Reviewed December 5, 2008 by Lisa Gade, Editor
HTC's Touch Pro has been one of the hottest Windows Mobile touch screen phones of 2008, and now three out of four of the top US carriers are offering it. Verizon is the latest to jump on the bandwagon with their version of the HTC Touch Pro XV6850. Like its relatives the HTC Touch Pro on Sprint and the HTC Fuze on AT&T, the Verizon Touch Pro features a VGA touch screen, HTC's TouchFLO 3D user interface, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera, EVDO Rev. A, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. It's sleek, it's shiny black and a fingerprint magnet, but when clean it looks lovely. The Verizon Touch Pro lacks the GSM version's diamond-faceted back, or Sprint's contrasting soft-touch finish and is instead a gloss black slab.
Though the flush touch screen and TouchFLO 3D are what sets the HTC Touch Pro apart from other manufacturers' Windows Mobile phones as well as older HTC phones, Verizon ships theirs with TouchFLO 3D turned off. Oye! HTC intended TouchFLO 3D to be a new and easy user interface that even newbies could easily understand. Yet, Verizon expects those who purchase the Pro to not be newbies. In fact, if you're not very familiar with Windows Mobile Professional or haven't played with other TouchFLO 3D phones (offered by other carriers since this is Verizon's only model), then you might not even know how to turn on this feature. So here it is: Go to the Start Menu and choose settings. Click on the Today icon, then select the "items" tab near the bottom. Check the box labeled TouchFLO 3D, then hit the OK button at the upper right.
Now that TouchFLO 3D is up and running, we'll say that we still prefer the black theme found on the overseas GSM and Sprint versions of the phone to Verizon's red and gray theme, but it's more appealing than AT&T's very light gray and orange theme. It's quite hard to change TouchFLO 3D's theme colors (unlike standard WinMo themes), and that's why we harp on this. The 2.8" VGA display is sharp and bright-- a real pleasure to behold. It's visible outdoors, though it does wash out and succumb to glare.
Back view with the keyboard slider open.
The 5 row QWERTY keyboard is roomy and we're happy that Verizon went with a top number row rather than AT&T's top symbol row. However, those keys have very little travel and tactile feedback compared to the Sprint and AT&T versions. The layout is somewhat odd: the period is to the left of the spacebar rather than the right, the comma (on the period key) requires an Fn key press and the arrow keys are shifted a bit toward the middle so the up arrow falls between the n and m keys. Weird. The Verizon version loses the oversized enter/return key, and it's moved from the normal location to the bottom right corner.
Above: the Verizon Touch Pro keyboard.
Below: the Sprint version.
While the Samsung Omnia i910 and even the BlackBerry Storm might try to muscle in on the iPhone's territory with their slate-design touch screens, the Touch Pro with its chunkier build and hardware keyboard flirts more with the business set. Though Windows Mobile might lack the sex appeal of the iPhone's OS, it is very powerful, expandable with 3rd party applications and handles networking well. HTC's TouchFLO 3D interface does add a good dose of eye candy and fun-- using the Touch Pro isn't the usual boring, stylus-centric Windows Mobile Professional experience. The various TouchFLO 3D screens take over common tasks such as viewing your schedule, accessing photo caller ID, viewing photos, texting, checking email, checking the weather (the prettiest weather we've ever seen on a phone) and launching favorite applications.
TouchFLO 3D does a lot of hard work behind the scenes, especially in the graphics department, and as a result the Touch Pro isn't as snappy (when navigating through the TouchFLO 3D screens) as some older, vanilla Windows Mobile Pro phones. But we'll take finger-friendly, attractive and fun over a slight speed boost. That said, Verizon's version of the Pro is a little slower than the Fuze and more than a little slower than the Sprint Touch Pro. Verizon went with 192 megs of RAM rather than the Sprint and AT&T versions' 288 megs, and that may explain the difference, especially when several applications are running in the background. In particular, running Opera Mobile 9.5 (also memory and resource hungry) can slow down TouchFLO 3D. We noticed this with the original GSM HTC Touch Diamond, a device that also had 192 rather than 288 megs of RAM.
