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HTC Touch Diamond – Actual Usage Review

Written By: James Rintamaki on June 25, 2008 17 Comments

touchdiamond

Having the ATT Tilt now for a few months, I was getting a bit anxious for HTC’s new devices to come out and the other day I finally got one — the HTC Touch Diamond!   The HTC Diamond is among HTC’s newest lines of pocket pc phone devices (along with the Touch Pro coming out later this summer) and these phones just keep getting better.   At a quick glance, here are some of it’s ‘major’ features and specs:

  • 2.8" Touch Screen
  • 528 MHz Processor (qualcomm msm7201a)
  • VGA (640×480) Resolution
  • 3.2 Auto focus camera and VGA Front facing camera
  • 4gb Internal Storage (but no external memory card slot)
  • Integrated GPS
  • Tri-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • HSDPA/WCDMA 900/2100MHz
  • 256mb Rom, 192mb DDR SDRAM
  • Bluetooth 2.0 w/EDR and 802.11b/g Wifi
  • FM Radio (with RDS)

Update 7/21/08 — Looks like those who have US that have the diamond are able to get the 850mhz band working (gsm/edge) — perhaps, soon, even US 3g!  check out more at:  http://www.wmexperts.com/articles/new_diamond_rom_enables_850_ed.html .

For those wanting to see something quick and specific, here’s a quicklink guide to the rest of this post:

Overview:

Review

Unboxing:


Lets start off with the unboxing — As you can see, they’ve even incorporated the diamond-ish look to the box itself:

box_front box_rear box_opened

 

The box is very craftily packed with the tiny manuals in the bottom of the box, followed on top by the accessories, then the headset and phone, and lastly the software and screen protectors:
accessories_1 accessories_3 accessories_2 accessories_4

 

The phone comes with an extra stylus, ear buds (which serve as earphones and headset), screen protectors, manuals, usb charging cable, Euro and US charger, and software (a getting started guide and WorldCard Mobile / CE-Star):
box_contents 

 

Glamour Shots:

Now, on to the phone itself! At first glance, this is a VERY sleek and sexy phone: glossy black all around with a ‘diamond cut’ back plate.  One downside of it’s glossy black finish is that it is a finger print (and smudge) MAGNET — Only after using it for a few minutes for this review, I had already amounted a bunch of fingerprints all over the device.  The iPhone has this same issue, as will any phone of the same finish – it’s just something you’ll have to live with.   
straight_on2 Picture 889


Physical Views at All Angles (and finger prints) – HTC Touch Diamond (1:20).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

 
Now we’ll go around the different views of the diamond (top, bottom, and right respectively):
Picture 862 Picture 863 Picture 864 

 

Comparison Shots:


Coming from using the ATT Tilt (HTC TyTN II), the size was the first thing that really jumped out at me – it’s VERY thin and light!  Here are some comparison shots of the diamond and common items — it turns out, it’s VERY close to the size of a back of Orbit gum (the phone is a bit taller, but practically the same width and thickness (and at 3.6oz, it weighs in at almost exactly 3 packs of unwrapped orbit gum, haha):
compare_items compare_orbit_stacked compare_orbit_side

 

Here is a shot of the diamond next to 9 stacked cd’s, and when on top a cd, it actually is about 5mm smaller on each corner (the picture makes it look like it’s overhanging on the cd, but the cd is in fact larger):
compare_9cds compare_cds_overhead

 

And of course, being an owner of the Tilt, I have to show some comparison shots of the diamond and tilt:
compare_overhead compare_side_angled compare_sidebyside compare_stacked_side

Review:


Lets now start with some actual usage reviewing!

Screen:

The first thing I noticed that sets this phone apart from any other that I have owned is the sharpness and clarity of the screen!  Being a 2.8" VGA device, everything is in credibly sharp and looks extremely pleasing, even text at it’s smallest font size.  The pictures below show the screen at it’s finest — very tiny font when viewing the opera browser when zoomed out and smallest zoom in pocket word.  Just be sure that you don’t have a problem reading very fine text.  Viewing pictures and movies are great – vivid colors – it’s like you’re looking at a (very small) laptop screen:

Picture 881screen_opera  screen_word

In the video below, I transition between the page loading times only because where I’m located, I am only getting GPRS (SLOW SLOW SLOW) data speeds, and otherwise it would have been a 5 minute video (slight exaggeration, haha)
!


