When HTC first launched the HTC Touch, many people criticised it for not having a mechanical keypad or 3G. Several months later, HTC has solved that problem by adding both. We took the HTC Touch Dual out on the road to find out if this smart slider delivers a better experience than its predecessor.
It's currently available SIM-free from eXpansys for about £400 and it will soon be available on several networks, most likely for free on a monthly contract.
Held up against the original Touch, the Touch Dual looks very similar. Although it's slightly thicker and the touchscreen is smaller, it still looks very attractive for a Windows Mobile device. At the top of the Dual you'll notice a small VGA camera that lets you make video calls, something the original Touch couldn't do.
Having used the original Touch for quite some time, there's no doubt that when it came to dialling and texting, a mechanical keypad would have come in very handy -- enter the Dual's slide-out Qwerty keypad. It works well and is far easier to press with your fingers than any current Windows Mobile on-screen keypad.
That said there is a new finger-friendly text input system that allows you to use your fingers while texting. It's not perfect, but it's much easier than trying to press the standard Windows Mobile Qwerty keypad with your fingers. Our only niggle with it is that it uses a two-letter-per-key system instead of just one.
In addition to the on-screen keypad, HTC has also added a new shortcut interface that pops up when you slide open the Dual, giving you one-click access to composing a new email, text and many other things. This new menu works well alongside the TouchFlo flicking system, which gives you fast access to certain apps and options.
Software interface additions aside, the Dual packs double the processing power and RAM of the original Touch, which is noticeable. There's a Qualcomm MSM 7200, 400MHz processor and 128MB SDRAM, which means significantly less lag when accessing and using applications.
Having HSDPA instead of Wi-Fi might annoy some users who would prefer both but it's handy if you're on a flat rate data plan or you don't have a Wi-Fi hotspot nearby. Similar to the iPhone, the original Touch's lack of 3G really hampered it when it came to accessing data on the go but that isn't a problem on the Dual.