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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The HTC Touch Diamond cell phone comes in many different versions. The newly released HTC Touch Diamond from Verizon has benefited from several revisions and has evolved into a pretty smart touch phone. We took an in-depth look into the Diamond that Verizon and HTC hope will be the gem of their cell phone line up.

As shown in Figure 1, the Diamond comes in a nondescript cardboard box.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 1: The box.

Inside the box (shown in Figure2) is the Touch Diamond phone with battery, an AC adapter, a USB Sync Cable, the audio adapter, and two software discs, one “Getting Started” disk and one VZ Access Manager CD. Also included is an 18-page Quick Start Guide, a 64-page Tips, Hints, and Shortcuts guide, and a foldable “Read First” poster. This documentation has clear graphics that describe the device, battery install and charging, and instructions on using the phone, synchronizing information, as well as personalizing and otherwise using the phone. This combination of instructional guides provides some of the most useful and complete documentation that we have seen with a cell phone.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 2: What’s in the box.

As shown in Figure 3, the HTC Touch Diamond at 4.17” x 2.04” x 0.71” (10.6 cm x 5.2 cm x 1.8 cm) is a compact device. Because it is narrower than some others, like the iPhone, it is easier to hold in your hand. At 4.94 ounces (140 grams) with the battery, it has enough heft to feel substantial while not being too heavy. The all-black, shiny case is sleek and good-looking, but prone to pick up smudges and fingerprints. HTC decided to keep the boxy squared-off corners rather than giving the Diamond the rounded look that is found in some other phone. However, the back of the phone is slightly smaller than the front, so the slanted sides soften the boxy look and give the phone a nice feel in the hand.

The Diamond has a 2.8” TFT-LCD with a 480×640 VGA resolution. The screen is crisp and clear and very responsive to the touch.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 3: The HTC Touch Diamond from Verizon.

[nextpage title=”The Hardware”]

Under the screen are the main controls, which are shown in Figure 4. There are four buttons: Home and Back on the top and Send and End on the bottom. While these buttons finished flush to the top, they are not a part of the touch screen. They are actual buttons that can be depressed. In the middle of these buttons is round pad navigational control. Like the touch screen, this pad is very responsive, Just putting your finger over it, will light up the control buttons, even without your needing to press down on the pad. The pad can be used to control much of the phone’s functionality. For instance, you can move your finger in a circular motion to zoom in and out of web pages. You can touch the center button to focus the camera and then press down on the button to take a picture.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 4: The Front controls.

Other than the buttons on the front, there are only two other buttons. The volume rocker on the side, as shown in Figure 5, and the power on/off button on the top, as shown in Figure 6. Holding the power button down will turn the device on and off. Pressing it without holding it down will  toggle the standby mode on and off. The hole for the speaker can also be seen on the top of the phone.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 5: The side of the Diamond.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 6: The top of the Diamond.

The bottom of the phone, shown in Figure 7, has a mini USB multi function port that acts as the headset jack, charger, and the data port. We were disappointed that there was no standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. The phone does come with an adapter which can handle a standard set of 3.5 mm headphones as well as 2.5 mm headphones. As you can see in Figure 8, the adapter is quite cumbersome. This will be a big drawback for those who like to use their phone like an MP3 player.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 7: The bottom of the phone.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 8: Diamond with audio adapter.

[nextpage title=”Using the Diamond”]

Although the screen on the Diamond is very touchable, it is smaller than many other touch-screen cell phones. While we found that we could fairly easily dial the phone using the on-screen keypad, typing with our fingers was problematic. So we reverted to using the included stylus.

As shown in Figure 9, you can barely see the stylus when it is in the phone. To access it, you simply slide your figure down the side of the phone. The stylus, as shown in Figure 10 is small and sturdy. It is held in place by a magnet, so it won’t fall out of the phone. In weeks of use, it was never dislodged inadvertently, even when we just threw it around a bit.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 9: The side of the Diamond.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 10: The stylus.

The Verizon HTC Touch Diamond runs Windows Mobile 6.1.
We have never been big fans of Windows Mobile. In fact, the phone threw up a Windows blue screen the first day we used it. However, in several weeks of testing, that was the only error that we encountered.

One of the things we liked best about this phone is that Windows Mobile can be over laid with an  HTC’s exclusive TouchFLO 3D interface. We thought that the TouchFlo interface made the device easier to use than most Windows Mobile devices. However, if you are a big Windows Mobile fan, you can easily switch off the TouchFlo in the settings and use the Diamond with the standard Windows Mobile interface.

The home screen of the TouchFLO interface is shown in Figure 11. It features a large clock, the date, the status of the alarm, the call history, and the calendar.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 11: The TouchFLO home screen.

The background of the home screen is customizable, but the tabs and clock appear on a purple background, even if you change the background picture. While we found this look quite appealing and very readable, we wished that the colors could be changed occasionally just for the sake of having a little variety.

At the bottom of the Home Screen, you see 5 tabs. These tabs will quickly take you to the Phone, Contacts, Messages, Music, or Email. If you swipe your finger or the stylus across these icons, more choices will appear on the right, including the Web browser, Applications, Photos and Video, and Weather.

Under the row of icons are the words Phone on one side and Camera on the other. These can be touched to access those functions.

When using various functions of the phone, the icon bar stays accessible just as it was on the home screen. However, the words under the bar change to choices for the functions that are in play. For instance, as shown in Figure 12, when in the Photo and Video Mode, the words are used to access the Album and the Slideshow.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 12: The Diamond in the photo and video mode.

The TouchFLO interface allows you to flip through email, messages, and albums by flicking your finger. This is a cool and useful feature that is much like the iPhone.

