I have had the HTC Surround now for nearly a month, and have had an overall positive experience with this phone (see previous review here). The slide-out speaker makes watching movies and listening to music enjoyable. I didn't really understand the point until I tried it...Wow!
To be sure, I'm not going to completely gush over this phone. I think you could find better and worse in terms of hardware and software. The quality of the construction is what you would expect of an HTC device. It's good-looking and works well, but there are a few rough spots. The battery was under-powered in my opinion, and seemed always in need of a charge. I did not get the latest update for the phone, so to be fair I didn't test the latest and greatest WP OS, but the screen responses were sluggish at times. The WP OS has some slick features/concepts, but still needs a bit of work in spots, in my opinion. In this wrap up, I cover more of the main features.
The phone worked well for navigation in my area. The Maps app built into the OS is a spartan but quick and useful way to get directions, route info, and traffic updates--though the AT&T Navigator app is much more robust. I have reviewed it in past reviews. I said it before, but must say again the OS and apps all need tilt/rotation (maybe it is in the update). The AT&T app at least senses tilts during turn-by-turn mode.
Tried out a few of the AT&T apps, which include VOD (video on demand) services, Internet radio, FamilyMap and more. The problem is that they require you to tack on additional monthly charges of course. I suggest using the Surround's WiFi when you can, and simply tune in to some of these services using free resources on the internet (of which there
are many). The AT&T Radio streaming app certainly contained a bevy of streaming categories to choose from, but I would not be happy with the $4.99 subscription fee. Also annoying that I couldn't seem to minimize the app without killing it (to access other menus, etc.), or add custom streams (i.e. my XM streams).
I also grabbed a few apps from the Marketplace (a stock tracker, ereader, and Google docs app). I could not get the Google app to work, but the enews reader worked well. The Surround touch-capacitive screen (which can be finicky on taps), slides very smoothly. Web browsing was also pleasing, though inputting accurate text was a bit glitchy (which
is also why I could not get the Google Docs app to work--wouldn't accept my account).
The one thing I can gush about is the display and the sound of course, so will finally do so in this section. If you really want to have a phone that can nicely play video and quality audio (without a dock), then you might want to consider the Surround seriously (or a similar phone). The screen is just the right size to watch without too much squinting (about the same as an iPod touch 4), and the kick-stand is a neat option that lets you firmly place the phone on it's side. The audio is amazing, and it is also handy to be able to flip through the audio configuration (using the toggle button in the upper left), but I doubt you will need to fiddle with it much (SRS or Dolby Mobile), once experienced.
As a phone, the Surround scores well. Speakerphone? Check! It is a good one too. If you make and have to take a lot of con-calls, this is a another reason to take a second look at the Surround. The phone performed well in all aspects, and signal quality remained high throughout buildings, and even in my basement lab.
Let's say you need a good phone, and you don't want to do weird Android models, or predictable Apple. You also travel a lot, watch shows on the plane, or listen to streams in the hotel room (and don't mind the smaller screen). If all these things are your requirements, I do recommend you at least go check out the Surround
at a store near you. You might decide you really want one after hearing the sound it can produce, which is undoubtedly it's strongest feature.