The Touch HD is an exciting new phone from HTC which takes Windows Mobile to the next level. An attractive phone that features a massive VGA screen, the HTC Touch HD looks set to take the UK by storm. It will be available very soon for free on an Orange contract.
HTC has a history of making serious-looking business phones that don't always inspire us, but the HTC Touch HD is beautiful. Everything we expected the HTC Touch to be but didn't quite see is encapsulated in the Touch HD -- it feels and looks superb.
Not too heavy and not too light, the HTC Touch HD houses a large VGA touchscreen that we found more responsive than any HTC device to date (not counting the T-Mobile G1) and is excellent for viewing pictures and videos.
The Touch HD is as thin as the iPhone 3G and fits comfortably in a pocket or bag. Thankfully HTC has added a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top so you can plug standard headphones in without an adaptor, cutting out all the cable mess.
On top of the smooth backside of the Touch HD lies a 5-megapixel camera recessed into a metallic bump -- we wanted it to act as a lens cover, which it didn't, so that's a shame. Overall, though, the Touch HD is HTC's most attractive device yet.
While we'd like to say that the Touch HD runs Android like HTC's other phone, the T-Mobile G1, it actually runs on the less exciting Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. On top of the Windows interface, HTC has added its TouchFLO 3D menu interface.
TouchFLO 3D is HTC's attempt at making Windows Mobile more finger-friendly, and to some extent it works. But it's not as deeply integrated as we would have liked. You still have to use the stylus at times when you need more accuracy.
It's worth noting that Windows Mobile and TouchFLO 3D ran faster during testing than we expected, and felt slightly smoother than the HTC Touch Pro, which uses the same chipset and features the same amount of ROM and RAM.
At your disposal is all the Windows Mobile 6 functionality that you'd expect, including Exchange email support, Microsoft Office documents editing and viewing capabilities, and Windows Mobile media player, which supports various codecs.
Where it gets a little more exciting is when you realise that the HTC Touch HD packs HSDPA, Wi-Fi and GPS, which all work well and provide a fast and easy way of staying connected and located. Depending on which network you're on, 3G speeds will vary.
We tested out the Touch HD's GPS with Google Maps and it looks great on the large screen. Another feature that benefits from the Touch HD's large screen is the Opera Mobile Web browser that displays full pages similar to the iPhone's browser.
The 5-megapixel camera sounds impressive but we weren't overwhelmed by the picture quality. It sufficed for small to medium-sized prints but wasn't as sharp as we expected. There's no flash, either, so shots in low light don't come out well.
Battery life is quoted at 420 minutes talk time with 3G turned on and 680 hours on standby. We found that with regular use -- activating features like the GPS and HSDPA -- it lasted for a full day before needing to be recharged.
While we'd like to say it's as good as the iPhone 3G, we can't. Windows Mobile just doesn't offer the same ease of use, even with TouchFLO 3D. Still, it is one of the best Windows Mobile devices we've seen, so don't write it off because of that.
If you don't mind using a stylus every now and then, we thoroughly recommend the Touch HD. Plus, small details such as the responsive screen and 3.5mm headphone jack are clear signs that HTC is listening very closely to its customer base.
We found the HTC delivered an overall experience better than the Touch Diamond. We still hope the next version will come with a mechanical keypad, though, and while we're wishing for new features, Google Android would be nice, too.
Edited by Marian Smith