HTC Touch Diamond

Posted on January 31, 2009

I’ve recently parted ways with my beloved Sony Ericsson k750i (due to it’s death by over-usage) and after a brief period of looking around to see what was out there (and what was available to me through my company), I’ve decided to get me an HTC Touch Diamond (a.k.a. HTC Touch p3700).

This is by no means a consensual –or easy– choice and many people said awful things about the phone, both from the hardware and from the software perspective (yes, it runs Windows Mobile 6. Oh the horror!)

So now that I’ve had it with me for a few weeks, I think I know it well enough to make a first appraisal of it and to evaluate the choice I made.
And the verdict so far is that I really like it.

It is small enough to fit in my trousers’ pocket (a must for me), but still has a big-enough screen (mainly because it is a touch-screen-only phone, with only a few physical buttons, but I’ll get to that,) and it works well enough, if you can tolerate the less-than-desirable response time of a few operations. Which I found out I can.

So what is not so good about it then?
Well, for starters the slow response I sometimes get from it when I try to do anything with it while it is “thinking” in the background. I got the hang of it, obviously, and by now I mostly know when the thing is going to take a while to pay me some attention and this is not such a bad thing for me, but if I where someone more of the short-tempered ilk, I’d sometimes go berserk with it, that’s for sure.
Another issue that I have with it is the God-awful quality of the camera, when in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. On a bright sunny day it works great, but take that shinny light away and the results are utterly disgusting. Which only compounds to the fact that actually getting to take a picture with it is not that easy.
Now I’ll grant you that I come from a phone which is brilliant as far as the camera functions go –I could get it out of my pocket and snap that picture within seconds, easily–, but on the Diamond this is just not possible, as I have to wade through menus to pull up the camera and get it working. Also, the shutter-button is positioned in a really awkward place, so taking pictures with it is not as easy as I’d like.
The camera is (or would be) a big deal for me so this phone is really a let-down on that department. Which means I’ll just have to stop procrastinating and get me a nice point-and-shoot to carry around with me, as I knew I should have done long ago anyway.
Other than that, I managed to crash the phone once already, but in all fairness I was testing out so much new software and pushed it so far (HSDPA on, GPS on, camera on, surfing the net, IM-ing with a multi-protocol client, all at the same time) that I really don’t blame it for freezing up on me.

And that’s the main point, I think, when it comes to this (and I’m sure most other pocket computers disguised as mobile phones): what we’re dealing with here is basically a computer, and a rather powerful one at that, so you have to make a choice as to how you’re going to treat it. If you decide to go all out, install every piece of software you can find for it and test it to the limits, it is going to crash on you. Probably a lot. That’s just to be expected. But if, on the other hand, you decide that this is, primarily, your phone and second a handy computer, then you should refrain from testing every bit of software that you can think of on it and, in that case, it actually works quite well, Windows and all. This is the view I’ve been getting from my friends which are already using WinMo-based smart-phones for a while and I, so far, concur with it.

That said, I was kind of fearful I would not get along well with a touch-screen-only phone and I was afraid I’d go nuts without at least the numerical keyboard, but I have to say I’m quite happy with the (virtual) full qwerty I have on it and not having physical buttons for most of the operations turned out not to be a problem at all. Note that I avoid the stylus like the plague and only use it on very specific situations and with certain programs. The “phone” functions work perfectly well with just my fingers, as it should. And so does the calendar, contact list and so on. The Touch-Flow 3D interface, for all it’s slowness, is really well thought out, even for big thumbed guys like me.

I have installed a few pieces of software on the phone, obviously, even if I was judicious about what to put in it, and I expect to write up on that shortly, so I’ll finish up this post with the re-iteration that, so far, I love my Diamond and I haven’t (yet) succumbed to any form of strange and evil disease just because I let a Windows-powered device in my house and in my life. :-)