Long live the HTC HD2 Windows phone

It’s hard to believe a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone is not only alive and kicking more than two years after its release, but sports some of the latest mobile OS releases thanks to an enthusiastic software modding community who persistently breathes new life into a device at least two generations behind.

When it was released in late 2009, the HD2 was state-of-the-art hardware as one of the first smartphones to sport the then-new Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 processor. The fact that many recent smartphones including the first-generation Windows Phone 7s still use the same processor is actually one of the main factors why this device is able to live such a plentiful life.

Although HTC did a noteworthy job with Sense UI customizations on top of Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft’s best mobile offering at the time, modders had other plans.

After the MAGLDR bootloader was released by a modding group DFT, the floodgates literally flung open. Now not only could the HD2 boot Windows Mobile-based ROMs but also any Linux-based OS which includes but is not limited to Android.

As of today, the HTC HD2 forums on xda-developers are by far some of the most populated. With constant development of customized kernels and drivers for Android and Windows Phone 7, it’s impressive what developers largely driven by donations have been able to reverse engineer.

As far as I know the HTC HD2 remains the only non-native phone that can run the latest versions of both Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows Phone Mango today with most practical functionality supported – cellular, WiFi, touch and sensors. And if you fancy a bit of nostalgia, there are still updated Windows Mobile 6.5 ROMs.

With the dual-core and GPU trend of Android devices I’m not sure the HD2 will be able keep up much longer. If anyone has one of these lying around still running WM6.5, it might be worth trying something new. I highly recommend the bleeding-edge “NexusHD2-IceCreamSandwich Beta8” ROM.

8 insightful thoughts

  1. I’m reading this post on my HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5 and I’m still pretty happy with it.

    I added a 16Gb memory card, replaced the HTC Sense UI with Spb Mobile Shell as I found it much more customizable, added the latest version of Opera Mobile, moTweets for Twitter and Nitrogen for playing MP3s; I sync with an Exchange server so all my calendar, contact, task and notes data is up-to-date and backed-up.

    So far this has been my perfect phone. No need to change yet as this still does what I need it to do.

  2. Nice one. I’m still using the HD2 as well, on Mango, but bought another SD card so I can easily boot up Android.

    Actually, that story you linked to regarding MAGLDR (written by me ;)) is about something different. At that time the first Android build for the HD2 was released, but still for booting from Windows Mobile using haret.exe. MAGLDR only came in late December 2010.

    Also see this comprehensive overview of the story of the HD2 I wrote recently, here: http://www.xda-developers.com/windows-mobile/two-years-later-the-amazing-htc-hd2/

  3. I’ve been using the HD2 for a while, maybe 2 years. First with WM6.5.x, and then with Android from the SD, AmeriCan Android. I like Android, and still go back to WM once in a while; can’t quite let go of WM yet.
    I’m looking at getting a new cell plan, and the free Android phones don’t beat the HD2 so I’ll probably stay with the HD2.

  4. Happy New Year

    I still have the HD2; Love this phone, but the charging pins are now bent and charging the battery is getting more difficult all the time.
    My current contract runs out in a couple of months but there is no phone that matches the HD2 to me. I love Freda which WP7 has but the lack of an easy video upload path is killing that platform for me and I don’t think they have much support here in Hong Kong.

    I don’t want to go to Android but WP7 feels too restricted and incomplete at the moment and the available hardware is a joke.

    Might just get another HD2, if I can find one.

  5. I bought my HTC HD2 on eBay UK back in April 2011 for around GBP £275 on “Buy it now”. It was boxed, nearly new, and locked into O2, which suited me fine.

    I had considered the HD7 with Windows Phone 7.x but I’ve still got a lot of WM5.x and WM6.x software that I use regularly, including the excellent Spb Wallet which synchronizes all my passwords and software serial numbers with my PC. If Spb were to release a version for Windows Phone 7 I’d be tempted to move to that platform – pretty much everything else is covered.

  6. The HD2 is so hard to get hold of in the UK nowadays. It’s a shame because it’s possibly the best of the Windows 6.5 phones. It’s the one I always found the most practical anyway. I know you can buy refurb units from MobiCity and one or two other places around here, but getting your hands on new HD2s in bulk at a reasonable price is so difficult.

    I was just wondering if people could tell me what sort of quality you can expect from a refurbished model? I’m not expecting them to be sparkling but would appreciate something functional and decent in appearance…

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