Hands-on Photos of Windows Phone 7 – HTC Surround, Samsung Focus and More

Windows Phone 7 has finally landed. Today in New York, Steve Balmer launched Windows Phone 7 by saying that”The Windows Phone is a different kind of phone. Always delightful, wonderfully personal, and will help you get in, out, and back to life.” As corny as that sounds, so far it seems pretty true.

Our first impressions of Windows Phone 7 is that it really is very unique. We were a little nervous that the operating system would prove to be too overwhelming to use in person, the way the Kin was, but it’s actually quite and intuitive and fun to operate. All of the handsets that we tried out are very fast and responsive. The onscreen keyboard in particular is quite spectacular, and we were able to type out e-mails in a lightning fast manner. The typing experience actually seem faster than even the iPhone’s great onscreen keyboard. This awesome on-screen keyboard experience is a good match for the strong Outlook integration and the slick and very easy-on-the-eyes Windows Phone 7 email inbox. The included Office applications are pretty sweet too – not only can you view Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, but you can also edit them (to a certain capacity), and even playback Powerpoint files with their full animations.

That said, not all of the handsets in the line-up are created equal. The Samsung Focus for AT&T seems to be leading the pack with an amazing 4″ Super AMOLED screen, while devices like the LG Quantum have a mushy and disappointing physical keyboard.

Xbox Live integration on Windows Phone 7 means that you can customize your avatar, access your achievements, scores, accept game invites, and interact with the Xbox Live community, right from the device. EA has already lined up several games for the platform, including Sims 3 which looks neat. We are indeed impressed with how well some of the very graphically intense games are playing on these devices. The built-in accelerometer helps add to the gaming experience.

We also tried testing Internet Explorer one one of the handsets, but it wasn’t working – most likely because the phone couldn’t get a good connection inside the building we were in which was overwhelmed with journalists and their smartphones and laptops. Windows Marketplace was also working on the devices, even though Microsoft didn’t officially talk about it at the press conference. Microsoft did however make a point to mention that all of the Windows Phone 7 handsets will work with software updates as they are rolled out. One such update will include Copy & Paste and will be released in Early 2011.

These new Windows Phone 7 handsets will be available from 60 carriers in 30 countries, and the first handsets go on sale November 8th in the U.S. Check out the gallery for hands-on photos of the new handsets.

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