is just as smooth as ever, with gorgeous animations and silky smooth scrolling.  It is exactly the same, and I love it.  WP7 has been uniform across all hardware and hey, if Apple does it then there is a good chance that that is the right thing to do (I said it, I regret nothing).  I really can’t bash Android, though, because I love Android, when it is stock (death to custom UIs!).  It’s funny, though, because anything that is built into Mango runs just as fast on the HD7 as it does on the Radar 4G, with only the data speeds making a noticeable difference.  So I can’t really add more on the software because I have already done that.

Hardware

So I was explicitly told not to go in depth on the software side, so I have full intentions of rambling on and on over the hardware.  Simply put, though, if you like WP7, then you are going to like any of the devices, you will just need to find which hardware you like.  So, here you go.

It’s gorgeous.  I’m not a huge fan of white devices, but I love this phone.  Not only that, but it feels great in hand.  My only complaints are that it feels light to me (it is, after all, 0.9 ounces lighter than the HD7 that I am used to) and that it keeps slipping out of my hands.  The aluminum is nice, it looks great and makes the device sturdy, but it is just too smooth.  Now, I haven’t dropped it yet (*knocks on wood*) but I could see it happening easily, and often.  As far as the weight loss, I am almost entirely certain that it came from the screen.  The screen just feels light and thin, almost plastic-y…. I hate it.

Top: HD7, Bottom: Radar 4G

So while we are on the subject, let’s talk the screen.  The Radar 4G has a 3.8 inch WVGA LCD screen, with the same 800 x 480 resolution as the 4.3 inch HD7 screen.  I never thought I would miss half an inch as much as I do.  Now, I’m not going to bash it, but with similar dimensions as the HD7 I would expect a larger screen.  I’m also one of those crazy people that like huge screens because my hands are large.  As far as the resolution goes, it’s nothing special, at all, especially when compared to Super AMOLED and Retina displays.  The colors, though, are richer than what they are on the HD7, so that’s a plus.

I have some minor gripes with the design though, especially the sensors.  It’s a white phone, but the sensors and front facing camera are black, and it is really annoying to me.  This may be why I prefer black phones, but I think they are blemishes on an otherwise gorgeous face.  The next thing is small, but it is another reason why I hate white phones.  Light leaks around the capacitive buttons on the Radar 4G, which makes the design look blurry, just enough to annoy me.  Oh, and the lack of a removable battery, and a particular hard to remove battery SIM card cover really grinds my gears.

 

                                              Taken with the Radar 4G, GO HAWKS!

What about the camera?  It is about what you would expect from a phone nowadays, which is quite good.  It won’t replace a DSLR, but you won’t need to carry around a point and shoot anymore.  Color reproduction has been good and the shutter is fast, I have no complaints about the 5-megapixel rear camera.  The front facing camera, however, is about as good as the one on the iPad 2 (read – not good at all), but what would you expect from a 1-megapixel camera?

Data and Internet Sharing

It’s a 4G phone, so here is the obligatory data test.  Now, there isn’t really a good Speedtest app out there for WP7, so I decided to test out a different feature to see how it works, Internet sharing.  Lucky me, right as I was testing it on the Radar 4G an update to allow it on the HD7 comes my way.  The results of my tests, shown in Mbps, are as follows:

 

Radar 4G

HD7

Test Down Up Down Up

1

4.53

2.13

3.91

1.65

2

6.46

1.29

3.58

1.24

3

7.61

1.58

2.79

1.66

4

7.94

1.54

3

1.34

5

7.88

1.48

1.97

0.98

6

6.75

1.45

4.46

0.7

7

3.61

0.95

4.76

0.61

8

4.56

1.1

5.12

1.2

9

7.68

1.39

5.95

1.17

10

5.75

1.25

4.91

2.05

11

5.11

1.3

5.55

1.96

12

4.09

1.13

1.08

1.83

13

6.98

1.33

2.06

2.08

14

7.03

1.58

0.61

2.19

15

6.04

1.16

5.63

2.62

Average

6.13

1.38

3.69

1.55

Overall, it is super easy to set up and the experience is great.  The 4G speeds are great and make browsing relatively smooth in comparison to the 3G speeds on the HD7, which aren’t bad.  Neither, though, can hold a candle to the 14 Mbps that I get from my Internet service provider, but they will do in a pinch.

