HTC Touch Diamond Smartphone Review

Reviewed by: Lucy Tobin, November 2008
Manufactured by: HTC
Requires: Windows XP or later for best connectivity options
MSRP: US$179.99 (after rebate, basic monthly plans start from $59.99), UK£149.99 (phone only, basic monthly plans start from £20)

The HTC Touch Diamond is a powerful mobile media smartphone featuring a 2.8-inch, high resolution touch screen, HTC's re-designed Vibrant TouchFLO 3D user interface for extended device navigation, a 3D graphics processor, 3.2 megapixel auto-focus camera, and 4GB of internal storage. The phone is designed to be a complete mobile multimedia device and offers high speed network connectivity via HSDPA. The phone includes a variety of built-in software and hardware including integrated GPS complete with maps and turn-by-turn navigation, and HTC Weather which provides forecasts anywhere in the world.

I am immediately sure that the Touch Diamond is a design-led phone, since it arrives in a perfectly sized bed lying within a black, diamond-shaped box. The phone too looks classy – slightly longer than the original Touch, it actually looks smaller since it’s thinner and narrower, and the back is stamped or molded with small diamond-shaped ridges. The most noticeable feature is the 2.8 inch touch screen, which I found highly responsive and accurate. Setting up the phone’s basic functions took only about 10 minutes. Included in the box is a Lithium Ion (Li-ion) battery rated for GSM talk time up to 330 minutes, and up to 285 hours of standby. The package also includes stereo headphones, a spare stylus, a charger with USB port, instruction CDs, handbooks and a USB cable.


Other noteworthy features that are visible on the phone are the two cameras, front and rear facing, and four navigation buttons — Home, Back, End, Send — plus a central directional pad. The additional buttons are a welcome development from the Touch, as are the large, on-screen data entry buttons, where the Diamond gives users the option to enter text via realistically sized buttons. This is perhaps the simplest but definitely the best improvement over HTC’s earlier Touch phone, where data entry could be difficult while on the move. The screen has a high VGA resolution and automatically alters its backlight depending on the external lighting, a particularly useful function for bright sun. On a dazzlingly sunny day I had no problems seeing detail on-screen.

The phone has been billed by many as the first realistic iPhone competitor, and I find the technology impressive. The Touch Diamond uses next-generation TouchFLO, 3D, plus web surfing by Opera Mobile 9.5, and also incorporates rapid and reliable WiFi. There are also nice gimmicks. For example, when you put the phone down flat on its face, silent mode is activated. Removing the pen-stylus from the phone awakens it from hibernation. The stylus is neatly held in place by an internal magnet. Taken together, these enhancement make for a very smooth and user-friendly phone.

In terms of functionality, the device has a lot to offer. Powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, there is a nice mixture of professional programmes and fun extras. Each contact, for example, can hold a huge range of details, including company, job title, picture ID, various addresses, emails and (of course) phone numbers, colleague information, account numbers, birthdays, anniversaries, family, etc. It’s all designed to help ensure the Diamond can run your life, not just your phone book, and the package is successful at fulfilling this workload. If there are extra details about a contact to add you can write a note. Doing so while on a call is easy because removing the stylus whilst on a call automatically launches the notepad which automatically associate any notes written with that contact. As per its Windows operating system, the Diamond synchronises effectively and efficiently with Outlook – I found contact organisation quick and accurate.

Other worthwhile features include the fact that the phone automatically and very rapidly matches the numbers (or letters) you type with previously dialed or saved contacts, all of which saves time. I found the drag/swipe function of the touch screen worked efficiently. Like the iPhone, the Diamond’s “accelerometer” keeps the phone on the orientation you choose. Design bonuses include visual speed dialing options for popular contacts. Like a Rolodex, users can flick through pictures by swiping down the screen, while email comes with visuals harking back to the old days of snail mail with messages previewed as a letter coming out of an envelope. The camera takes adequate photos for a camera-phone, but this isn’t a photography-led phone, so don’t expect great night shots, zoomed images, etc. For the convenience of a pocket-phone, the 3.2 megapixel camera does the job.

Cons: This is getting persnickety, because really, the HTC Touch Diamond does offer a good range of features without compromising ease of use. But the start-up is a bit slow — mine took an average of 19 seconds. Some programme launches were notably slow and time lag was particularly a problem with music and photos. The camera is fast to load but can lag at uploading the picture on the screen. But since timings were fine on the vital programmes like contacts and calendar, this wasn’t too noticeable.

Pros: My favorite element of the HTC Touch Diamond is its efficient mixing of good features with a dash of fun. So alongside all the aforementioned design perks and the easy-to-use Internet, WiFi, phone functions, calendar and contact management options, there are fun touches like pre-installed games such as Teeter, which show off the Diamond’s 3D power. In Teeter, you have to trail a ball through a maze, with the phone altering its vibrating feedback according to the force with which the ball bounces off the walls. True, you don’t need that in a phone, but once you’ve got it, it’s fun to have. The HTC Touch Diamond is full featured smartphone that’s enjoyable to use. It truly is a worthy competitor to the iPhone. It's only a question of which design you prefer.

(Ed. Note: Reviewer Lucy Tobin is a freelance journalist for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Sunday Times, Daily Express and other newspapers and magazines in the UK)

KSN Product Rating:



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