A Look At The Windows 7 Phones
Compared to the likes of Google and Apple, Microsoft are a fairly new player in the smartphone sector, having only made their operating system available in 2010. However, the company has managed to gain a small, yet solid, niche in that small period of time that may well act as a base of future expansion, particularly if they continue to integrate so many of their software packages together.
The first Windows phones used the Windows 7 operating system for mobile devices. Later phones used updated versions of that same operating system, before moving onto the likes of Windows 8 and, most recently, Windows 10.
Here we will take a look at the first ten phones to carry the Windows 7 operating system and how they compare to one another.
HTC 7 Trophy
The first six Windows 7 phones were released during the month of October in 2010, meaning there was a good selection available for early adopters right off the bat. Three of these came as courtesy of HTC, with the Trophy proving to be particularly popular due to the fact that it was offered at a slightly lower price than its stablemates, while still offering very similar functionality.
As such, it was a fairly solid phone,offering a particularly impressive screen that was also bolstered by a level of sound quality that came as something of a shock to many. However, the standard 8GB of storage space could not be expanded, which meant that a lot of users had to be more careful when it came to data management, plus it offered no backwards compatibility for apps that had run on previous Windows phones, before the move into the Windows 7 Phone series. Still, it offered a happy compromise for those who wanted to try Windows 7 without burning a hole in their wallets while doing so.
HTC 7 Mozart
The Mozart was fairly comparable to the Trophy in many ways, offering a similar screen size and equivalent functionality. However, it was made exclusively for Orange, which meant it was also available in much more limited quantities. As such, it didn’t quite reach the same levels of popularity as some of the other Windows 7 phones.
Much like the Trophy, it offered excellent sound quality, with many also praising the quality of the camera on the device, even if it was a little bit too slow when it came to taking pictures. The phone itself was nice and sturdy, though many users found that the battery didn’t last as long as they would have liked, particularly if the phone saw heavier user. Still, for those who enjoy watching films on their phone or listening to music at a high quality level, it stood as one of the best of the bunch when the Windows 7 phones were released.
The HD7 offered a larger screen than its two compatriots, clocking in at 4.3 inches mark, however many of the internal specifications were very similar. Like the other HTC phones released in 2010, it came as a base 8GB model that could be upgraded to 16GB for an extra fee plus it came with Windows 7 integrated as standard.
The larger screen did make it the phone of choice for people who enjoy watching movies on the go, particularly because it came with a handy kickstand that allowed the user to balance the phone on any smooth surface. The stereo speakers also offered excellent sound quality, as was the norm for most HTC offerings at this point. However, the phone was held back by the fact that the standard internet browsers offered no support for Flash, which meant that many videos were not viewable using the browser, plus the lock button wasn’t in the most convenient place, which made the phone a touch too finicky.
LG Optimus 7
The Optimus 7 was another phone that was included as part of the official launch line-up for Windows 7 Phones and offered the same responsive interface that its compatriots offered, with some claiming that it moved at a slightly faster speed. Coming with 16GB of memory as standard, it also offered a lot more storage space than the standard HTC offerings, which made it preferable for people who like to keep a lot of music and other media on their phone.
It was not without its problems though. After a while, a significant percentage of users began to complain about the phone overheating, particularly when it was charging. This was due to the metal cover around the battery retaining heat. This heat could cause the phone to reboot, with many users finding themselves stuck on the LG opening screen until they conducted a manual reboot themselves. The internet browser was also surprisingly slow, meaning the phone didn’t quite hit the levels of quality that the other launch phones achieved.
The Quantum offered many of the same features that came with the Optimus, but in a more compact package. In fact, it was the smallest of all of the Windows 7 phones that were released, including the few that came after the initial launch. Despite this small size, the phone was surprisingly heavy, which served to put off a lot of users who were looking for a more lightweight option by going for a smaller phone.
However, it did have a number of positives. The handy 5 megapixel camera was great for photography enthusiasts, plus it came with 16GB of memory as standard so you could store plenty of picture. However, this memory couldn’t be expanded any further, which again limited the appeal. Early adopters were also offered ten free apps along with the phone and the hardware itself was pretty solid. LG fans were also happy to find that the phone didn’t suffer from the overheating issues that plagued the Optimus.
Samsung Omnia 7
Samsung has always been quite closely tied to the Android family, with some of the best Android phones sporting the Samsung label. However, the company did offer some support for the Windows 7 operating system when it was launched, though the phone suffered issues when it came to syncing Samsung’s Focus software with the new OS, particularly after updates.