Browser Usage – HTC Touch Diamond Review (2:24). 
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

(On Screen) Keyboard:

The one thing I wish this device had was a hardware keyboard (or keypad), HOWEVER, with that said, HTC has done a good job with their Diamond touch keypad.  It is very iPhone like in that it seems to be able to predict what key you are trying to type even if you don’t press exactly on it.  When you press a key with your finger, it gets larger to show you which key you pressed as you type.  (in the photo I am using the stylus to better show you the ‘enlargement’ of the keys).  Typing fast is something that will take getting used to, as I’m sure is the same way with the iPhone, except in this case, the screen is much smaller, so those with larger than ‘small’ hands may have difficulty "typing". 
keypad


MS Word Keyboard Test – HTC Touch Diamond Review (1:26).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

 

Buttons:

The diamond has your usual buttons as most other pocket pc devices, but also has some interesting differences.  It has the usual talk/end and side volume up/down keys, but instead of the ‘ok’ and ‘windows’ key, they’ve replaced them with a ‘back’, and ‘home’ key.  The home key brings you back to the HTC home screen "home" tab, and I haven’t yet decided if I like this.  At first, it annoyed me because I’ve become accustomed to how it’s always been:  a windows key which brings up the start menu.  But after using it a while, I found out how useful it is to have a button that basically acts as a windows xp/vista "show desktop" button;  I am always finding wanting to get back to the home screen on my tilt and sometimes having to press "OK" 5-6 times to get out of all my opened programs can get old!

The left/right/up/down buttons are also there, as any pda/ppc, but it’s more like an ipod-esque click wheel!  The entire bottom quarter (front) of the device is one solid piece — there is no individual pieces’ for each button.  The ‘button panel’, as I will call it, is simply depressible in the different button locations.  Another feature, similar to the ipod, is the ability to move your finger around in a circle around the middle button to, for example, fast forward or rewind in the playback of music.  (For a video showing the buttons, go back to the Glamour Shots above). 
keypad_closeup

 

Unique Features:

HTC did a great job incorporating some very unique features into the Diamond.

Stylus Magnet

One of which is a magnet that grabs onto the stylus — when pulling out, or putting back in, there’s a magnet that stays attracted to the stylus until it is about 1/4 of the way out — Great for those, like me, who tend to not insert the stylus in all the way and have it fall out on the floor somewhere!:


Stylus Magnet – HTC Touch Diamond Review (0:27).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

Accelerometer

Another cool feature is the accelerometer, that can sense how the phone is currently oriented.  This feature also existing in the iPhone, it can auto rotate the screen when you rotate the phone, and is great for games that can utilize the sensor such as the included game "Teeter".  It’s similar to a "labyrinth" game – there’s a marble on the screen, and you try to make it to the last sink hole without having it fall in the previous holes along the way — very addicting:


Utilizing Accelerometer for Game Play – HTC Touch Diamond Review (0:37).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

Camera

And of course, we have the 3.2 megapixel camera.  (I was unable to find a program to utilize the front facing camera before re-selling, sorry ya’ll).  The camera takes decent pictures, it’s about on par (if not a bit better) with the ATT Tilt — it’s good enough for me to use to take pictures when I don’t have my ‘real’ digital camera with me.  Below are sample pictures taken with the Diamond, Tilt, and Canon sx100 (respectively), followed by a quick and dirty video of actually using the camera.  (for full size versions of each sample picture:  diamond, tilt, sx100).

sample pics 


Camera Usage – HTC Touch Diamond Review (0:55).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

 

TouchFlo 3D Interface:

HTC’s "main" feature with the Diamond, as well as their upcoming devices, is the TouchFlo interface.  It reminds me a lot of the iPhone style of using your finger to swipe across the screen to do stuff, and I feel HTC as done a good job.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t totally encompass everything within windows mobile, only some of the most used ‘features’ (such as photo dialing, web browsing, music, pictures, etc), but it’s not a complete replacement for windows mobile, but it’s still great.  Moving between screens is very smooth and pretty, and most of the things you would want to do are right there in the HTC home plugin.   Check below for some videos of using the TouchFlo interface as well as specifically music playback:


More TouchFlo – HTC Touch Diamond Review (0:42).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)
TouchFlo – HTC Touch Diamond Review(0:53).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)
TouchFlo Music Playback – HTC Touch Diamond Review (0:34).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

One of the things I liked best about the TouchFlo is the video and photo viewer — it gives the finger-swiping ability to ‘flick’ through pictures and videos as shown below – it’s just fun!:


Photo and Video Viewing – HTC Touch Diamond Review (1:01).
(Click on the video title for a larger resolution video)

 

General Usage:

Using this as an every day phone/pda would be quite nice, but not without it’s downsides.  It is extremely thin and light, great for carrying around in your pocket, and even though it only has a 900mAh battery, I was able to get about 16 hours on a full charge, but therefore means you’ll have to charge it every night.  This 16 hour usage consisted of about 2.5 hours talk time, installing a few programs, 15 minutes of playing Teeter, downloading email every 15 minutes, and messing around with all these review videos and pictures. 

