HTC Radar review: Mango on the radar

GSMArena team, 30 November 2011.
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Unboxing

The HTC Radar’s retail package is fairly standard. You get a one-piece headset, a microUSB cable and a detachable charger plug that uses the USB cable.

HTC Radar
The Radar retail box content

Windows Phone doesn’t support microSD cards yet, so you couldn’t expect to find one in here. A carrying pouch would be too much to ask at that price - not that the supposedly premium Titan had one either.

HTC Radar 360-degree spin

At 120.5 x 61.5 x 10.9 mm and 137 g the HTC Radar is not the most compact, nor is it the lightest of smartphones to feature a 3.8” screen. But it doesn’t come across as bulky either and the suave aluminum unibody is worth the fuss of carrying the extra weight. At least for us it is.

Design and build quality

The HTC Radar is a well-built and handsome smartphone. Designed to minimalism and good ergonomics, there’s little to frown at in terms of styling and hand feel. You can't go wrong with an aluminum unibody, and the HTC Flyer-inspired rubberized plastic accents at the back add to its appeal. The device could have been slimmer perhaps, but that's nit-picking really. The worse things to consider are the lack of a memory slot and the sealed battery.

The 3.8" S-LCD screen of the HTC Radar comes with the WP-standard WVGA resolution. It's hardly the best there is - neither its contrast, nor its pixel density are close to the market-leaders, but then again, good luck getting some of them on the same budget as the Radar.

HTC Radar
The display is pretty good and even more so for the class

So we should probably be pleased with the decent viewing angles and sunlight legibility on offer and not get too particular. AMOLED screens certainly do the Windows Phone OS more justice as their deep blacks are quite important here. The Samsung Focus Flash I677, which we reviewed not long ago, is a good example. Anyway, the HTC Radar is by no means let down by its LCD display. In fact, the Radar seems to offer better performance outdoors than the older HTC 7 Trophy.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC Radar 0.26 204 794 0.59471 797
HTC Titan 0.26 233 891 0.56567 1007
HTC Sensation 0.21 173 809 0.61 438 720
Motorola Atrix 4G 0.48 314 652 0.60 598 991
LG Optimus 2X 0.23 228 982 0.35 347 1001
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 ? 0 362 ?
HTC Incredible S 0.18 162 908 0.31 275 880

Above the HTC Radar's screen there's a secondary 1.3 MP video-call camera, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor. Three haptic-enabled capacitive controls are placed below the 3.8" display. The Back, Home and Search keys are well-spaced and nicely backlit in white.

HTC Radar
The secondary camera, the earpiece and the proximity sensor are all on top

The right side of the HTC Radar is where the volume rocker and camera button are. The shutter key is a bit too slim, but soft and springy, with very distinct half and full press. Pressing and holding the key will unlock the phone and launch the camera right from the lock screen.

HTC Radar HTC Radar HTC Radar
The volume rocker and camera key

The only thing on the left is the microUSB port. It's got no protective cover to keep it from filling with dust. The port is near the bottom, which some might find uncomfortable for working with the phone while charging. It would be particularly difficult for left-handed users.

HTC Radar
The microUSB port is near the bottom

The top of the HTC Radar features the 3.5 mm audio jack and the power/lock button. No usability issues with either of those.

HTC Radar HTC Radar
The 3.5mm jack and power key up top

At the bottom of the Radar we find nothing but the mouthpiece.

HTC Radar
There's little going on at the bottom

The back of the Radar features the 5 MP camera lens and LED flash. There's also a loudspeaker grill and a Windows Phone logo at the bottom.

HTC Radar HTC Radar

Opening the cover at its very bottom lets you insert a SIM card, but you cannot access the battery. That comes with the unibody – on the upside the phone is solidly built and a pleasure to handle.

HTC Radar HTC Radar HTC Radar
You don't have access to the Radar battery

The Radar got a 34h rating in our dedicated battery test, which means you should expect about 34 hours between charges if your usage pattern involves an hour of browsing, video playback and 3G calls each.

HTC Radar

The HTC Radar is well put together, with great hand feel and likely to last. It may not have the massive screen of the HTC Titan, but that’s not necessarily all bad. For one, it's much easier to squeeze in a pocket and way more comfortable for single-handed use. The WVGA resolution is a better match of the screen size too – low pixel density failed the Titan at times.

HTC Radar HTC Radar
Handling the HTC Radar

We’re about to move on to the Windows Phone Mango inside the Radar. The updated software is the main advantage of a phone that altogether lacks the novelty factor. HTC didn’t have the liberty of skinning the user interface as heavily as they do in Android, but they obviously couldn’t resist the temptation of sneaking some of their Sense UI niceties in.

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