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!


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.


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


Test Down Up Down Up

















































































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.


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.



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).

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