The front of the HTC Surround is pretty standard fare. There’s the ambient light sensor and proximity up at the top just to the right of the HTC logo, and the three required WP7 capacitive buttons at the bottom. Thank goodness that the order of buttons is standardized, from left to right: back, windows, and search. The capacitive buttons on the Surround actually work extremely well and have proved much more responsive than I’m used to them working on other devices. Perhaps because they’re spaced out and have a much larger active area. Capacitive touch on the display itself is also thankfully responsive and accurate. The entire surface is unbroken glass.

Though the Surround does not have an AMOLED display, rather just a normal TFT LCD, I found it decently contrasty in normal use on auto brightness. Unfortunately, at maximum brightness, the black levels on the Surround aren’t quite as good as other devices we’ve looked at. 

Brightness Comparison (White Point)
Phone Low Medium High
HTC Surround 10.4 nits 183.1 nits 405.7 nits
LG Optimus 7 130.4 nits 259.1 nits 381.2 nits
Samsung Focus 61.9 nits 143.1 nits 234.3 nits


Brightness Comparison (Black Point)
Phone Low Medium High
HTC Surround 0.03 nits 0.39 nits 0.88 nits
LG Optimus 7 0.28 nits 0.56 nits 0.82 nits
Samsung Focus 0 0 0

Display Brightness Display Brightness Display Contrast

The Surround looks slightly warm next to the Fascinate, Nexus One, and iPhone 4. It's very subtle, but still detectable with the eye. 

Click to enlarge (huge version)

Again, all WP7 devices are the relatively standard 800x480 WVGA resolution - the Surround’s 3.8” size gives it a fairly decent 246 pixels per inch. WP7 actually has very good subpixel font smoothing on normal LCD displays - I’m very interested in seeing if or how subpixel font smoothing is implemented on the AMOLED devices PenTile pixel matrix. 

Viewing angles on the Surround are very good. Outdoor visibility is decent as well, but the Surround is noticeably more reflective than other phones. That said, it’s still more readable than the non-super AMOLED display on the Nexus One. Part of what makes the outdoor readability story on WP7 a bit different is that (unless you've changed it) most of the time you're looking at white text on black. As you've no doubt noticed in my photos so far, that makes reflection and fingerprints on the screen surface even more visible.

Auto brightness on the Surround seems to work well, however the dynamic range of brightness never seems to extend to the maximum and minimum brightnesses you can set manually. The result is that in complete darkness, the Surround isn’t dim enough. Interestingly enough, I haven’t really found myself wishing for more brightness in the converse situation.

Physical Appearance Camera - Stills
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  • banvetor - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    Really? Wow, the US cellphone companies are really screwed... But anyway, I'm from Brazil and currently I live in Italy, and in both places you can have the plan you want with whatever cell phone you have...

    Since I believe that many Anandtech readers do not live in the US, the "offline" analysis should still be valid... and also, maybe this screwed behavior is only at AT&T?
  • strikeback03 - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    No, common on the major US carriers at least. And while it is an added expense, IMO data on the go is the reason to have a smartphone. I almost never use mine on WiFi, as places I have WiFi I usually have a computer as well. If they did offer pay-as-you-go Data, it would likely be at high enough prices to encourage getting a plan anyway.
  • Nataku - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    really? they did that without telling you and that's legal?

    im amazed... now i need to think about whether or not I should even be getting one... I hope the rules aren't the same in Canada lol
  • Brian Klug - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    Hey Leo,

    That's actually a very valid point - I realize we have a large international audience and am pushing to get a lot more international devices into our coverage. I realize so far it's been a bit myopic with this tunnel-vision like focus on devices for US carriers, but we're working hard to mix it up with everything from abroad as well. I've actually got the LG Optimus One here (which is UK/Orange bound, if I'm not mistaken), which will be our first international device.

    Anyhow, I digress. Yeah, I'll definitely include some discussion about what you can do with data off. Thankfully WP7 does let you turn cellular data off entirely - then you're basically limited to text and voice when out and about. I know with WP7 everything is required to be cached, so apps should work, they just won't serve much purpose if they require a data connection. Obviously WiFi will work whenever you're connected as well.

    Honestly these smartphones are of marginal use without cellular data. I think Vivek rolls without a data plan most of the time, and he manages to get by just fine with the G2 and a bunch of others.

    Thanks again (sorry about the delayed response),
  • QueBert - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    So basically this is the loudest speaker on a cell phone, yet it's still close to 10db quieter than the Sunchip bag. Apple, Samsung, Moto, some cell phone manufacture obviously needs to incorporate the same technology Frito-Lay used to make the Sunchip biodegradable bag so damn loud.
  • JimmiG - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    I can see this as becoming something very annoying in schools, on trains and buses etc. I think the world would have been a better place without this phone.
  • DaveGirard - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    those photos are awful. It's all filter and no camera.
  • Tros - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    Maybe the phone needs to be in boombox-aspect to expose the microphone properly.
  • Brian Klug - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    This is a very interesting suggestion - if I get time, I'll test it out. That actually might end up being the case.

  • rackley - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    Nice review - I'm looking forward to seeing the review of the Focus, especially since you mentioned the PenTile display.

    Personally I think the Focus's display of text looks pretty bad with PenTile next to a Surround or LG, but I'd love to hear your always-detailed analysis of the issue.

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