Also, the TouchFLO interface has a small icon in the upper right corner that you can use to see (and to close) all open applications. This makes it much easier to control open applications.

Unless, you have previously used a Windows Mobile phone, you will probably find the TouchFLO interface more intuitive. It makes it easy to make and receive phone calls as well as to access the other features on the phone.

Calls on the phone were crisp and clear and we encountered no dropped calls or delays. The Speakerphone was average.

Although some might be able to navigate the on-screen keyboard with their fingers, we found ourselves reaching for the stylus when we wanted to use the onscreen keyboard. This Diamond sports a revamped onscreen keyboard. You can choose to use the full QWERTY keypad or T9 keypad, which is like a phone keypad. T9 stands for Text on 9 keys which a phone keypad. HTC has expanded the F9 keypad to 12 keys so it is a bit easier to use. It is predictive so the more you use it, the better it can predict what you want to type.

Each cell phone that we try seems to have little things that we like and a few that we don’t like. Some examples with the Diamond were that is gives a small auditory and vibration when a call is placed. This was a nice feature. However, we were not impressed with the fact that the screen was blanked out when making a call and did not wake up when we moved it away from our ear as the iPhone does. This made it much more difficult to enter things like extensions or make numerical menu choices.

[nextpage title=”Additional Features”]

As shown in Figure 13, the back of phone is faceted like a diamond, which is where the phone gets its name. The facets are very subtle and don’t interfere with the phones functionality.  In Figure 13 you can also see the camera as it is placed in one of the triangle-shaped facets. As shown in Figure 14, the entire back of the phone slides off to reveal the battery and the microSD port which holds cards up to 16 GB.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 13: The back of the Diamond.

HTC Touch Diamond (Verizon) Cell Phone ReviewFigure 14: The back uncovered.

This Diamond is good for music. You can select by songs artist, album, playlist, genres, composers. Cover art is displayed. The sound quality of the built-in speakers is okay, but not at all impressive. If you want to listen to music you will probably want to listen through Bluetooth headphones or to deal with wired earphones which will require the ungainly adapter shown previously in Figure 8.

The 3.2 megapixel camera has an excellent autofocus that makes pictures more presentable than many other phones. The phone can also capture short videos. You can view the photos as a slideshow, in a row on the screen, or you can flip through them using the TouchFLO 3D interface which lets you view them in a nifty visual presentation.

Email is easy to set up and even easier to use. We loved the ability to flip through the mail with the TouchFLO 3D interface. We also like the fact that on email screen the user sees a different envelope for each email account they have set up. The included software allowed the phone to synch seamlessly with Outlook.

The Diamond comes with Opera Mobile 9.5, which is a much better mobile browser than Internet Explorer. We found it very useable, much like Safari on the iPhone. It does not have flash in the browser, but it does have a Youtube application that lets you play YouTube videos.

You can drag the web browser screen around with your finger. A double-click allows you to zoom in and out. You can also use the circular pad on the front of the Diamond to control the zoom.

The Diamond has a built-in GPS, but uses VZ Navigator for GPS guided directions. This is better than using Google Maps, but it costs $10 extra a month. The GPS was locked into using Navigator, so we were unable to use it with Google Maps.

Many Windows Mobile applications like Microsoft Office Mobile will run on the Diamond. It also has Microsoft Exchange synchronization, but the variety of applications does not come close to those in the Apple iPhone app store.

The Verizon Diamond supports Instant Messaging, as well as SMS and MMS. It also has voice dialing and WiFi.

The battery life is better than most other Windows Mobile devices. It lasted an entire day of what we consider normal use. Power users will have to purchase an extra battery pack, but at least that option is available unlike the iPhone with its non-replaceable battery.

[nextpage title=”Specifications”]

HTC Touch Diamond cell phone main specifications are: 

  • Dimensions: 4.17” x 2.04” x 0.71” (10.6
    cm x 5.2 cm x 1.8 cm)
  • Weight: 4.94 oz (140 g) (with battery)
  • Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM7500A
  • Display: 2.8" TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with 480×640 VGA resolution
  • CDMA2000 1X/EVDO Rev. A/1xRTT, IS-95A/B voice or data, digital dual band (800 and 1900 MHz)
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate
  • A2DP for stereo wireless headsets
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • E–mail Support for Office Outlook Mobile and Microsoft Exchange with Direct Push
  • Battery: 1340 mAh Li–on (standard) or 1800 mAh Li-on (extended)
  • Talk time: Up to 250 minutes
  • Standby time: Up to 350 hours
  • Camera: 3.2 megapixel color CMOS with auto-focus  
  • Audio/Video: Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, MPEG4, H.263, H.264, AVI, WAV, MP3, MP4, MIDI, WMV, 3GP, 3G2, WMA
  • Expansion: microSD memory card slot
  • More information: https://www.htc.com
  • Retail price in the US: USD 300.00 after a USD 70 rebate with a two-year contract (Verizon).

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

While we are not big fans of Windows Mobile, this phone’s additional TouchFlo interface made it much more useable as well as more fun to use. It has better battery life than most Windows Mobile phones. It also has useful features like a good camera, MMS, WiFi and voice dialing. The lack of a standard headphone port and the cumbersome audio adapter detract from an otherwise good all-around phone. Yet, all-in-all, it is a well-designed useful smart phone.

Pros

  • Excellent compact design
  • Very good call quality
  • Good TouchFLO 3D user interface overlay
  • Sturdy magnetic stylus
  • Excellent VGA screen
  • MicroSD memory slot
  • Replaceable battery
  • Opera web browser
  • WiFi
  • Voice dialing

Cons

  • Cumbersome adapter needed for wired headphones
  • GPS navigation at an extra cost