Rivals Size Each Other Up

November 25, 2008

Two of these phones will soon lose my affinity. The problem is I don’t know which two yet.  Alas, I’m not happy unless I’m indecisive over a few smartphones…

Matte back on the Diamond isn’t as shiny, but it is much less annoying than cleaning fingerprints off glossy…. 

iPhone clearly wins on thin.  

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Okay, here are my main impressions of the Touch Diamond so far:

  • Ridiculously small and thin to be as powerful as it is! Though it is thicker than the original EU version of the Diamond, I’m very happy with how thin it remains even with the larger battery and thicker back (which I think is still slightly thinner than the Sprint Diamond).
  • The matte back feels every bit as good as I’d hoped and makes me hope a similar backing becomes available for the Fuze (dear HTC please, although I’m not sure why the back of the original Touch wouldn’t work?)
  • Overall build quality is more plasticky than it should be.
  • Stylus is much smaller than I expected, and not meaty at all (very disappointingly), though the cool magnetic stylus silo works as advertised, thankfully.
  • TouchFlo 3D would be incredible on a capacitive touch screen, but on a resistive screen it is somewhat frustrating (though HTC deserves tons of credit for making it work at all on top of Windows Mobile).
  • Speaking of the screen, it feels like it’s further away from the resistive layer behind the screen than other WM touch screens I’ve used. And though I’m sure this was necessary to make the screen flush to the device, which looks great, in practice it means neither the touch, nor the stylus experience against the screen is efficient or satisfying.
  • Speaking more on the screen, the 640×480 VGA resolution sure is pretty, but on 2.8 inches of screen space it doesn’t seem to really add any more visibility in applications (with one exception to be discussed in a moment). Regardless, I think screen real estate matters much more than I realized (provided of course the resolution isn’t too low). Bottom line is the iPhone with it’s 320×480 3.5 inch screen looks nearly as crisp and definitely displays more info than the Diamond.
  • The Dpad, Home and Back buttons are certainly attractive looking in their flush positioning, but they are therefore as finicky to control as I expected. The strobing indicator light around the Dpad when a new message is waiting to be viewed is a very nice feature though.
  • The volume controls allow much quicker control over system and ringer sound than on any WM device I’ve ever used. Thank you for that HTC, and what the heck took so long?! (the stock non Touchflo 3D volume control in WM is in a word, abysmal)
  • The 3.2 mp camera with auto focus is very decent. In fact, I would argue it’s a good bonafide camera in good lighting.
  • Call quality is quite honestly outstanding on this device.
  • The build of the Opera browser I’ve been using (on a cooked ROM, so it’s further up the beta list than the one in the stock ROM) has been quite honestly awful though. The one on the stock ROM wasn’t much better (though it didn’t play flash in the browser as the latest build does). The rendering of pages is slow enough to make the presence of a 3G radio seem pointless at times.
  • Also, the other Opera mobile browser, Opera Mini was not meant to be viewed on a 2.8 inch VGA screen apparently, as at the largest font setting it is still illegibly small. This is the potential deal breaker for me and I’m hoping Opera Mini on the Panther will be as good as it was on the Tilt….iPhone you still have hope!

I made a lunch break trip on 11/11 to my nearby AT&T store to potentially buy the newly released HTC Fuze (AT&T’s marginally acceptable name for the HTC Touch Pro).  They had plenty in stock, so I attempted to talk the store reps into letting me keep my iPhone data plan until I could decide the Fuze would either replace the iPhone or not.  Of course, that was a no go, so I somehow managed to leave the store without buying as doing so would have required purchasing a new line in order to keep my iPhone plan alive.   Fast forward a couple of hours of indecision later and I pulled the trigger on a Touch Diamond (with US 3G) offered by a local ebay vendor.  A late afternoon drive to pick it up ensued, as did a giddy unboxing in the gas station parking lot where I met the seller (super nice guy who definitely earned future money from me).  I figured I would get most of the Fuze experience from the Diamond, while I waited on the Fuze to show up in numbers on ebay and thus at a lower price, hopefully.
Two days with the Diamond though quickly lead me to realize that a physical keyboard is essential if you ever really want to answer any email (I’m looking at you too iPhone), and that night I stumbled across a coupon code offering a $100 discount on the Treo Pro.  Needless to say the credit card balance rose shortly thereafter.
I’m guessing I’ll eventually use a Fuze, but eventually return to the iPhone, though as I wait for the Treo Pro (aka the HTC Panther), I’ll keep using the Diamond to give it a true fair shake.
I’ll make a separate post about my overall impressions of the device, but for now marvel at the size of the Touch Diamond in these comparison shots: