HTC HD7 vs HTC Surround vs Samsung Focus
Up until now, we realize that the performance between the trio of Windows Phone 7 devices is nearly identical in every aspect, but it quickly deviates in the photo taking department. The camera interface is fairly clean and free of much icons to provide more focus on the image you're trying to shoot. But after rummaging through the settings with each handset, it's apparent that the Samsung Focus just offers a myriad of customized settings over the other two to aptly offer experienced photographers some serious control to their shots. In our comparison, we basically left the default settings to automatic and started to shoot various scenery – but we left them at the highest resolution option.
Once we took the images, we compared the results on a computer to better gauge the level of performance with each device. First of all, there is no distinguishable device that manages to capture more detail than the others. In fact, we adore that outdoor shots in sunny conditions retain a good amount of detail while offering a sensible amount of sharpness to them. Even taking a closer look at the photos, it's rather difficult to establish which smartphone is able to capture more fine detail.
However, there is a clear winner with the Samsung Focus as it's able to produce extremely vibrant colors over the HD7 and Surround. Specifically, you can notice the deep red colors of the cars in some of the images taken by the Focus versus the somewhat bland looking colors captured by the other two.
In addition, the blue color gradients of the sky in the images just have that wonderful look to them with the Focus again. Indoors under artificial lighting, the Samsung Focus continues to show off prominence as it still manages to produce better colors. And when there's a faint amount of light present, it's still preferred over the HD7's noisy looking shots.
When using the flash to illuminate the scenery, the photos produced by the HD7 and Surround just look overexposed – thus making colors appear washed out. However, it's the opposite with the Focus as it manages to perfectly retain a respectable level of detail and color production over the competition – even with shots taken from as far as 7 feet away. In the end, photo enthusiasts will appreciate the wonderful looking photos that the Samsung Focus is able to present.
When it comes down to taking videos, the Samsung Focus once again edges out the two HTC branded devices. Even though the Focus shoots high definition videos at a rate of 23 frames per second, as opposed to the 24 fps seen with the HD7 and Surround, it's still slightly better looking with its nice rich visuals that are highlighted by its eye catching colors. Again, we see its advantage over the competition when shooting in low lighting conditions as it's able to keep a consistent frame rate. With the HD7 and Surround, you can quickly notice the blurriness of videos when jumping between areas of plentiful lighting to areas that are dark. However, it is worth noting that there is more noise evident with the video taken by the Focus in low lighting conditions. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that the Focus still manages to win in this category as well. Naturally, we find the Zune experience to be identical on all three smartphones as it establishes a slightly fresh approach to the usual music player presentation we generally witness. We like the fact that playing songs will provide relevant content regarding the artist or band – like being able to read bios and even loading pictures in the background. Even though they all offer a visually appealing look, it's the audio quality from their speakers that vastly separates them. And with that in mind, there's no arguing that the HTC Surround's equipped slide out speaker is by far the most suitable. With SRS and Dolby Mobile support in tow, we're more than ecstatic with the audible and deep tones produced by the Surround. Unfortunately for the HTC HD7, its speaker is less than desirable seeing that there is some distortion and crackling evident with its output – which makes the Focus sound much better with its sharper tones. So if you want to share your taste of music with people, the HTC Surround will be there to provide the entertainment.
HTC HD7 Sample Video:
HTC Surround Sample Video:
Samsung Focus Sample Video:
Now it's a toss up to find out exactly which device offers the best video watching experience because they all have their unique perks. First and foremost, we managed to load a video encoded in MPEG-4 1280 x 720 resolution on all three smartphones – and all of them worked flawlessly. Without any pause, stutter, or slowdown, watching high definition movies can be enjoyed by just about anyone – but it's the manner in which you experience them that matters. You've got the wonderful Super AMOLED of the Samsung Focus that'll make your eyes glisten with its stunning colors and deep contrast. But then again, the HTC HD7's gigantic display combined with its kickstand makes for one conducive setup. Likewise, the HTC Surround's usable kickstand and blasting speaker will motivate movie buffs who are all into audio performance.
The HTC Surround and HD7 might offer more internal storage out of the box at 16GB versus the 8GB on board with the Samsung Focus, but there is one trick that the Focus has to uncover up its sleeves. As we mentioned, it offers a microSD card slot which you can use to supplement its internal memory, but you'll have to place one prior to setting up the phone for the very first time. Meaning, you'll run the risk of crashing your handset in the event you remove it from the slot. Still, you can very well push the Focus to a sizable 40GB of storage after placing a 32GB into the slot.
Internet and Connectivity:
Web browsing is just fantastic with Internet Explorer for Windows Phone 7 on all three handsets as it offers some responsive scrolling, multi-touch gesture support for zooming, and optimized mobile views to make reading long passages of text very easy on the eyes. The performance is once again consistent between the three with no clear advantage seen with one specific device. Lacking Flash support doesn't necessarily lessen the experience since it's almost equal to the iPhone 4 in terms of general responsiveness as you navigate around complex web sites. Despite the wonderful experience accomplished by each handset, it'll once again come down to the manner in how you experience it. Ultimately, we're once again presented with a showdown between the HD7's massive display versus the brilliant looking Super AMOLED panel of the Samsung Focus.
Being the GSM handsets they are, you're not going to have any problems using them around the world for voice phone calls. And if you're not receiving 3G speeds in specific areas, they all come to offer Wi-Fi as an alternative wireless data connection – which will come in handy when you're abroad. Furthermore, you can connect a mix of Bluetooth devices to all three devices, while the inclusion of GPS will always allow you to know your exact coordinates at any time. Testing it out, we find that all three took approximately 15 seconds to sufficiently hone into our location from a cold start.
1. Swayam Narain (unregistered) posted on 18 Feb 2011, 09:18 1 0
Yea it looks like focus has an edge over HD 7 and surround, but i think I'll wait for Nokia!
3. sled (unregistered) posted on 25 Mar 2011, 15:07 1 0
I was already leaning towards the focus but I think you just sealed the deal for me.
Thanks for a great review! It really helped give perspective. :)