Reviewed June 4, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The HTC Touch Pro / AT&T Fuze, depending on your carrier's naming convention, was a mixed bag. The TouchFLO 3D interface was beautiful and intuitive but sometimes sluggish (or not enabled by default on Verizon's version of the Touch Pro). The touch screen was more finger friendly than regular Windows Mobile Professional phones, but it was too small at 2.8" for its VGA resolution and Windows Mobile UI elements. The phone was very attractive but the diamond-faceted back attracted fingerprint grease after even the shortest of fondlings (Sprint's version omitted the signature gloss diamond back and Verizon's was shiny, fingerprint-loving black but not faceted).
Less than a year later, HTC has taken the promise of the first gen Touch Pro and polished it into a real gem. TouchFLO 3D is now very responsive and smooth (banishing those "this ain't no iPhone" thoughts), it's faster (you'd think they'd switched to a faster CPU, but the improvements are all software), the 3.6" display is appropriate to the UI elements so very few things are too small for fingers, the QWERTY keyboard is top notch and HTC has gone even deeper compared to the original Touch Pro (Fuze), Diamond and Touch HD to replace the standard Windows Mobile UI. In fact, you really have to put some effort into reaching the standard Microsoft interface. HTC has created their own programs listing, dialogs, front ends for the music player, contacts and email-- even copy and paste have undergone an extreme makeover. Given Windows Mobile's behind the times look and feel, these improvements are just what the platform needs. They make the phone not only fun but more expedient and intuitive on all counts. For example, once you've set your weather cities on the weather panel, a tap on the large digital clock on the home screen brings up world clocks for all those cities. You need not switch to the calendar tab to view the month-- just tap on the calendar listing on the home screen. That said, fear not, WinMo fans: all of the power of Windows Mobile (and it is a powerful OS regardless of its outdated UI) is still here: there's the usual support for 3rd party applications, robust MS Exchange support, extensive Outlook sync support with built-in PIM applications that mirror Outlook, Office Mobile and fast, reliable networking over cellular and WiFi connections.
The Touch Pro2 runs Windows Mobile Professional 6.1, though that's somewhat irrelevant since HTC's software and user interface put WinMo behind the scenes. Even if this PDA phone were running Windows Mobile 6.5, there wouldn't be much of a difference in terms of look and feel unless you disabled TouchFLO 3D. HTC stated when they announced the Touch Pro2 and Diamond2, that both models would be upgradable to Windows Mobile 6.5. They were speaking of the unlocked GSM, non-carrier branded versions-- we'll have to see if carriers offer upgrades for their respective devices.
The Touch Pro2 is a GSM quad band unlocked world phone that will work with any GSM carrier's SIM. It has EDGE for data and 3G HSDPA on the Euro 900/2100MHz bands. That means EDGE speeds in the US, and as far as we know, HTC won't offer an unlocked US 3G version. But US carriers should offer variants of the Touch Pro2, as a consolation. The unlocked Touch Pro2 should be available at the usual online importers and perhaps some brick and mortar locations.
Specs at a Glance
The HTC Touch Pro2 runs on a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7200 CPU with 288 megs of RAM to run programs and 512 megs of flash memory for storage (about 250 megs are free for your use). It has an SDHC microSD card slot under the back cover (no need to remove the 1500 mAh Lithium Ion battery to access it), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP Bluetooth stereo, WiFi 802.11b/g, a 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard with tilt function. The 3.6" screen runs at 800 x 480 resolution and it has haptic feedback, a proximity sensor and g-sensor. It's code name is "HTC Rhodium".
Here's our 10 minute video review of the Touch Pro2 where you can see TouchFLO 3D, YouTube playback, the Opera web browser, GPS with Google Maps and more:
Design and Keyboard
This is a large and heavy phone. At 6.61 ounces you'll feel it in your pocket and given the slider keyboard, it's understandably thicker than the HTC Touch Diamond2 and iPhone. In person, it's a stunning looking phone. The front is reminiscent both of the Touch HD and the iPhone while the back is unique thanks to the integrated speakerphone. Looks are subjective, but I'd say the Touch Pro2 is better looking than the Diamond2 and it's on par with the best phone designs on the market. The phone feels and looks like a quality piece, and improves over the Touch Pro/ Fuze's stylish but plasticky look.
The HTC Touch Pro2, HTC Diamond2 and the HTC Fuze.
