HTC Touch Pro review: Heavyweight pro

GSMArena team, 04 September 2008.

Unboxing

The most notable thing about the HTC Touch Pro retail package is its shape. It's the same design as the Diamond's box: a reverse truncated pyramid. Made of glossy plastic, it's a high-end box of a high-end handset.

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The Touch Pro retail box

As far as contents are concerned, we've been there with the Diamond. We knew better than hope for a memory card inside. To put it mildly, HTC are letting everyone decide how big a card they need. As for those keen to accessorize their handset, HTC have launched a whole series of nice little extras for the Touch Pro that can be purchased separately.

The list of items that come with the Touch Pro isn't too long: there's a charger/USB cable combo, a pair of wired headphones, a spare stylus and a CD with software of arguable use. Much like with the Diamond, the headphones of the Touch Pro aren't quite our kind of stuff for the really low bass levels.

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Unboxing the Touch Pro

The nice surprise here is the leather carrying case for the Touch Pro. There is also a bunch of leaflets and guides, along with a catalog of available accessories to order. Finally, a screen protector is included to help protect your precious handset from scratches (which are inflicted rather easily). We would definitely recommend using it, we still can't get over the scratches we inflicted on the Diamond screen.

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A leather carrying case is also available

HTC Touch Pro 360-degree spin

HTC Touch Pro measures 102 x 51 x 18.1 mm, which is hefty by almost any standard. It sure isn't Nokia-E90-huge but still is among the big ones out there. Nevertheless, the Touch Pro is a nicely sized device for its class, and an ergonomic feat compared to HTC TyTN II.

The weight of 165 g just can't be overlooked - do not expect to just slip the Pro in you pocket and forget it's there.

Design and construction

The HTC Touch Pro is one diamond of a looker. The gem-inspired back panel is here of course but it's less pronounced and the glossy plastic is now replaced by mat rubbery finish. This way the handset is more practical: it provides for a better grip, it'won't bruise along the edges as easily as the Diamond and finally, it doesn't attract fingerprints that much.

In addition, it's quite obvious that in reality the Touch Pro is darker than the Touch Diamond. It's closer to the pitch black color of the HTC promo shots. The somewhat cheap looking bluish grey color of the front in certain light conditions is now far less prominent. The difference can be easily noticed on those comparative photos.

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The HTC Touch Pro is darker than the Touch Diamond

On the negative side, the usual problem with glossy panels stands with the Touch Pro too - fingerprints do make a mess of it. At least the back panel is now impossible to get covered with smudges, which is a welcome improvement.

The front panel is dominated by the 2.8" screen of the superb VGA resolution. While not exactly a novelty among PocketPCs, the VGA screen is really one of the highlights of the newest HTC devices. We'll be back to the display a little later trying to see if VGA can show its full potential on a screen of this size.

Above the display we find the earpiece, the ambient light sensor and the secondary videocall camera.

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The earpiece, the ambient light sensor and the videocall camera

The rest of the front panel is taken by the four hardware controls and the special scroll wheel/D-pad combo. The regular keys do not have the best tactility we have experienced, which ruins some of the user experience with the Touch Pro. After all, you wouldn't expect this kind of compromises in a company flagship, much less with something as trivial as this.

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The hardware keys at the front panel aren't as tactile as we would have liked

However, HTC do deserve credit for finding room for a back key on the Touch Pro. It gets you one screen back wherever you are in the interface and though this might seem the simplest of things, it is missing in other WinMo devices. In the Touch Pro and the Touch Diamond, it's a real boost to user-friendliness and handling is a step closer to a regular phone.

The D-pad is a bit of a letdown. It combines the regular 5-way functionality with a touch sensitive overlay to use as a scroll wheell. The touch-sensitive scroll wheel can be used for zooming on images, web pages, messages, and doubles as music controls. It basically is the same as the HTC Touch Cruise scroll wheel, only in touch disguise.

Unfortunately, pressing the D-pad rather frequently results in accidental presses on some of the other keys.

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The touch sensitive scroll wheel is nice but somewhat small

On the top of the Diamond there is only the power key, which is also used for toggling the standby mode.

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The power key is on top

There are no controls to be seen on the right side of HTC Touch Pro. A dedicated shutter key would've been welcome. Instead, the HTC R&D team chose to leave that to the D-pad. The dual focus-and-shoot action is all there: a tap on the touch-sensitive D-pad counts as half-press, while pushing the confirming center all the way down is a full press. Not the most comfortable solution but it does the job alright.

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The right side is deprived of any controls

On the left side of the Diamond we find the volume rocker, which is large enough and comfortable to use.

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The volume key is on the left

The bottom features the miniUSB port for connecting the data cable, charger and the headphones. The other thing to note here is the stylus compartment, which scores another point for the Touch Pro.

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The miniUSB slot and an audio jack are combined at the bottom

When you're tucking the stylus back in, you don't need to push all the way down. The slot is magnetic and it literally pulls the stylus in. Furthermore, the stylus is active, so when you take it out, the phone automatically wakes up. In addition, taking out the stylus during a call automatically activates the Notes applications, so you can quickly put down a phone number for example.

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The magnetic stylus scores a point for the Touch Pro

The back panel of the HTC Touch Pro retains the gem-inspired pattern of the Diamond but the facet edges are less prominent. Adding the rubber finish, the Touch Pro is much more stable when laid on its back on an even surface. The quick wearing down of the edges we saw with the Diamond also seems unlikely with the Touch Pro.

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The back panel is now a bit more practical

As far as functional elements are concerned, the HTC Touch Pro features a 3 megapixel camera and a LED flash on its rear. The flash isn't the most powerful around, so shooting in low light conditions is still pretty much out of the question but it is better than nothing - which is exactly what the Diamond had.

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The camera is complimented by a LED flash this time

A nice surprise is that the camera of the Touch Pro, unlike the one of the Diamond, hasn't got a layer of plastic over it. The Diamond image quality suffered and we are glad the Touch Pro approach is different. An out-and-out description of the performance of the camera will follow towards the end of our review.

Opening the battery cover reveals the 1340 mAh Li-ion battery that powers the HTC Touch Pro. Powerful as it may sound, you shouldn't expect miracles from the battery. The VGA screen is really power hungry and the Touch Pro has quite a lot of other energy-consuming features. Still, the Touch Pro will give you slightly less than two days of really hard use, which sounds decent in our point of view. It's better than the Diamond by just as much as one might expect (given the capacity difference: 1340 mAh in Touch Pro against 900 mAh in Touch Diamond).

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The 1340 mAh battery lies under the cover

It also managed about five days of stand-by in a 3G network when barely used. Still we doubt that this will be the case with any Touch Pro user - a phone like that is meant to be used and abused.

The other thing of interest under the battery cover is the microSD card slot. It has no problem handling cards with a capacity of 8GB, which is the largest currently available on the market.

As a whole, the build quality of the HTC Touch Pro makes a decent impression. It looks well sturdier than the Diamond though we still have our doubts about its long term durability. It's rather pleasant to look at, except the fingerprint prone front. It's got good ergonomics but the thick size doesn't make it the easiest to handle. You can't have it all we guess - this is the price to pay for the QWERTY keypad.

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HTC Touch Pro held in hand

To check out if the gain is worth the pain join us on the next page with more details on the display and keyboard of the Touch Pro.