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Review of HTC Touch Diamond

We have published by now several reviews of various aspects of HTC Touch Diamond (see the list at the end of this story!), but now here we are publishing an overall review of HTC Touch Diamond phone. After long time of using, afer release of the latest ROM upgrade that makes this phone very fast and stable, we can give informed judgement of this phone.

… so let’s start!

Hardware design

While one could say that beauty lies in the eye of beer holder, i.e. it is very subjective, certainly we can say that design of HTC Touch Diamond is very stylish from all sides. It is not a phone that other people would call “ugly”. It is nice looking. Furthermore HTC Touch Diamond is very small and thus very handy in everyday usage. It is not thick. Here is the front view of HTC Touch Diamond (click on the photo to zoom!): … where you can see the HTC Touch FLO 3D extension of HTC running on the home screen. It is a home screen plugin and can be switched off easily if somebody would like to use some other Windows Mobile home screen plugins (there are hundreds of them). You can see above that the front side of HTC Touch Diamond was designed as “very flat surface” with “HTC Black” styling, so everything is black. The case is made of metal and the display is made of very sturdy glass. The back side of HTC Touch Diamond is designed to resemble a diamond (literally!; click on the photo to zoom!): The cover can be easily removed by pulling it upwards and it reveals battery and SIM card slot (no SD card slot, instead this phone has 4GB of internal memory; click on the photo to zoom!): On the photo above please note a red point – it is a reset button that is located in the place where stylus rests. The battery is made in China but the phone is made in Taiwan (click on the photo to zoom!): The on/off switch is located on the top of the phone, together with holes for lanyard: At the bottom of the phone one can find a small hole for microphone, and an ExtUSB connector that takes also (i.e. is compatible) industry-standard mini-USB cables, but that also handles HTC-proprietary stereo headphones: In other words: one cannot charge or sync, and at the same time listen to the music with this phone – at least not without using additional accessories (like stand or cable adaptor). It is a huge mistake of HTC that they have not placed a standard 3.5 millimeter stereo miniplug inside of the phone – a phone that is supposed to be also an MP3 player due to 4GB of internal memory. People want to use other standard headsets to which they are used to, or that are made by high-class manufacturers or that offer noise reduction, etc. Quite simply: forcing people to use only HTC-made headsets or to use very uncomfortalbe in usage adapters is discouraging people from buying HTC Touch Diamond. Note: iPhone 3G has a standard 3.5 mm stereo miniplug in it, that takes any 3.5mm headset (here: HTC Touch Diamond lying on top of Apple iPhone 3G): Earth to CEO of HTC, Peter Chou: put standard 3.5 mm stereo miniplug in HTC phones or get ready for decline of HTC corporation! On the left side of HTC Touch Diamond one can find text “HTC Innovation” and volume up/down buttons: On the right side of HTC Touch Diamond one can find text “4GB Internal Storage” and (in lower part of right side) a stylus, that is automatically switching the display on, once pulled:

Usability

HTC Touch Diamond is very small and very handy. The stylus is magnetic so it sticks to the phone even if not placed in the cavity but when pulled, the act of pulling is automatically switching the display on – so there is no need to use the on/off switch at all! There is a lot of potential in this phone that is not used to the full: the tilt sensor is not documented by HTC and people are making games and utility programs based on reverse-engineered API (see link below). The automatic tilting of the display works in some applications like the Opera Mobile 9.5 that comes pre-installed in this phone. However we should mention that G-Sen utility greatly improves usability of HTC Touch Diamond because it enables automatic orientation switching – upon tilting of the phone – in all applications. And the orientation swichting is very fast withot any delays! Clearly HTC should publish documentation how to make programs that take advantage of tilt sensor and HTC should promote such programs. When one is browsing Internet with built-in Opera Mobile 9.5 then the wheel under the display can be used for zooming as you can see in this video: using Opera Mobile 9.5 in HTC Touch Diamond – it is absolutely gradual zooming and it is very comfortable. This wheel is not a physical wheel, but a surface around the action-button – a kind of virtual wheel! This wheel under the display increases usability when listeing to audio or video with built-in Windows Media player too: one can fast forward or fast rewind with use of ths wheel – while the playback is ongoing. It is very highly usable and allows for comfortable fast forwarding. All in all usability of HTC Touch Diamond is very high, and the phone is very comfortable. If you combine it with high-quality camera and highly-sensitive GPS receiver, it means that with this phone you can do a lot and still keep it very small. HTC Touch Diamond has ability to use USB as “Disk Drive (faster file transfer)” so that there is no need to install ActiveSync (Windows XP) or Windows Mobile Device Center (Windows Vista) to be able to copy files to the phone. It is a very comfortable feature and means that while you are at work you can copy files to the HTC Touch Diamond (like documents to read while commuting, or podcasts to listen, etc) without the need to install anything in your PC at work!

Software

HTC Touch Diamond is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 and users should always download latest version of ROM always – available at HTC’s website. Opera Mobile 9.5 is included in this phone and it is very well integrated so that it uses both tilt sensor and the wheel under the display. HTC included in this phone “RSS Hub” application that is an RSS reader and podcast catcher but it works very badly for podcast catching because it renames original file names of podcasts and generally is usueless for podcasting. Luckily there are several podcast catchers for Windows Mobile out there, many of them free, so it is not a problem, but clearly HTC should find better podcast catching application to include in their phones. The “Album” application for watching photos is nice because it enables viewing photos with sweeping gesture (to change to next photo) and it has also circle gesture used to zoom-in and zoom-out. The “Camera” application is also very good and apart from panoramic views, ability to take photos also with front facing camera for video calling, one can also record videos in 640×480/30FPS quality – so not bad. The autofocus can be controlled with the action button while user does not have to press fully this action button but even slight touch is enough to enable autofocus. Of course HTC has included also their add-on on top of Windows Mobile – HTC TouchFLO 3D, that should ease usage of the phone, but it is a matter of taste how usable it is. In any case the player included in this HTC TouchFLO 3D is nice because it shows album art – even if user downloaded the MP3 files over the air.

Summary

Advantages:

tilt sensor (also known as accelometer)

high-resolution display (640×480) combined with small overall size (thin and small, very handy to use)

one can turn on the display just by pulling out the stylus – no need to press any buttons

high-quality camera with 3.2 megapixel resolution and autofocus

full wireless connectivity: quad-band GSM + tri-band UMTS/HSDPA, Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11b/g

very sensitive GPS receiver is built-in

FM radio is built-in

fast data transfer over cellular network: 7.2 MB/s HSDPA

Disadvantages:

lack of standard 3.5 millimeter stereo miniplug – it should be in the phone, apart from the USB or ExtUSB socket; external adapters with 3.5 millimeter stereo miniplug are unusable for every day usage (we have tested them all!); not possible to connect super-high quality stereo headphones from high-class companies therefore.

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