Ever since the HTC Touch Diamond2 and HTC Touch Pro2 were announced at GSMA 2009, there's been a ton of interest and plenty of questions about U.S. availability. While we still don't have any official information on the latter just yet, HTC provided us with an unlocked model of the European Touch Diamond2 to check out, and it looks quite promising. As the successor to the HTC Touch Diamond, the Touch Diamond2 boasts a sharper, bigger touch screen and an improved TouchFlo interface that provides easier navigation. We were also impressed with the general responsiveness of the device, and the 5-megapixel camera is a nice boost. You can buy the Windows Mobile smartphone unlocked right now for about $600, but obviously it's not optimized for North America so you'll be missing out on some features, more specifically, support for U.S. 3G bands. We'd say hold out until a North American version is announced but in the meantime, here's a preview of what the HTC Touch Diamond2 has to offer.Design
There are many adjectives that could be used to describe the HTC Touch Diamond2's design. There's the usual sleek and sexy but more than anything, we kept coming back to one word: sophisticated. The smartphone has more of a grown-up look with its brushed-metal face and a more streamlined look, making the otherwise attractive HTC Touch Diamond almost look like a child's toy and the iPhone and Samsung Omnia look clunky.
While smaller than the two aforementioned touch-screen smartphones, the Touch Diamond2 is ever so slightly bigger and heavier than its predecessor, at 4.25 inches high by 2.09 inches wide by 0.54 inch thick and 4.15 ounces (compared with 4 inches by 2 inches by 0.6 inch and 4 ounces). However, it still has a slim-enough profile that you should be able to slip it into a pants pocket with no problem.
In addition, the smartphone has a solid construction and is comfortable to hold. The back is a bit slick since HTC decided to go with a simple flat plastic battery cover unlike the various versions of the Touch Diamond, which either had a geometric backing or soft-touch finish. While not a huge deal, we are slightly partial to the soft-touch finish since it gives the phone a non-slippery texture. More than anything, it's the Touch Diamond2's WVGA display that's the attention grabber. It's bigger and sharper at 3.2 inches and 480x800 pixels. Images and text pop with color and clarity, and the touch screen is quite responsive. It also has a built-in accelerometer, which will automatically change the screen orientation from portrait to landscape when you rotate the phone. Note that this doesn't work in all apps, but does for Web pages, e-mail, photos, and video. The accelerometer was fairly responsive; not instantaneous but no more than a second or two to switch.
The smartphone uses HTC's TouchFlo 3D interface, which, on first glance, looks to be the same as the company's previous Touch devices. However, once you dig deeper into the menus, you will notice some changes and added functionality. For one, you now get tabs for your calendar and stock quotes, and HTC has provided an extra level of customization by allowing you to rearrange and remove tabs on your Home screen via the Settings menu. Of course, you can always switch back to the traditional Windows theme if you're not a fan of TouchFlo.
Another difference is that the Start menu now brings up a grid view instead of a list view of all your programs and settings, and again, you can customize this page with favorites to give you quick one-touch access to apps and tools. Other enhancements include the capability to map an address onto Google Maps from a contact's page. The call screen also has a new onscreen answer/ignore slider button for incoming calls. Overall, HTC's added some nice enhancements to the user interface to make it much easier to use.
As for input methods, the Touch Diamond2 offers an onscreen QWERTY keyboard, including a landscape keyboard. The keys provide haptic feedback when touched, so you'll get some acknowledgment that the screen has registered the command. That said, we found the keyboard a bit inferior to the iPhone's in that it's slightly cramped so we made more mistakes or couldn't type as fast. It gets easier with more practice, but we never felt 100 percent comfortable.
Below the display, there are four navigation controls: Talk and End/Home keys, Start menu shortcut, and a back button. It's a little hard to see but there's also a new touch-sensitive zoom bar just below the screen that lets you, not surprisingly, zoom in and out of Web pages, pictures, messages, and documents. It works well and is certainly a faster and easier way to zoom, rather than having to go through the menus or double-tap the screen.
On the left side, there's a volume rocker, while the speaker and stylus holder are on the right. The power button is located on top. The bottom of the unit features a Mini-USB port that also serves as the power connector and headset jack. Yes, that means no standard headphone jack so you'll have to get an adapter if you want to use your personal 'phones or earbuds. Come on HTC, cut us a break. On the back, you'll find the smartphone's camera, and there is a microSD expansion slot behind the battery cover on the left side.