Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First 2.5 Months with the HTC Surround

Running late on this 2 months review but I wanted to do one before the NoDo update comes out next month.  I am going to go over things like call quality, build quality, and of course me living with a HTC Surround everyday for the last 2.5 months.  As some of you know, I am a previous iPhone 3G user.  I am not turning this into a comparo test since there is no point in comparing a 428Mhz device to a 1Ghz device and different people have different needs and wants (i.e. some people likes to be drones, some people like android because they can never get OS upgrades etc).

Before I start, I think it is important for me to establish what type of user I am and which network I am on.  As I have posted before, I am using an off contract HTC Surround (unlocked it myself using an eBay code.  Read this if you want to unlock your WP7 device).  Here is my usage profile:
  • Fido (or Fogers) network in the GVRD area
  • 6GB of data - so I am constantly using 3G (using about 1GB a month - similar to when I had my iPhone)
  • Phone calls (hey, that's why it's a phone! - around 300 mins/month)
  • SMS, Email, Surfing the interwebs
  • Watches a lot of videos (tv shows, animes, etc) - at least 2 hours a day on the device
  • Occassionally a game (Normally i am a big gamer but I just can't play those button hitting games on these damn touch screen phones since there are no physical buttons)
  • Plays Spell It! everyday (10+ games simultaneously)
  • Not using any phone protective cases.  I have a belt pouch where I put my phone.
  • Have a InvisibleShield just on the screen.  No shielding on the back or the side of the phone

After 2.5 months of ownership, I couldn't be happier with the build quality of the Surround.  Even without a phone condom, no scratches whatsoever.   The sliding mechanism still working great and no sign of it getting loose.  Kick stand still springing and pretty much everything is pretty close to day one of ownership.

I like it.. just wished it had the AMOLED screen but I wanted the speakers and the kick stand

Have to talk about the speakers because that's the centerpiece of this phone isn't it?  I just love it.. It's loud and the virtual surround sound just works.

Call Quality
Haven't experience any drop calls yet in the GVRD area, might be a rare occurence.  However, in my recent trip to the US where the AT&T network just suck, I have experience static where the coverage is bad (in AT&T's case it's pretty much everywhere), but surprising, I never had a dropped call (mind you, I have had like 10 phones calls during this trip but still, no drop).  The conversation just continues even though I had to ask my counterpart to repeat sometimes because of the static.  Note that in the Vancouver area, I have never experience static at all.  Considering the SAR rating on the Surround is pretty low (0.583W/kg at the head) that's pretty impressive.

Something I hope HTC will fix in the future is the ability for the phone to ring and vibrate simultaneously.

The battery does last me through a day (less now that I am playing Spell It! a lot) but I am still waiting for my eBay 1500mA battery to arrive so I can give that a whirl.  The one that comes with the phone (1230mA) just can't hold enough juice for my taste.

I do not use cameras on phones that much but when I do use it, I am pretty happy about the pictures being uploaded to my skydrive automatically.  Sharing pictures on facebook is a breeze.  The camera on the Surround should just be limited to be used outdoors on a sunny day, at night or indoors, the "flash" is bloody useless (like a lot of the other phone cameras). 

Indoors with decent light:

Indoors with flash (sorry camera fans, no TTL for you)

Low light (no flash)

I do appreciate that you are just hold the shutter button which your phone is locked and take pictures.  However, I hope that MS will fix a problem I have with the camera of not saving your previous settings.  All the camera settings are reset to default everytime you start the camera.  Honestly, all these cameras on phones are useless.  Go get a real camera instead if you want to take pictures.

Life with WP7
Coming from an iPhone I thought I'd miss the iPhone and honestly I really don't.  Alright, alright, I do miss the massive number of apps that is on the iTunes app store but for what I want to do with the phone, I honestly could care less.  The number of games on the iTunes store is tempting but I honestly cannot play games on the touch screen where buttons and the D-pad covers like 1/4 of your screen already and my own big thumbs covers the rest.

  • I do love the live tiles.  It's so cool that when your favourite friends' picture changes in FB or in Windows Live, it just picks it up. 
  • I use it to check my workplace emails and I love how I can do a lot of things so much faster with less clicks. 
  • Cloud - your contacts is with Windows Live.  So if I had to reset my phone (haven't had to yet), I just have to simply enter my Live credentials and I get all my contacts back.
  • People hub and picture hub are tightly integration with Facebook.
  • Wireless sync
  • XBOX Live
  • Surprisingly, Zune desktop - it's a pleasure to use.  Not surprising giving that mess of a thing called iTunes (but again, the amount of apps and songs and movies probably contributes to this)
  • spelling/word correction is a thing of beauty.
  • Speed of browser
  • How polish a release 1.0 of a new OS is.
  • Voice recognition - I think it is still a bit buggy.  Sometimes it finds the person, sometimes it doesn't
  • Needs a favourite list of people listed.  Quick dial would be awesome
  • Marketplace needs to grow (8000+ apps right now and we are 4 months in!)
  • No Support for writting asian characters (and probably other languages as well)
  • No Zune music store in Canada
  • finer brightness tuning would probably extend the battery life
  • battery life
If you have your own experience you would like to share, feel free to comment :)

I'll probably do another one after 6 months of ownership to see how well the hardware is holding together..  Maybe even with the Mango update?  I can dream..

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