HTC's Diamond handset was a favourite here at Pocket-lint with the phone offering plenty at the time it launched. A year later though and the handset was starting to look dated. So can the newly announced HTC Touch Diamond2 not only replace it, but also challenge others on the market? We find out whether this can live up to the claims.
It's normally at this point in a "second generation" product review that we find ourselves saying "not much has changed", but surprisingly HTC has made a number of significant changes both in hardware and software areas.
The HTC Touch Diamond2 is a Windows 6.1 powered mobile phone with a 3.2-inch glass 480 x 800 resolution WVGA touchscreen display. It's larger than the previous model and the extra screen real estate is welcomed although still on the thin side. The screen is smaller compared to most touchscreens on the market: iPhone, Storm, Samsung Omnia and the G1, but that smaller screen does give you the benefit of a smaller design to fit into your pocket. And fit it will, with a weight of 175 grams it is solid (metal cased front, plastic back), but still light.
Interaction with the handset is via the touchscreen for the most part, however acknowledging that you need buttons occasionally, you get four underneath it and a sliding touch-sensitive toggle to zoom in and out of images without touching the main area of the screen. The buttons are as you would expect: call, hang-up/home, back and a new addition - the Windows key.
The Windows key is like the Windows key on a PC keyboard and gives you instant access to the programmes you've got installed on the phone (it's also 6.5 ready). This being a HTC device the phone comes with the HTC TouchFlo interface (we will get to that in a bit) and that's what the home key is for.
Sporting two cameras - one for video conferencing or checking out how your make-up or hair looks, the other is for snapping your friends throwing up in the gutter before you post the evidence to Facebook. The camera on the back of the Diamond2 has been upgraded from a 3.2-megapixel one found on the original Diamond to 5 megapxiels.
HTC has also included an f2.8 autofocus lens to help you actually take pictures that are in focus. The camera is fast when it comes to snapping pictures, good in low light, and comes with the ability to set the focal point by tapping on the screen. With no dedicated hardware button however, contorting your hand to tap the screen to take the picture can be awkward.
The Diamond2 gets a smooth back this time around so it sits flat on the desk rather than wobbling around as the first one did and while it's just aesthetics it's a welcomed design change. Finally a stylus and USB socket for the charging and headphones dongle complete the design.
Peer inside and although you aren't going to be taking the phone apart you might be interested to know that it's powered by a Qualcomm chipset (the Qualcomm MSM7200A, 528MHz), although not the newer Snapdragon chipset expected out later this year, presumably so the handset could be available now rather than September.
Of course besides the new improved camera you get the usual array of connectivity buzzwords including HSDPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Elsewhere users will get an accelerometer, 512MB of ROM, 288MB of RAM and storage for files will be provided by microSD card (although you will have to take the cover off to install this).
GPS and AGPS will help with direction finding while you also get a bigger battery for no other reason than to provide you with a longer battery life. Now you should be able to get to the next morning before you get the battery warning.
Inside and the Touch Diamond2 uses Windows 6.1, a hindrance or positive depending on your preference. Personally we see it as a hindrance as although HTC has done well to hide the Microsoft interface as best it could, it's still there lurking at the back of the room. Still, the good news is that HTC has promised a free upgrade to version 6.5, which is promising to be a lot better, when it comes out later this year.
HTC, who themselves admit the technology isn't a massive step forward from the current handsets they offer already, say that they hope a number of new software innovations will help them seal the deal when it comes to impressing consumers.
Realising the browsing experience on a mobile handset is anything but fast, HTC has said that it has designed a software initiative called Push Internet. The idea behind the software is to allow you to request your favourite websites to be loaded at set times during the day, so that when you come to check on them the first page has already been loaded.
In practice it allows you to select a number of sites to be refreshed in the background when you aren't thinking about them so when you do eventually think about them you aren't having to wait for the page to load if you're just after a quick glance.
You can set the frequency of the push and the day and time - so weekdays between 8am and 5pm for example. Frequency can then be set from 1 hour to 24 hours and you can have different settings for different sites.
Where it comes in handy is sites that you regularly visit, but ones where the information doesn't change dramatically - like the front page of a news site for example. If you then see something you can still press any link and then wait the age that you normally do for your page to load. The issue we can see is when you aren't in coverage but the link seems really good. Then of course you are stuck.
The other main software feature of note, aside from a couple of tweaks here and there to make the OS a little more 6.5 (the calendar is a carbon copy of what you will get when you upgrade for example), is a new contacts feature that could come in handy, very handy indeed.
In an attempt to make finding emails, SMS and phone calls easier, HTC has introduced a tab system that allows users to scroll through a number of tabs within a contact to see emails, text messages and meeting events at the swipe of a finger.
In practice and the new feature works well allowing you to quickly find an email or text message from someone as long as you've put them in your contacts book. Unfortunately it won't scan past emails, only ones you've received since adding the contact. Of course if they aren't in your contacts book then you don't get to benefit from the feature, it is as simple as that.
There are some niggles as always, however the majority of issues we experienced with the software were down to testing a unit that wasn't sporting the final ROM (release software). That said we've been promised by HTC that glitches we experienced with speed (one minute it was blisteringly fast the next minute caught in a confusion) will be gone by the time you, the consumer, get to get to play with the device.
To be honest, software updates, which HTC is always good at providing, are beside the point. For those interested there are plenty of ways to hack your way to a faster device by stripping out plenty of the bloated software or tweaking a few settings here and there and before you shriek in horror, it's not that hard to do.
So what's the end result? The HTC Touch Diamond2 is a phone that is smart, feature-packed and sports some nice features. The downside is that the software (i.e., Windows 6.1) make this a fiddly affair coming no where close to other interfaces on the market; the hope is that the Windows 6.5 update will make this a phone worth having. Until then, unless you are a Windows fan due an upgrade, there are easier more intuitive handsets (from a software point of view) available on the market.