The phone suffered from many of the issues that other Windows 7 phones had during this period, offering no way to expand upon the base memory and a slow internet browser that was not compatible with Flash. It also felt a little bit cheap to the touch, especially at the rear of the phone. However, it did have its positives. In terms of screen quality, there were no better phones running Windows 7 at launch that the Omnia, which allowed for superior gaming and media viewing experiences. The interface was also nice and responsive, showing that the phone was more than capable of comfortably running the new OS, even if it was not quite at the level of the company’s Android output.
Dell Venue Pro
Following the initial flurry of activity surrounding the launch of Windows 7 for phones in October 2010, November saw another three releases that aimed to bolster the ranks for Microsoft. Dell’s only offering was the Venue Pro, which offered a 4.1 inch screen that was amongst the largest of the Windows 7 phones. The phone was hampered by early launch issues, with many early adopters finding that their headphone jacks weren’t working properly and that Wi-Fi connectivity was an issue.
Despite this, it held a big trump card over most of the other Windows 7 phones as it allowed for the user to expand the default memory, which made it popular amongst people who weren’t happy with the 8 or 16GB that was available on the other devices. Furthermore, following that snafu at launch, most users were very happy with the build quality of the phone, with many going on to claim it was the most well-constructed of the Windows 7 phones. However, it didn’t sell as well as some of its contemporaries, perhaps because Dell was not quite as established in the market.
HTC 7 Surround
HTC continued gaining a reputation as the most ardent early adopters of the Windows 7 technology, releasing another phone in November 2010 to go along the three it had launched in October. The phone was more widely available in the United States than the Mozart, which it shared any similarities to, and was not restricted to one carrier. This made it the more popular choice, despite the fact that it seemed to have a number of issues that weren’t present with the Mozart.
For one, a number of reviewers bemoaned the quality of the speakers, claiming that they weren’t good enough to account for the extra weight that was added to the device. The camera also came under some scrutiny, particularly because some of the earlier HTC Windows 7 phones sported superior offerings in this aspect. There were plus points though, as the build quality was exceptional and the phone ran Windows 7 extremely smoothly. However, it simply didn’t offer much that the earlier HTC phones didn’t already have.
Samsung quickly followed up the Omnia with the Focus, with the phone receiving a fairly positive reception when it was first released. It was generally considered to be something of a ‘Jack of all trades’ offering decent quality in every area without really excelling in any of them, but also without failing in any area either.
Despite this, there were still some issues. Although the phone allowed for memory expansion with a Micro SD, many users found that this was difficult to access and that they experienced problems when trying to install the card onto their phones. The build quality also came under scrutiny, with some claiming it felt a little plastic, though structural issues were generally not a problem. Still, it as a solid offering and was amongst the best of the early Windows phones because it offered a little bit of something for everyone.
HTC 7 Pro
It was another couple of months before the final phone in the Windows 7 line was released, with the HTC 7 Pro arriving in January of 2011. The phone was marketed towards business people and professionals, which limited its scope immediately and put it against the likes of the Blackberry right off the bat. It also came with a physical keyboard, which some may have seen as a benefit, but was generally considered a little bit gimmicky for the standard user, especially as the keyboard itself was of a fairly low quality.
If did have its positives though, as the battery life was exceptional when stacked up against the other Windows 7 phones, plus the build, sound and screen quality were all at the top of the class. As such, it really came down to personal preference with the phone, with those wanting a more traditional smartphone tending to plump for one of the other offerings.
The Bottom Line
The launch line-up for Windows 7 was fairly strong, without any of the phones truly standing out as spectacular. They all offered a certain level of quality, though without the branding that the likes of Apple could offer it was always going to be something of an uphill slog for Microsoft to establish a solid foothold in the market right off the bat.
It wasn’t until about a year later, when the company struck up a deal with Nokia, that the Windows mobile operating system truly became a force to be reckoned with. Still, those early adopters were pleased to find that Windows 7 ran surprisingly smoothly on those first phones, likely due to the fact that Microsoft required a minimum spec level before they would allow a phone to run the software. Though none of the choices stood out as being amazing, there were also no phones that had to be avoided. As such, it could be considered a solid launch line-up that laid the foundations for the flurry of activity that would come when Windows 7.5 was released.