The word is that the HTC Touch Diamond 2 is the most user-friendly Windows Mobile smartphone ever. Can it really be true?
The first-generation Touch Diamond injected a double dose of flair and user-friendliness into the traditionally starchy Windows Mobile mob, becoming a big seller for HTC in the process.
Its follow up, the elegant Diamond 2, goes one better, wiping away any trace of that clunky WinMo OS by making its TouchFLO UI even more hospitable.
Despite the original Diamond’s popularity, design changes have still been made. Its successor is a tad larger, heavier and sports a cleaner classier design – that rear prism pattern is no more.
It’s also a more usable touch phone, with the predecessor’s 2.8in touchscreen expanded to 3.2in and the spacious touch-sensitive navigation controls relegated to a thin line of mechanised keys.
The main finger-friendly TouchFLO 3D interface remains the same but the Windows Start list menu has been replaced with a more stylish, finger-friendly, graphic-icon-based layout.
It’s still customisable, but you can add up to 24 shortcuts to pretty much any feature you desire.
The presence of the new improved TouchFLO UI means, unless you have to delve into the deepest darkest recesses of the menu system, you’ll never have to tackle that clunky old WinMo interface again.
The same goes for using the stylus, which is only really called into action if those fiddly proxy settings and the like need altering.
A touch better
For a resistive display, it’s still surprisingly responsive to your finger taps and swipes but inevitably lacks the fluid sensitivity we’ve grown accustomed to with the HTC Magic and Apple iPhone 3G.
The screen can occasionally be stubborn or career off on an unwanted tangent, and it’s this inconsistency that sometimes frustrates. But despite this moan, it still ranks as the best touch performance from a HTC Touch handset.
The Diamond 2’s enhanced usability doesn’t stop with the UI. Correspondence, whether by email, SMS/MMS or voice, can now be accessed under individual contacts. This threaded conversation history set-up brilliantly takes the hassle out of weeding out that important email from weeks ago or replying to messages.
Catching the surf
Web browsing is made easy thanks to the fantastic onboard Opera Mobile browser and laser-sharp, sizeable WVGA display. With support for 7.2Mbps-flavoured HSDPA and built-in Wi-Fi, web pages load swiftly.
The introduction of a touch-sensitive zoom bar just below the display also brings greater control to navigating web pages. It’s arguably easier than the iPhone’s multi-touch pinching and provides seamless magnifying of full-fat websites and your photos.
The Diamond 2 is also the first to showcase its Push Internet service that downloads and caches your favourite websites at specified pre-configured intervals when you’re off-browser. It means you access the latest website version without having to wait around for pages to load.
Traditionally, camera quality on WinMo phones has lagged behind leading camphones at any level and it's no different here. That said, the Diamond 2’s 5MP lens (with autofocus) has improved on detail and natural colour representation, but is still short compared to rivals.
There’s no flash and photo modes are standard issue, including ISO and white balance settings, while the shutter key is onscreen but easy to control. Its touch focus feature is also pretty effective.
By all accounts, the Diamond 2 is a top smartphone but it’s not without its failings. The lack of integrated 3.5mm headphone jack is criminal, while we expected more than the suspect VGA-quality at 15fps video recording resolution. The fact it can’t geotag your photos, despite a built-in GPS receiver is also baffling.
HTC’s Touch series has improved with each handset and the Touch Diamond 2 ranks as the manufacturer’s most user-friendly and classy model yet.
It’s probably still not enough to provoke a mutiny from iPhone 3G users, but if you’ve been wary in the past of taking the plunge into the geeky world of Windows Mobile then the Diamond 2 is a great starting point.