Howard doesn't Sense 3.0 include it's own variant of Swype called HTC Trace or something like that? The Sensation has it.
Here’s my review of the HTC Raider, one of the first LTE smartphones on Bell and Rogers. For now LTE is reserved for higher end smartphones. Indeed the Raider’s spec sheet confirms this: 4.5” 960x540 display, dual core 1.2Ghz processor, 8 megapixel camera, 16GB Storage, tri-band HSPA, Bluetooth 3.0 and of course tri-band LTE. Awesome specs are great but does the Raider live up to them? Read on!
A 4.5” display sounds nice on paper but for me it’s too big. The problem is, that I prefer to use my phone with one hand. It’s one of the reasons why I like to use an iPhone. The Raider’s display is so large that my thumb can’t reach parts of the screen when I’m using it with one hand. This really annoys me when I’m walking around. I need my other hand to hold my car keys or chase my kid around, that sort of thing.
While I think that the screen is too big I must say it looks fantastic. It has great viewing angles, it’s bright, very sharp, has great contrast with pleasing colours and it works outdoors. Interestingly, it doesn’t photograph very well so don’t judge the screen quality from my pictures.
One thing I hate about HTC Android phones is that they place the buttons too close to the edges. This makes them more difficult to use because I’m always pressing them accidentally. Unfortunately, the Raider has this problem too. Whether I’m holding it in portrait or landscape I have to be really careful that I don’t accidentally touch the area near the menu buttons. It really annoys the hell out of me - especially if I’m gaming since the screen won’t respond if you’re touching one of the menu buttons.
When I first saw the Raider a couple of months back, I thought it looked really bland and under-designed. The back looks like someone cut out a piece of a door. That said the look has grown on me and I like it. It’s got clean lines without looking looking like an iPhone and there are bits of detailing (like on the earpiece) which I appreciate.
Build quality appears to be excellent. It’s a very solid phone. The chassis is so strong that you could remove the battery cover and it still won’t flex when you squeeze it. The cover is metal and slides into place. It reminds me of the cover on the original Motorola Milestone. My only concern is that if the cover were to get loose there isn’t much to hold it in place.
There’s a micro USB port on the left.
The volume buttons on the right are little too flush for my taste. I accidentally pressed them from time to time.
On top are the headphone jack and power button.
I’ve used a lot of HTC phones in the past and the one thing they’ve had in common is that they all had terrible cameras. I’m talking about the Orange SPV, TyTN, Google Nexus One all the way to the HTC Sensation.
With that in mind I’m blown away with how good the Raider’s camera is. It has a wider angle than the iPhone 4s (28mm vs I’m guessing around 35mm equivalent on a 35mm camera). This has 2 benefits. First off, you can fit more in your frame without having to move further away. Secondly, a wider angle means the Raider is less effected by shaky hands. Shaky hands result in blurry pictures or unsteady video.
Despite having a very wide f/2.2 aperture lens, it focuses really quickly and has good shot to shot speed. The wide aperture also means that the Raider collects more light which should mean improved performance when there isn’t a lot of light. It also means it’s easier to blur the background though the Raider’s small sensor kind of limits how dramatic the effect is.
The only downside to the Raider is that indoors, it relies on the flash a little more than I’d like to see. It’s not as bad as older HTC phones and it’s much better than most LG and Motorola phones. Of course you can always turn the flash off though you’ll probably get a blurry photo.
Image quality and overall performance are a huge step up. It’s not quite as good as the iPhone 4s but is good enough that I wouldn’t pick the 4s over the Raider simply because of the camera.
Many of the Raider’s competitors like the iPhone 4s and Galaxy S II have 8mp sensors
that can capture 1080p (approx 2mp) video. They appear to be using only the pixels in the center of the sensor to capture video. The problem with this is that the video is very ‘zoomed in’. It makes for shakier video and worse, it makes it difficult to shoot indoors since you have to stand farther from your subject.
The Raider is different because it appears to use most of the sensor to capture video and then down samples it to 1080p. This allows you shoot steadier video plus it allows you to to be closer to your subject
Video image quality is decent. I’d say the iPhone 4s captures higher quality video but it requires a much steadier hand because it’s much more zoomed in. One area where the Raider clearly lags is it’s microphone. It captures way too much handling noise, the audio sounds robotic and it peaks very easily.
So video capture quality is a mixed bag. It looks okay but it doesn’t sound that great.
The front facing camera has a resolution of 1.3MP. It can capture both still photos and video - neither of which are very good.
Overall Performance is excellent. Programs launch very quickly and there is virtually no lag. There is 1GB of system RAM so the Raider is quite adept at multitasking.
Like all HTC Android phones the Raider has HTC Sense which is an overlay that sits on top of the operating system.
