March 6, 2013

HTC MOZART


HTC will go down in history as the first manufacturer to bring Windows Phone 7 to India. In fact, they enjoy a monopoly, as currently they are the only ones to have Windows Phone 7 based handsets in India. The HTC Mozart, one of the two phones they launched in India, will go down in history as the first Windows Phone 7 device that Techtree reviewed and is the device that we based our WP7 review on. In case you haven't read it yet, we highly recommend you do so before proceeding with this one.

So how is the phone by itself? We were told that it has an aluminum unibody design, a 3.7-inch, 800 x 480 resolution display, 1GHz processor, 8 megapixels camera with xenon flash, 720p video recording and 8GB internal memory. The numbers are pretty impressive, which they have to be if it has to run Windows Phone 7, but let's see how the phone performs in real life. 

HTC Mozart


Bundle
  • HTC Mozart
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • Headset
  • USB Cable
Design & Build
The Mozart uses a unibody design. Instead of using multiple panels the phone is made out of one large piece of aluminum, which forms the base on which all the other parts are placed. This simplifies the design and also makes the device sturdy. What's interesting is the way the single aluminum piece is designed. Unlike the Legend, which had a symmetrical back, the Mozart uses non-symmetrical design, which is wider on the right and narrows down towards the middle, as it meets the left edge (when seen from the back). This leaves two triangular sections at the top and bottom left, which are made out of plastic. Just like on the Legend, the lower section happens to be the cover for the battery and the SIM card slot.

The two plastic areas on the back are also the only places where the phone's radio antennas can reside, as they cannot work under metal. This is evident by the golden contacts on the inside of the battery cover. 
HTC Mozart front


The front of the device is mostly taken up by the large 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen display. The capacitive layer extends further below the display, as even the keys below the display are touch sensitive. These keys are perfectly visible even without a backlight and a good thing about them is that their backlight stays on when the display is on, unlike on Android phones where the backlight for the keys switch off when not in use.

Unfortunately, we had major usability issue with these keys. The keys might seem small but in reality their touch sensitive area extends right up till the edge of the display. When trying to press something at the bottom edge of the display we would often press one of these keys instead. HTC should have restricted the active area of these keys around the small area around the icons.

On top of the display you will see the earpiece covered under an attractive mesh grille. Also situated below the grille is the ambient light sensor and the LED that lights up when the battery is low or when the phone is charging. However, the LED does not light up when you have a missed call or a message. The proximity sensor is situated below, beside the HTC logo. 
HTC Mozart left side


Along the sides, you will find the volume control button placed awkwardly on the left. The button isn't actually on the side but more on the rear. This makes it difficult to press with the left thumb without shifting the phone around a bit in your hand. Below the buttons is the micro USB port.

On the right side of the phone is the camera shutter button, which we found to be a bit thin and flat to be used comfortably.

On the top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power/lock switch. At the bottom is the microphone and the lanyard hole. You have to route the lanyard cable through the hole in the cover and into the battery compartment and place it onto the hook inside.

On the back of the phone is the 8 megapixels camera lens at the top along with a xenon flash. The one thing I hated about the lens design was that it was sunk into the casing, which meant it could easily attract dust and was difficult to clean. Next to the camera is the loudspeaker for the phone. Since the lens is raised, the loudspeaker does not get covered when you place the phone on a hard surface.

We really liked the design of the Mozart. The phone looked elegant as well as classy. The metal had a nice sheen to it and looked very premium. We couldn't exactly figure out what shade the metal was painted in, as it looked equal parts of black, grey and brown. But whatever it was it looked lovely. The plastic bits on the back also had a soft rubberized finish that reminded of the back of the HTC Desire.

The build quality too was excellent and nearly flawless, save for the battery cover, which didn't line up perfectly with the body when closed, and creaked slightly when pressed. A short fall also put a small dent on the edge of the metal, which means you should be careful with the phone even though it feels like a slab of rock.


