The HTC Touch HD Quick Review – Better than the Touch Diamond?

pete_ted My wife has just received the HTC Touch HD. I’ve been using Smartphones for some years and specify them for others – but there have been times when I’ve wondered what on earth Microsoft were thinking about getting into this game. Early Smartphones were, well, rubbish. The hardware was rubbish, the software was rubbish – and as phones, they were, well, rubbish.

Ok, a bit of a generalisation, granted.  Orange users will remember the first Orange Smartphones – buttons used to drop off, the phones needed regular resets to keep them running properly and there was always that feeling that if they’d JUST made the phone a little faster…

A couple of years ago I recommended to our head office that we use the htc S620 and that proved one of my better decisions. Half decent battery life, decent display, easy to use and most importantly it looked like a Blackberry so the folk in London didn’t lose too much face (if you travel a lot, you’ll notice that it seems that Londoners just HAVE to have an IPOD and a Blackberry, don’t ask me why). This of course was one arm of Microsoft’s mobile platform – based on Windows Mobile rather than Pocket PC and therefore with no touch-interface.

Of course recently the touch-interface has become the "thing" thanks mainly to the iPhone but Microsoft and HTC have been doing this for years.

The HTC Touch Diamond: For those who’re not familiar with HTC, their products are behind many of the branded phones and today Orange don’t even disguise that fact, but the fabulous and fully-featured HTC Touch Diamond with an almost magical user interface has one or two flaws. The WIFI fails occasionally, usually requiring a replacement phone – and more importantly, the battery life isn’t worth a light.  I carry 2 spare batteries around with me because a quick 3-hour session on the Newcastle-to-London train with a bit of data and a lot of talking will EASILY flatten the phone.

The Touch Diamond phone does have something else that few phones have – a small 640*480 screen – so the image quality is superb. That and the touch interface make it worth having.

The HTC Diamond HD: Along comes the HTC Diamond HD – and I think it’s possible HTC  learned something. To say that the phone bears more than a passing resemblance to an iPhone would be to understate. GONE is the crappy HTC headphone USB headphone interface in favour of a bog-standard 3.5mm jack. The screen now takes up almost ALL of the real estate – and it’s BIG – 800*400 big – and beautiful. The new larger battery LOOKS the part and the HD (at least with Orange), unlike the Touch Diamond, which in a fit of madness HTC fitted with a permanent 4gig, comes complete with a micr0-SD with 8 gig of memory – which of course you can CHANGE.

I took the phone out for a spin – 1.5 hours in the car, with the sat-nav running Google Maps – hence running the sat-nav and constant data, with a couple of calls thrown in and the screen kept running throughout – didn’t make a DENT in the battery reading. I am WELL impressed AND unlike it’s predecessor which by now would have been hot enough to cook eggs with, it ran cool throughout.

The graphical interface is pretty much like the Diamond with some minor but significant improvements and the case, well, it’s just really nice, soft, rounded edges, satin back (as against the really silly irregular jagged back panel on the DIAMOND) – unless you like really small phones you are going to LOVE the Diamond HD.

A word to the wise – Orange in their usual customer-unfriendly manner tried to charge us for the phone (we’re on a £35 a month contract and have been with them for years) – and boy did they try. After a bit of persuasion however we got the phone for £45, but with a £60 discount off our future phone bills – so effectively the phone cost minus £12 -  can’t argue with that!

Update 3rd January 2009

Wifi on the Diamond Touch not working: The WIFI on the phone packed in on me -the WIFI simply would not turn on.  Looking through the various forums this appears to be a hardware fault though you never know as so few people know the difference between hardware and software issues. I tried rebooting, cold-booting, installing an update FROM from the Orange site – you name it – nothing had any effect. So I got onto Orange this afternoon and their immediate response was "contact the manufacturure" – I blew my top at this incompetent response and pointed out I pay £5 a month for Orange insurance and I certainly was NOT going to go back to the manufacturer (who would promptly send me back to Orange of course as the supplier – HTC will NOT deal with branded phones or update them).  This is TYPICAL of Orange’s initial reactions to a call – not our problem, mate! It’s as if they deliberately put idiots as the front line of defence. But under UK law as I understand it, the product is under a year old and "not fit for purpose" therefore it is up to the seller to sort the problem out.  The lady I spoke to cleared off to find her supervisor.

I was then transferred to Stacey, who asked a simple set of questions… I have to say she did not give me any grief, replacement handset is on it’s way tomorrow morning – and that’s a Sunday… but it did cost me exactly £2 in phone charges (from a landline) to get to a solution! She even apologised for the first response I got. This again is fairly typical, after blowing customer confidence out of the water – they then eventually get it right.  Now if ONLY they’d trained the first operator a little better in the first place…  anyway, they promised early morning delivery (on Sunday no less) and sure enough, 3 minutes past 9 (and we live in the countryside) a replacement turned up and here I sit 20 minutes later with my brand new phone with working wifi.

Diamond HD -  still going strong: Meanwhile Maureen’s Diamond HD is operating perfectly and there can be no doubt – they’ve solved the battery problem – battery lasts for days. Now, WHY could they not do that on the Touch Diamond?

Update 16th January 2009

Ringer on the Diamond Touch not working: Living in an area where the phones don’t work I didn’t notice in all of this that although everything on the Touch worked a treat, the one thing I could not test, didn’t! Despite test rings working, keyboard sound working and the alarm working, when it came for someone to ring me up on the mobile – the ringer would not make a sound.  I have to hand it to Orange however, I rang  them up yesterday and this morning a brand new replacement phone turned up – no problem.  Of course I can’t test it until next time I’m on the road!

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