First off they’ve customized the lock screen so that it can quickly launch 4 different programs. It’s a great idea. While I miss the ability to mute the phone from the lock screen the utility of these shortcuts more than makes up for it.
HTC has their own keyboard. It’s hard to use the keyboard with 2 thumbs without accidentally pressing the menu buttons. I don’t enjoy typing on the Raider. Since the best way to use the Raider is to hold it with one hand and poke at the screen with the other. Fortunately, HTC includes a trace keyboard which is similar to SWYPE.
HTC has also augmented or replaced many of the stock Android programs. Generally speaking it’s for the better though occasionally not.
HTC’s mail client offers up some features not found on the Stock Android one. It actually replaces the Android mail client but not the Gmail one. You can view your inboxes separately or all together. It can thread your email together plus it supports copy while you’re viewing an email (you don’t have to hit reply to copy and paste).
I noticed that the browser has 2 extra tricks. It has an option to not view animated gifs - which is nice if you don’t have a really beefy data plan. It also has a built in print feature. I tested it with my HP 6500 A Plus E710n printer which was connected to my network. The printer wasn’t listed on the list of supported printers (it supports the HP 6500 E709n) but I was able to print to anyways. A small problem was that I told it to just print the 5th page of an article but it printed all pages. It lists a bunch of HP and Canon printers as being compatible. There’s also a postscript feature.
One superfluous program is HTC Likes. Basically it’s an app that links to popular Android apps suggested by other HTC users.
HTC Hub let’s you look for new content to customize the Sensation.
Connected Media allows you to send media from the Raider to DLNA devices on the same WiFi network. Unlike similar programs on other phones this one doesn’t allow you to stream videos from a DLNA device to the Sensation. It’s not a big loss in my opinion since most phones can’t playback a lot of video formats, since they don’t have comprehensive codec support.
I’m not a fan of HTC’s gallery program. On the plus side it allows you to view flickr and Facebook pictures. On the minus side it’s clunky and slow and doesn’t support Picasa.
Other program extras are: Clock, Flashlight, FM Radio, Friend Stream, Mirror, People, Phone, Reader, Stocks, Task Manager, Teeter (a video game), Voice Recorder, Watch and Weather. You also get some games: Lets Golf 2 and N.O.V.A 2 HD.
So form factor issues aside the Raider is fast, has a great looking screen and a fantastic camera. What could go wrong? Well I noticed that RF performance isn’t very good. I have a signal booster in my basement. When I turned it off I found that the Raider often showed no network a lot compared with other bell devices.
Please note that I don’t have Bell LTE service in my area yet so I’m talking about HSPA performance. Another thing I found was that the Raider takes a while to switch to LTE mode when you’re moving from somewhere with HSPA only to LTE. It also takes a while to find signal when you move from an area with no signal at all to one with.
So you’re probably wondering how fast LTE really is. Well it really depends on many variables. How many other LTE users are in your area, signal strength, that sort of thing. Both Bell and Rogers are setup for up to 75mbps. With the Raider I managed to run a speed test of 55mbps while I was in car. I’m sure it could reach 75mbps given ideal conditions.
The big problem right now with LTE on Bell is that Bell has a really fast DC-HSPA+ network. When I test it I usually get at least 5mbps and a lot of the time I can get 10, 15 even 25mbps.
So now that you know LTE can be fast in ideal situations you’re probably wondering if it makes any difference in real world conditions. It can if you’re downloading a lot of huge apps. You’ll download the app a couple of seconds quicker than with HSPA+. It can also make a big difference if you’re tethering and download huge files.
Assuming you have a strong enough signal you won’t notice any difference when it comes to video streaming since most online videos max out at around 3mbps. I should also point out that at 3mbps you’ll chew through a lot of data very, very quickly.
You also probably won’t notice much difference when it comes to web browser. At around 10mbps you start getting diminishing returns. You might notice that maps load slightly faster though the difference won’t be huge.
So while LTE can be a lot faster, it may not feel that way. The problem is there aren’t a lot of use cases which require LTE over DC-HSPA+.
There is 16GB (8.3GB available) of storage built in. I tested the speed by writing a 400MB file to the Raider and then copied it back to my computer. I observed slow write speeds of 3.4MB/s and blazing read speeds of 19.5MB/s. I popped a class 10 MicroSDHC in and got respectable write speeds of 12.4MB/s and read speeds of 17.3MB/s. So if you plan on copying a lot of large files to the Raider I suggest you use a microSDHC rather than the built-in storage.
Incoming sound quality is excellent. There isn’t much hiss and voices still sound pretty natural. It’s a similar story for the outgoing SQ.
Please note that voice goes over HSPA and not LTE. Forum member Worldirc had an interesting observation. What he noticed is that the Raider can’t handle both HSPA and LTE simultaneously. What this means is the Raider will drop to HSPA if you have a LTE connection and make or receive a call. He also noticed that he missed a lot of calls when he was in an area with weak LTE and strong HSPA signal. While the LTE signal is strong enough that the Raider hung on it wasn’t strong enough that the network could tell the Raider to switch back to HSPA to receive the call.
