HTC Touch Diamond

HTC has touted the Touch Diamond as an iPhone killer? But is this Diamond shiny enough to distract anyone from picking up an Apple?

In a smart move HTC has supplied Opera Mobile 9.5 preinstalled, (which isn't even publically available yet) instead of the severally backward Pocket Internet Explorer. This has support for tabs, and lets you zoom in on a page to view the part you want to see and then pan and scroll around. It also reflows text automatically to fit the selected zoom level. It's clever and pleasing to use, which is impressive considering there's no multi touch trickery going in, but in general the experience is spoilt by its sluggish feel.

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The browser also flags up a real problem with the HTC text entry. Clearly work has been done to make it possible to enter text without the stylus and this works to an extent. Press inside the browser's default search bar and the on-screen keyboard pops up enabling you to enter text. However as soon as you start typing the search field box moves to the bottom of the screen so you can no longer see what you're typing. Remove the on-screen keyboard to get back to the search box and there's no obvious way to bring box the keyboard.

Once you do get going though, you can't help but be impressed by the brightness and clarity of the screen. It's without a doubt the best quality screen I've seen on a mobile device. The phone also has a sensor that dims and brightens the display automatically.

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Also turning the phone on its side and it switches to a landscape view, thanks to the inclusion of an accelerometer. Again, there usually a delay in this happening though that spoils the experience.

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At least the on screen keyboard enables you to choose between a QWERTY layout and a mobile phone style T9 interface. It's even possible to tap at the screen with your finger instead of using the stylus though I still found myself taking the stylus out on a regular basis.

All-in-all though it's hard not to be impressed with the comprehensive range of features and functions present in the amazingly compact Touch Diamond. Its screen and browser are certainly an impressive combination for a device that doesn't have multi-touch.

However, as a business device it doesn't entirely convince. The build quality is disappointing and if it gets a lot of use, either from browsing or email or will start to warm up really quickly.

Another big issue for some will also be the battery life. HTC claims 5.5 hours of talk-time from the 900mAh battery but with more varied use the bar meter starts to drop at an alarming rate. This is definitely a phone you'll need to charge ever day.

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Finally its sluggishness may frustrate after a while and the on screen keyboard and stylus is never going to cut it for more than short emails. HTC does have the keyboard equipped Touch Pro lined up though for that market.

As a whole, the Touch Diamond is simply not quite the great leap in usability HTC was promising and overall I find it hard to imagine that anyone who has a chance to play with both side by side will choose the Diamond over an iPhone. Only the front camera and video recording capability are significant features it has over the Apple.

Verdict

A true Diamond in the rough. The latest HTC device has some great features and some real thought has been put into its interface but there’s no doubt that it more hamstrung than helped by its Windows Mobile background. Despite the excellent3D interface on the surface and the superior browsing experience, it’s build quality, performance and battery life just aren’t good enough for this to be considered a robust business device.

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Size (WxDxH): 51mm x 11.5mm x 102mm OS: Windows Mobile 6.1 Weight: 110 g Battery: 900mAh Li-on Talk time (mfr): 5.5 minutes (GSM) Standby time (mfr): 4.75 hours (GSM) GSM frequencies: GPRS, EDGE, Tri-band /900/1800/1900MHz 3G: HSDPA/HSUPA 900/2100MHZ Screen size: 2.6 inch Resolution: 640 x 480 pixels On-board memory: 256MB internal, 192MB RAM, 4GB storage Memory card: None Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, GPS receiver (AGPS)

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