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HTC Touch Diamond: is it flawless?

 HTC Touch Diamond Discontinued
6th May 2008

The HTC Touch Diamond is certainly one of the most advanced smartphones ever made.. but is this latest addition to the range a perfect gem, or does it have unexpected flaws?

Since last year's launch of the iPhone, handset makers have tried to come up with a device that is just as cool as Apple's offering. Yes, many manufacturers have created phones that are technically better than the iPhone, but few lack the polish of the Apple device and none have quite managed to challenge the iPhone's "wow" factor.

So, the HTC Touch Diamond is a rare thing. Not only does it beat the iPhone when it comes to most technical features, it also challenges Apple when it comes to sharp styling. Whether or not the HTC Touch Diamond's looks appeal to you is a matter of taste.. but the "wow" factor is certainly present.

 HTC Touch Diamond showing weather forecast This is a Windows Mobile 6.1 device, as you would expect from HTC. However, HTC have worked hard to improve the interface and have created TouchFLO 3D, an enhancement of the original TouchFLO system that allows for gesture control, 3D task switching (like Windows Vista) and a number of other functional and cosmetic improvements. The quality of the end-user's experience is pretty similar to that of the very polished interface on the iPhone. You can see HTC's demonstration video here.

It isn't a very large device, at 102 x 51 x 11.5mm and 110 grams, the Touch Diamond is not much larger than a standard "candy bar" phone. That is considerably more compact than the iPhone, but the downside is that the Touch Diamond's display is just a 2.8" panel rather than the very large 3.5" display on the Apple. We're not saying that the Touch Diamond has a small screen though - it's the same size as the Nokia N95 8GB, it's just that iPhone has a REALLY large screen. As with the iPhone, the Touch Diamond flips automatically between landscape (wide) and portrait (tall) orientations as you rotate the screen.

There's more to this display than meets the eye though. The Touch Diamond is one of only a small number of handsets that has a VGA resolution display. Of course, as it is a Touch series device the screen is also touch-sensitive, which is a significant advantage over the Nokia N95 8GB.

Another significant feature is that the HTC Touch Diamond includes A-GPS (Assisted GPS), so it can be used with your favourite SatNav application (for example, TomTom or Google Maps). The iPhone doesn't have GPS at all, although the N95 8GB does.

 HTC Touch Diamond, Cradle, Controls and Camera

One huge advantage over the Apple iPhone is the inclusion of 3.5G data, which means that the HTC Touch Diamond can download at speeds of up to 7.2 MBps where coverage allows. HTC also say that the device supports HSUPA, giving the Touch Diamond high-speed uploads too. Peculiarly, there are two versions of the Touch Diamond supporting different network frequencies, a GSM 900 / 1800 / 1900 plus WCDMA 900 / 2100 version for Europe and Asia, and a GSM 850 / 1800 / 1900 plus WCDMA 850 / 1900 variant for North America. We know that HTC are capable of creating a single device that supports all these frequencies, so we don't know why they haven't done so with the Touch Diamond. WiFi is supported too, as is EDGE and GPRS data.

The operating system is Windows Mobile Professional 6.1, which means that the Touch Diamond can run a wide variety of applications and it can work with Microsoft Office documents. Windows Media player is a convenient way of playing back audio and video clips, and there's Internet Explorer and push email support too. There's a snazzy weather forecasting application thrown in as well.

 HTC Touch Diamond back USB 2.0 connectivity, Bluetooth 2.0 and an FM radio also form part of the feature set. One other potential weakness though is the battery, the 900 mAh cell can power the Touch Diamond for just 4 hours talktime on GSM with 12 days standby time. 3G talktime was not specified, but our experience is that it would probably only be a maximum of 2.5 hours. Also the combined USB/headphone socket means that you cannot use a standard audio accessory in the Touch Diamond unless you use the optional HTC CR G300 Desktop Cradle.

So, the HTC Touch Diamond looks to be a very powerful device with enough "wow" to make it interesting. It has its flaws though, and remember that the Touch Diamond will be competing against the new 3G iPhone rather than last year's model.

HTC say that the Touch Diamond will be available from June on certain European carriers with Asian and American versions following later in the year. Orange has been named as one of the early adopters of this handset.

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HTC Touch Diamond at a glance3

Available:

Q3 2008 (Europe) / H2 2008 (Elsewhere)

Network:

GSM 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 900 / 2100, or
GSM 850 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 850 / 1900

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) +
HSDPA + HSUPA + WiFi

Screen:

480 x 640 pixels

Camera:

3.2 megapixels (main)
0.3 megapixels (sub)

Size:

Compact PDA-style device
102 x 51 x 12mm / 110 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

No

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Limited

GPS:

Yes, aGPS

Battery life:

4 hours talk / 12 days standby (GSM)

 

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