The on screen keyboard is smart in that it has a full qwerty layout and you can also enable T9 predictive text (both on the qwerty or standard number pad like normal phones).  It also seems to be smart in that it can figure out what key you meant to press in the event that you didn’t press exactly on that key (though this may just be my imagination as I don’t see that listed as a spec anywhere, haha).   It definitely is not big-hand friendly, and will take some time getting used to.  Coming from a hardware keyboard on the ATT Tilt, I was surprised at how well using an onscreen keyboard with my thumbs actually worked.

One thing I did not have videos or pictures of was game play (other than teeter).  I installed Call Of Duty 2 and Guitar Hero Mobile and played them for about 5 minutes.  Guitar Hero Mobile played great, much better and smoother than on my ATT Tilt, but call of duty 2 was a bit lacking.  I’m not sure if it was the game, or the Diamond, but game play was a LITTLE choppy, but judging by the graphics (kinda cheesy, but I guess good for a phone lol) I think it may have been just a game:  audio sync was right on with the video.

Overall speed was good for the most part, though at times it’s a bit sluggish.  I noticed sluggishness especially when starting the camera and taking a picture; when depressing the shutter button, it takes longer than I’d expect for the picture to actually take (when compared with my att tilt).  However, using the touchflo interface is great, and loading most programs and menus are quite responsive.  Also, tilting the phone from side to side to auto rotate always kept up and never lagged.

Voice quality is excellent, it’s like talking on a land line!  At first, however, my out going calls suffered from bad interference or something — people I’d call would complain that my voice sounded very digitized, or as if I was under water.  I was all set to return it for an RMA to be replaced, but then I posted over at xda-developers.com (link) and someone replied saying upgrading the rom to a newer one solved their problem.  I tried it, and sure enough, voice quality issues went away!  Not only that, but it sped up the phone a little bit too!  Speaker phone volume could be a bit louder, but I have yet to find a pocket pc phone with adequate speaker phone volume.

One bad thing is that this phone currently is not able to utilize USA 3G networks — I currently have ATT down in Atlanta, and I am not able to get any 3G or HSDPA connections, and I believe the reasoning is because it is missing the capability of using one of the two frequencies that ATT uses down here.  Being that it’s a tri-band phone, it does not support the 800/850mhz band that I believe ATT uses.  However, it does support EDGE, and Wifi, so for most data purposes, you should be fine.  Another thing I noticed is that it doesn’t get as good reception in places as does my Tilt, and again I believe it’s the tri-band issue again (but I am not sure).  I would be in a place that I never had signal issues before, and I would loose signal every once and a while when even standing still.   I think I would recommend waiting for the USA version to be released, as right now, there’s only the Euro version which is designed to work on the networks over in Europe and Asia.

Conclusion:

What I think to be one of the most important things about whether to buy this phone is the price.  Right now, the cheapest I’ve seen this phone is about $640 on ebay, and I’ve seen a few locally on craigslist for around $600.   Do I think it is worth that?  No.  Do I think it’s a great phone?  Yes.  Would I keep it if it weren’t so expensive (and had USA 3G)? Yes! Therefore, I would wait until you can get some sort of deal on a contract, or wait a while after it’s been out for the price to go down.  For the price, it’s just too expensive in my mind – I’d rather spend $300 on craigslist to buy a new ATT Tilt, and just wait for the diamond to drop in price (or be released as an offering by cell carriers) – Or better yet, wait a few months until after the HTC Touch Pro comes out (ooohhhh I can’t wait!).

It comes packaged with enough accessories to keep you happy, but it would have been nice to include some sort of case – especially after spending $600+.  The phone itself is so small and light, it’s hard to tell you have it in your pocket, and coming from an ATT Tilt user (it’s kinda heavy for a phone), having this phone is like holding onto air.  With it’s 4gb internal storage and ipod-esque features, you could easily get rid of your current phone and mp3 player and replace it with this.  Job well done, HTC.

Pros:

  • Very thin and light
  • High capacity storage built in
  • Accelerometer for auto screen rotation
  • Extremely sleek
  • Magnet to ‘suck in’ the stylus
  • Built in GPS for google maps or 3rd party gps mapping software

Cons:

  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Short battery life (only 900mAh) – About 16 hours by my usage
  • No auto rotation when in office programs
  • Lack of USA 3G (this is a Euro version phone though)
  • Rather large charger (due to it’s Euro/US adapters)

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17 Responses to “HTC Touch Diamond – Actual Usage Review”

  1. Nick on: 25 June 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Looks like a cool phone! Lack of US 3G is a huge con though… :(

  2. James Rintamaki on: 25 June 2008 at 11:31 pm

    yah, I know — I keep trying to find a hack to some how enable it, or find some post that tells me I’m just not enabling some option haha…

    but like I said, I think it just may be the fact that it’s a Euro phone — I heard T-Mobile (US) is going to offer it sometime next month (or so), so I would assume it would be 3G (though, then again, they don’t currently have 3G themselves…. so I dunno!)