Battery

his is critical for every phone, and if you were following me on twitter the day I decided to test the battery then you will know that I have found the recipe for the perfect battery drain test.  It is called the auto repair shop or the DMV.  Seriously.  My setup for the day included 4 e-mail accounts scheduled to update as items arrive, two twitter accounts with one linked to WP7, Facebook updates, screen set to auto brightness, and with WiFI and Bluetooth off.  I took it off the charger at 7 and used it to check my e-mail, twitter and Facebook accounts, a 30-minute ordeal.  I then proceeded to check twitter every 10 minutes or so, until I got the auto repair shop.  I then loaded up Spotify to steam some music while continuing 3 text and facebook threads, chatting with our very own David over e-mail and checking twitter with every minute of free time.  I did this for an hour and a half, without letting the screen turn off, and watched the battery drop twenty percent, not bad I would say.  After that I went back to just checking e-mail as items arrived, texting and checking twitter every 15 minutes.  The Radar 4G made it to about 6 pm, which is about 11 hours.  Which is good, I would say, for abusing the battery.

On a normal day, though, I have been able to get by without charging midway through the day (it has help though by having me keep up with notifications on my laptop and iPad).  The battery life has generally been about the same as I what I see from the HD7, which shows me that the extra 290 mAH found in the battery goes directly to keeping up the 4G speeds.

Conclusion

 

It’s a short and sweet review, for me at least.  Overall, I love the phone and would recommend it to anyone that is looking for a new phone, especially if you like WP7.  For those of you that aren’t so sure about WP7 need to give it a try and help shed the negative stigma surrounding WP7.  When it comes down to it, though, it is not worth the upgrade if you currently have an HD7, and I would say that I almost prefer the HD7 for the extra screen real estate and heavier weight.  Aside from the 4G data speeds, which are really nifty, the experience is almost exactly the same.  Plus, the extra minute or so that you actually save per day isn’t entirely worth it if you have the HD7.  The Radar 4G is, however, a fantastic phone and I think I will keep it (still just kidding T-Mobile).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • miggs

    I recently upgraded my g2 to a gs2 and gave the g2 to my dad since his blackberry was dying.

    He hates it

    Do you think he’ll do better with a radar? I think wp7 is superb and very easy to use. Easier than android

    Any input is great thanks

    • Anonymous

      In a word, yes. If your dad wants the phone to be less complex, then this is the phone he wants. I currently use a tmo dell venue pro, and I absolutely love it. I’ve had it since August, and recently let my girlfriend use it for 3 weeks while I used her nexus s. I love Android, but it was painful to go back to a device from that generation. wp7 is great and the radar is cheap (I’m thinking of getting one myself) so I say pull the trigger if your thinking about it

    • Anonymous

      In a word, yes. If your dad wants the phone to be less complex, then this is the phone he wants. I currently use a tmo dell venue pro, and I absolutely love it. I’ve had it since August, and recently let my girlfriend use it for 3 weeks while I used her nexus s. I love Android, but it was painful to go back to a device from that generation. wp7 is great and the radar is cheap (I’m thinking of getting one myself) so I say pull the trigger if your thinking about it

  • miggs

    I recently upgraded my g2 to a gs2 and gave the g2 to my dad since his blackberry was dying.

    He hates it

    Do you think he’ll do better with a radar? I think wp7 is superb and very easy to use. Easier than android

    Any input is great thanks

  • Nerdlust

    I would consider if there was a flash work around. Im liking what wp7 does and the smoothness.

    • Ryan

      The Radar’s HTML5 works flawlessly. I have yet to run into a situation that says “flash required” and I have mine set to view websites in desktop mode. Give it a shot in the stores. 

    • Ryan

      The Radar’s HTML5 works flawlessly. I have yet to run into a situation that says “flash required” and I have mine set to view websites in desktop mode. Give it a shot in the stores. 

  • Nerdlust

    I would consider if there was a flash work around. Im liking what wp7 does and the smoothness.

  • http://twitter.com/catire98 Luis Carlos Diaz

    I upgraded to this phone from a Motorola Cliq. Needless to say, the Cliq was an awful phone so any improvement was welcome. This said, I really like this phone. The OS is extremely well design and works smoothly. All the iphone and android most popular apps are usually available and my guess is that they will be in the future if not currently there. 

  • http://twitter.com/catire98 Luis Carlos Diaz

    I upgraded to this phone from a Motorola Cliq. Needless to say, the Cliq was an awful phone so any improvement was welcome. This said, I really like this phone. The OS is extremely well design and works smoothly. All the iphone and android most popular apps are usually available and my guess is that they will be in the future if not currently there. 

  • Tmonewsfan

    Worst review I’ve ever read. Don’t quit your day job Andrew.

    -sent from mytouch 4G

  • Tmonewsfan

    Worst review I’ve ever read. Don’t quit your day job Andrew.

    -sent from mytouch 4G

    • Let’s Stay on Topic_HD7

      Simply said, some comments are uncalled-for  and this is  truly  an example.

