HTC Pro review: Verdict

HTC 7 pro

In the months since the October launch nothing much has changed as far as Windows Phone 7 is concerned. It remains the kind of operating system you need to buy into lock, stock and barrel to get the most out of it, going for Zune and the Microsoft-operated SkyDrive as part of the deal.

If you prefer a more open approach, and like the idea of microSD card swapping instead of constant synchronising, then the HTC 7 Pro may not be for you.

However, the HTC 7 Pro does add the novelty of a slide out QWERTY keyboard, a relative rarity in the modern smartphone age, and that could draw your attention.

We liked

The general design is good, with a solid build and a clever self-tilting mechanism to the screen as you slide the keyboard out.

Sound quality is great – really good for a smartphone. But again there is a niggle in that you have to leave the music player to fiddle with equaliser and SRS settings.

Automatic uploading of photos to SkyDrive for backup is smooth and seamless, and we love being able to hit the side button and launch the camera even when the HTC 7 Pro is locked down.

The keyboard is comfortable to use, and well thought-out. But again we have to temper this with the thought that we worked just as fast on the touchscreen in wide mode as we did with the keyboard.

We disliked

The constant need to rely on Zune for data transfer is a pain, and video can be slow to synchronise. We really want drag and drop for file exchange.

The absence of removable microSD card storage is irritating. We do a lot of file exchange by disk swapping and really missed the ability here.

The absence of Flash in the web browser is also a black mark compared to the Android competition.

The absence of desktop contacts synchronisation is a very odd move considering how many people still use desktop Outlook for at least some of their vital info. If you don't store this kind of data entirely in the cloud, you'll need to steer clear or be prepared to change.

And that space bar - it's really awful and takes all the flow away from trying to type at speed, which is the real reason for tacking a physical keyboard on in the first place.

Verdict

The HTC 7 Pro is a fairly standard Windows Phone 7 smartphone albeit one with a slide out keyboard. The keyboard adds a little bulk, but with a very good tappable keyboard in widescreen mode, we wonder whether it really enhances usability enough to warrant the increased size and weight of the hardware.

In the end, though, our key gripes aren't really about the keyboard, they are about Windows Phone 7. The interface is slick, and there are aspects of it we really like. But we don't like being pushed into the cloud for all our data storage, forced to forego microSD cards or pushed into using Zune for all desktop file transfer.