HTC 7 Pro review

A Windows Phone 7 handset with a slide-out hardware keyboard. Is this smartphone heaven for business users? Chris Finnamore flexes his fingers and finds out.

Too much web browsing on the 7 Pro led to some pretty shocking battery life. The phone could only manage 26 and a half hours when playing an MP3 file on repeat in flight mode, and using WiFi, maps, surfing the web and making calls killed a full charge in less than a working day. You should definitely carry a USB portable battery if you plan on using the 7 Pro in anger

Like all smartphones, the 7 Pro is a competent navigation device. While the iPhone and Android handsets rely on Google Maps, Windows Phone 7 is all about Bing Maps. Both sides have their advantages. Google Maps wins for Street View and the more pleasing use of colour roads are colour-coded for when they're A or B reads rather then being all grey, for example. The Android version also has the benefit of an arrow showing which way you're facing and turn-by-turn in-car navigation.

Bing Maps has a fantastic hybrid map view elegantly combining both a road map and satellite imagery. When you're zoomed out you have a simple road view - the satellite view only fades in when you're at a high enough zoom level for it to show any real detail, while architecture fades in as you move around. This also improves panning performance when you're zoomed out. It all works much better than Google Maps' rigid hybrid view that can only be turned on or off completely. Unfortunately, Bing maps lacks both a street-level view and turn-by-turn navigation.

So what's our verdict?

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Verdict

HTC’s 7 Pro is a tricky phone to judge. If you’re already sold on the benefits of Windows Phone 7 - a fast, slick interface and impressive Office document support - the 7 Pro's QWERTY keyboard could make it the handset you’ve been waiting for. If multitasking and powerful mapping is more important to you, the similar keyboard-equipped Android HTC Desire Z is more up your street. Either way, the 7 Pro is another example of the Microsoft mobile operating system’s promise - we’ll just need an update or two before we’re entirely convinced.

Connectivity: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100 Display: 800 x 480 pixels, 3.6 inches OS: Windows Phone 7 Camera: Five megapixels with flash GPS: A-GPS Processor: 1GHz Bluetooth: v2.1 + EDR Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n Memory: 8GB internal Dimensions: 118 x 61 x 16 mm Weight: 185g Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh

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