HTC Surround Review

Device: HTC Surround
Manufacturer: HTC
Carrier: AT&T
Review By: Illmatic

Windows Phone 7 is the newest competitor in the smartphone market. Claiming to have an operating system that is more sophisticated than any other phone out there, these WP7 devices are slowly gaining steam with their fresh GUI and growing App Marketplace. The HTC Surround is one of the first smartphones to utilize the Windows 7 platform. Does the HTC Surround stand out amongst all of the smartphone giants, or will it be left in the dust by the competition?



Tech Specs:

2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100
SIZE Dimensions 119.7 x 61.5 x 13 mm
Weight 165 g

Type Capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 3.8 inches
– Gorilla Glass display
– Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
– Proximity sensor for auto turn-off

Alert types: Vibration, MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker: Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack: Yes
– Dolby Mobile and SRS sound enhancement

Phonebook: Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall
Call records: Practically unlimited
Internal: 16 GB storage, 448 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
Card slot: No

GPRS: Class 32
EDGE: Class 32
3G: HSDPA 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA 2 Mbps
WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth: Yes, v2.1 with A2DP
Infrared port: No
USB: Yes, microUSB v2.0

Primary: 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features: Geo-tagging
Video: Yes, 720p
Secondary: No

OS: Microsoft Windows Phone 7
CPU: 1 GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon chipset
Messaging: SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email
Browser: WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML
Games: Yes
Colors: Black
GPS: Yes, with A-GPS support; Bing Maps
Java: Yes, MIDP 2.0
– Digital compass
– MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+ player
– MP4/WMV/H.264/H.263 player
– Facebook and Twitter integration
– YouTube client
– Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, PDF viewer)
– Voice memo
– Predictive text input

Standard battery, Li-Ion 1230 mAh
Stand-by Up to 275 h (2G) / Up to 255 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 4 h (2G) / Up to 4 h 10 min (3G)

Build Quality: The HTC Surround, for the most part, feels really sturdy and well built. The front of the phone is made of a brushed steel finish, with the screen being made of very strong Gorilla Glass. The back of the phone is where it feels the cheapest. The back panel that is covering the battery feels very flimsy and really takes away from the overall appearance and elegance of the rest of the phone. The slide out speaker feels well built and slides out with no problems or with any feeling that it might break soon. Behind the slide out speaker there is a kickstand which is used to hold your device up when watching movies or listening to music. The kickstand felt very cheap, and I was almost afraid to use it because it felt like it could break off at any moment.

Slide Out Speaker: The HTC Surround has one feature that truly makes it stand out from other phones and is the reason for the phone being named “Surround”. The slide out speaker slides out from behind the phone the same way that you would see a keyboard slide out from any other smartphone. The product specifications claim that this phone produces sound utilizing Dolby Mobile and SRS Sound Enhancement. When the speaker is out and the music is on, this device can produce some pretty good sounds. However, I noticed when the speaker was back in the phone, the sound was very muffled. You almost have to have the speaker out at all times to enjoy music with this device.

Camera: The HTC Surround is equipped with a 5MP camera with LED Flash, the camera can also shoot 720p videos. I found that the best place to shoot pictures with this phone is outside in natural light. Although the flash does work quite well, the pictures look a lot sharper when you are snapping in natural light. When taking pictures in the absolute darkness, this camera can still take very good pictures, thanks to the LED flash. It’s the medium light conditions that I feel this camera cant handle taking quality photos. Below are three pictures, taken in natural light, medium light, and complete darkness.

Natural Light

Medium Light

Complete Darkness

Call Quality: This wouldn’t be a cell phone review if I didn’t talk about the call quality of the phone. The HTC Surround has great call quality when comparing it to competing phones. The speaker is loud and crisp, and I never had an issue with not being able to hear the person on the other line. There is one downside to the call quality, and this comes when using the speakerphone. When listening to a call through the speakerphone, the call sounds very low. This is due to the fact that you have to have the speaker in the “slide out” position.

Operating System: Being an iPhone user and Mac fanboy, you would think that I would be biased towards the new WP7. With that being said, I have very high expectations when it comes to cell phone operating systems. In one word, Windows Phone 7 is Beautiful. The overall design of the GUI is simple yet very sophisticated. WP7 uses “tiles” on the home screen, these tiles can be moved around and re-arrangd any way you would like. The operating system is fast and snappy, mostly due to the 1GHz Scorpion Processor. One of the biggest problems that I have when I am testing out a new touchscreen phone is the small lag that occurs between swiping your fingers and actually seen the screen move. There is absolutely no lag whatsoever, I was able to maneuver through the menus just as fast as I can on an iPhone, which is saying a lot. WP7 does come with an App Marketplace, but it is very limited in apps at the moment. I know that as the WP7 gains some steam the App Marketplace will improve greatly.

Battery Life: The battery life on the HTC Surround is where the phone takes a hit, big time. My daily usage of this phone consisted of; making a brief call or two, checking email quite frequently, sending text messages regularly, browsing the internet moderately, and playing a game or two with an average play time of about 10 minutes. My days of testing would start at around 7:00am and by 12 noon, the phone needed a new charge. I feel like this was way too early for the battery to need a re-charge. With that being said, I don’t think the battery issue is a problem with the Surround directly, I believe this is a problem with the WP7 platform and the hardware of the Surround not being integrated properly.

Wishes: Although the HTC Surround is a strong competitor in the smartphone world, it does have its flaws. As much as I wanted to really enjoy this phone, I was limited by the below average battery life. I am a person who is constantly checking their emails and responding to emails on a minute by minute basis, so I need a device that is capable of pumping out that battery life to keep me productive throughout my day. Another concern I had was the slide out speaker. I know this phone’s main attraction is the slide out speaker, but you shouldn’t have to slide the speaker out every single time there is audio. It would be nice to be able to use the speaker phone feature without having to slide out the speaker, which makes you hold the phone in an un-natural way.

TQ Bottom Line: The HTC Surround is a great WP7 for anyone who is entering the smartphone market looking for something different. However, If you live a busy life where you are constantly using your phone, I would say to pass on this device, or carry a charger with you at all times.

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5 Michelas!

  • No video demo?

  • I didnt have a HQ camera to record with. Otherwise I would have made a video.

    • I meant a video demo of the phone’s HD video camera.

  • madison

    yeah i have the htc surround, and it has like no apps and you pretty much have to pay for everything..

  • uceevee

    with all this technology the surround has no way to change the text fonts!!!!!!!!!!