Sprint HTC Touch Diamond: Belated First Impressions

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Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Sprint HTC Touch Diamond: Belated First Impressions

htc touch diamond
The HTC Touch Diamond Smartphone may not be a brand new device (it has been available on Sprint's network since last fall), but this cool little multi-tasker deserves some spotlight anyway.

When I say "little", I mean it - the Diamond is just 4.0" X 2.0" X 0.6" and weighs only 4 ounces. Here's how it compares to the Palm Treo PRO, which is pretty compact itself:

htc touch diamond and palm pro
Left: HTC Touch Diamond. Right: Palm Treo PRO
The Touch Diamond is, obviously, a touch-screen phone and devotes most of its real estate to the screen. There is no physical QWERTY keypad, but there are several buttons for convenience, including a large directional button with a center select function, one for "home", "back", "call", and "end" below the screen as well as a volume toggle on the side. Most every function that you need will be done with the touch screen, but interestingly there is also a stylus included for making selections. I'm not a big fan of using a stylus and was happy to find that the touch screen is very responsive and I had virtually no need for the stylus!

The touch screen - which is surprisingly roomy for such a tiny phone - both works and looks fantastic. If you've never used a touch screen phone before you may find that you need a little practice to get the hang of swiping, scrolling, etc, but the Touch Flo screen is easy relatively to use. As for the appearance, the Diamond does NOT disappoint. Pictures and video look fantastic, and thanks to the Rev-A (see more below) streaming media is no problem!

Despite the great quality touch screen, I was a tad disappointed when it came to typing on the virtual QWERTY. The phone gives you the option of using either a full QWERTY, with separate virtual buttons for each letter, or a "compact" QWERTY that offers larger shared virtual button. I'm sure that with practice a seasoned texter/emailer would be able to type with no problem, but I was not fond of either keyboard option. The full QWERTY is very cramped and it's nearly impossible to make the correct selection without the stylus; the compact QWERTY is easier to make selections with but since the buttons are shared you have to tap selection multiple times to access the letter you want. I would probably not recommend this phone for anyone who relies primarily on sending emails or texts - you will get frustrated.

As for functionality, there are a TON of great features built in. The Touch Diamond operates on the easy-to-use Windows Mobile 6.1 and includes the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for viewing and editing Word and Excel documents and viewing PowerPoint presentations, Adobe Reader LE, a Zip manager, voice recorder, calculator, notepad, and task manager. Internet Explorer is included, of course, but as a "bonus" you'll also find Opera installed, which many argue is the superior browser. If you subscribe to Sprint's navigation service ($2.99/day or $9.99/mo) you can take advantage of the Diamond's awesome QuickGPS application for maps and turn-by-turn directions.

Besides all these "work" tools, there's also Windows Media Player 10 Mobile on board to play a wide variety of audio and video formats (including AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, WMV, and more) as well as a dedicated YouTube app. As I mentioned earlier, the screen displays video beautifully and I was also very impressed with the audio quality. My only complaint here is that the HTC Touch Diamond does not offer any expandable media slot! The 4GB of storage included on the phone is nothing to sneeze at, but with such a robust media player many users will wish they could store more of their media library on board.

Like most of our favorite phones here at EVDOinfo, the HTC Touch Diamond features EVDO Rev-A capabilities, meaning you'll be able to take advantage of broadband speeds where available. Web browsing on the phone was great and you have the options of standard or portrait orientation; the uber-responsive touch screen really came in handy for scrolling and zooming through websites The Diamond is tether-capable and tethered beautifully with both my Mac and PC (although unfortunately you cannot tether it via USB cable to a Mac - Bluetooth only). It's not currently compatible with any routers, but hopefully in the future that will be remedied.

Finally, while style might not be your biggest concern when selecting a phone/PDA, it is worth noting that the HTC Touch Diamond is a very attractive device. It's shiny, sleek, has a cool maroon back, and nice curved edges. Important? Maybe not to everyone - but it's always nice to have things in a pretty package!

What we love:

  • EVDO Rev-A
  • Super sleek and tiny - but sturdy
  • Tethered easily to PC via included USB cable
  • Responsive touch screen
  • Convenient buttons for popular functions
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Good-quality camera (3.2 megapixel) and decent video recorder
  • Comes with a spare stylus
  • One-touch activation

But we're not as fond of:

  • No antenna port
  • No router support
  • No expansion slot for storage
  • Cramped QWERTY
  • Can't tether via USB to Mac (Bluetooth only)
  • No Sync software available for Mac

Overall grade: B. The tiny virtual QWERTY brought the grade down for me - this is otherwise a very solid phone, particularly for tethering.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 September 2009 )
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