Like the HTC Tilt (aka TyTN II), the display section can tilt up or you can use it flat when the keyboard is deployed. The tilted position is perfect for mini-notebook style use and for watching videos. It's stable in the fully upright tilted position and wobbles on the desk when opened flat. The slider mechanism is very firm and solid feeling. There is no d-pad, but given the touch screen and TouchFLO 3D's ease of use, I haven't missed it (gamers won't agree with me). The QWERTY hardware keyboard has arrow keys in place of a d-pad so you need not reach for the screen when typing. The 5 row QWERTY keyboard is extremely spacious and we particularly like the discrete keys with good spacing in between and the offset layout that matches a computer's keyboard. The top row is dedicated to numbers and there are quick launch keys for email, SMS, the Opera web browser and HTC's Comm Manager that controls the phone's wireless radios. The backlit keyboard has good tactile feedback and is large enough for big-fisted fellas. It's one of the best smartphone keyboards on the market.
The on-screen HTC keyboards are larger and easier to use than the Fuze and original Diamond's thanks to the larger display. They work in both portrait and landscape modes, so you need not open the slider to enter a few words. The standard Windows Mobile input methods including Transcriber cursive handwriting recognition, block print recognition and Microsoft's tiny on-screen QWERTY are present in addition to HTC's large on-screen full QWERTY (with XT9 as an option).
Since the Touch Pro2 automatically switches to landscape mode when you slide out the keyboard, both landscape and portrait modes are supported throughout-- even HTC's home screen with tabs for stocks, weather, settings, contacts, messaging and more work in landscape mode. The g-sensor (accelerometer) works only in certain applications like the photo viewer and Opera (but not IE) web browser... strange.
Thanks to the iPhone, minimalism is fashionable, and so the Touch Pro2 has relatively few buttons. As with previous generation HTC Touch phones, there' s no dedicated camera button nor is there a voice command button (in fact there's no voice command software pre-installed). There are buttons for volume on the phone's left side, a stylus on the lower right corner (the phone wakes up when you remove the stylus but it's not a magnetic stylus that gets pulled back in upon reinsertion) and HTC's ExtUSB port at the bottom. Small buttons for call send, call end/home, back and the Windows Start Menu live below the display and there's a touch sensitive zoom slider bar that works in Opera, the photo viewer, Office Mobile, Google Maps, Internet Explorer Mobile and more.
Though small and near the edge, the hardware buttons are easy to operate one-handed.
Calling and Internet
The HTC Touch Pro2 is an unlocked GSM quad band world phone that works with all GSM carriers. It has EDGE on all four bands and 3G HSDPA on the Euro 900/2100MHz bands. That means EDGE is as fast as it gets in the US, unfortunately. That said, even using Opera Mobile which downloads full desktop web pages complete with ads, page load times weren't bad at all and were certainly faster than average for EDGE. Downloading 35 IMAP emails took a minute over EDGE.
Call quality is landline-clear and volume through the earpiece is loud. The Pro2 has speed dial but no voice dialing, which means you'll have to add something like MS Voice Command if you want voice command and dialing. A variety of Bluetooth headsets played well with the HTC flagship QWERTY slider, including the Jawbone 2 and Plantronics Discovery 925. Bluetooth range was better than average and audio quality was quite good with these headsets.
Opera Mobile, the default web browser, is better than ever. It now rivals the iPhone web browser in terms of desktop layout quality. Opera is faster than it was on last generation HTC TouchFLO 3D phones and doesn't slow down the phone as it sometimes did on the older models. Internet Explorer 6 Mobile is on board (look for it in the HTC-customized Start Menu) and it too shows great improvement over the old IE on Windows Mobile and runs more smoothly than on the Treo Pro which also runs IE6. Though not as desktop-lovely as Opera, it is useful for visiting mobile sites and for quick information downloads. You can download and install other Windows Mobile web browsers too (Bolt, Opera Mini, NetFront and more). HTC's excellent YouTube Player is here, and we tested it over WiFi since EDGE is too slot for smooth frame rates. The player uses the full screen and video quality is very good.
The Touch Pro2 features "Straight Talk", HTC's nifty speaker phone system. Simply turn the phone over when in a call and place it on your desk and you've got a good quality stereo speakerphone that's quite loud without distorting. There's a mute button on the phone's back below the camera lens. In our tests audio quality was excellent for calls and outgoing voice sounded good with little ambient noise thanks to dual mics.
