HTC TouchThe new P3450 is the latest gadget from HTC and offers a new Touch technology never before seen on a Windows Mobile device. In competition with the iPhone, HTC has released their touch-technology called TouchFLO. Although both devices are similar, which is better phone? The Touch is smaller than the iPhone, weighs less and also comes SIM unlocked but does that make it better? What is the price difference between the Touch and iPhone? Will your service provider offer the Touch?

The Touch has a beautiful design, and is a lot smaller than it looks. The Touch weighs only 112 grams and measures 99x 58x 13.9 mm. To put in perspective the HTC TyTN also known as the Cingular 8525 weighs 176 grams and measures 113x 58x 22 mm. The phone’s material is the same as the one found on the HTC S620/ T-Mobile dash and has a “rubberized” feel to it.

Comparing the Touch to other HTC devices, there is not as many hardware buttons: it has only 4 buttons, excluding the volume slider; talk, end, camera and power button. Furthermore, the camera button is the only one that can be customized from the settings. 

Unlike the iPhone, the Touch comes with a built in stylus. HTC has spent a lot of time developing the new TouchFLO software but has done nothing for the standard Windows Mobile on screen keyboard. The keyboard is a big factor; with a Touch-based device you should not have to use the stylus for typing. The on screen keyboard is the exact same as in past devices and when trying to type with your thumbs/finger tips you make far too many mistakes. The good news is that you can easily install third party keyboard software which makes a HUGE difference. My favorite is SPB Full Screen Keyboard which can be found here:

http://www.spbsoftwarehouse.com/products/fsk/download.html?en

HTC has some sort of deal with SPB because of the GPRS Monitor that comes with many new HTC branded phones, so it would have been ideal that they included this keyboard app too!   


Features

HTC touchThe HTC Touch has Windows Mobile 6 Professional, Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi, expandable memory, 200 MHz processor and a 2 mega pixel camera.    

The Touch comes with Windows Mobile 6 professional with new TouchFLO technology. HTC has designed the TouchFLO to contend with the iPhone. The TouchFLO’s main attraction is the “Cube”. To activate the Cube you simply swipe your finger vertically starting from the bottom of the screen. This motion brings up a “cube” which gives you shortcuts for various options. The first side has three tabs; Music, photos and videos. The second side has 6 tabs; email, sms/mms, internet explorer, tasks, comm. manager and calendar. Finally, the third tab has space for 9 of your contacts. You can also store there picture on this screen. At the bottom there is four buttons for calling, call history, contacts and remove contact.

Overall, the touch cube works great but once you press a tab it opens the application in the standard Windows OS where you’re forced to use a stylus. Other TouchFLO features include the iPhone like finger scrolling. You can scroll through contacts, web browser and file explorer which is very similar to the iPhone.  

The Touch has WiFi b/g and works very well. Like other Windows phones it is very easy to connect to a nearby WiFi signal. All you have to do is activate WiFi from the Comm Manager and if there is a nearby wireless signal a notification will pop up displaying the various signals. All you have to do is click, connect and wait a couple of seconds. Like other Windows phones with WiFi, you can select your connection preference. You can either select best performance or best battery or in between.

The Touch supports Micro SDHC expandable memory. The phone comes with a 1GB memory card and can support up to 4GB; there’s also been speculation of an 8GB micro SDHC coming later this year.

The Touch has an excellent 2 mega pixel camera but lacks a built-in flash. The camera application is the same as before but is customized so you are able to change the settings with your finger. For the camera application you have the following options:  

  • Picture Quality:  Superfine, Fine, Normal and basic
  • White balance: Auto, Daylight, Night, Incandescent and fluorescent
  • Overlays: Grayscale. Sepia, Cool, Negative
  • Exposure Measurement: Central and Integral

Display & Audio

The display on the Touch is great but cannot be compared to that of the iPhone. The display is a TFT touch-screen which displays 65k colors; whereas, the touch screen on the iPhone is a lot more advanced and easier to navigate with. The Touch does not have proximity sensors like the iPhone and is not as bright either. A device which is completely touch-based needs to have an excellent screen and although the iPhone’s is better, the Touch is still sufficient. The HTC Touch comes with a screen protector in the box, I was really impressed with the quality and how easy it sticks on the display with no air bubbles. I hope in all future devices a screen protector is also included; it’s not a big deal, but it makes the customers happy.

HTC Touch audioThe Touch is great for listening to music; however, the headphone jack is not 3.5 mm but the dreaded mini USB port. I have to admit that having only one port does look much nicer, but being unable to use your own headphones or plug it into a speaker is disappointing; needless to say the headphones that are included with the phone are great. The headphones are black in color and have a built in mic, talk/end button and a volume control.  A new headphone remote control is also now available for all the new HTC phones which have a mini USB port for audio. Although, the headphone remote is amazing, the price may prevent people from buying it: they come in black and white and cost around $50. With these headphones, you can use any of your favorite headphones due to the 3.5mm headphone jack converter.   

