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Status Symbols: HTC HD2

Status Symbols: HTC HD2


The HD2 was a no-compromises halo device built from metal and the finest software Taiwan could muster.

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htc hd2
htc hd2

Status Symbols are devices that transcend their specs and features, and become something beautiful and luxurious in their own right. They're things that live on after the megapixel and megahertz wars move past them, beacons of timeless design and innovation.

I remember the first time I ever held an HD2: I was astonished. A 4.3-inch 800 x 480 LCD is old hat these days, but it was the first time I had beheld that combination, and my jaw literally dropped. I wasn't holding a phone, I was holding a screen, and that screen just happened to be densely populated with crisp text and gorgeous graphics. Of course, the HD2 held a darker secret: Windows Mobile 6.5, and a blocked upgrade path to Windows Phone 7, but for a brief moment none of that mattered.

The phone was successful and well-received for a latter day Windows Mobile device, but was overshadowed by upstart operating systems from Apple, Google, and Microsoft itself. The HD2 hardware was repurposed into the Evo 4G for Sprint, running Android, which quickly eclipsed the Motorola Droid as the Android phone of note. And when it came time for HTC to launch the HD7 Windows Phone a year later, some barely-tweaked HD2 hardware did the job nicely - much to the chagrin of HD2 owners.

Still, it speaks to the longevity and perfection of the HD2's design. While latter day iterations have skimped on materials (and innovation), the HD2 was a no-compromises halo device built from metal and the finest software Taiwan could muster. It seems like the last time HTC poured all of its energies into a clear-cut flagship, but as HTC is currently doing some soul-searching, those glory days might be returning.

The best part for HD2 owners is that those glory days never went anywhere. Thanks to a vibrant hacking community, the phone can run most modern mobile operating systems, including Ice Cream Sandwich, Windows Phone 7.5, and even outliers like MeeGo and Ubuntu (webOS seems like a likely addition, now that it's open source). Like all mobile devices, it won't be much more than a quaint curiosity a year or two from now, but it's been one hell of a run for a Windows Mobile phone from 2009.

Bonus round: Be sure to check out a comparison of the HD2, Evo 4G, and HD7, and the excellent user review of the HD2 by The Verge reader Europa, who gave the phone an 8 / 10.