For those of you who feel that video speaks a thousand words, here's our 10 minute video review of the Verizon HTC Touch Pro XV6850:
Phone and Data
The HTC Touch Pro on Verizon is a CDMA dual band digital phone with EVDO Rev. A for fast data and fallback to 1xRTT. None of the Touch Pro or Diamond models are reception demons, so we weren't surprised to discover that the Verizon version has weak reception. If you're in a strong coverage area, you won't have a problem, but weak coverage areas like ours where many Verizon phones manage just one bar of reception equal no coverage on the Touch Pro. Unfortunately for those who love Windows Mobile and Verizon, the recently released Omnia i910 doesn't fair much better. Outgoing voice quality is good but not stellar, while incoming voice is quite clear, albeit with lower than average volume. We were impressed with the phone's voice quality with a relatively poor signal (-95 db) and heard less digital garbling compared to other Verizon phones in poor coverage areas.
The HTC Touch Pro comes with MS Voice Command 1.6, a speaker independent voice dialing and command system that we like. It requires no voice tags and can tell you the incoming caller's name (if they're in your contacts), the time, what's your next appointment and more. To start Voice Command, press and hold the green call send button. The phone's screen turns off a few seconds into a call to avoid accidental screen presses, so you'll need to press the power button to turn the display on as needed. Tip: the phone uses the ambient light sensor in the earpiece slot to detect that the phone is against your face, so the display won't turn off if you're using speaker phone. However, it won't turn the display back on if you start a call with your face against the phone, then move it away as do the iPhone and Samsung Eternity.
Like all Windows Mobile phones, the Pro supports IMAP, POP3, MS Exchange and MS Direct Push email. Messaging, the equivalent of Outlook email on Windows handles multiple accounts, attachments, signatures, secure server connections and more. In addition the phone can do both SMS text messaging and MMS, though oddly there's no IM client.
The HTC Touch Pro runs on a 528MHz Qualcomm CPU as do HTC's other TouchFLO 3D phones. It has 192 megs of RAM (down from 288 megs on the Sprint and AT&T versions) and 512 megs of flash memory with nearly 300 megs free for storage. There's an SDHC microSD card slot on the phone's side under the battery cover (no need to remove the battery to access the card) and it worked well with our 4 and 8 gig SDHC high capacity cards.
Multimedia... not so much
There aren't many other salient differences between the units beyond carrier software customizations. The Verizon version lacks the impressive multimedia clout of the AT&T and Sprint models: there's no YouTube Player or HTC Streaming Media Player (AT&T didn't include an icon for the YouTube player but the program is still there in the Windows directory while it's not to be found on the Verizon version). In fact, the phone is lacking video codecs to play lowly mobile YouTube content (m.youtube.com) through Windows Media Player Mobile, even though the Omnia has them. While Sprint's model has Sprint TV (service included with their Everything plans) and AT&T has CV streaming video (included with any unlimited data plan), Verizon offers nada. No V Cast, no Mobile TV-- just you and your business-oriented phone.
You can store videos on a microSD card-- the Touch Pro works with SDHC high capacity cards and the slot is under the battery cover but doesn't require battery removal. It handles WMV and MP4 files fine up to 550kbps using Windows Media Player Mobile. We tested the Pro with CorePlayer, the commercial version of TCPMP, and it worked well with MP3 and a variety of video formats, though the YouTube support didn't work.
Like the other US HTC Touch Pro models, the Verizon version has a 1340 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's user replaceable. Like the Sprint version, battery life is a sore point, especially if push email is turned on, or if the phone is set to check non-push email frequently (e.g.: every 15 minutes).
On other Touch Diamond and Touch Pro models, the d-pad center ring pulses white when the phone is charging. The Verizon version pulses first the call send and end buttons (green, red), then the d-pad ring and finally the white home and back buttons. It's like a mini-Christmas light installation.
The Verizon Touch Pro's GPS does a better job of acquiring satellites than the Fuze, though it's not as fast to get a fix as the Sprint version or the Omnia i910. The GPS works only with Verizon's own VZ Navigator software, which costs $10/month. It's a very capable mapping and navigation application that downloads maps and POIs over the data connection as needed. The POI listings are extensive and the spoken turn-by-turn directions are clear and easy to follow. The application didn't do well when we went off track-- unlike most other carrier-based navigation solutions and even some of Verizon's other GPS-enabled phones, it took about a half mile before it came up with a new route (it did manage to track us on the map, though that map is too zoomed out to read street names easily). Since the GPS is locked, it didn't work with Google Maps, Garmin XT Mobile or Windows Live Search.