The Raider ships with a 1620mAh battery. Battery life was surprisingly decent. I could easily get a day of standby with the Raider. I’m not sure if this is because I was on HSPA+ plus most of the time.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been disappointed with HTC phones of late. While they’re great on paper and have decent software, I find them difficult to use. More importantly the cameras aren’t good enough for everyday use. It’s one of the reasons why I would rather use an iPhone or a Galaxy. The Raider finally addresses this shortcoming.
While the device seemed unappealing at first, it really grew on me. In the end, I can say that between its fast performance, LTE, great camera and software, the HTC Raider is a solid performer. It’s a HTC device that I love to use.
Last edited by howard; 11-11-2011 at 07:29 PM.
New Infinity Blade character
My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.
Sony Xperia ZL | Nokia Lumia 620 | Samsung ATIV-S | Blackberry Z10 | Samsung Galaxy Camera | Reflections on 2012 | HTC Windows Phone 8s | Samsung Rugby LTE | Huawei D Quad XL | Google Nexus 4 | Apple iPad Mini | HTC One X+ | HTC Windows Phone 8X | Nokia Lumia 920 | Sony Xperia T | Parrot Zik | LG Optimus G | Samsung Galaxy Note II | Motorola DEFY PRO | Motorola RAZR HD LTE | From iOS to Android | Apple iPhone 5 | HoFo at the CWTS coverage | Rogers LTE Rocket Hub ZTE MF28B | Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 launch | Motorola RAZR V | Motorola ATRIX HD LTE | Back to School Guide | HTC One V | Huawei Ascend P1 | Sony Xperia ION | Nokia Lumia 610 | Nexus 7 | LG Optimus L7 | HTC Titan II | Sony Xperia U | OtterBox Commuter for HTC One X | Samsung Galaxy S III | HTC One S | Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE | Nokia Lumia 900 | HTC One X | Apple iPad 3 | Sony Xperia S | Samsung Galaxy Note | Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 | Nokia Lumia 710 | Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 | Casemate Pop for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Commuter for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Defender for Galaxy Nexus | Nokia Lumia 800 | Motorola Pro+ | Blackberry Curve 9360 | Asus Transformer Prime | Galaxy S Glide | Blackberry Bold 9790 | Nokia N9 | 2011 Gift Guide | HTC Amaze 4G | Acer ICONIA Tab A501 | LG Optimus LTE | Case Mate TANK | Samsung Galaxy S II LTE | Motorola RAZR | Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Howard doesn't Sense 3.0 include it's own variant of Swype called HTC Trace or something like that? The Sensation has it.
Thanks for the tip. You're right, I don't know how I missed trace. I've updated my review.
My Plan - $60
200 Local Daytime Minutes
E/W @ 6
Fab 10 Nationwide
Unlimited North America SMS / MMS
10 Hours Mobile TV
6GB LTE compatible data
does this phone hav LED notification?
My Rogers $60 6gb Super Plan: Using a Galaxy Note LTE
200 daytime minutes, 100 Long distance minutes, UNLIMITED Incoming Calls, My10 Canada Wide, Unlimited Evenings & Weekends 6pm-7am, Call Display and Visual Voicemail, 2500 Call Forwarding Minutes, Unlimited Sms & Mms, Unlimited Sms International/ US, Data Mobile TV, 6gb Sharable LTE Data
$65.99 tax in
I asked HTC if this phone has Gorilla Glass and this was the answer I got:
"Thank you for contacting HTC Technical support about if your Raider device has Gorilla Glass for the screen of your device. In our commitment to quality, HTC pioneered the use of shatterproof glass in smartphones. At the time, Corning was the only manufacturer and we used their product, Gorilla Glass. Since then, many manufactures have developed and advanced shatter-proof glass technology, allowing HTC to use the highest quality cutting edge shatterproof glass in our smartphones while keeping costs low for our customers."
Yes, but not Gorilla Glass.
Long read but worth it for the research, good read. This phone is on my short list of contenders for a new phone.
Contact me for your real estate needs! www.johnpham.ca
Good review. Still loving my Raider after a month of ownership, also realized that I am now getting LTE signal in the Woodbridge area since mid-day yesterday. Only 2 bars but still good speeds.
Last edited by big_yute; 02-02-2012 at 02:59 PM.
Great review. My wife and I just recently upgraded to Raiders from our old, bulky Samsungs which actually had those cute little retractable antennas. (stop laughing). We are quite happy with the Raider and still very much in the learning stage. However, one extremely valuable function appears to be missing, that is, voice activated dialing. I could do it with cluncky old technology. What's up?