In the summer of the Palm Pre, Apple iPhone 3GS, Nokia N97, and T-Mobile MyTouch 3G, the Windows Mobile camp has been pretty quite on the touch-screen smartphone front. However, there's been one WinMo device that keeps popping up in comment threads, forums, and e-mails when this group is mentioned and that's the HTC Touch Pro2.
Announced at GSMA 2009 in February, the Touch Pro2 is the replacement to the HTC Touch Pro but unfortunately, it hasn't been announced for a U.S. carrier just yet. However, there's been so much interest over the phone that HTC was nice enough send us an unlocked European model so we could give you a preview, and we like what we see. While the phone's larger size is a bit of a turn-off, the Touch Pro2 delivers in performance and promises to be a powerful device that will meet the needs of business and power users. The HTC Touch Pro2 is available now unlocked for $600 to $700, but we'd recommend waiting until a North American version is announced (Sprint and T-Mobile are among the providers rumored to get the device) so you can get a price break as well as the addition of U.S. 3G support.
The HTC Touch Pro2 is both beauty and the beast. The smartphone is definitely eye-catching with its smoky mirrored face and attractive silver casing, but it's also an attention grabber for its large size. Measuring 4.57 inches tall by 2.33 inches wide by 0.68 inch thick and weighing 6.61 ounces, the Touch Pro2 doesn't seem that much bigger than the Nokia N97 (4.6 inches tall by 2.1 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick; 5.29 ounces) or T-Mobile G1 (4.6 inches tall by 2.1 inches wide by 0.6 inch deep, 5.6 ounces). However, in hand, it feels noticeably heavier and thicker and the bulkiness is a turn-off. This isn't a handset that's going to fit comfortably in a pants pocket.
That said, we have to give HTC credit for the smartphone's high-quality construction and design. The device doesn't feel plasticky and cheap; instead, it has a really nice, solid construction, and the rounded corners and tapered edges make it comfortable to hold. In addition, there are advantages that come with the smartphone's bigger size, the first being the extra-large display.
The Touch Pro2 boasts a magnificent 3.6-inch WVGA touch screen with a 65,000-color output and 480x800-pixel resolution. The sharpness and brightness of the display makes it wonderful for viewing text and images, and the extra screen real estate makes it easier to read Web pages, documents, and longer e-mails since it can fit more information onscreen and minimize scrolling. For certain applications, such as the Web browser, e-mail, photos, and videos, the built-in accelerometer will also automatically switch the screen from portrait mode to landscape mode when you rotate the phone. The accelerometer is pretty responsive, though there were occasions where we had to wait a couple of seconds for the screen to switch.
The screen orientation will also change when you slide the phone open by pushing the display to the right. The sliding mechanism isn't quite as smooth as the N97 and requires a little more of a push. Similar to the AT&T Tilt, you can also angle the screen so it's easier to see when you place the phone on a flat surface (perfect for watching videos or slide shows) or when you're typing out messages. The hinges on back for tilting the screen up and down feel pretty durable, though slightly stiff.
Like the N97, the Touch Pro2 has a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive touch screen. Resistive displays require a little more pressure and precision when you're selecting an item onscreen, whereas a capacitive display can detect your touch based on proximity. As we said in the N97 review, a capacitive touch screen is preferable, but even so, we found the Touch Pro2's touch screen to be quite responsive and easy to use. We were able to smoothly move through HTC's TouchFlo 3D interface and launch applications with a simple tap. In addition, the zoom in/out bar below the display helped when selecting items, such as a hyperlink, since we could easily zoom in on the Web page, and simply tap on the link with our finger than having to pull out the stylus. The only issue we ran into was when we were scrolling through longer lists and pages, which could be choppy at times.
As we just mentioned, the smartphone uses HTC's TouchFlo 3D interface, and like the HTC Touch Diamond2, you now get tabs for your Calendar and Stock quotes, and there's an option to add and remove tabs on the Home screen. In addition, the Start menu is now presented in a grid view, where again, you can customize the screen with your desired apps and settings.
One other area that benefits from the smartphone's larger size is the Touch Pro2's QWERTY keyboard, which is outstanding. The buttons are wide enough that even users with large thumbs should have little issue with them. Plus, they have a good amount of spacing between them, so we were able to type quickly and with very few mispresses. The keys have a nonslippery texture and provide nice tactile feedback--not too clicky or squishy like some. The dedicated number row and app shortcuts are also welcome and useful. As a supplement to the physical keyboard, you get a soft keyboard in both portrait and landscape mode so you don't always have to open up the phone to input text.
Other controls on the HTC Touch Pro2 include a Talk and End/Home keys, a Menu launcher, and a back button just below the display. On the left side, there's a volume rocker and a power button on top. HTC is still using a Mini-USB port, located on the bottom, as its power connector and headset jack, so you will need to get an audio adapter to use your regular headphones. On back, you'll find the smartphone's camera and speaker system as well as a mute button, while the microSD expansion slot is behind the battery cover on the right side.