Brief hands-on with HTC Touch Diamond

Last Thursday, HTC Southeast Asia (HTC SEA) unveiled HTC Touch Diamond to reporters and bloggers at the Renaissance Hotel in Makati. Some pundits dubbed this as HTC’s answer to Apple’s iPhone, and a reporter asked if this is HTC’s iPhone killer. Kevin Hou (pictured, right), Managing Director of HTC SEA answered this question by saying that they are not out to kill anyone or anything. HTC Touch Diamond is being differentiated from the iPhone through its impressive specifications contained within a small phone.

I had an opportunity to touch (bad pun, I know) this phone, and indeed it is small. With dimensions of 102 mm x 51 mm x 11.35 mm (LxWxT) and weight of 110 grams (with battery), it is definitely smaller, thinner, and lighter as compared to Sony Ericsson P1i (my current phone). As I had no camera that day, I wish I could have taken a picture of the two phones side by side. But trust me, it is lightweight, and it is easy to handle (another bad pun).

The back cover has geometric designs on it, shiny, and fingerprint magnet. The front is smooth, shiny, and fingerprint magnet too. The screen is bright in its glorious VGA resolution – an edge against other phones.

This phone incorporates the latest version of HTC’s Touch user interface (UI). Called TouchFLO 3D, I think it is a nice UI to supplement Windows Mobile’s UI. Some people might call the music interface of TouchFLO 3D as CoverFlow ripoff. I haven’t tried CoverFlow though I had seen it, but TouchFLO 3D is a bit different.

Speaking of the UI, it will take getting used to. I have been using touchscreen mobile phones since 2006, and no two touchscreen phones are alike. You will need some time to get used to TouchFLO 3D. It’s intuitiveness is not very apparent at first look, but once you get the hang of it, it works. There’s some lag time at certain places, like viewing a picture full screen. Also, when scrolling on the certain places (like Music or People – the phonebook), the UI seemed to be unresponsive. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe I should have used the stylus. BTW, I like the way the stylus is kept – there’s a magnetic mechanism wherein when you return the stylus, it snaps in.

Quick Specs:

Processor: Qualcomm MSM7201A 528 MHz
Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Memory: ROM: 256 MB, RAM: 192 MB, Internal storage: 4 GB, no external memory slot
Network: Tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, dual band HSDPA/HSUPA/WCDMA
GPS: Internal GPS antenna
Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, A2DP, AVRCP; WiFi 802.11 b/g; mini-USB port
Camera: Back: 3.2 megapixel with autofocus; Front: VGA
Battery: rechargeable Lithium-ion or Lithium-ion polymer
Talk time: up to 270 minutes for WCDMA, 330 minutes for GSM
Standby time: up to 396 hours for WCDMA, 285 hours for GSM

For such specifications, this phone is not cheap. The suggested price is Php 41,800. When asked about the price, Hou said they believe there is market for a phone like this. When someone suggested that HTC should use open source, Hou replied that they do have plans for that (HTC Dream, anyone?), but they also believe in the partnerships that they have forged through the years, and he reiterated their belief that Windows Mobile is a good operating system.

I think HTC Touch Diamond is a good phone, but it is not for your grandparents. However, I am a believer in touchscreen/QWERTY keyboard combo, so if I have the money, I’d rather wait for HTC Touch Pro. Or Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1.

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