Just got the HTC Touch Diamond smartphone today and I can tell you that it’s a pretty nice little gizmo. I’ll be taking it for a spin over the next few weeks, so if you have any questions about it or if you’d like me to try out any particular features, leave a message in the comments section and I’ll do my best to address your requests.
[UPDATE: Full review after the jump]
Make no mistake, HTC has a nice phone on its hands with the HTC Touch Diamond. The Windows Mobile 6.1-based device excels largely thanks to its ability to hide Windows Mobile from the user. The TouchFLO 3D interface is a breath of fresh air, offering animated menus generated by the phone’s built-in graphics processor. Unless you really dig into some of the menus, there’s a good chance that you’ll forget you’re using WinMo at all. Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll rarely need to use the stylus. This is a finger-friendly phone for sure.
From HTC’s product page:
As with most HTC devices, the small attention to detail is what sets the Touch Diamond apart. It’s the little things, like turning the phone face down to silence the ringer or pulling out the stylus while on a call to bring up the Notes application. The home screen, contacts, e-mail, web, music, weather, and programs menus all are rendered beautifully, too. As far as user interfaces go, the Touch Diamond is a pleasure to navigate. The 640×480 screen is gorgeous, too. There’s a lot to be said about doubling the resolution of most standard WinMo devices. It works.
The magnetic stylus is a nice touch, too, as it performs more than just tapping functions. Pull it out while on a call and the Notes application opens up. Or pull it out when the phone’s keypad is locked and, boom, you’re unlocked and back in business.
Finally, I’ve been impressed with HTC’s commitment to improving the device. It’s gone through numerous ROM updates — the latest one added high speed data and seemed to perk up the menu navigation considerably.
The video, music, and YouTube players all work really well, too. You could take this device on the airplane and leave your iPod at home. It works well for entertainment purposes. Using the included headphones, too, provide reception for the built-in FM radio, which is a nice touch if you still listen to old-school radio.
For a device that packs so much under the hood, the Touch Diamond is small – really small. Almost too small? The screen, as I said, is gorgeous. I just sometimes wish there was more of it to see. At 2.8 inches, it’s pretty small. The device is wonderfully pocketable, though, so it’s likely a worthwhile tradeoff.
HTC’s also done a great job on the customized Opera browser. It displays full, regular HTML web pages – you see a full view at first and then can zoom in on certain parts of the page. It works well and it’s pretty intuitive. The problem is that pages that you want to be rendered as mobile versions show up as the full desktop versions, which render pretty slowly. Gmail and Google Reader were the two that I wished I could just view the quick and dirty mobile version. In a pinch, the phone has Internet Explorer buried within the applications menu so I could fire that up if needed.
Battery life was average. You’ll probably need to charge this thing every day. It’s not terrible but it’s not great. This was the one area where I was like “I have absolutely no idea how I feel about this.” It’s right in the middle. Again, tiny device = tradeoffs.
Finally, there’s the whole no-keypad thing. The on-screen keyboard is well thought out and useable but it’s still not tactile. Haptic feedback would have been nice. People with average to above-average fingers, like me, won’t giggle with delight while entering stuff. Let’s just say that I look forward to the HTC Touch Pro, which has an actual keyboard. People who don’t mind on-screen keyboards, though, will find the Touch Diamond’s to be relatively responsive and easy to use.
My biggest gripes were so-so reception and poor screen visibility in direct sunlight. I tested the phone with a T-Mobile SIM in the Boston area and experienced a fair amount of drop outs during calls. There weren’t a lot of completely dropped calls, but I found myself saying, “What? Say that again. I missed that last part?” a lot. The phone’s manual makes it clear that the antenna is located near the top of the device and that you shouldn’t cover that area with your hand, but the phone is so small that it’s difficult to avoid cupping the entire device.
Also, using the phone outdoors requires the screen’s brightness to be jacked up pretty high, which can suck the battery pretty quickly. If you’re a true geek, though, you rarely go outside so maybe you won’t have to worry about that too much.
One final con – not really the device’s fault – is that you can’t get a subsidized one in the US yet. It’ll apparently be coming to various carriers this fall, though.
The HTC Touch Diamond is a great leap forward for Windows Mobile phones. If you’re not averse to touchscreen-only devices, you’ll find that the phone’s interface, feature-set, and very-pocketable form factor are hard to beat. Those pining for a real keyboard, though, might want to wait for the Touch Pro.