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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  • KayDat - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    Would have been interesting if HTC could implement a keyboard/speaker combo. Slide one way for speaker, other way for keyboard. That way, you wouldn't add thickness just for speakers.
  • bpt8056 - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    I like your idea about the speaker/keyboard combo. In addition to that, better landscape support would make this phone a much more competing product.
  • vol7ron - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    I love the fact that speakers/sound quality are now being considered by manufacturers. I wish the kickstand was on it, so the screen was higher.

    I'm curious how big the speakers are - I also would not be too sure that the part would be durable enough to withstand a slide out keyboard/speaker combo.
  • Randomblame - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    if only it ran windows mobile 6.5 and that slide out was a keyboard. That would be the updated rhodium aka touch pro 3 I would buy.
  • Snotling - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    come on now... win mobile? What else Windows XP forever? Do you Miss Pentium CPUs? Still playing Starcraft 1?
  • aebiv - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    No, some of us aren't wow'd by the fact with WP7 you LOSE functionality vs WM6.5.

    Quit being a tool.
  • Nataku - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    well... legacy is a blessing and a curse, thats all that can be said for winmo6.5...

    im actually glad win phone 7 gets a fresh start, at least nothing to drag it's feet
  • a12e - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    only has 8 GB of integrated NAND, I believe, not 16.
  • softdrinkviking - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    i can't find that mistake. on pg 2, it says 512MB of integrated NAND, and a 16GB microSD card.
  • a12e - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    In the spec comparison table at the bottom of the first page for the Samsung Focus.
    I wish it had 16GB... then I'd have an extra 8GB right now. :)

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