    • Let’s Stay on Topic_HD7

      Simply said, some comments are uncalled-for  and this is  truly  an example.

  • TMOFan133

    I’m using this phone and I must say it’s pretty good. I don’t really have any complaints yet. It not android, and definitely doesn’t compare to my GSII, but coming from a BlackBerry it takes the best of BB and Android.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesdax James Matthews

    Nice review.  I also have an HD7 and am reluctent to give it up because I love the large screen.  Hopefully T-Mobile will get another large screen for WP7 soon.  Perhaps from Nokia or LG (looking forward to a WP annoucment from them at there event on 12/1).

  • http://twitter.com/jamesdax James Matthews

    Nice review.  I also have an HD7 and am reluctent to give it up because I love the large screen.  Hopefully T-Mobile will get another large screen for WP7 soon.  Perhaps from Nokia or LG (looking forward to a WP annoucment from them at there event on 12/1).

  • http://twitter.com/jamesdax James Matthews

    btw Andrew.  You say in your review that there isn’t a good speedtest app for WP7.  Is there something wrong with Bandwidth? I have version 3.4 of this app and it seems to work quite well.

  • whiskers

    I just bought new phones on the one day sale last week and it was a toss up between the HD7 and 4G model .
    After comparing both side by side and considering the actual cost between the two i chose the HD7 because of the nice 4.3 screen and removable battery option.
    I’ve used many unlocked/jailbroken iphones in the past and being able to replace the battery was a major issue.
    The 4G Radar data was faster than the 3G HD7 speed but not enough to convince me it was a better phone overall.

  • whiskers

    I just bought new phones on the one day sale last week and it was a toss up between the HD7 and 4G model .
    After comparing both side by side and considering the actual cost between the two i chose the HD7 because of the nice 4.3 screen and removable battery option.
    I’ve used many unlocked/jailbroken iphones in the past and being able to replace the battery was a major issue.
    The 4G Radar data was faster than the 3G HD7 speed but not enough to convince me it was a better phone overall.

  • Anonymous

    Nice review, Andrew. I’m not a fan of Windows Phone 7

  • Anonymous

    Nice review, Andrew. I’m not a fan of Windows Phone 7

  • searchmaven

    I just picked this up as a backup to my GSII. Definitely an adjustment but lots of promise. Biggest gripes so far is the lack of ability to adjust system font size and no text rewrap in the web browser when zooming in. 

  • searchmaven

    I just picked this up as a backup to my GSII. Definitely an adjustment but lots of promise. Biggest gripes so far is the lack of ability to adjust system font size and no text rewrap in the web browser when zooming in. 

  • Vim

     Most reviewers do seem to love WP7. David isn’t alone there.  Reviewer love does not appear to be translating into mass-market sales however, at least not so far. In terms of both hardware support and software features, WP7 still falls
    short of Android and iOS.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find the
    interface dull.

    • Evan

      Windows phones biggest enemy is Microsoft. Microsoft seems to ignore every carrier besides AT&T, not allowing their platform to expand. I’d love the HTC Titan, but instead I’m stuck with this bar of soap.

      • kellen11

        the titan is nice but it’s way too big. i have a sensation and compared it to my friend’s new titan and the titan felt like a mini tablet…and i have pretty big hands

  • Vim

     Most reviewers do seem to love WP7. David isn’t alone there.  Reviewer love does not appear to be translating into mass-market sales however, at least not so far. In terms of both hardware support and software features, WP7 still falls
    short of Android and iOS.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find the
    interface dull.

  • None

    My hopes for purchasing this phone are dashed by one term, “plastic-y” screen.
    I could not take that.  And of course I cannot even hold a real one in my hands because every TMO store I know of only uses dummy phones.  Somehow the other carriers in the same malls have live phones (many even logged into accounts so that you can see performance)… but no, not TMO.  So I have to count on reviews and “plastic-y” I cannot handle.  Darn.

    • William Cron

      You can ask the store reps for a working unit. I checked out a Radar in store, and while the battery was dead so I couldn’t play with Mango, I didn’t find the screen really “plasticy”. It felt the same as the screen on my Astound.

    • http://twitter.com/rdubmu rdubmu

      I have chattered two, TWO HD7 Screens. I am thinking of picking this up, no contract.

    • Sirobone

      Its not plastic’y at all. Its no different then the HD7 other then a bit smaller, and its a super lcd screen. Its actually better. Its doesn’t feel cheap in the slightest. I have both phones, the screens aren’t different feeling at all.

  • chestbrah

    i would have got this phone if it came in silver. i dont like the white color

  • GS24G

    Ive tried WP7 for a few months but went back to Android. Overall WP7 is a nice OS but it lacks some functionality.