The HTC Touch Pro has a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus lens. Image quality is very good, and the LED flash helps just a bit in low light situations. As with most other HTC Touch Diamond and Touch Pro phones, at the default setting, images are over-sharpened, which is sometimes pleasing but at other times not so nice. This can be remedied by changing camera settings to tone down sharpening. Color balance and saturation are both very good, while contrast is good except in harsh outdoor lighting situations.
The camera can also shoot video up to QVGA resolution in H.263, 3GPP2 and MPEG4 formats. Video is decent, though not as impressive as still shots.
These sample photos were taken at the highest resolution. Click on a photo to see a larger version in a new window.
Verizon has cranked out an all-business version of the HTC Touch Pro, and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with business phones, the Touch Pro seems an odd choice-- it's something like having an Aston Martin stripped down for daily commuter or beater car use. Having reviewed all the HTC Touch Diamond and most of the Touch Pro variants available around the world, we can't help but feel sad at what's missing here: TouchFLO 3D disabled by default, YouTube and Streaming Media Player gone, HTC's RSS reader gone, no IM client, less RAM and the GPS is locked to Verizon's own service. But with all that said, the Verizon Touch Pro is indeed a solid business phone, and a good choice for those who rely on MS Exchange sync for contacts, calendar and email. Call quality is good, though reception is a little weak, and with 3rd party application add-ons, the phone can crank up the multimedia a notch or two.
Pro: Attractive, very good VGA display with flush touch screen. TouchFLO 3D is a pleasure to use. Offers the power of Windows Mobile-- customization, 3rd party apps, robust email support. Has EVDO Rev. A for fast data.
Con: TouchFLO 3D is turned off by default and there's not a brain-dead easy way to turn it on. Odd keyboard layout and keys are low-travel. GPS is locked to VZ Navigator, phone has less RAM than other carrier's versions. YouTube Player and HTC Streaming Media Player are missing. Battery life isn't tops.
Price: $349 after $70 mail-in rebate with a 2 year contract. $539 without contract
TFT color touch screen LCD. Screen size diagonally: 2.8". Resolution:
VGA 480 x 640, portrait mode with support for landscape mode.Supports TV out with optional cable.
Battery:1340 mAh Lithium
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance:528MHz Qualcomm MSM7501A processor. 192 megs RAM, 512 megs flash ROM with ~ 290 megs free after HTC and Verizon's customizations have loaded on first boot.
Size:4.17 x 2.04 x 0.71 inches. 4.94 ounces.
Phone:CDMA dual band digital 800/1900MHz. EVDO Rev. A for fast data with fallback to 1xRTT.
Camera:3.2 megapixel with autofocus lens. LED flash. 2048 x 1536 max photo resolution. CIF 352 x 288, 176 x 144, 128 x 96 resolutions for video. Video capture formats: H.263, 3GPP2 and MPEG4.
in speaker, mic and HTC ExtUSB stereo headphone
jack (stereo headset with matching "Diamond" design included). Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10 included for your MP3 and video playback pleasure.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR with headset, handsfree, serial port, PAN, A2DP and AVRC profiles.
GPS:Yes. Works with Sprint Navigation and other mapping and navigation applications.
Mobile 6.1 Professional. TouchFLO 3D user interface. MS Office Mobile suite (mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), Outlook mobile (Messaging, contacts, calendar, tasks, notes), Windows Media Player mobile, Remote Desktop, Modem Link (tethering over USB or Bluetooth), Pictures and Videos. Opera 9.5 mobile web browser, HTC's photo viewer, Zip manager, WorldCard Mobile (business card reader), MP3 Trimmer, JetCet Print 5. Verizon apps: VZ AppZone and VZ Navigator. Wireless Sync capable.
Expansion slot:SDHC microSD card slot.
SAR rating: 1.43 W/kg (head).
In the box:Touch Pro, 2 styli, USB sync/charger cable, world charger, headphone adapter, software CDs and printed guide.