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When is a phone review not a review?

It's only finished when we SAY it's finished
It's only finished when we SAY it's finished

Unless you've been stuck on the dark side of Jupiter you'll have noticed that there's been a launch by Microsoft regarding its new Windows Phone 7 platform.

We've been covering this for nigh-on a year and a half now, and it's certainly shaping up to be a big plus for Microsoft. But that's not what this is about.

It's about the fact that at the same time, five phones were launched for the UK market (with two more to come later this year). This means five phones were on show for us to take pictures of, fondle for a few minutes and generally make opinions on.

Microsoft and HTC have yet to send out review units, although a few have leaked into the hands of reviewers and bloggers already (TechRadar included), although as these are not final firmware we won't give full reviews to them yet.

One phone in question is the HTC HD7. It's very big, it's likely to be one of the phones a lot of people will consider if they're thinking of making the jump to Windows Phone 7, yet based on receiving a unit that's not finished and therefore not fit for public consumption, some people have leapt on this as a chance to slam the phone for packing 'faults' before it's even launched.

HTC hd7 user review preview first look

Similarly, when a respected publication like The Telegraph publishes a "Windows Phone 7: first review" based on a non-finished version of the product, or we see 'HTC HD7 reviews' appear on other consumer electronics sites, with nothing in the headline to signal the status of the product, readers are getting a distorted sense of the story.

(It's for this reason we headline this type of article a "Hands on review" on a News URL and explain it in our Reviews Guarantee).

It's like criticising a cake before it's finished baking - you assume any faults are going to be corrected in final software and if they are still present when the handset steps blinking into the public spotlight then you can get the knives out (a la Apple and the iPhone 4).

Shouting about potential problems that may never come to pass is pointless and ultimately it's the consumer looking to us for guidance on expensive purchases who loses out.