Photos: Hands-on with the HTC Touch Diamond

A few weeks ago HTC sent us a seriously mysterious press invitation. Today we found out what on Earth was going on -- you'd better read on

Is it a Google Phone? Is it the 3G iPhone ? Is it something MacGyver put together using a matchbox and his pants? Nope, it's none of those, it's HTC's latest smart phone, the Touch Diamond, which aims to take a bite out of Apple's iPhone cake.

We headed down to its launch today to give it a quick once over and see if this Windows Mobile phone can keep up with the competition. We even took some photos so you can have a proper gander at it -- how thoughtful we are.

It's due out in June on all the major networks, so if by the end of this article you're burning to buy one, you're going to have to wait, but it won't be long and it will be available on your current network. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Click on the next page to see more photos of the Diamond and HTC's new interface -- TouchFLO 3D -- which aims to make using Windows Mobile a little more thumb-friendly.

Update: Read our full HTC Touch Diamond review

At only 11mm thick and weighing in at 110g, you wouldn't be foolish for thinking that there wasn't much going on inside -- but in this case you'd be wrong. The HTC Touch Diamond impressively manages to cram in HSDPA (3.5G), Wi-Fi and GPS, among other features.

It took us a while to figure out why exactly the HTC Touch Diamond was so-called, until we spun it over and checked out the back. Similar to Nokia's Prism range, a series of triangles make up the back of the casing. Triangular casing aside, you'll see there's a 3.2-megapixel camera at the top. The camera has auto-focus, but unfortunately lacks an LED photo light or xenon flash, so don't expect great shots in low light.

Similar to an iPod 's Click Wheel, the navigation wheel at the bottom of the Diamond allows you to scroll through content quickly. It works well and complements the touchscreen. The rest of the navigation keys are mechanical -- you have to click them to make something happen.

Following on from the HTC Touch's TouchFLO interface, which allowed users to access certain apps using only their thumb, HTC has launched TouchFLO 3D on the Diamond. This new and improved interface displays a selection of icons at the bottom of the screen that you can navigate by swiping your finger left or right.

Instead of the traditional Windows Mobile interface, all of the major sections have been tweaked. Contacts, for example, are displayed using photos (pictured) and you can flick up and down to search for who you'd like to call.

Text messages have also been tweaked, displaying each message as if it was hovering in space. If you're wondering what texting is like, fear not, because HTC has included a brand-new on-screen keyboard. It's more finger-friendly than many Windows Mobile keypads we've used.

The email interface has also had a little HTC redesign dust sprinkled on -- it lets you preview messages as if they were popping out of an actual envelope. We're not convinced this is terribly practical, but it does look more attractive than just a list of emails.

Once you've selected an email you'd like to read properly, you're taken through to the standard Windows Mobile interface. According to HTC, this has been adjusted so that it's more spaced-out, making it easier to press with your finger. We're sceptical, and hope to test it out further during our full review.

According to this geezer we know in the pub, it's not money that makes the world go around anymore, it's music (and those hand-cut crisps, but that's a different blog post). Mobile phone behemoths are prepping their handsets with a variety of music offerings, in the hope that we'll splash out some serious cash downloading music to our phones. Enter HTC's music offering -- it looks very much like Apple's Cover Flow system and works in a similar way too, letting you flick through your music as if you were flicking through CD covers.

That's not a Web browser, this is a Web browser. Adios Internet Explorer and hello customised version of Opera Mobile 9.5 . It renders full Web pages properly and lets you navigate Web sites much more easily than those dodgy WAP browsers from back in the day. Interestingly, Microsoft also has a browser in the works for Windows Mobile 6.1 , which aims to offer the same browsing experience, but because it's not ready yet HTC opted for Opera Mobile -- it's okay Microsoft, don't cry.

Programs are easy to get to using this dedicated menu. You can install all kinds of cool stuff on the Diamond, including Google Maps and any other Java-based apps you can get your hands on. A YouTube app comes preinstalled on the Diamond, so you can show your mates in the pub some video of a guy sitting in the pub showing his mates a YouTube video on his HTC Diamond -- technology, bringing us closer together. And destroying the space-time continuum.

Unlike the iPhone, you can watch YouTube videos almost everywhere you go, because the Diamond comes with Wi-Fi and HSDPA (3.5G). We decided we catch up with some Family Guy, which looked great on the Diamond's VGA screen. It's much sharper than the QVGA screens featured on older phones such as the HTC TyTN II .

 

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