HTC Touch HD in-depth review -

Look and feel

HD refers to high-definition and, once the screen is fired up, you will be championing for all phones to boast such a vivid display.

Ease of use

Switching the Touch HD on involves an element of thumb twiddling. We will give HTC the benefit of the doubt and assume that the delay between turning the phone on and actually being able to use it is down to the huge amount of features on offer.

Features

Touch the screen anywhere when taking a photo and that area becomes the focal point. It is a useful feature if you wanted to focus in on something that is not necessarily at the centre of the shot.

Performance

When streaming video via the device, the impressive 3.8-inch display once again comes into its own.

Battery life

With a talktime of 390 minutes and a standby time of 450 hours, the battery life is impressive.

 HTC Touch HD Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:53:40 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

One of the most vibrant displays we have cast our eyes on.

Cons:

The touch-screen interface is not quite what we have come to expect.

HTC has had a strange couple of months. Its glitzy iPhone-conquering head turner, the HTC Touch Diamond failed to impress, while the lesser-promoted HTC Touch Pro got us hot under the collar. Adding to their portfolio, the Taiwanese manufacturer recently unveiled the HTC Touch Viva, HTC Touch 3G and the HTC Touch HD. We have got our hands on the latter. Since having a look at the press shots, we have been eager to see if, unlike the Touch Diamond, it lives up to expectations.

HTC Touch HD - look and feel

Opening up our neatly packaged HTC Touch HD, we were met with a huge screen. Measuring 3.8-inches, it surpasses the iPhone by 0.3 inches. HD refers to high-definition and, once the screen is fired up, you will be championing for all phones to boast such a vivid display. With a staggering 480x800 pixels and 65K colours at its disposal, it is a thing of beauty.


Our only gripe was that the screen proved to be a real haven for grubby fingerprints, though this is a predictable and, as yet, unpreventable drawback. The screen rests on a smooth black plastic finish with subtly curved edges that help the device, despite its size, fit comfortably in the hand, though maybe not in your pocket if you are wearing a tight pair of jeans.


Despite the striking screen, a minimalist approach has been used for the Touch HD’s core design. Button-wise, the only keys are the volume key, found on the left hand side of the device, and four hard keys, found immediately beneath the screen. The hard keys include (from left to right) a call key, home key, back key and call end key. All are completely flat and, instead of the usual haptic response you might expect, a light ‘pulse’ indicates a key press. We are not sure it is enough and would have preferred either a more dramatic vibration or for the keys to depress slightly.


Switching the Touch HD on involves an element of thumb twiddling. We will give HTC the benefit of the doubt and assume that the delay between turning the phone on and actually being able to use it is down to the huge amount of features on offer. Operating on Windows Mobile 6.1, the Touch HD features a five-megapixel camera, complete with auto-focus, A-GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA – all operated via HTC’s TouchFLO 3D user interface.

HTC Touch HD - TouchFLO 3D interface

Our main issue with the HTC Touch Diamond was its poor user interface. After a few tweaks and a ROM update, the TouchFLO 3D has returned on the HTC Touch Pro far improved. While the Touch HD remains an intuitive piece of kit, we are sorry to say that it is not perfect. If you master the finger swipe needed to navigate through the various menu options, photographs or album covers then it looks great. However, as a degree of force is needed for a touch or finger swipe to be recognised, on several occasions we inadvertently opened an application up by mistake. This was particularly the case when we were scrolling through our entire applications list. Incidentally, as well as viewing all your programmes, you can also edit the quick bar found on the bottom of the screen to include your most used applications, and add various shortcuts to a grid found on the programmes page.


Synching up our email account was easy. Being a Windows Mobile device, the Touch HD supports Outlook, but we were also able to set up Hotmail simply by typing in our username and password. Although there is no keypad, to enter text (whether for email, SMS or a web address) users can bring up a virtual QWERTY keypad, a standard alphanumeric keypad or even use the tucked away stylus for handwriting recognition. While the latter works reasonably well, you do need to keep the stylus on the screen when writing, otherwise it assumes you are starting a new letter. We are not convinced you are going to resort to writing anything more than a few lines. Despite this, HTC has included Office Mobile, which not only allows you to view and edit Word and Excel files but to create them from scratch.

HTC Touch HD - five-megapixel camera

It is unusual for a smartphone of these proportions to include a camera that meets the five-megapixel barrier. Perhaps HTC is trying to entice that mythical prosumer demographic. Its screen is certainly ideal for displaying a vast amount of visual content. However, there is no dedicated camera button, so you have to get to it manually. This also means that you need to press the virtual key displayed on the screen to take a snap. It makes for a slightly clumsy feel. Even the zoom is processed via the touch-screen, which seems odd.


Something we were rather taken with was the touch focus functionality. Touch the screen anywhere when taking a snap and that area becomes the focal point. It is a useful feature if you wanted to focus in on something that is not necessarily at the centre of the shot. Unfortunately HTC loses points for failing to include a flash. Video-wise, it is both pleasing to be able to have infinite recording time (at least until the battery runs flat) and an option to instantly upload your videos direct to YouTube. However, be warned that once you have started recording, you won’t be able to change any of the settings, including the zoom.


While HTC has included both Internet Explorer and Opera Mini, it is the latter internet browser that continues to excel. Displaying webpages in full, to zoom into a particular area of text, you simply tap that area of the screen twice. Despite boasting HSDPA broadband speeds of up to 7.2Mpbs, our web experience was sporadically sluggish. When streaming video via the device, the impressive 3.8-inch display once again comes into its own. It is also refreshing to find that HTC has also included a 3.5mm headset port.

HTC Touch HD - the verdict

There is so much going on with the HTC Touch HD that it could warrant a five-page review. However, while it is a powerful handset, it is not without faults. The touch-screen experience is still not seamless and with T-Mobile’s G1 (see page 16) rivalling the iPhone in terms of user interface, what may have formerly passed as acceptable is no longer the case. That said, it is impossible to dislike the Touch HD on account of its wonderfully vivid display.