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HTC Touch Diamond
The Touch brand from the HTC stable has certainly evolved. From the Touch to the Dual and now the Touch Diamond, it feels like a planned strategy. All these phones were launched in a short span of time, while adopting significant design and feature-list changes.
The Touch Diamond fares far better than other phones in HTC's Touch series, so calling it a "successor" wouldn't be strictly accurate. Having reviewed the two previous Touch phones already, I will stick to those features that are unique to this one. For the rest, please check out our reviews of the HTC Touch and the Touch Dual.
The interface is refreshingly new and chic. The phone is one of the thinnest in the Touch stable, and will hence appeal to the style-conscious. It’s important to keep in mind that the Diamond has an internal memory of 4GB, which really works to its advantage.
At 102 x 51 x 11.5 mm, this phone has shed a lot of bulk, and is easily the lightest Windows Mobile phone in the market at 110g. The front comprises the 2.8-inch touchscreen with the lower band housing the four function keys and the navigation button.
Though not raised, the buttons are not touch-sensitive. Having no clutter to bother with, the buttons work as they should, even if the nav-pad can be a bit off. Without nails, you might just end up hitting the Cancel or Call button.
The earphone jack, USB and the charging slot can be found at the bottom. The socket housing the stylus has accommodated a refreshing change with the inclusion of a mild magnetic effect, to ensure that your stylus doesn’t fall off. Turn the Touch and you will see a well designed back!!
Features and Performance
The phone works on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, and like any HTC phone, this one too comes heavily customized. Foremost is the TouchFLO 3D version 3.0. It’s evolved from the original Touch days, and there’s more to it than you'd guess.
The phone has192MB DDR SDRAM, 256MB ROM, and improved processor power with a Qualcomm MSM7201A 528MHz processor. This explains why the TouchFLO system works a bit more efficiently.
Of course, you can always leave it all behind and use the phone in good ol' Windows Mobile fashion, but there’s no need to. For not only does the TouchFLO 3D make it easier to navigate through what the phone offers, but also makes it look way better.
Unlike the earlier TouchFLO models, the current interface is a lot more user-friendly. Since using it takes up a lot of the phones resources, it was always a conscious decision between what's flashy and what's feasible – for its slow performance often made it a real pain.
The bottom band now displays more than just the current page you are on, and at any given point of time you can just press your stylus and keep rotating the various tabs – Mail, Music, Settings, Browser etc. You can stop at whatever you need to access directly, so there’s no need to go past all the tabs to get to the one you want.
The TouchFLO interface looks and feels pretty good. As I said, there’s no reason to avoid it, for it's fast and fun to use. For instance, while reading messages, you can just "pinch" and send the message flying up or down to the next or previous message. Viewing pictures using TouchFLO is also fun.
However, the experience doesn’t stop here. For instance, the message reply feature has also been customized to resemble a true IM. Like any instant messenger, conversations are displayed one after the other, making life much easier.
What makes it even better is that unlike most Windows Mobile phones, this one feature a finger-sensitive touchpad that's actually big enough for your fingers. It was about time someone did that, for messaging on the move was a big pain. Now you have an option to type a message or phone number or a mail using a QWERTY-type keypad, or your regular numeric pad.
While using TouchFLO you can use the Home key to return to the main page at any time. The home screen has become a bit loose, however, in terms of usability, so watch out for that!! You can customize its look on the fly, however.
That apart, all the true Windows Mobile features are present. Office Mobile, Zip, Windows Live, MSN Messenger, Opera, JBlend etc. are all there, along with a YouTube and RSS Hub application.
Other small customizations are possible. There’s an option to enable notes whenever you bring out the stylus while taking a call. You can also directly hover over the letters and get to a letter directly. While the letters are tiny, you can still manage to scroll using your thumb.
The music quality has undergone some significant changes. It not only sounds a lot crisper, but at the same time looks and feels a lot less hostile. Since there’s 4GB of space built-in, you can start enjoying music immediately. It also supports the A2DP profile, and having tested it, I have to say the music sounds much better with a heavy-duty Bluetooth headset. It also has a FM radio with RDS, which works fine.
There something called MP3 Trimmer, which allows you to directly cut up your favorite song and make ringtones out of it. It’s a very intuitive and useful tool. A great function, I think.
The camera is a 3.2MP job with autofocus. The camera, however, doesn't offer much by way of settings. Also the white balance is a bit off. The only problem is that pictures tend to be a bit warm for my taste. While viewing pictures, you can enjoy features such as tilting the phone to change the orientation. However, the camera is a decent one.
A serious departure from a long line of Windows Mobile phones is the games section. While Bubble Breaker and Solitaire are still there, a new addition – Teeter – makes use of motion sensors in the phone. The idea is to move the phone to get the silver ball into the green hole, while the terrain is full of black ones that need to be avoided.
Every time the ball hits a wall, you will feel a "thump" in that particular corner only. This, along with the fact that you can control the ball right down to its minutest motion is what makes the game so cool. However, HTC could have used this feature for more than just the game.
The phone supports Wi-Fi and advanced GPRS. Having Wi-Fi is a welcome change – it makes life a lot easier, what with custom installation kits costing anywhere from 2-3K for your home.
If you don’t like the native Internet Explorer, you can use Opera Mini instead, which comes bundled with the phone. As for connectivity, I will reduce half a point because the company still hasn’t made life any easier for non-supported providers like BPL. It natively supports Vodafone and Airtel, and will pull the correct GPRS/EDGE settings automatically. For the rest, even manually entering the settings is a bi*ch. A big negative!
After considering all these new features, it’s disheartening to learn that the phone's battery life is not adequate. Of course, if you are a heavy-duty power user, I would recommend that you carry a charger with you, or buy another for office use. The phone can be charged through the USB too, though it takes a lot more time.
The phone looks and feels good, and the new TouchFLO is impressive. Some serious effort has gone into making the handset more user-friendly, and there's a better-looking UI to boot. Inclusion of Wi-Fi is a plus, and the decent 3.2 MP autofocus camera is another highlight.
At Rs 27,500, HTC Touch Diamond is really expensive. Still, considering the great looks and features on offer, I'd say it's worth the price.
HTC Touch Diamond
|GSM 900/1800/1900 with HSDPA 2100/900|
|102 x 51 x 11.5 mm , 110g|
|2.8 inch TFT touchscreen; 65K colors (480 x 640 pixels)|
|4GB internal, No external |
|3.2 MP autofocus|
USB, Bluetooth, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, Wifi
Up to 285 hrs standby, 5 hrs 30 min talktime (according to product manual)
Approx. Rs 27,500