I'm sure I'm just setting myself up for disappointment one of these days, but I've come to expect big things from HTC at trade shows, whether it be CTIA or Mobile World Congress. The company has consistently delivered some of the hottest product announcements at these events, so can you blame a girl for thinking such thoughts?
Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009 (well, maybe a little, but I'll get to that in a bit) as HTC debuted several new handsets. The Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer kicked off the show by debuting the HTC Touch Diamond2 and the HTC Touch Pro2, which replace the Touch Diamond and Touch Pro.
I stopped by HTC's booth on Wednesday to have a look at both smartphones, and I was impressed with the design improvements and enhanced technologies. The Touch Diamond2 probably wowed me more than the Pro2 because of its extremely thin and solid design. The device doesn't feel as plasticky with its brushed metal face and sides. Also, I can't tell if it's the sleeker design, but the screen pops out that much more and grabs your attention.
HTC has also worked on the user interface, providing a new Start screen where you can easily access your applications. It's also customizable and features more user-friendly icons. The touch-sensitive toolbar is a cool little feature. I didn't think it'd make that much of a difference but it definitely makes it easier to zoom in and out on Web pages and e-mails.
The Touch Pro2 is a monster, and I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. It's bigger than the Touch Pro (4.5 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick versus 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick) but again solidly built. The navigation buttons along the bottom are smaller than I like, but that's a relatively minor complaint.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is quite nice. Unlike the Touch Pro, the buttons now have spacing between them, making it easier to compose messages without error. The tilting screen also helps, since you get a better view of the display while holding the phone or putting it on a flat surface. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try out the Straight Talk technology that's supposed to improve the speakerphone quality, but just looking at the size of the speaker on the back gives me the impression the sound quality will be better than most.
I guess where I felt a little jilted is that it still runs Windows Mobile 6.1. I know this not the fault of HTC and the company has said it will offer upgrades to Windows Mobile 6.5 when it's available. But at the end of the day, despite the other improvements, for the most part, the Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 don't make giant leaps forward.
The other disappointment, which I mentioned earlier, is that we didn't see the T-Mobile G2. HTC did unveil another Google Android device, the HTC Magic, but as most know by now, it's for Vodafone and the European market. Still exciting (CNET UK's Andrew Lim offers a really nice hands-on look at the device) but I'm going to be a little selfish and say we wanted another Android phone for ourselves.
All that said, HTC still offers one of the most popular and exciting ranges of smartphones. Don't believe me? Check out our hands-on photo gallery of the company's devices.