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HTC S740 review


We review the HTC S740 and see how it compares with the company's Touch series

Rating:

Verdict: HTC's lower end QWERTY keyboard smartphone makes the most of Windows Mobile without a touchscreen

Price: From free with contract or £290 SIM-free

Pros: QWERTY keyboard, WiFi, a-GPS

Cons: On the chunky side, uninspiring graphics, no 3.5mm headphone jack

Design: Slim and sleek like HTC's Diamond, but heavier and chunkier

Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard

More Info: HTC website

HTC usually comes up with snappy, come-hither names for its handsets like Magic, Hero or Viva, so it's a bit of a mystery why the poor old S740 got lumbered with a serial number.

It's not like it's a bad-looking device. A casual glance would give you the impression that you're looking at the equally slimline Touch Diamond. But then you pick it up and realise that it's got a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the screen isn't touch sensitive.

It's considerably heavier too, at 140g and measures 116mm x 43mm x 17mm, though that 43mm thinness means it seems less chunky than it is. The screen seems on the small side, especially next to HTC's Touch series devices, at 2.4in with QVGA 320 x 240-pixel resolution.

The circular D-pad beneath the screen is flanked by call start and stop keys, two soft keys and home and back buttons, with numeric keypad with well spaced keys below. Around the sides are volume buttons, camera shutter, power on/off button and USB power/headphone port. SIM and microSD cards are stored in a compartment, which is only revealed when you slide out the keyboard.

It runs on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard operating system, the non-touchscreen version of the Professional OS you'll find on HTC's Touch phones and sadly also does without HTC's attractive TouchFLO interface, instead relying on the 'Sliding Panels' UI, which isn't as cool, though at least it prevents you from having to venture directly into the spooky forest that is Windows Mobile.

Keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard has four lines of keys, one less than HTC's Touch Pro. The keys are of tactile rubberised plastic and raised in the middle so they're surprisingly easy to find with the thumbs, despite looking a little cramped.

There are clients for email and instant messaging services plus, when writing text messages an automatic character counter is usefully flagged up on the page. The Qualcomm MSM7225, 528MHz processor is like the one you'll find on the Diamond and HD Touches, but it comes midway between them for RAM with 256MB which keeps things moving along nicely.

Connectivity

It has quad-band GSM and an HSDPA 3G connection with up to 7.2Mbps download speed. There's no camera on the front though, so no video conferencing, and if you need a faster Internet connection than 3G, there's WiFi for broadband access.

Internet

The onboard accelerometer switches the screen to landscape mode when you turn the handset on its side, which is always nice. Windows Explorer is the web browser (no pre-loaded Opera, boo!) and the zoom control is a bit awkward, and nowhere near as smooth as the bar on the later Touches. It has RSS feeds but it's a practical, not very elegant browser that's okay to use, but not much fun.

Camera

The 3.2 megapixel camera is live about two seconds after pressing the shutter button on the side, which makes it ideal for quick snaps. Don't bother with the 2x digital zoom if you can help it though, as it seemed to slow things down terribly. There's no autofocus or flash, but with good light you can get some fairly sharp pictures, though colours tended to look a little washed out.

The a-GPS uses Google Maps and found our location easily enough, even when we were indoors (so long as we were near a window). There's no pre-loaded sat nav software on board, but all the big players provide downloads for Windows Mobile (though the small screen means it's not ideal for in-car use).

Media

Watching video on a screen this size isn't recommended for long periods, although the resolution is sharp enough to do justice to hi-res movie clips. The music player uses HTC's rather fine Audio Manager system and includes a ten-band graphic equaliser that you can adjust manually or with the 21 stored presets.

There's an FM radio on board too with nine presets for which you'll need the supplied headphones to act as an aerial, though you can switch to loudspeaker for shared listening. There's no 3.5mm jack plug or USB adaptor like you get with Sony Ericsson's Walkman headsets, which would allow you to add your own.

Windows Office is on board, but you can't create Word or Excel documents, just edit or view them, as well as view PowerPoint docs.
The battery stood up well to frequent use, giving us a good two and a half days even with extensive WiFi use.

The S740 may not be as much of a show-stopper as its sexy cousins in the Touch series. However, if you like HTC and Windows Mobile, but really can't be doing with a touch screen, this could be the smartphone for you.

 

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HTC's offering, the S740, lacks a touchscreen but features a handy QWERTY keyboard

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