What's hot: Compact, full featured TouchFLO 3D WinMo smartphone that's affordable.
What's not: Screen is sometimes a bit too small for the UI elements to be truly finger-friendly.
Reviewed October 5, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
October 6th 2009 is the official Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional launch date, and both AT&T and Verizon have HTC phones ready to go. AT&T has the Pure (code name Warhawk, but a member of the Topaz family/TOPA210 that includes the HTC Touch Diamond2) and Verizon has the HTC Imagio, a 3.6" slate design smartphone with Mobile TV. AT&T will launch their version of the Touch Pro2 with Windows Mobile 6.5 by mid-October 2009. The Pure is a touch screen phone that runs HTC's TouchFLO 3D user interface which is attractive and pleasant to use.
The HTC Pure is a relatively compact smartphone with a 3.2" resistive touch screen. It makes the iPhone 3GS look large and feel heavy (to be fair, the iPhone is thinner, though larger in all other respects), and is a much smaller sibling to the Touch Pro2. Since it's a slate design phone like the iPhone and LG Incite, it has an on-screen keyboard but no hardware QWERTY keyboard. The Pure is attractive, though it lacks that special sauce that makes the HTC Imagio look so cool. Build quality is good and the Pure feels more high end than the Incite and is easier to use in terms of software, screen and user interface. The piano black finish is attractive and reminds us of the HTC Fuze, but handle it for just a few minutes and it starts to look grimy with fingerprints.
Controls are at a minimum with call send and end buttons, the back button and Windows Start menu button. There's a zoom bar above the buttons as with the Touch Pro2 that handles zooming in Opera Mobile and other applications and a power button up top that also functions to turn the display on and off. Volume buttons are on the left side and the HTC ExtUSB port is on the bottom under a rubber door. It handles syncing, charging and audio. No wired headset is included but AT&T does give you a dongle adapter that adds 2.5mm and 3.5mm stereo jacks. The user replaceable 1100 mAh Lithium Ion battery lives under the back door.
Features at a Glance
The HTC pure is a quad band GSM phone with EDGE and 3G HSDPA (up to 7.2Mbps like the iPhone 3GS) on AT&T's US bands. It has a 3.2" resistive touch screen that works both with a finger and the included stylus. It runs on the usual Qualcomm 528MHz CPU with 288 megs of RAM and 512 megs of flash storage with approximately 235 megs free for use. It has an SDHC microSD card slot that's located under the battery door (you do not need to remove the battery to access it), a GPS that works with AT&T Navigator and other GPS and mapping applications, WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR and a 5 megapixel autofocus camera. Not bad for the $149 contract price tag and retail $349 no contract price.
Display and Performance
Like most HTC TouchFLO 3D phones, the Pure has a bright and sharp 3.2" touch screen with 480 x 800 resolution. That high resolution means you'll see web sites with little or no side-to-side scrolling at initial view with Opera, and photos and videos will look quite sharp. A drawback with such a high resolution, small screen device is that fonts are smaller, though our bespectacled eyes had no problems reading email, Word documents or web sites once we zoomed in. The resistive touch screen is responsive, and it works with a stylus (handy for those who like to use handwriting recognition). It requires a relatively light touch, but it does occasionally fail to register finger-taps, as do most resistive displays (Windows Mobile 6.5 doesn't support capacitive displays).
HTC's on-screen keyboard is very well designed, with good virtual key separation and a tap-and-hold feature to bring up alternative characters that are clearly marked on each key. The keyboard isn't as easy to use as that of the Touch Pro2 and HTC Imagio since the display is smaller. That means smaller keys as well as smaller close boxes and other UI elements. 3.6" really is the sweet spot for TouchFLO 3D and optimal finger interaction, though that requires a larger and heavier device. But overall, we'd call it usable unless you have large fingers (then it's time for that blast from the past stylus).
The HTC Pure's 528MHz Qualcomm CPU along with its 288 megs of RAM and 512 megs of flash ROM have been the standard for HTC's Windows Mobile smartphones in the past year. It gets the job done and the phone does a surprisingly good job of handling video playback (both streaming and locally stored VGA video encoded at 900Kbps in our tests). We did note occasional lag in TouchFLO 3D and in Windows Mobile itself, especially if several applications were running. As Windows Mobile devices go, the lag isn't bad, but if you're used to the iPhone or an Android smartphone, you'll likely find it sometimes annoying.
Windows Mobile 6.5
The HTC Pure is one of the first Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones, so we'll spend some time talking about that. There isn't much difference under the hood between Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5. Most changes are cosmetic user interface tweaks, and the big changes should come with Windows Mobile 7 (don't expect to see WinMo 7 this year!). Since major WinMo phone manufacturers like HTC have been using their own UIs for some time to make up for Windows Mobile's aging interface, you won't actually see the full WinMo 6.5 experience unless you first turn off TouchFLO 3D. The Pure does let more of WinMo shine through in programs and settings listings than does the HTC Imagio, but they both still use their own menus, dialogs and other enhancements that improve on WinMo.
- Staggered grid for applications and settings icons
- The Start Menu as a textual listing is gone and when you tap the Start Menu you'll see the programs group
- The busy cursor is comprised of 4 colored dots that animate (reminiscent of the Windows logo)
- The Windows Mobile Marketplace (or a link to download it) is pre-installed.
- A Today screen that's reminiscent of the Zune's text-based home screen.
