On September 1, Microsoft announced that the first batch of smartphones running its updated mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5, would start shipping on October 6. The next day, Taiwanese handset manufacturer HTC wasted no time in announcing one of its first Windows Mobile 6.5 offerings, the HTC Touch2. As the successor to the HTC Touch and HTC Touch 3G, the Touch2 sports a revamped design, though as an entry-level device, lacks some luxuries like a high-resolution screen and accelerometer. Of course, the bigger news is the enhancements and added features brought to you by Windows Mobile 6.5. This includes Microsoft's MyPhone backup service, the upcoming launch of Windows Marketplace, and a number of improvements to the user interface that makes Windows Mobile slightly easier to use. The changes aren't revolutionary but make some progress toward making Windows phones more consumer-friendly.
Unfortunately, the HTC Touch2 might not be the device to convince you. Chances are slim that the smartphone will actually come to the U.S. The Touch2 will be available in European and Asian markets in Q4, and though you could get a unlocked version of the smartphone from a third-party vendor, HTC itself won't be importing an unlocked version of the smartphone to the States. Pricing was not released as of press time, but given that unlocked phones are never cheap, we'd advise anyone in the market for an affordable, starter smartphone to hold onto your wallet and see what other U.S.-bound Windows Mobile 6.5 devices show up by the end of the year.
The HTC Touch2 has grown up to be quite a sophisticated-looking smartphone. The HTC Touch and the HTC Touch 3G had more of a modern, youthful look, which is fine, but certainly not for everyone. The Touch2, however, strikes a nice balance between its predecessor and the fancier HTC Touch Diamond2--appropriate for the boardroom yet quite attractive with its chrome edges. The Touch2 is also nice and slim at just 4.1 inches tall by 2.1 inches wide by 0.5 inch wide and weighs 4 ounces. It fits nicely in the palm of your hand, though slightly slick-feeling since it doesn't have a soft-touch finish on back.
As more of an entry-level device, you don't get all of the luxuries of higher-end smartphones. For example, the Touch2's 2.8-inch touch screen has a QVGA resolution (240x320), so the display isn't quite as sharp or crisp as a device that has a WVGA (480x800) or HVGA (320x480) screen for example. The touch screen is also resistive and not capacitive, so it requires a bit more pressure and precision to select items, and there's no built-in accelerometer, which means you only get a portrait onscreen keyboard, so don't expect this to be an e-mail machine. That said, we found the Touch2's display to be bright and clear enough, and the touch screen was quite responsive.
As with the HTC Pure, the Touch2 features the changes to the user interface courtesy of Windows Mobile 6.5, such as the new Lock screen and revamped Start menu. You can also choose between HTC's TouchFlo UI or switch to the new Window Mobile Today screen. For more information, check out our full review of the HTC Pure.
Mostly a touch-screen phone, the rest of the HTC Touch2's design is clean and simple. Below the display, there are five quick-launch buttons: Talk and End keys, a Home shortcut, a Start key, and a back button. Like the Touch Pro2 and Touch Diamond2, you also get a touch-sensitive zoom bar that lets you easily zoom in and out of photos, Web pages, and documents. On the left side, there's a volume rocker and a microSD expansion slot. The bottom of the device features a Mini-USB/power connector and a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack is located on top.
Even as an entry-level device, the HTC Touch2 is still a pretty robust smartphone. Aside from the Windows Mobile 6.5 (once again, we point you to our full review of the HTC Pure for all the details), the Touch2 offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, three-way calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is only limited by the available memory, and each entry can store multiple numbers, home and work addresses, e-mail, instant-messaging screen name, birthday, spouse's name, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or a custom ringtone. In addition, there are options to create e-mail and messaging groups.
Bluetooth 2.1 is also onboard for use with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object push, printing, business card exchange, and personal area networking. Unfortunately, the Touch2 does not support U.S. 3G bands, so whether you plug in an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM, you'll only be able to connect to the carriers' respective EDGE networks. The smartphone offers Wi-Fi, however, so there is an alternative. The Touch2 only ships with Internet Explorer Mobile, unlike the Pure, which also includes the Opera browser.