Display
The HTC Mozart has a 3.7-inch 800 x 480 pixel Super LCD and is same as the one used on the Desire. The display quality is really good, with vibrant colors, good black levels and excellent viewing angles. The sunlight visibility could have been better though as the display does wash out considerably under the sun, but it still remains readable. Also, considering the copious amount of black screens in Windows Phone 7, we wished the black levels were better.

Considering that the Mozart's display already has pretty good black levels for an LCD, we can't help but feel an OLED display would have been better here and made the OS look even better. Still, the Mozart's display is pretty darn good and one of the better displays that we have seen.

The capacitive touchscreen worked well most of the time, except on some occasions the display would select an item on the screen when in fact all we wanted to do was scroll. This happened on numerous occasions; the display felt just a bit too sensitive for our tastes. We are not sure whether the flaw lies with HTC or Windows Phone 7. Normally we would have blamed the handset but having used HTC's other phones and not faced this problem on any of them makes us think it could be a problem with Windows Phone 7 and its inability to distinguish between different types of touches.

Until we use another Windows Phone 7 we will hold on to our judgment.

UI & Applications
We have already covered the user interface and the applications in Windows Phone 7 in great detail in our two part review, so there is nothing more to say here about that. We will say that the interface runs smooth as silk on the HTC Mozart, thanks to the Snapdragon QSD8250 SoC with a 1GHz Scorpion CPU and Adreno 200 GPU and a generous 576MB RAM, which is four-and-a-half times more than the RAM I had in my first computer. The smoothness is limited to the built-in applications as third party apps do have some issues, which hopefully will get sorted out as developers get a hang of the devices.

Connectivity
The HTC Mozart is a quad band GSM handset and also supports 3G HSPA, along with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS and USB connectivity.

The call quality and network reception was absolutely fine. The earpiece has good audio quality and is loud enough. The loudspeaker, however, isn't very loud, so there is a chance that you may not be able to hear your phone outdoors.
We had some connectivity issues with EDGE; at times it would just stop working and although we could see the 'E' icon in the notification area, applications would just refuse to work. We then had to wait for some time or put the phone in airplane mode and return to restart the network and get things working again. Again, we have no idea whether this was a fault with our device, an issue with Windows Phone 7 or a generic problem with the Mozart, which is why we haven't included it in our cons yet, until we use another Windows Phone 7 device.

 
Camera
The HTC Mozart has an 8 megapixel camera with autofocus. It is also the first HTC phone to have a xenon flash. Unfortunately, as impressive as it sounds on paper, the camera turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
First of all the camera software has just the bare minimum in terms of features. There is no exposure control, white balance control, no ISO control, no face detection or touch to focus. You don't even get the option to shoot in burst mode or use a self-timer. What's worse is that the camera software does not even remember the changes you make to the settings and goes back to default settings when you restart the application. 

HTC Mozart camera


Next is the image quality of the camera. Despite the 8 megapixel resolution, the camera does not deliver the level of detail that one would expect. The details are all smudged by the noise reduction algorithm, which seems to be working overtime on the Mozart and despite that it is unable to get rid of noise completely, which is still fairly obvious. The lens also seems to have a defect, where the left area was blurred. The camera also uses a fairly slow shutter speed that affects low-light photography adversely, as images often come out blurry.



The camera also suffers from inaccurate white balancing issues. Successive images often have different color tones as the camera is unable to decide which mode is best for the current condition. Also, since there is no manual white balance, the user cannot intervene and set it manually according to the conditions.

The good thing about the images is that the colors are good and if you don't zoom into the images they actually look quite good. It's only when you see them on a computer screen at 100% zoom do you start seeing the faults.
The xenon flash on the Mozart is a bit of a joke. First of all it is too weak and is only usable in low light at a short distance. Attempts at using it as a fill flash with day light were met with spectacular failure. Apart from being weak, there are also three more reasons why the flash fails to perform adequately. First, there is no focus assist that would help the camera focus in pitch darkness, which means your images would come out of focus. Surprisingly though, it worked quite well in low-light.



