Review: HTC Freestyle
The Freestyle has a 3.2-inch capacitive touch display that packs in 320 x 480 pixels (the same as the Droid Eris, Hero, and others). It isn't the sharpest or finest display available on a touch device, but it is far from the worst. The size and resolution together make for a good experience overall, and images and text elements look smooth most of the time. The Freestyle's display won't win any awards, but it does well enough both indoors and out.
At my home in northern New Jersey it barely managed to register one or two bars (where other AT&T phones can find five). On a trip into Manhattan, strength ranged a bit, but I never saw the Freestyle display a full five bars of signal strength. It always connected to AT&T's 3G network. The only time it dropped to EDGE was when the I took the phone into a basement. In terms of real-world performance, the Freestyle did not drop any calls while I tested it, nor did it miss any due to signal weirdness. Data sessions were consistent, though not as zippy as I would have liked.
Voice calls almost always had a persistent and noticeable hiss. Sometimes I felt like I was talking to someone on a submarine, as the hiss made conversations sound as if they were taking place under water. Aside from the hiss, I didn't notice any other problems. As for volume, the Freestyle isn't nearly loud enough. The earpiece speaker rates a pathetic "anemic" in my rating system. Even set to maximum volume, the Freestyle was not loud enough. The speakerphone's volume was better, but that really only means the nasty hiss is that much more in your face. Ringers and other alert tones were loud enough. Vibrate strength was good enough to make it dance across a tablet.
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One place the Freestyle fails to emulate smartphones is with respect to battery life — and that's a darned good thing. The Freestyle easily made it through two full days of use and halfway into a third. Even with HTC's Friendstream software pinging Twitter and Facebook all day long, the battery held out much longer than today's high-end smartphones.
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