Windows Phone 7 Hardware Revealed: The Rundown

By Wesley Fenlon

Microsoft plays catch up with a whole lot of phones.

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer took to the stage in New York bright and early this morning to show off a slew of Windows Phone 7 handsets. It was the big Windows Phone 7 announcement blowout we’ve been waiting for, and Microsoft confirmed some things we already knew--the phones will be hitting the US on November 8, and the promised HTC, LG and Samsung phones will be joined by a model from Dell. And it’s not just AT&T launching Microsoft’s flagship smart phone brand--as rumored, T-Mobile will be getting in on the action, too. Select European markets won’t even have to wait until next month--Microsoft’s bringing the party to them on October 21.

With Windows Mobile occupying a meager 5% of the worldwide smart phone market, Microsoft needs a hit with Windows Phone 7. With its sleek new UI and selection of productivity, media and game hubs, Microsoft’s hoping Windows Phone 7 can perfectly bridge the gap between fun times and business times. But that’s a no-brainer, so let’s talk about what you can expect when Windows Phone 7 launches and then get to the cool stuff.

ten Windows Phone 7 smart phones Microsoft announced this morning.

Windows Phone 7 in a Nutshell

Xbox Live Arcade and Microsoft Office to leverage their games and productivity software. There will be an app store, of course, and Microsoft claims thousands of apps are already in development. Windows Phone 7 isn’t all games and spreadsheets--Bing will help out with searches and maps and Zune will lend a hand with music. Anyone who’s ever used a Zune will likely feel right at home with Microsoft’s new mobile OS, as the two bear more than a passing resemblance.

Windows Phone 7 focuses the user experience into Hubs, which show up as tiles on the home screen and update in real time. Head into a Hub and you’ll hit a very Zune-esque page dedicated to one facet of the phone--the People Hub stores your contact information (and regular updates from services like Facebook, naturally), the Games Hub shows off your Xbox Live avatar and game collection, and so on.

Phones, Phones, and (a Bunch) More Phones

HTC 7 Surround
Carrier: AT&T. Price: $199.99 on contract.

slide-out speaker and a kickstand for mobile music and video playback. Other than that unusual mutation, the HTC 7 Surround delivers a familiar spec spread with a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of internal storage and 576MB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel 720p video-capable camera. The 480x800 touchscreen measures out to 3.8”, and with the 1230 mAh battery in place the Surround should weigh 165 grams, under six ounces.

HTC 7 Trophy and Mozart
Carrier: International only. Trophy on Vodaphone, Mozart on Orange, Deutsche Telekom. Price: TBA.

Trophy and Mozart models from HTC are pretty basic smartphones with almost the exact same specs as the Surround. Look for the same processor, storage, camera and screen resolution on the Trophy. The Mozart doesn’t change much, but it does upgrade to an 8 megapixel camera with a superior Xenon flash and an aluminum unibody form factor that shaves off a tiny bit of the screen--but it’s still 480x800 at 3.7”. Expect the Trophy to be HTC’s basic international model, with the Mozart a slightly nicer step up.

Carrier: T-Mobile. Price: TBA.

almost no changes. 1GHz of power and a 4.3” screen accompany 16GB of storage and 720p video recording from the 5 megapixel camera (which has a pretty cool kickstand built around it). We can see a familiar $199.99 on contract price for the HD7 when it hits T-Mobile next month.

HTC 7 Pro
Carrier: Sprint. Price: TBA

LG Quantum
Carrier: AT&T. Price: $199.99 on contract.

LG Quantum don’t quite match HTC’s phones for looks, but it’s the only landscape slider for AT&T. Keyboard lovers, check it out. Specs-wise, we’re officially hitting broken record territory--it’s packing a 1GHz Snapdragon, a 3.5” 480x800 display, 16GB of storage, and a 5 megapixel camera. Microsoft’s requirements may make for device consistency, but they sure take the excitement out of spec unveils.

LG Optimus 7
Carrier: International/Unknown. Price: Unknown.

Dell Venue Pro
Carrier: T-Mobile. Price: Unknown.

Samsung Focus and Omnia 7
Carrier: AT&T in US. Price: $199.99 on contract.

Images via Microsoft, Engadget