We don't envy the HTC Touch Diamond. There's a lot of pressure on this little smartphone; HTC executive Cheng Hui-ming has called it "the most important product for HTC this year," and of course, the Touch Diamond has been compared to the Apple iPhone. Now, we're still a few months out from seeing the U.S. version of the Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone, but we couldn't wait. Thanks to Dynamism, we were able to get our hands on an unlocked version of the Europe/Asia HTC Touch Diamond to try out. Now, to be clear up front, since this isn't optimized for use here in the States, we're not going to knock it for the lack of U.S. 3G support or the fact that's it tri-band. However, we will ding it for its sluggish performance and subpar call quality. It was really quite disappointing, especially since we think it's an incredibly sexy device and the new 3D interface is so cool. As is, we wouldn't really recommend shelling out the $700 for an unlocked version, but hopefully, some of these issues will be resolved once the HTC Touch Diamond is released in the United States.
You may have seen pictures of the HTC Touch Diamond and thought it looked beautiful, but the images simply don't do it justice. The smartphone is that much more stunning in person with its sleek mirrored face and the prism effect on the back. It's also smaller than we originally thought at just 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.4 inch deep and 3.8 ounces, so you certainly won't have any problems slipping this compact handset into a pants pocket. The overall shape of the Touch Diamond reminded us of a smaller Microsoft Zune.
The smartphone is outfitted with a gorgeous 2.8-inch, 680x480 pixel resolution touch screen. With the VGA quality, text and images looked amazingly crisp and vibrant. Plus, the Touch Diamond is equipped with an orientation sensor, so it will automatically switch the orientation of the screen whether you're holding it vertically or horizontally. While this is all well and good, we think it may be the new TouchFLO 3D interface that really catches your eye. It builds on the TouchFLO interface that was first introduced on the HTC Touch, but the look and feel is completely different. The Home Screen now just displays a larger clock and your call history and calendar, but along the bottom of the screen, you'll notice a toolbar where you can move left to right to launch other applications, including e-mail, music, the Web, a customizable weather page, and the settings menu. In several of the programs, more specifically e-mail, the camera, and music, you can go through your files and messages by swiping your thumb/finger up or down the screen, all with a cool animated, 3D effect.
In all, the TouchFLO 3D interface is very cool, and we think it certainly goes a long way toward making the smartphone more attractive to consumers with its less businesslike look. However, it's not the most intuitive and has a bit of a learning curve. More specifically, it's not always clear which finger swipe actions work in which applications. As for text entry, you can use the onscreen keyboard, which you can switch from full QWERTY to compact QWERTY to phone keyboard or other format, depending on your preference. Most of the time, we used the full QWERTY mode and though it looked fairly cramped, we found it pretty easy to use and didn't have too many mispresses. On the other hand, when you have the keyboard open, it takes up about half of the screen, so if you're entering text into any field on the bottom half of the screen, it's covered up. It's actually quite annoying.
Below the display, you get some tactile controls. There's a Home key, a back button, Talk and End keys, and a directional keypad with a center select button. With the exception of the select key, which has a slight concave shape, all the buttons are flush with the phone's surface, and they're fairly easy to press. And while it's not apparent at first, you can press the navigation keypad up, down, left, and right, In addition, it's also touch sensitive, so in certain applications (multimedia album, camera, Opera Mobile, and Word and Excel Mobile) you can use your thumb or finger to make a clockwise or counterclockwise circle to zoom in/out of pages.
On the left spine, you will find a volume rocker, while the stylus and USB port/headphone jack are located on the bottom of the unit. We're disappointed that the Touch Diamond didn't come with a 3.5mm headphone jack; heck, we'd even settle for a 2.5mm headset jack, but instead you're pretty much limited to using the uncomfortable earbuds that are included in the box, unless you get a headset adapter. There's a power button on top, and the camera is located on the back.
The HTC Touch Diamond comes packaged in a very sleek box with the following accessories: a travel charger, a USB cable, an extra stylus, a wired stereo headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Behind all the flash and pretty looks, the HTC Touch Diamond is at its core still a Windows Mobile smartphone. It runs the latest Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition. Since the Touch Diamond uses the TouchFLO 3D interface, you don't get the new Getting Started menu on the Home screen to set up e-mail, Bluetooth, and the like. It's still there but you'll have to go under the Windows menu to access it. Here, you'll also find your standard productivity tools, including a PDF reader, a task manager, a voice recorder, a Zip manager, and a calculator. Of course, you also get the Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for editing and creating Word and Excel documents and viewing PowerPoint presentations. As for memory, the Touch Diamond has 256MB ROM and 192MB DDR SDRAM and 4GB of internal storage. While we appreciate the large storage capacity, we're disappointed that there are no expansion capabilities, so keep an eye on this, especially if you like to store a lot of pictures and music on your smartphone.
Like other Windows Mobile devices, the Touch Diamond offers Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. You can also access your POP3 and IMAP accounts, and HTML e-mails are supported. Using the Getting Started utility, we configured our review unit to access our Yahoo account and also synchronized our phone with our PC via Microsoft ActiveSync 4.5. Both processes went off without a hitch.