The phone has two programs built in for listening to music; Windows Media Player and HTC’s Audio Manager. For normal day to day use with headphones, I use Audio manager due to the iPod-like interface. With audio manager you can create play-lists, arrange songs by title, album, artist and more. One aspect of the audio manager I liked a lot was the ability to trim your favorite songs in order to use them for ring tones. 


Messaging, Internet & Connectivity

HTC touch keyboardMessaging
Since the Touch does not have an external keyboard the only option for messaging is the on screen keyboard. The keyboard is the same as the one found on other Windows Mobile devices and is meant to be used with a stylus. With this phone I think SPB Full screen keyboard is a must.

Like all Windows mobile phones there is built in MSN Messenger; MSN works great and now you’re able to have tabs for multiple conversations. With Windows mobile your not only limited to MSN, you can also download any type of instant messaging application.   

Internet
The internet on the HTC Touch is like all other Windows Mobile Pocket PC’s you can use a WiFi, GPRS and EDGE connection. Although the internet connections are the same, the browser experience is a bit different. With the built in Internet explorer you can now scroll in any direction with you finger similar to the iPhone scrolling. There is also a program called “Internet Streaming” which is similar to Windows Media player but is strictly for streaming audio and some types of video. You need to have a WiFi connection because the GPRS/EDGE may not be fast enough.    

Connectivity
The Touch has many connectivity options like; WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, EDGE, GPRS and Mini USB

The Touch has Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) also known as Stereo over Bluetooth. Like many HTC devices in the past, you are able to connect to a wireless headset for streaming audio. You would think that since the iPhone is a music phone, it would have support for A2DP but the fact of the matter is it doesn’t. Although the iPhone has Bluetooth 2.0, it doesn’t necessarily make the device A2DP compatible.    
 
The Touch is a Tri-band GSM phone. At first I was wondering why HTC has chosen to make the phone tri-band and not Quad-band like most other devices. I first thought that maybe they will release a North American version afterwards that will have the necessary 850 band. When I was using the phone I kept in mind that the phone does not have an 850 band so the reception might be minimal but I was wrong. The reception on the Touch is amazing and if they had told me it was Quad-band I would have believed it. The radio ROM on the Touch is excellent with absolutely no reception issues.

 


Conclusion

Overall I like the Touch a lot. The small form factor does not compromise any features still offers everything that other Pocket PC’s offer. The lack of keyboard is due the phone’s overall size and if a keyboard was included the width would have definitely been compromised.

The Touch is currently offered SIM unlocked and not yet available for a service provider in the US. The phone is available through countless retailers across the internet for around $500 without a service agreement.  

Currently there are rumors that the TouchFLO technology will be released with the HTC Kaiser but since it has not yet been released there is no way of confirming this. HTC did a good job in making the TouchFLO incompatible with other HTC phones but programmers have found a way. You can now have this TouchFLO technology in other HTC phones such as the Prophet, wizard, artemis, hearld and trinity. These ROMs are not official and are all custom can be made by anyone. Installing these ROM’s may void your warranty and if not done correctly could also damage your device.  

Compared to the iPhone and LG Prada the Touch wins hands down for styling. Although the iPhone has a better user friendly touch-based OS, it still has many bugs. Compared to the LG Prada the Touch is smaller and still packs more features. I am not here to debate weather one is superior over the other, all I am saying is that I personally like the Touch better. Everyone has a different opinion; someone who wants designer labels might go with the Prada and doesn’t care about push email; while another might want the iPhone because it’s the latest gadget. For me personally, the deciding factor between the iPhone and HTC Touch was the fact that I can actually use the phone with any service provider instead of upgrading/renewing a contract and be limited to only AT&T.   

Overall the Touch has some real important features that the iPhone currently does not offer;

  • Microsoft Office: The ability to edit Office files while on the go is very important to many. Although the keyboard might be an issue, installing a third party application solves it.
  • Push Email is a big concern especially for business users because the iPhone does not support Microsoft Exchange Server.
  • The Touch is SIM unlocked so you can use it for any GSM service provider in the world as opposed to only AT&T.

Presently there is only a GSM version available; there’s a CDMA version with EVDO which is going to be released soon but there is no word on release date. There are already talks about the Touch 2 which will have the same design but offer a slide-up numeric keypad; hopefully it will be the same size and have a faster processor. The device is codenamed HTC Nike:

 The Touch comes with the following:

  • Box and manuals
  • Charger
  • USB cable
  • ActiveSync software
  • Extra stylus
  • Stereo headphones
  • Battery
  • Carrying case
  • Screen protector


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