When HTC launched the original Touch phone in June, they beat Apple to the launch of a small form factor touchscreen phone by a couple of months.
We liked the original touch for its small size, interface and inclusion of Wi-Fi, but found it a little fiddly enter text using the on screen keyboard. HTC seemed to have listened to the feedback and have now launched the Touch Dual, a similar sized device but with the addition of a slide out keypad at the bottom of the device. The Dual is currently available only through Orange.
At first glance, the Touch Dual looks a very similar form factor to the original Touch, but when placed side by side, you realise that the device is slightly longer and narrower, as well as being a millimetre or two thicker to allow for the sliding keyboard. The 4-way rocker pad and selector button remain on the front of the device below the screen, along with call pick up and drop buttons. The camera button found on the original device is also there on the side, along with a volume button for both device and call volume.
To use the keyboard, you push the top half of the device up and the keyboard slides out of the bottom section. In use, this has a nice positive action to it and on sliding out, calls up an action screen on the display, offering common tasks such as New E-mail, SMS, appointment etc. If you don’t choose one of these options, the display returns to the normal Windows 6 Today screen after a couple of seconds. The keys on the 16 key keyboard were slightly small for our fat fingers and a little tricky to use at speed. As well as the normal 0–9, * and # keys, the device has 4 larger keys around the edges, offering shortcuts to the start menu, email, the web and a backspace key. Currently Orange are only offering the 16 key version of the device (when announced, HTC announced both a 16 key and a 20 key version).
The device also sports a second camera on the front top right of the case, allowing for video calls. Like the original, the back of the device has a 2 megapixel camera for normal shots and videos. In use, we found the picture quality to be surprisingly good for a 2 megapixel device.
HTC have also enhanced their today plug in from the original device, now offering 4 tabs to choose between displaying the time, weather, a customisable quick launcher for applications and a photo dialler screen. The touchflo functionality that was introduced with the original device remains and is easy to operate in day to day use.
The phone has also been upgraded from the Tri-Band GSM to a full HSDPA enabled 3G device, but the cost of this upgrade is the removal of the Wi-Fi functionality. In use, we found that the phone was fast at downloading email and surfing the web, but this is only a cost effective solution if you have an inclusive data package in your mobile contract. The inclusion of Wi-Fi was one of the reasons we loved the original device, but it’s removal is probably due to size limitations of fitting the aerial within the device.
The dual has also been upgraded in its processor, now running a Qualcomm 7200 processor at 400MHz as opposed to an OMAP 850 running at a slightly slow 201MHz. The RAM has also been bumped up to 128MB from 64MB, offering that all important extra space, so crucially needed when running Windows Mobile programs.
Strangely, the new device comes with a small drawstring bag to protect it, as opposed to the slip-in pouch that the original Touch came with. In use, we found it tricky to get the phone out of this in a hurry (like when it rings!) and so would ditch this for an alternative if we were to use the phone for an extended period. Also supplied in the box is a USB lead for charging and syncing with a PC and USB headphones with microphone for hands free use. Our review device didn’t come with a memory card, although the device has a micro SD slot.
So is this the ultimate iPhone killer it promises to be? The interface is slick, the device looks great with a good (although probably not as good as the iPhones) display and the slide out keypad is a welcome addition.
The increase in processor speed and memory are both welcome changes.
If HTC had kept the Wi-Fi in the device, then yes, but without this, it just lacks the increased functionality that having it offers.
That, combined with the slighty tricky to use keys on the key pad mean that although we love this new offering from HTC, we’ll actually be sticking with the original Touch that we use for our everyday phone.