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printed November 25, 2014
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Review: HTC Freestyle

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The Freestyle offers scaled down messaging support when compared to other Sense devices. It uses the same SMS/MMS application as found on HTC's smartphones, but email support isn't nearly as good.

The Messages application, which can be placed on one of the home screens, offers threaded, conversational text and picture/video messages. It looks good and works just as it would on an Android device.

Instant Messaging is limited to a weak third-party application that only offers AIM, Windows Live and Yahoo support. Google Talk and other IM clients are MIA. The generic IM app works, but is clunky.

Email addicts will have to be satisfied with AT&T's terrible POP3/IMAP4 software. It supports a wide range of webmail accounts, but interacting with your inbox is anything but fun. First, HTML emails are not supported at all, which takes all the visual flair out of your inbox. Second, the email program doesn't effectively pull email down to the device. You have to manually refresh your inbox if you really want to know what's going on. Third, emails need to be downloaded from the server each time you read them -- and even then they are truncated. The email app (amazingly) supports all the folders you have available in your webmail account, but there's no support for attachments. Last, and worst, you have to pay $5 per month to use the application.

Also, the typing experience on the Freestyle is miserable. The software keyboard is simply too small, at least for my fingers. I could barely type two words without accidentally pressing a wrong key. Additionally, the predictive software is too slow. If you type too fast, it will get confused and eventually just give up. You may lose half a sentence if you go too quickly. The only solution is to use the software QWERTY in landscape mode, which gives it a lot more breathing room. Rather than simply rotate the phone onto its side, however, you have to press a button to get the landscape QWERTY to appear.

 

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