All of the recent talks over the new 4G networks means little without devices to harness the power of these new powerful networks. In comes the HTC Raider a 4.5-inch, dual core powered phone that is the first LTE phone in Canada to harness both 4G LTE and A Dual Core processor.
While HTC is well respected by the tech community for having some of the most solid handsets available, that’s not to say they haven’t gotten their fair share of criticism. The primary complaint from many Android enthusiasts is that HTC phones, albeit named almost all completely differently, all seem to look “similar”. To some, this is an annoyance as handsets won’t stand out from each other, but I personally see it as a good thing as it provides HTC with an identity, something it seemed to lack before the Nexus One.
With the HTC Raider however, HTC clearly took a step away from the usual unibody aluminum shell and instead went for a very Motorola-esque design for the Raider. In fact, many times when taking a quick glance at the phone on a desk it really gave off the aura of the original Motorola DROID/Milestone. The mixed use of metal and plastic also reminded us a lot of the construction of the Samsung Captivate.
Many have criticized the design and other have been even harsher, calling it plain ugly. Although I didn’t hate the design, I certainly felt like it was a bit of a step back compared to other HTC offerings like the Amaze 4G. At 11.2mm and 176 grams, the Raider is thinner and lighter than its brethren, the Amaze 4G. To accommodate the behemoth 4.5-inch screen, the Raider is slightly wider than its 4G sibling but just about as tall. The weight can be a bit much for some but it adds to the premium feel that is somewhat lost with the use of plastics.
In terms of ergonomics the Raider felt very well balanced but didn’t feel as reassuring to hold as say the Incredible S. The glossy plastic sides and metal back simply do not provide enough friction between one’s hand and the phone. The tapers on the side also felt quite exaggerated and could have been toned down slightly given that it is already slightly thinner than the Amaze 4G, which was respectably thin in its own right.
In terms of overall build quality, the Raider is a bit of a miss for an HTC built phone but still feels more substantial and solidly built than many competitor phones. I do have to commend HTC for stepping out of their comfort zone in terms of design and, while some may not like its looks, it is neutral enough to please most.
If we only take into consideration HTC made Android devices, the Incredible S would be the gold standard for Super LCD screens used by the company. With the Raider, we’ve finally come across another Super LCD screen that is truly good enough to compare to the IPS screens and Super AMOLED screens of the mobile space.
When reviewing the Sensation 4G, I expected to see a screen as good if not better than the Incredible S, but sadly this wasn’t the case. The same train of thought was given to the Amaze 4G and again, it was a good effort, but fell short. The Raider has, fortunately enough, broken the cycle of disappointment.
The Raider has the best SLCD screen I’ve seen on an HTC device to date, coupled with a very crisp qHD resolution in a 4.5-inch form factor and you get a fantastic reading, gaming and multimedia experience. HTC really brought the A-game when it comes to the Raider’s display. Like almost any high end or flagship Android device you think of today, touch responsiveness, gestures and overall accuracy were as good as it gets.
Buttons and Keyboard
Pretty status quo as far as non-touchscreen user inputs to report. Power button and Volume buttons weren’t the most raised buttons, but were good enough to be noticed without looking at the phone. The dedicated camera button will certainly be missed, however, and with a camera as good as the one on the Raider, it really is unfortunate.
While the Raider was able to get us through a day worth of normal usage, LTE is still a huge battery hog. To stress-test the battery, I enabled the hotspot and tethered 2-3 devices simultaneous while still doing benchmarks on the phone and LTE really took its toll. Fortunately should the situation arise where one would need to tether for that long it’s assumed that there would be a USB port available to keep the phone charged, and this is highly recommended, should you down go this route.
Both Rogers and Bell had a nice lineup of existing dual core phones but the Raider is an amazing addition to both their lineups. Being one of the first LTE phones on both their respective network, it’s obvious that this phone was going to bring some killer specs:
- 1.2 GHz Dual Core Third Generation Snapdragon Processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 16GB of Internal storage
- Adreno 220 Graphic processor
- 75Mbps LTE capable chipset
- 8MP auto-focus camera (dual LED flash + 1080p HD video)
LTE 4G Capabilities
Not too long ago, LTE was simply a dream. A future of ultra high speed data that could allow a true, full faceted, multimedia internet experience on mobile devices. Today, that dream is a reality, LTE coverage in Canada is increasing by the day and becoming available to more and more Canadians.
4G has been a been a standard that has been used (and abused) over the past few months to designate any network that has significant improvements over 3G networks. Now depending who you ask, HSPA+ may or may not fall under the 4G moniker but ask those same people about LTE and they most likely will agree that it is 4G or at least the closest thing to 4G we currently have.
In our tests on the Rogers LTE 4G network in Montreal, LTE speeds were absurdly fast. Providing speeds that never dropped below 15mbps and reaching just about 30mbps we got the same speeds as earlier tests with the Rogers data stick.
Speaker and microphone
Like most HTC phones the external speaker and earpiece aren’t of pristine quality but really are just good enough. While I certainly would like to see HTC make immediate strides in the regards of sound, we should expect things to get better as HTC uses the synergy made from their majority acquisition of Beats by Dr. Dre.
One aspect where HTC traditionally hasn’t been a powerhouse has been cameras. But this changed in Canada with the arrival of the HTC Amaze 4G. It brought the first HTC phone equipped with what they claim is one of the best lenses and some of the best camera software on any smartphone. This new wave of ultra high end camera experiences on HTC phones is continued with the HTC Raider.
Still and video came out absolutely crisp, sharp and had immense amounts of detail. Although, unlike the Amaze 4G, the Raider was missing some of the camera features that the Amaze 4G had in the camera app but still produces quality shots. What I do miss the most however from the Amaze 4G is the dedicated camera and camcorder shutter buttons.
The Last Word
The Raider is certainly a solid phone that is in some ways built on the solid base of the Sensation 4G/EVO 3D and has the addition 4G LTE connectivity and a vastly improved camera. This overall package is just about as good as the Amaze 4G but with slight differences that make it a slightly inferior phone. That being said, if you’re a user that absolutely need the fastest data speeds, look no further than the HTC Raider. LTE is such a vast improvement over existing 3G technologies that is most certainly deserves the “4G” moniker and makes the Raider one of the best phones in Canada available right now