- New Today themes, inspired by fashion designers
Here's a short video that demos Windows Mobile 6.5 and the Windows Mobile Marketplace on the HTC Pure with TouchFLO 3D turned off:
AT&T has loaded their smartphones with a boatload of bloatware (witness the HTC Fuze and Nokia E71x), sending well-heeled geeks to the import and unlocked phone stores to avoid the junk. We're pleased that AT&T has showed some restraint and placed their demos in tidy little folders: apps and games. You can actually delete these icons using the File Manager if you really hate them. More useful applications like AT&T Navigator and Mobile Video (aka CV) are at the root level of the programs screen. The usual selection of Windows Mobile programs are on board including remote desktop access, MS Office mobile, a photo viewer, Windows Media Player Mobile and more. HTC and AT&T also include Adobe Reader LE, a Java VM, MS Voice Command (press and hold the call send button to start voice command or use a Bluetooth headset), HTC's streaming video player and YouTube player, HTC Album, MobiTV (subscription-based streaming video), Windows Live and News Break (an RSS reader).
Here's our 13 minute video review of the HTC Pure covering TouchFLO 3D, video playback (YouTube and Mobile Video), GPS, on-screen keyboard, the Opera web browser and more.
Phone and Internet
The HTC Pure has middle of the road reception for GSM and 3G HSDPA. Call quality is above average as is voice volume. There's no proximity sensor but the phone displays a masked screen with only call end and dial pad buttons, somewhat reducing the odds that you'll cheek-dial. You can slide the masking screen down to see the full set of standard call options, but the phone won't auto-lock the display immediately. Speaker phone quality is acceptable, having moderate volume but not the stunning clarity of the Touch Pro2 with its Straight Talk speakerphone system.
Like most HTC touch screen Windows Mobile phones, the Pure comes with Opera Mobile, a very good full HTML web browser that renders nearly as well as the iPhone's Safari web browser. Since the Pure has a resistive touch screen, there's no multi-touch pinch zooming, but the hardware zoom bar works well as a stand-in. Internet Explorer Mobile 6 is also on board, and while it shows a great deal of improvement over older versions of IE Mobile, it's still not as good as Opera for full HTML sites.
Email support is the usual Outlook Mobile Messaging that handles SMS, MMS, POP3, IMAP and MS Exchange email. It supports MS Direct Push and can sync with Exchange ActiveSync services like Google contacts, calendar and email. If you use MS Exchange you can sync email, contacts, calendar, notes and tasks (Exchange ActiveSync services don't always support all these services). There's also support for meeting requests and company directory access. As a business phone, the HTC Pure gets top marks thanks to its Exchange support, Direct Push and MS Office suite that can view, edit and create MS Office documents.
The HTC Pure has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus lens but no flash. It can shoot photos in 3 and 5 megapixel resolutions in both wide and standard aspect ratios, and it can shoot video up to QVGA resolution in MPEG4 format (a version of MPEG4 that we couldn't play on Mac OS X but it worked fine in Windows). There's no flash and no self-portrait mirror, but the phone does support AT&T's Video Share 1-way video conferencing service. Image quality is good in well lit settings but indoor shots are noisy and prone to motion blur. The camera doesn't compete well against Nokia's many N Series 5 megapixel offerings or the Sony Ericsson C905a for still shots. That said, it is better than most camera phones 3MP and below on the US market.
A sample photo taken at 5MP resolution and resized to fit this page.
The HTC Pure is a solid Windows Mobile Pro phone that does a good job of handling multimedia along with business tasks. Call quality is very good, the camera takes decent, though not exceptional photos and the Pure is light and small for a full-featured smartphone. It lacks the wow factor of the HTC Imagio but it is relatively inexpensive for a high end smartphone. Though Windows Mobile 6.5 doesn't bring earth-shattering new features or performance to the platform, HTC's TouchFLO 3D doesn't leave us wanting.
Price: $149 after $50 rebate with a 2 year contract. $349 without contract.
resistive touch screen. Screen size diagonally: 3.2". Resolution:
480 x 800, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer. Has haptic feedback.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance:Qualcomm MSM7201A 528 MHz processor. 288 MB built-in RAM. 512 MB Flash ROM with 245 megs
x 2.09 x 0.54 inches. Weight: 4.15 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band GSM world phone (850/900/1800/1900MHz) with 850/1900 3G HSDPA for AT&T's US bands. Supports 7.2Mbps downlink speeds (where service is available).
Camera:5 MP with autofocus lens. Can shoot video up to QVGA resolution and take photos in normal and widescreen aspect ratios.
GPS: Has GPS with aGPS. AT&T Navigator included. Other location and mapping applications can access the GPS as well.
in speaker, FM radio, mic and HTC ExtUSB stereo headphone
jack (adapter included to use 2.5mm and 3.5mm headsets). Audio formats: AAC, AAC+, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A, QCP and AMR wide/narrow band.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR. Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRC, headset, hands free, PAN, Object Push, HID, SAP, DUN, serial port, SDAP, BPP and PBAP.
Mobile 6.5 Professional. Mobile version of MS Office and Outlook (Messaging), Adobe Reader LE, Pictures and Videos, HTC's Streaming Media player, MS Voice Command, Quick GPS, Remote Desktop Mobile, device search, File Explorer, HTC Album, Windows Live, Windows Mobile Marketplace, Opera Mobile 9.x, IE Mobile 6, Comm Manager, Facebook, MSN Money widget, MSN Weather widget, The Weather Channel, NewsBreak (RSS Reader), MobiTV (requires subscription fee). AT&T apps: AT&T Navigator, Mobile Banking, WikiMobile, Online Locker, Mobile Video (formerly called CV), AT&T Music, AT&T app store. Demo games and the standard Windows Mobile Solitaire and Bubble Breaker are included.
SDHC microSD card slot located under back cover.
In the box: Phone, stylus, world charger, USB cable, audio dongle adapter, printed manuals and software CD with full PDF device manual.