Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: HTC 7 Mozart

Windows Phone 7 might not yet have been "officially" launched in India but the first Windows Phone devices are already out in the market. First off the mark was the large-screen HTC HD7, and now comes the second, again from HTC, the MTC 7 Mozart.

Where the HD7 had an almost smallish tablet-like design, with the 4.3 inch screen dominating, the Mozart has a relatively smaller (but still big) 3.7 inch display. Its frame is also less wide but it retains the relative slimness of the HD7, making it one of the most palm-friendly larger touchscreen devices we have seen.

But what really stands out is its design — in the HTC Legend tradition, the Mozart has been crafted out of a single piece of anodized aluminum.

This does not seem to be evident from the front of the phone, which is dominated by the 480 x 800 display, but comes to the fore when you turn the phone over and see the anodized aluminum with the company name engraved on it.

The front has three soft keys (Home, Search and Back), there is a dedicated camera key on the right side and rather unusually, the volume rocker on the left. The innards, like the HD 7, are impressive too — a 1GHz processor, 576 MB RAM and 8GB onboard storage.

However, while the HD7 was very much a professional device, the Mozart is targeted at the multimedia loving crowd. The display is lovely (very good for Web browsing and watching video), there is high-fidelity virtual surround sound which sounds just wonderful, and most significant of all, an 8.0-megapixel camera with autofocus and a Xenon flash, no less.

And this being Windows Phone 7, it is all covered in a brilliant tile interface where you can add any number of tiles (representing shortcuts and/or apps) to a vertically scrolling homescreen, which works with butter-like smoothness with hardly any lags and comes with mail and office apps out of the box. The Mozart is a great-looking phone with a very good looking OS to boot.

Windows Phone 7 looks good and works very fast but is still relatively limited with no real multi-tasking (apart from getting push notifications and playing music in the background), no option to send data over Bluetooth, no support (as yet) for Windows Marketplace for apps and Xbox Live for gaming, no storage expansion, and very limited USB connectivity to a PC (our Windows 7 machine refused to recognise the device, although it did so once we used Zune software to transfer music to it).

The camera is surprisingly disappointing, given the high pixel count and the excellent flash, with HD video being a bit on the jerky side and still images often looking dull, although the excellent Photo Enhancer app did help us improve them no end. Battery life is average; at least one recharge a day is needed.

The Mozart is among the most stylish smartphones we have seen. Unfortunately, it is undone to an extent by Windows Phone 7's shortcomings and its own in the camera department. Still, if looks, sound and interface matter, you will be hard pressed to find a better device.

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