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HTC Touch Diamond review


We review the HTC Touch Diamond - a compact Windows Mobile smartphone that features HTC's TouchFLO 3D interface

Rating:

Verdict: Small, with a quirky design, but hampered by some annoying features

Price:

Pros: Small, GPS, WiFi, 4GB memory

Cons: Poor battery life, no flash memory support, average camera

Design: Initially compact and appealing, but the diamond cut back means it doesn't rest flat on a desktop

Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.1

More Info: HTC Touch Diamond official site

The HTC Touch Diamond is a small-format smartphone. In fact, you could almost mistake it for a standard candybar handset. That is, until you look closer and realise there is no numberpad to be seen anywhere, and there are tell-tale shortcut buttons that mark it out as a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional smartphone.

The standard button quotient for a WM smartphone are Call and End, Home and Back buttons, and they sit on a flat panel underneath the screen, which is where you’ll also find the navigation key.

At first glance, if you want a small-format Windows Mobile device you may well be drawn to the Touch Diamond. After all, at a mere 102mm tall, 51mm wide and 11.35mm thick, and weighing just 110g, it isn’t likely to challenge the pocket or hand. But looks alone are not enough, and as we delved deeper we found a number of disappointing features that mark the Touch Diamond out as one to be avoided.

Looks are not everything

First off, there is battery life. The 900mAh battery just isn’t up to the job. HTC says you should get 330 minutes of talk and 285 hours on standby. If you are more than a light user you’ll need to budget for daily charging.

Next is the chassis design. The front is OK, though some people might find the flat finish to the button panel a bit less easy to use than individually raised buttons might be. We like that you can move a finger around the navigation button to scroll in some applications, and that the navigation button’s frame pulses with white when you are charging the Touch Diamond. But the back fascia is a bit of a disaster, we think.

HTC has decided to go for a faceted diamond-cut finish to the backplate. This looks good with its non-uniformly raised back panels, but it means the Touch Diamond doesn’t sit flat on the desk. Tap at the screen and it wobbles around disconcertingly. We found we needed to pick it up to do jobs that we’d normally do with a few finger taps while our phone sits on the desk. Usability is clearly playing second fiddle here.

Crisp screen

These negatives noted, let’s move on to some good features. The 2.8-inch screen delivers a crisp and sharp 640 x 480 pixels and the TouchFLO 3D is a great front end to Windows Mobile. The finger-friendly screens which allow you to fingerpan through images, album art, contacts and messages work well. It is a shock, though, when you break through this front end and have to deal with Windows Mobile itself. Some of its icons are really small and you may well need to draw on the stylus to hit them accurately.

We are big fans of the 4GB of built-in storage which augments the 256MB of ROM and 192MB of RAM. But even with this mega-memory on board, we’d have liked an SD card slot to add our own additional storage.

Music fans might like the idea of being able to fill that 4GB of storage with tunes, but they may be less enamoured of the miniUSB headphones connector. You are going to need a converter if you want to use a favourite headset for music listening.

Well connected

When it comes to communications the 7.2Mbps HSDPA is all we could ask for, and Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS are all included, giving a pretty full range of top-end smartphone features to play with. Note, though, that if you want to install some third-party satnav software to take advantage of that GPS, you’ll need to find something you can install without a flash memory card – which probably means via your computer.

The motion sensor does a good job of switching screen orientation as you turn the Touch Diamond round in your hand. In wide mode there is a QWERTY keyboard for text entry, composing SMS messages, emails or editing documents in Word Mobile.

We found it easy to use despite the relatively small screen space in which it has to live. An FM radio, Google Maps, the Opera browser, RSS feed reader and YouTube client are among the apps that help add to the Windows Mobile 6.1 standard fare. 

The camera is somewhat limited. It shoots stills at 3.2 megapixels, but without a flash or a self-portrait mirror it is underpowered. HTC really doesn’t do cameras very well. At least in this device there is a front camera too, for two-way video calling.

In the end, then, while we like the small format of the HTC Touch Diamond, and are pleased with the plentiful internal memory, there are just too many shortcomings for us to recommend it.

 

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HTC Touch Diamond The HTC Diamond is compact enough to be mistaken for a candybar handset

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