The HTC Touch Pro is a new take on the classic HTC TyTN, which many people still love to this day. But is this Qwerty-hiding smart phone a massive improvement on its predecessors or is this an unnecessary upgrade? We took it on the road to find out if the Pro is worthy of adoration or just another touchscreen smart phone.
The HTC Touch Pro will be available on several major networks for free on a monthly contract.
When you first pick up the HTC Touch Pro it looks and feels chunky but it's really not that big -- it's about the same size as a Nokia N95. The Pro feels satisfyingly solid and not too light either. It has a quality feel that gives it an edge over lighter, more flimsy-feeling phones. It boasts a lovely soft finish too, so it's a pleasure to hold.
In line with the HTC Touch Diamond, the Pro has a glossy front that houses a large VGA touchscreen, which looks impressively sharp and is great for viewing videos on. Below the screen you'll find a series of navigation buttons, including a touch-sensitive scroll wheel that you can also click, as you would a four-way navigation key.
Touchscreen and scroll wheel aside, the Pro's slide-out Qwerty keypad is the real show-stopper. Compared to the keypad on the TyTN or TyTN II, the Pro comes with an extra row of number keys, and overall the keys are smaller. While it's easy to type with, some TyTN users may find they need some time to adjust.
In an attempt to make using Windows Mobile easier to use with a touchscreen, HTC has incorporated its own user interface, TouchFLO 3D, which is also on the Touch Diamond. This overlaid menu gives you finger-friendly access to most of the Pro's features and while we found it worked faster on the Pro than on the Diamond, it still lagged occasionally.
What really differentiates the Pro from the Diamond is that while on the Diamond you have to put up with just a touchscreen and nav keys, on the Pro you can slide out the full Qwerty keypad and start typing away, which adds much more functionality to most of the Pro's features, in particular the Web browser.
Using a bespoke version of Opera Mobile 9.5, browsing the Web on the Pro is rather enjoyable. Especially so as you've got a full keyboard at your disposal and HSDPA or Wi-Fi to choose from when you want to connect to the Internet. You can view full Web pages and zoom in and out by tapping the screen.
If it's navigation you're after, there's built-in GPS, which you can use with Google Maps or other third-party mapping software. The GPS receiver works as expected -- you need to be outside in order for it to work to its full potential. Once the GPS locked on to enough satellites we didn't encounter any major problems.
On the back of the Pro there's a 3.2-megapixel camera with an LED photo light, which takes MMS-worthy pictures in daylight and doesn't perform very well in low light. You can also use the camera to shoot low-res video and, as with the Diamond, the Pro supports YouTube playback via an app.
Getting back to business, the Pro comes into its own by supporting Exchange email and most Office document formats, including Word and Excel, giving you the option to read and edit documents on the go. Again, the slide-out Qwerty keypad makes editing documents much easier than having to use a touchscreen.
It's these elements that make the Pro more useful for business users than an LG Viewty, for example. While we found it slow to open documents at times, it was very useful to be able to quickly edit them, and know that the formatting would be the same when we sent them to a PC.
The Touch Pro's battery life is quoted at 419 minutes talk time (GSM) and 367 hours standby time. We found that with moderate use we got around two days out of the battery, but that figure changed according to how often we used 3G or GPS in particular. If you're keen on preserving battery life, don't overuse any of the features -- 3G is a real battery hog.
If we had to choose between the Touch Diamond and the Touch Pro then it's a no-brainer -- we'd go for the Pro every time. If you asked us whether or not we'd hand in our TyTN II for a Pro, however, we'd have to think about it. While the improvements on the Pro certainly make it better than its predecessor, it's not a massive leap forward.
The Pro is another great device from HTC, but if you already own a TyTN II we'd recommend you check it in a shop before splashing out on the upgrade -- unless it's free, of course. We hope future models come with a 3.5mm headphone jack and that Windows Mobile becomes more finger-friendly.
Edited by Nick Hide