HTC Touch HD review

£509
Price when reviewed

HTC clearly believes in making the most of what it’s got. Its brand new Touch HD has a near identical core specification to both of its previous offerings – the Touch Diamond and Touch Pro, and initially we weren’t too excited.

The processor is the same (a Qualcomm 528MHz unit) and the range of features is very similar – you get HSDPA as expected, assisted GPS, an accelerometer that rotates the screen when you turn the phone around in your hand, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an FM radio. The RAM and ROM are the same as the Touch Pro at 288MB and 512MB respectively.

It’s only when we started to use the HD that it dawned on us – this is a different proposition altogether. With the design of the Touch HD HTC has achieved something no Windows Mobile phone maker has so far – it has made it usable.

Until now, enthusiasm in the PC Pro office for WM phones has been, to say the least, lukewarm. HTC’s TouchFLO 3D interface didn’t do much to change that opinion when the Diamond launched, and although the Touch Pro was an improvement, we liked it for its keyboard, not the usability of the touchscreen.

The HD, on the other hand has a huge expanse of screen real estate to play with: it measures 3.8in across and has a staggering resolution of 800 x 480 – almost double the resolution of the iPhone’s screen. It looks truly glorious, and makes a real difference to the usability of both the operating system and TouchFLO 3D interface, which now feels responsive and relatively intuitive.

Browsing the internet is particularly good: though zooming in and out is easy thanks to Opera Mobile 9.5’s double tap zoom, plus the addition of a new zoom bar along the bottom of the screen, the key advantage of the screen is that you can read headlines and other text while zoomed right out. Plus, you can squeeze in far more email and map data, and working with Excel documents takes on another dimension.

The Touch HD still can’t quite match the iPhone’s sheer ease of use and elegance of operation, but with it’s as close as any Windows Mobile phone we’ve used yet. And let’s not forget that the phone comes with the full version of Office Mobile, which allows you to create, edit and read Office 2007 documents.

The inclusion of an accelerometer, which snappily rotates the screen when you tip the phone on its side, and haptic feedback (the phone gives a faint buzz whenever you press a link or button onscreen) helps immensely too.

Other thoughtful touches include a 3.5mm headphone socket – at last an HTC phone that allows you to use your own headphones – and a high-resolution five-megapixel camera that takes halfway decent pictures and video. There’s no flash, however, so it’s not much use indoors. Plus, battery life is very impressive. In our light use phone battery tests, the HD lasted for five days, though bear in mind this is with push turned off and only minimal use – 30mins of calls, 50MB of data download and half hour checks on an idle POP3 email account.

All told, we’re hugely impressed with the Touch HD. It doesn’t have the elegance of the iPhone from a software point of view, but in every other department it delivers, from its super-high resolution screen and camera to its work-friendly document compatibility and killer battery life. It’s expensive SIM free, but the contract cost is already reasonable and likely to get cheaper in the future.

Details

Cheapest price on contract
Contract monthly charge
Contract period 18 months
Contract provider O2

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 8hrs
Standby, quoted 28 days

Physical

Dimensions 63 x 12 x 115mm (WDH)
Weight 147g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 288MB
ROM size 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0MP
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 3.8in
Resolution 480 x 800
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Windows Mobile

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