HTC Touch Diamond

Diamond in the rough, or rough Diamond?

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HTC Touch Diamond
  • HTC Touch Diamond
  • HTC Touch Diamond
  • HTC Touch Diamond

Pros

  • Design, TouchFLO design and interface, HSDPA 7.2, 4GB internal storage, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, Opera browser

Cons

  • Interface is sluggish and slow, text entry is tedious, still requires stylus for more complex operations, no 3.5mm headphone jack, no memory card slot

Bottom Line

The much-hyped Touch Diamond had plenty of potential, but ultimately it is a hugely frustrating phone to use. A great display, stylish design and reasonable browser are let down by a sluggish and slow user interface. Unfortunately, the great eye candy of the Diamond isn’t enough to push it over the line.

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Perhaps the only device currently on the market that can claim to be a true competitor to the iPhone 3G, HTC's Touch Diamond is an impressive looking smartphone packed with features. The TouchFLO 3D interface is designed to make using this Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone hassle-free, but unfortunately it falls short.

If there is one aspect of the Touch Diamond that HTC deserves credit for, it's the excellent design. This is one of the most stylish smartphones on the market — it's significantly smaller and far more compact than the iPhone. The gloss black finish and control pad are classy touches, while the unique diamond plastic finish on the rear adds a stylish feel, though it does attract plenty of unwanted fingerprints.

The Touch Diamond features a full touch screen and stylus, but HTC has also included a navigational pad and touch sensitive scroll wheel, in addition to home, back and call keys. The 2.8in display is crystal clear and has an excellent viewing angle (though like the rear casing, it's almost impossible to keep clean).

The TouchFLO 3D interface looks superb and its design and layout is highly commendable. On the Home tab, a large flip style clock displays the time, while swiping your finger upwards allows you to view calendar appointments. For the rest of the functions a row of icons sit in a tab style interface across the bottom of the screen. You press down on the active tab and slide your finger left or right across the tabs to cycle through the menu selections. Animations are excellent, particularly the weather application, which shows raindrops hitting the screen and then being wiped away by a windscreen wiper when showers are forecast. Cycling through music albums and e-mail messages reveals more eye candy.

HTC has clearly gone out of its way to push Windows Mobile into the background as much as possible, but sadly it's not enough. Despite commendable graphics and the stylish user interface of TouchFLO 3D, using the Touch Diamond is a highly frustrating affair. For starters, you'll still need to have the stylus handy — once you delve deeper into most applications, you'll quickly realise this is still a Windows Mobile handset despite the coat of paint.

Selecting menu items and sliding through menus with your finger is frustrating as the touch screen requires a firm press to register. If your finger is slightly incorrectly positioned when attempting to slide, swipe or touch certain menus, you won't get a response. Speed is also an issue — we regularly experienced lag and slowdown when opening and closing applications, selecting menu items and using functions like e-mail and messaging. Despite HTC's attempt to provide as many options for messaging as possible, this is also painful affair. There are multiple touch screen text entry options available, including a full QWERTY keyboard, compact QWERTY keyboard and a keypad with T9 predictive text input, but tactile feedback is nonexistent and the keys are squashed together, so you'll need to use the stylus for any sort of accuracy.

Call quality is largely passable, but if you have to use an automated switchboard, the Touch Diamond is a little frustrating. While you're on a call the screen goes into power-save mode — unlike the iPhone, you need to wake the display from this mode by pressing a button before you can access the keypad.

Despite these issues, there are a number of positive features. The bundled Opera Mobile browser offers a solid experience on the whole. The built-in accelerometer automatically rotates a Web page, and you can zoom and pan using finger gestures — although the hit and miss nature of the touch screen rears its ugly head here as well. HSDPA 7.2 support means pages load fairly quickly over Telstra's Next G network.

The Diamond also features Wi-Fi, A-GPS and A2DP Stereo Bluetooth — the latter an important inclusion considering the USB headphone connection. While the included headphones are average, the port location at the bottom of the unit means you'll have to have the Touch Diamond upside down in your pocket when using them. HTC has conveniently included 4GB of internal flash storage, but the lack of a memory card slot is a huge oversight and one that may cause potential buyers to pass over this phone.

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