Editors' note: Portions of the Design and Features sections were taken from our review of the unlocked HTC Touch Pro2 since the two models share many similarities.
Ever since the HTC Touch Pro2 was announced at GSMA 2009, there's been a ton of interest in the Windows Mobile smartphone and not a week has gone by where we haven't received a question about U.S. availability. Well, the wait is finally over. T-Mobile is the first U.S. carrier to snatch up the device (it's also rumored to make the rounds to Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T), and of all the providers, T-Mobile needed it the most since it never offered an upgrade to the T-Mobile Wing.
Similar to the unlocked version, the HTC Touch Pro2 offers a long laundry list of features, including some standouts, such as an extra-large touch screen, excellent keyboard, and enhanced phone capabilities. In addition, the smartphone offers support for T-Mobile's 3G network. While its bulky size and occasional sluggishness is sometimes a nuisance, we think the Touch Pro2 is one of the most powerful smartphones in T-Mobile's lineup and will make plenty a business/power user happy. However, all the functionality comes at a cost as the smartphone will go for a pricey $349.99 with a two-year contract.
T-Mobile's version of the HTC Touch Pro2 has a slightly different design than the unlocked model, and we can't say we're huge fans of the changes. Gone are the tapered edges and rounded shape that made the bulky device (4.57 inches tall by 2.33 inches wide by 0.68 inch deep; 6.6 ounces) slightly sleeker and comfortable to hold, as are the eye-catching chrome touches. Comparatively speaking, the T-Mobile Touch Pro2's blocky shape and mocha color doesn't really inspire much and looks rather drab, but, of course, style is completely subjective. The important thing is that the cosmetic changes don't affect what really counts: the insides of the phone; plus, there's still plenty to like about the Touch Pro2's design.
The first being the Touch Pro2's stunning and generous 3.6-inch WVGA touch screen with a 65,000-color output and 480x800-pixel resolution. The sharpness and brightness of the display make 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 bit 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 slideshows) or when you're typing out messages. The hinges on back for tilting the screen up and down feel fairly durable, though slightly stiff.
Like the Nokia N97, the Touch Pro2 has a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive touch screen. Resistive displays require a bit 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 rather 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. T-Mobile has also added a MyFaves tab to the front, which serves as your Today screen and displays the date and time. It's certainly handy to have your MyFaves contacts right up front, but we also missed being able to see upcoming appointments and call/message notifications right on front. There's an option to add and remove tabs to TouchFlo under the Settings menu, but MyFaves can't be changed or moved around. One final change that comes with the new TouchFlo interface is that the Start menu is now presented in a grid view, where, again, you can customize the screen with your desired apps and settings. Overall, HTC does a nice job of making the Windows Mobile operating system easier to navigate.
One other area that benefits from the smartphone's larger size is the Touch Pro2's outstanding QWERTY keyboard. The buttons are wide so 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 Talk and End keys, a Home key, and a back button just below the display. The power button is located on top, while there's a Mini-USB port on the bottom, which also serves as your power connector and headset jack. The right side houses the stylus and reset button, and on the left side, you'll find a volume rocker and the microSD expansion slot, which is protected by an attached cover. While we always appreciate having the card slot on the exterior of the phone, it's nearly impossible to remove the protective cap without removing the battery cover. Finally, on back, there is the camera and speaker system as well as a mute button.
T-Mobile packages the HTC Touch Pro2 with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, an audio cable, a carrying case, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2's feature set is largely similar to the unlocked version. The main highlight of the smartphone is the new communication technology called Straight Talk that aims to better integrate the handset's messaging, phone, and conference calling capabilities, and better serve business users. For example, you can create a conference call from within your e-mail in-box by selecting the participants names via the "To" field in body of the messages. Alternatively, from the onscreen dialer, there's a conference caller mode switch on the lower right corner that you can activate and then select your conference call members. Once on a call, there's a conference manager where you can hold private conversations with the participants or switch back to the main call. One other cool trick is that you can activate the speakerphone by placing the handset face down on a flat surface and there's even a mute button if you need to block out sound.