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Raistlin

Samsung And Htc Unveil Windows Phone 7 Portfolio

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The first batch of smartphones powered by Windows Phone 7 are starting to arrive in our inbox. Both Samsung and HTC have announced their launch handsets, in the wake of LG accidentally publishing details of the LG Optimus 7 a little early.

Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's attempt to drag Windows Mobile kicking and screaming into the modern world, and compete against Google's Android and Apple's iOS platforms. The idea is to focus a lot more on user-interface, and make a more mass-market consumer experience than the stilted and business-focused Windows Mobile.

To that end, there's plenty of games, music, and social applications pre-installed on the handset. However, because Microsoft has its fingers in so many pies, it's all Microsoft products. Where normally you'd get Google, you get Bing. Google Maps is Bing Maps. iTunes is replaced with Zune. On the surface, that might feel like you're getting second-rate knockoffs, but the reality in most situations is that Microsoft's alternatives are just as good -- they're just not used as widely.

One area of particular interest is games. Microsoft has one of the most valuable gaming brands around in the Xbox, so it comes as no surprise that its mobile games offering comes bearing the Xbox Badge. Whether that Badge is enough to drag developers back from the iPhone App Store remains to be seen.

Samsung's offering is the Samsung Omnia 7. It's a high-end handset, with a 4-inch super AMOLED display, 1GHz Qualcomm processor, 5-megapixel autofocus camera with 720p video recording, 8GB of internal memory and the usual bluetooth 2.1, USB, and Wi-Fi connectivity that you'd expect from a top-of-the-range smartphone.

Samsung's crammed a few features of its own on there too. It'll have a news, weather and stocks service called Now Hub, which calls in Reuters content, and a tweaked camera application that lets you share your content with various different social networking sites. It is not yet clear if the stock camera application permits the user to share images in this way.

HTC, on the other hand, has got five different handsets for you to choose from. There's the HTC 7 Surround, HTC 7 Mozart, HTC 7 Trophy, HTC 7 Pro and HTC HD7. Let's examine each in turn.

The HTC 7 Surround is focused on media playback. It's got a slide-out speaker and a kickstand so you can watch audiovisual content, and it also has Dolby's mobile sound encoding and SRS's "WOW HD" codec to deliver virtualised surround sound. It sounds like it'll hook up nicely with the Zune music service that Microsoft offers.

The HTC 7 Mozart is focused on looks. Its Shell is carved from anodised aluminium, like the HTC Legend, and has a unibody design. It's got the same Dolby and SRS codecs as the Surround.

The HTC 7 Trophy is all about games and the aforementioned Xbox Live integration. It's got a 1GHz Snapdragon processor inside, along with a 3.8-inch touchscreen and the same virtual surround codec again. HTC is promising "fast action gameplay" with this handset, though it's not clear what that actually means.

The HTC 7 Pro is more business-oriented. It's got a full QWERTY keyboard, and comes with an HTC-built stocks application, along with Windows Phone 7's Office suite.

Finally, the HTC HD7 has a whopping great big 4.3-inch high-resolution screen, focused again on multimedia and gaming. It's also got a kickstand, and will tie into Xbox Live and Zune.

In the UK, O2 will be getting the HTC HD7, Orange will get the HTC 7 Mozart and Samsung Omnia 7, T-Mobile will get the Omnia 7, Vodafone gets the HTC 7 Trophy and LG Optimus 7 and Three will get the Samsung Omnia 7. HTC's handsets will be available from late October, but LG and Samsung haven't announced any availability. Neither company confirmed pricing, but that's likely to be set by the networks.

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I think this could make or break windows on the mobile platform.

The last series of windows phones was dreadful and more unstable than the PC version (and thats saying something!).

My brother had a HTC HD2 and it was forever lagging, dropping calls, doing it's own thing and basically being good for nothing where a mobile phone is concerned.

It also had a pitiful selection of apps available on its app store, and the few that were available were expensive and had little or no feedback.

Thankfully i opted for a HTC on Android, and it has been flawless, and has matched or excelled most things that the iPhone can do, so WM7 really has to pull something special out of the bag if it hopes to compete, but personally i think it could be too late for them.

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