Under the back cover we see the microSD card slot and battery. To the right of these are the camera lens and speakers.
Multimedia, Display and Horsepower
The Touch Pro2, like all Windows Mobile phones, has a built-in music player and video player courtesy of Windows Media Player Mobile. As with previous TouchFLO 3D models from HTC, there's a home screen tab that provides a pleasant graphical front end to Media Player Mobile complete with album art, view by title, album, playlists and genre. This means you can avoid Windows Media Player's antiquated user interface completely. The phone supports a wide variety of codecs and formats including iTunes unprotected AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, WMV, MPEG4 H.264, M4A and some AVI. Sound is awesome thanks to the Pro2's Straight Talk stereo loudspeaker system that plays from the phone's back side (place it face down for best sound). The smartphone also works with A2DP stereo Bluetooth headsets and the included wired stereo headset.
The speaker system's grille uses a great deal of real estate. That's the speakerphone mute button just below the camera lens.
We tested video playback with an 850kbps MPEG4 H.264 480 x 368 movie using Windows Media Player Mobile and playback was flawless, even when stretched to full screen. That's a significant improvement over the Fuze and original Diamond and even the Touch HD. CorePlayer Mobile works fine, though we actually got slightly better frame rates with Windows Media Player Mobile. There's no FM radio application though the hardware is there. We loaded the FM radio application available on XDA-Developers and the radio worked properly with no stability issues. Reception is just OK though, and not as good as recent Nokia smartphones.
The Pro2 is a fast smartphone-- not something we get to say often with respect to Windows Mobile. HTC has done a stellar job of optimizing the heavy graphics and custom user interface and the phone never feels slow or balky. HTC's photo tab loads and scrolls images more quickly than the original Diamond, HTC's photo album works smoothly and the phone does fine with 5 heavyweight apps running in the background.
The side volume controls.
The display is beautiful. Though not as vivid as the AMOLED display on the Samsung Impression QWERTY feature phone for AT&T, it's one of the nicer on the market. The mind-boggling 800 x 480 resolution is in itself impressive (a resolution shared with the HTC Touch HD and the HTC Touch Diamond2). The screen is very sharp (even tiny text is legible), colorful and bright. The phone's ambient light sensor can control display brightness and we found that it rarely raised brightness above 50%. Use manual brightness (at the possible expense of battery life) for an impressively bright display. The display is legible outdoors but does fade, making it hard to get a good sense of what you're shooting with the camera.
The Touch Pro2's 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus lens takes images that are on par with other import phones sporting the same imaging specs (i.e.: Nokia lower end N Series smartphones and the better E Series models ). The camera tends to oversharpen images and it's no wonder since the default contrast and sharpening settings are both at +3! Reduce those to +1 for more natural shots. Colors are accurate and saturated, though not overly saturated and some highlights blow out in bright outdoor shots. But the overall clarity is very good, including close up shots of flowers and small objects. There's no flash, so don't expect to use the camera at nightclubs or concerts.
The entire screen is the viewfinder and there's a large on-screen focus/shutter button. Tap the tools icon to bring up a wide array of camera and video settings. The camera can shoot widescreen and standard aspect ratio photos and max photo resolution is 2048 x 1536 pixels.
The camera can shoot video up to VGA resolution, 15 fps. Video blurs a bit when you move the camera, so keep it still. This doesn't compete with Nokia's VGA video recording on N Series multimedia phones, but it's the best we've seen on a Windows Mobile phone and in fact it's better than most non-camera centric phones on the market. It can also shoot video at lesser resolutions for MMS and you can use the front-facing VGA camera as well, though not for US video calling since no US carrier supports 2-way calling.
Fast! The first fix out of the box takes over a minute, but thereafter cold starts take less than 10 seconds and warm starts just a few seconds. HTC's unlocked phones haven't done well in this department, as if the aGPS didn't work well without direct carrier support. The Touch Pro2 a a GPS demon, getting a fix indoors on the first floor of a two story building. Google Maps is pre-installed and it looks fantastic at 800 x 480 on the Pro2's sharp display. You can zoom using the zoom bar and use the usual set of Google features including satellite view, traffic info and directions. It integrates into contacts (map your contact's address) and with google.com in the web browser. The GPS works with 3rd party GPS navigation applications and just for kicks we tried AT&T Navigator (TeleNav) designed for the Fuze. It installed fine and ran, though it had problems rendering the main menu icons. We could get to directions but we couldn't get to the map your location function, for example. Navigation with spoken directions and maps worked though.