Secondly, the camera cannot judge the distance of the subject from the camera and modulate the intensity of the flash. Objects that are closer often get washed out when shot using the flash. Lastly, Windows Phone 7 is not optimized for a xenon flash but an LED flash, which means it uses a slower shutter speed, which does not work well with a xenon flash.

Since the shutter is open longer than the duration that the flash is active, the camera is unable to freeze the action the way you are used to seeing on other xenon flash enabled cameras. This is similar to the slow synchro mode that some cameras have where the shutter speed is reduced to allow more light in, except on the Mozart, that's the only option you have.

We also had issues with the accelerometer on the phone, which annoyingly recorded the orientation of the images incorrectly. Even when we were holding the phone perfectly horizontal it would save the images in portrait mode, upside down. Because of this, we always had to make sure the camera is perfectly straight before taking an important shot, lest we took our pictures upside down.

The quality of the recorded video is quite decent in comparison. Even though you can see some pixelation and compression artifacts the video overall is smooth and good looking. The camera also has continuous autofocus while you are recording. One thing you have to remember before you start recording videos is to select the 720p option from the settings, as it goes back to the default VGA setting every time you start the camera.

As mentioned before, we have our qualms with the lens and shutter button design. The lens is sunken, which makes it difficult to clean and the shutter button was too thin and flat for our tastes. You also need to be careful with the touch sensitive controls below the display. Accidentally touching any of them while shooting would yank you out of the camera and dump you back on to the home screen or into Bing search.

Music + Videos
We have already discussed about the media player application in our Windows Phone 7 review, so we will skip that part and go straight to the audio quality. The Mozart does sound excellent with headphones on and the good thing about it is that it can go really loud, something that a lot of phones cannot. The phone also comes with HTC's Sound Enhancer application pre-installed, which has effects such as Dolby Mobile, SRS Enhancement and multiple equalizer presets. The former two are available for the video player as well. Both the Dolby Mobile and SRS effects are good and add a different twist to the sound if you are bored of listening to it the same way again and again.

The loudspeaker on the Mozart has good audio quality, but it wasn't quite as loud as we would have liked. We would have also appreciated if the phone had stereo speakers, considering how much HTC is touting the audio quality of the phone.

The radio on the Mozart was quite disappointing. The reception strength was very poor and it refused to work indoors. Even outdoors the reception was flaky and worse than almost every other phone we have tested. We observed similar problem with the HTC Desire, which is not surprising, as the underneath of both the Desire and Mozart are identical. 


Battery Life
The HTC Mozart has 1300mAh Li-Ion battery, which is even smaller than the one that the Desire has (1400mAh). If you remember our Desire review, we had mentioned the terrible battery life of the phone. Therefore it should come as no surprise when we say the same about the Mozart as well. To be honest, the one thing I remember doing on the phone all the time more than anything else was charging it. And this is without really doing a lot of stuff on it. The battery just never seemed to go above the 50% mark on the battery bar at any given time.

We suspect that Windows Phone 7 does keep using data in the background for something we are not quite sure of, which keeps draining the battery even when we are not using it. The phone barely lasted us for a day on a single charge and we had to charge it every day, sometimes even twice a day. And we were using the phone on a 2G network.

Verdict
HTC Mozart


The HTC Mozart is selling for Rs. 25,499 right now, which is not a bad price if you just look at the specs page. But as we found out the device doesn't really live up to those specs. We are specifically referring to the camera, which was a huge disappointment.

But what really lets the phone down is the OS. Windows Phone 7 currently seems like a puzzle with several pieces missing and Microsoft doesn't really seem to be in a hurry to get them. Until Microsoft gets their act together and issues a massive update that fixes most of the problems, we cannot really recommend the phone to anyone who wants a smartphone. Having said that, if you are someone who just wants a stylish looking phone with an equally stylish UI that is easy to use and don't really care about the lack applications or multitasking, then the Mozart should be a good choice for you.

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