T-Mobile users, you now have a second Windows Phone to choose from, and this one looks a lot nicer. The HTC Radar 4G is a part of Microsoft’s wave of four or so new Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) devices to hit the market and we think it’s the best looking of the bunch. But its affordable price tag comes with a few downsides.
Design and feel
Where it relates to design, the HTC Radar is both comfortable to hold and pleasant to look at. Almost every phone seems to be a big black brick these days, so it’s nice to see a silver-and-white brick hit store shelves too. The Radar follows a similar design philosophy as the HTC Amaze 4G, but it doesn’t give up on the silver and white color scheme on the front. Unlike the Amaze, the Radar has a white border around its screen. This might look odd, but the company used a white background on Windows Phone 7.5, so the whole package avoids black, except when the screen is off.
The metal casing is tight and fits extremely well in the hand. We also appreciated the extra-long volume rocker and power buttons, which make listening to music and unlocking the phone a breeze. A micro USB port and camera button adorn the lower sides of the phone.
The only issue we’ve had with the Radar’s design is the removable plastic cover on the bottom of the phone. On our unit, it doesn’t seem to fully snap on, leaving an unattractive gap around the bottom of the phone. Removing this cover automatically turns off the phone too, which is odd, especially considering that the battery is not accessible or removable. We also wish the phone had a microSD card. Nothing hurts like running out of memory.
With a 3.8-inch screen, this phone is smaller than most, but we found that it was just big enough to get the job done. A 3.7-inch screen seemed cramped on the Samsung Focus Flash, but the extra fraction of an inch here feels more comfortable, somehow.
For more photos of the HTC Radar make sure to check out our photo gallery.
Specs and screen
Here’s where our big problem with the Radar lies. Though it costs $100, the Radar is running the same specs as Windows Phones that came out last year. It has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor (single core), 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a .3-megapixel (VGA) front camera, and a 480 x 800 pixel screen. All Windows Phones are still behind the curve, as none of them have LTE 4G connectivity or dual-core processors, but most have at least a 1.4GHz processor. It’s a bit sad that HTC didn’t upgrade the Radar 4G at all. Complex apps routinely take a bit longer to load than they would have to on a device with a faster processor or more RAM.
HTC’s choice to stick with LCD screens is beginning to baffle us, as Super AMOLED screens are taking over, but with the Radar, the manufacturer has turned the weakness of its screen and flipped it to an asset. Previously, all Windows Phones have used black backgrounds. No other smartphone screen technology can match the awesomely deep blacks and saturated bright colors of AMOLED.
Samsung uses AMOLED in all its screens and Windows Phone 7.5 looks amazing on them because of its reliance on solid colors and blacks. Next to a Samsung device, HTC’s S-LCD Windows Phone screens have washed out, almost gray backgrounds (honestly, they aren’t too bad, but side-by-side they can’t compare). However, the reverse is true for whites. LCD seems to be able to display much brighter whites than AMOLED screens. So next to an AMOLED Windows Phone with a white background, HTC’s white Radar looks fantastic. Kudos to HTC for finding a strength in its technology.