    Ex. The Facebook app is terrible compared to the Android version. Turn by Turn isn’t as good as on Android. IE9 is a good browser but compared to Opera Mobile on my Galaxy S2, it’s not great (Android is so much faster at loading pages). The apps in general are more costly (I don’t mind paying for apps but I’m not spending more than $1 on an app). 

    Don’t get me wrong because I like the nice clean interface but for day to day use like using Facebook, Internet, making calls, texting, and watching YouTube videos on my break at work, Android just does it  better. Hopefully we’ll see some improvements with both platforms in the future.

  • WP7 Rocks

    This is actually a great phone. I used the Radar for a few weeks and I will say, no crashing, no force closing. The map accuarcy is incredible (compared to android), as are the maps themselves. The aps will tell you what stores are in buildings like malls so you can park on the right side of the building and find your store or resturant quick.
    Many features feel smarter than Android or Blackberry. The web is quick and fluid.

    The probelm is, no expandable memory, and I wish it were black or silver.
    Overall great phone. I gave it to my wife, and she loves it. She used to use a galaxy s 4g, but she is happier with the Radar, of course, she isn’t an app junkie like me.

  • http://twitter.com/TheArticool That Dude Sneaks

    i was a customer with an HD7 and recently made the switch to the RADAR and i must say that im not looking back… i dont miss the bigger screen and actually prefer the slightly smaller screen… looks better and IMO the front facing camera and 4g alone are incentive enough for any hd7 user to switch over to the RADAR… i used to be in love with android but WP7 is so much better i cant stress this enough… its a great phone and everyone should atleast pick up 1 to play with at a store

  • PlayTheCharade

    This phone is amazing. As a store rep, Ive had the MyTouch Slide 3G, G2, G2X, Sensation, and Defy, and this kills those phones hands down. I was unwillingly (read I DID NOT WANT THIS) assigned this phone as the store champion and now I really look forward to our next WP7 release. I love Android, really do, but WP7 (especially with this Mango update) really surprised me with this. Especially battery life. All I did was charge the phone up to full the first time I got it, no fancy battery calibration like draining and charging multiple times, and this is the performance ive gotten 4 days later, right this moment of posting:

    Remaining Battery: 45%
    Estimated Time Remaining 17 hours
    Time Since Last Charge: 1 Day, 1 Hour
     
    Let me translate. That is 42 hours its gunning for, if the estimation is correct. I couldnt get time like that out of any of those phones, hence I always bought extra batteries from Mugen or the like. This is with Web/3G/4G on, Location tracking on, Battery Saver off, Wifi/Bluetooth Off, 2 email accounts syncing every 30 minutes, brightness on automatic. All the apps I needed to download on my Android phones, ala Shazam, text message reader, a good music player, are all built in to the OS. I used to laugh at WP7 for its limited customization, always preferring Android, but I guess we all eat our words at some point, eh?

  • http://twitter.com/xOneSainTx xOneSainTx

    Worst part of the review was the stupid Blackhawks jersey.  Go Red Wings!

  • Anonymous

    8th day with this phone and I love it!
    Smooth interface, great design and I too wasn’t a big fan of white phones but I think this one is changing my mind. There is a grey version of this phone out but it isn’t available through T-Mobile.
    I was debating over which phone to purchase for some time, I had been a long time Blackberry user and had been testing out my wifes Nexus S. I did like that phone and the Android os but when I got to use a live demo version of this phone at a T-Mobile store I didn’t want to let it go.
    The thing I really like about this phone is the size. I’m not into the “fanny pack” size phones. The Radar is perfect for me (IMO) and for $100, you can’t go wrong….

  • William C Bonner

    No mention of the fact that the phone reports that it does not have a compass or gyroscope, and so some newer apps will not work properly.

    Generally I like the phone, but I’m concerned of what may not work on it in the future.

  • Tuliom Mesa

    I sold my Sg2 due to the fact it had CIQ in order to get this phone.
    Im gonna get it soon hopefully :D

  • Chrissd0428

    i love my phone and windows is giving away $25 card for buying any windows phone….but ive had it for a week and i love it!!!

  • Sirobone

    I just upgraded From the HD7 to the Radar a week ago. And i think the difference between the two isn’t that big, But the camera options in the radar are way better. And it take better pictures all around. Especially in low lighting situations. I tip the hat to the Radar. I do miss the big screen of the HD7 though. One thing i don’t like about the radar is they took the compass out of it. Why would they do that?

  • Christie0777

    I am new to the HTC Radar and I was wondering if there is a way to keep facebook on the phone but not have all my facebook contacts synced with my regular contacts?  I have about 600 facebook friends but I dont need all of them in my contact list.