Author’s Note: (I have recently written this product review for HTC Touch Diamond for one of a leading magazine & wanted to share it with my blog visitors)
The Prosumer’s smart phone market is a notoriously difficult market to crack, with subsequent successful devices proving few and far between. If any Windows Mobile device has ever eagerly awaited it has been the Touch Diamond from HTC. Small, sleek and with a version of HTC’s fancy TouchFLO interface that has expected to knock the socks off its predecessor, the arrival of the HTC Touch Diamond is a bit of a ‘baited breath’ moment.
The HTC Touch Diamond is a 3G handset, made with a touchscreen, 4GB of storage for music and photos and more. It’s an elegant follow-up to the HTC Touch and should give the 3G iPhone a run for its money, The best part of the HTC Touch Diamond by far is its beautiful craftsmanship, but the touch screen and functionality come in a close second and third.
HTC Touch Diamond – Designer Feel
The HTC Touch Diamond looks fabulous. It’s relatively small and lightweight for a smartphone, at just 11mm thick and weighing in at only 110g. But don’t let these stats deceive you, as the Diamond packs an awful lot into its svelte body. The 2.8-inch screen dominates the front of the handset, with a panel featuring four hard keys and a command key found just underneath. The panel feels a little loose which is a shame because apart from that the Diamond is a work of art. The back of the handset features a plastic glossy prism-like design that gives it a real designer look, although both this and the screen is a real magnet for grubby paw prints.
The icons are both vivid and expertly animated, and the clock on the home screen can be changed from digital to a retro-style clock that flips over as the minutes pass.
HTC Touch Diamond – TouchFLO 3D
Following the success of HTC’s patented TouchFLO technology, the Diamond is the first to sport the updated TouchFLO 3D user interface. Despite operating on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, it looks similar to the user interface found on the iPhone, with the ability to flip through your contacts or music collection with each name or album cover coming towards you from the screen.
The 3D view of the HTC Touch Diamond’s software is excellent. You can look through your contact list by picture with the sweep of a finger if you add pictures to people in your contact list, or take their picture with the phone’s 3.2Mp auto-focus camera. For music listeners, the album covers show up so you can flip through them in the same way you look through the contact list. Of course, you can type in names as well by hand or stylus.
The HTC Touch Diamond is packed with features and not forgetting its smartphone roots features HSDPA, Wi-Fi and HSUPA, meaning it’s equally quick in uploading content as it is to download. We were particularly impressed with the Wi-Fi connectivity both in its speed and its ability to recognize potential servers. Using our office Wi-Fi network we found surfing the net proved just as fast as our own desktop.
HTC Touch Diamond – Opera Mobile
HTC recently announced that all of its Diamonds would come with Opera 9.5, a purpose-built mobile internet browser, embedded on the device. Internet Explorer is also there, but Opera is so good that Internet Explorer is likely to remain redundant. The beauty of Opera is that it automatically resizes web content so that it fits neatly on the screen. Simply tap the screen twice on the area of the page that you want to read and you will zoom in. The Diamond is also fitted with accelerometers allowing you to view web pages (as well as photos) in portrait or landscape view.
A quick link to YouTube can also be found in the list of programs. The quality of video when being streamed is some of the best we’ve seen, though there is an ever so slight sound delay.
HTC Touch Diamond – Rain or Shine
The weather application was a particular favourite of ours. Choose from a list of locations – you can be as specific as particular boroughs of London – and be greeted by a large weather symbol indicating whether there is sun, rain or snow, as well as the current temperature. It’s updated automatically and regularly, and could prove particularly useful to the jet-setting businessman, for example.
The Diamond also features A-GPS, although the mapping software will need to be bought in addition to the device; however the complete package does come with the excellent CoPilot Live included. However, Google Maps is embedded in the device, and the accuracy of the results was excellent, pinpointing us to the exact location.
HTC Touch Diamond – Multitasking
While there’s no expandable memory option, the Diamond does pack 4GB of internal memory, which is a generous offering. What’s more unlike some other phones is that the Diamond allows you to use multiple programs at any one time, by minimizing them as you would on a PC. For example, you could be surfing the web when you want to check your calendar. Simply bring up your diary, check your appointment and then return to where you were on the web.
HTC Touch Diamond – The verdict
We applaud the HTC Touch Diamond for its ambition and promise. With the Sony Ericsson Xperia and Samsung Omni i900 coming soon, offering their own customizations of Windows Mobile 6.1′s UI and widescreen displays, the competition will be getting a little fierce. The TouchFLO 3D is definitely fun and interesting, though it doesn’t always translate into a more efficient and expedient UI. We wish you didn’t have to read the manual to learn the in’s and out’s of finger navigation (isn’t the point of touch phones that they should operate nearly transparently), though first time WinMo users will likely find the visual presentation easier to figure out than standard WinMo. However, in terms of price and features the Diamond is a high-end power user’s phone, and those generally attract veteran users who may grow frustrated with the visuals when wanting to accomplish tasks quickly.
Certainly, the feature set is incredible– VGA display, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, 4 gigs of storage and a good autofocus camera. And it’s a marvel that HTC fit all this in such a slim, small and light device. Based on the hardware, the Diamond is indeed a gem.