  3. Paul Stamatiou on: 26 June 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Great review James. I have to say the Touch is pretty damn slick. I’ve been scarred from using WinMo ever since the failure that was my Motorola Q, but this has a ton of redeeming features.. and Opera is a big plus. The lack of 3G is quite an issue, but as you say this is just a Euro version issue. But $600.. damn! I’ll take my 3 iPhone 2.0’s..

  4. James Rintamaki on: 26 June 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Paul, thanks! and haha, yah, $600+ is quite a bill for a ‘phone’ — but then again, that is without contract. I bet that the new iPhone is going to go for an ungodly amount of $$$ on ebay once it comes out (I’m not sure yet if I think $1000 is too high of a guess, lol). But still, this phone is quite the device, though I’m going to wait around until the touch pro comes out to leave the Tilt behind: the touch pro is going to be like the Tilt (hardware keyboard) + everything great about the diamond = the perfect phone! (at least until something better comes out)

  5. Bambi Blue on: 16 July 2008 at 11:34 am

    Hey James — I just wanted to come back and give you a little internet love! I’ve found myself at this review for the 5th time now as a spec and impression resource for my site. Needless to say, I find your stuff to be very well written and this post in particular is really informative and in depth.

    Love the videos and the pictures, all well put together.

    On a personal note, makes me wish I had a shiny new Diamond (I’m sorry, TyTN, I di’n mean what I said, baby)

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers
    Bambi Blue

  6. mks on: 25 August 2008 at 8:20 am

    Where can I insert the 8G memory card?

  7. James Rintamaki on: 25 August 2008 at 8:22 am

    you can’t, there is not memory card slot on the Touch

  8. mks on: 25 August 2008 at 8:26 am

    then why do they put it as the recommended item to be purchased with it? check out this link: http://www.amazon.com/HTC-Touch-Diamond-P3700-Unlocked/dp/B0018YYS9G/ref=pd_sim_dbs_misc_1

  9. James Rintamaki on: 25 August 2008 at 8:30 am

    good call — yah, looks like that’s a mistake on their part seeing as how there definitely is NOT a card slot on this phone — wonder if there’s a way to mention that to amazon?

  10. mks on: 25 August 2008 at 8:32 am

    Thank you James, you saved my money. I was about to purchase it from amazon!

  11. James Rintamaki on: 25 August 2008 at 8:35 am

    no problem! if you are in the US and are about to buy it, you may want to wait as there is a US version releasing soon (or is it already released?) that will be US 3G capable (though, I think it may be releasing through Sprint, so I guess it would be evdo? is that what sprint’s faster internet is called?)

  12. KT on: 12 November 2008 at 5:53 pm

    How did you get guitar hero mobile for this? The version I tried did not support the VGA screen. Thanks!

  13. LF on: 19 November 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Hey just wanted to say this is a great review, I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now! glad you went into so much detail really helps, Good Job, keep it up:)!

    on an added note for anyone who wants to know, being from Canada and all the Telus HTC Diamond Touch and Pro have come out, the Pro is going for $299 on a 3 year contract and the Touch Diamond is currently at $249 on also on a 3 year contract.

    Can’t wait to get it! looks awesome

  14. BB on: 14 December 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Why can they not create a driver for a USB memory card/stick to be plugged into the USB port on the bottom? (Of course since its not standard an adapter would have to be used but seems like it should be do-able). Has anyone tried this or heard of this?

  15. BB on: 14 December 2008 at 1:20 pm

    or is it a standard mini usb port?

  16. James Rintamaki on: 14 December 2008 at 2:23 pm

    @BB: It is an “HTC connector”, but standard mini-usb cables will work for syncing/charging. It also has an option that when you plug it in, it will ask if you want it to act as active sync, or usb drive mode (so you don’t need to have activesync installed)

  17. BB on: 14 December 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Thats nice about the USB port. In further research I found its a ExtUSB port (HTC port)…Its nice that a standard USB connection will work also. I remember reading about the sync/usb option but thats when connected to your PC right? I was hoping for a driver that would recognize a memory stick so you could have more portable extra memory available. It would be nice to be able to hook up a memory stick to swap files back and forth or free your internal memory if you need more space when you want to and are not near your pc.

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