The 1500 mAh Lithium Ion battery is good for 1.5 days of moderate use. If you stream an hour of YouTube over WiFi expect less, but for calls, Internet over EDGE, Office work and music playback the phone should last at least 1.5 days. Remember to set the phone to GSM-only so it doesn't waste battery power searching for 3G. Likely US 3G versions of this phone will have shorter battery life since 3G is a power hog.
One of the best Windows Mobile phones in years, and in fact one of the best smartphones of the year, period. Windows Mobile went from cutting edge and my preferred platform to looking old and tired, though still powerful. The HTC Touch Pro2 and the Touch Diamond2 take matters into their own hands and give WinMo an attractive, fun and intuitive facelift while keeping the strong OS underneath alive. Even in a year of fierce competition from the iPhone, G1 Android phone, Palm Pre and ever more powerful high end feature phones, the Touch Pro2 looks darned good. We won't even compare it to the BlackBerry Storm whose touch screen display is interesting but dicey. Given our choice, we'd go with the Touch Pro2 over the Diamond2 because the UI, photo viewer, web browser and video playback experience are that much improved by the addition of nearly a half inch of diagonal screen size. The only drawbacks are no 3G in the US (look for our carriers to offer their own versions with 3G HSDPA or EVDO) and the phone's large size and heft. This is a phone I'd gladly open my wallet for!
Pro: TouchFLO 3D has come of age: it nearly completely replaces the standard Windows Mobile UI and it's fast. Excellent, large, high resolution touch screen that's nearly as responsive as the capacitive displays on the iPhone and HTC G1. Great hardware QWERTY keyboard and we love the tilt screen feature. Full syncing support with Outlook and MS Exchange (Mac syncing requires a 3rd party application). Opera Mobile looks as good as the iPhone's web browser. Good GPS performance, better than average camera with VGA video recording and the usual strong Windows Mobile software offerings including MS Office Mobile, Outlook Mobile, Media Player, Internet Explorer and other goodies like Adobe Reader and a Zip Manger. Solid WiFi reception, good Bluetooth range. The phone is very attractive.
Con: No US 3G on this import model. The phone is both large and heavy, though HTC Tilt and Wizard owners won't find it remarkably so.
Price: Estimated around $750 (with no contract subsidy)
TFT color touch screen with haptic feedback and accelerometer. Screen size diagonally: 3.6". Resolution:
800 x 480, portrait mode with support for landscape mode. Supports TV out with optional cable.
Battery:1500 mAh Lithium
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Size:4.57 X 2.33 X 0.68 inches. 6.61 ounces (187.5g).
Phone:Unlocked GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands with EDGE. HSDPA 3G on the Euro 900/2100MHz bands (not compatible with US 3G).
Camera:3.2 megapixel with autofocus lens. 2048 x 1536 max photo resolution. Up to VGA resolution at 15fps for video. Video capture formats: H.263, 3GPP2 and MPEG4.
in speaker, mic and HTC ExtUSB stereo headphone
jack (stereo headset included). Voice Recorder and Windows Mobile Media Player 10 included. Supported audio formats: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A. Straight Talk speaker phone.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR with headset, handsfree, serial port, FTP, PAN, phone book access, A2DP and AVRC profiles.
GPS:Yes. Google Maps included.
Mobile 6.1 Professional. TouchFLO 3D user interface. Opera 9.5 mobile web browser, HTC's photo viewer, YouTube player, RRS Hub, Adobe Reader, Comm Manager, JBlend Java VM, Jetcet Presenter 5, Streaming Media player, Windows Media Player Mobile, WorldCard Mobile, Teeter, Zip manager, Streaming Media Player. Standard MS mobile software suite: Office Mobile (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Mobile), Internet Explorer Mobile, Email (POP3/IMAP/MS Exchange), File Manager, PIM suite (contacts, calendar, notes and tasks), SMS/MMS client, Remote Desktop client, BubbleBreaker and Solitaire.
Expansion slot:SDHC microSD card slot.
In the box:World charger, USB cable, stereo headset, software CD and carrying case.