By virtue of running an “old school” OS, the HTC Touch Pro2 would be considered by many as no longer in contention. Though launched only February 2009, one and half years in the modern smartphone world can be a long time.
Coming from a new-kid-on-the-block OS, the Nokia N900, I should be able to tell whether or not the Touch Pro2 is still a credible device in today’s smartphone world. Let’s get to the meat of this review; shall we?
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional
- Size and Weight: 116 x 59.2 x 17.3 mm. 178.5 gm
- Display: 65, 000 colors. 480 x 800 pixels, 3.6 inches resistive touchscreen
- TouchFLO 3D finger swipe navigation, Touch-sensitive zoom bar, Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate, Handwriting recognition
- Processor: Qualcomm MSM7200A 528 MHz processor, 288 MB RAM
- Data: GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA (3.6 Mbps), HSUPA (2 Mbps)
- Camera: 3.2 MP, 2048 x 1536 pixels, autofocus
- Connectivity: USB. Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP
- Text Input: Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
- Mesaging: SMS (Threaded view), MMS, EMail, Instant Messaging
- Web Browser: Opera Mobile 9.5, Internet Explorer Mobile
- Large capacity Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery
- Video call with secondary VGA videocall camera
- Office documents viewing and editing
- PDF viewer
- Built-in modem (internet sharing)
- Excellent and highly functional QWERTY keyboard
- Very good display
- Good battery life
- Very good loudspeaker
- Excellent video playback
- One-handed use and fluid desktop interface
- Very poor 3.2 mega-pixel camera
At first sight, the Touch Pro2 looks big, but in reality is smaller than it looks. Once you hold it in your hand, it loses that huge impression a bit. By way of comparison, the TP2 is smaller (but longer) and lighter than the N900.
It is also well built and has a classy look and feel, unlike the N900’s mostly plasticky impressions. Overall, the TP2 is the kind of device you want to walk into a business meeting with, if first impressions are important.
PS: Note that I have the T-mobile version, which looks different from the regular version, though specs remain the same.
Operating System and User Interface
The TP2 runs Windows Mobile OS 6.5, a thumb-optimised version of Microsoft’s mobile platform. HTC has also added its home user interface, TouchFLO 3D on top of this to provide users with a beautiful desktop experience.
With TouchFLO 3D, I had access to contacts, calendar, mails, messages, weather updates, settings and more – all right on the TP2’s desktop. You swipe across different customisable tabs and tap to select menu items. It is all very fluid.
With the keyboard retracted, the TP2 is quite usable with one hand in many areas, which is a plus for a touchscreen device that is this big.
Form factor and Display
At first glance, all you see is a slab of glass covering most of the front of the device – much like any typical touchscreen smartphone. But then, there’s a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard lurking behind that slab.
With a slight push, the keyboard extends out – and it is a glorious keyboard. While you can use it extended straight out, it also tilts upwards at an angle if you want to use it that way.
Navigation and Text Input
Navigation is by touch and the four hardware buttons at the bottom end of the display.
For text input, there’s the superb 5-row QWERTY keyboard, onscreen software keyboard (regular and QWERTY, its your choice), and also handwriting recognition. You have the full range of options to pick from.
The QWERTY keyboard of the Touch Pro2 is now officially the best keyboard (hardware or software) that I have used on any mobile device. Scratch Nokia 9500. Scratch Nokia E90. Scratch Nokia N900. This is the keyboard to beat. Tactility is good, the keys are large and well-spaced, and there are shortcuts for everything under the sun – mail, SMS, browser, page down, page up, and other PC-style functions such as copy, cut, and paste.
I dig this keyboard and rate it 5/5.
The TP2 comes with two browsers built-in. Someone should file a suit to prevent Microsoft from imposing Internet Explorer Mobile. I wouldn’t mind if it was such a good browser, the average Windows Mobile user simply never uses it. What’s the point?
Anyway, HTC was smart enough to include Opera Mobile 9.5 as the default browser on the TP2. Brilliant guys!
Opera Mobile 9.5 is not MicroB (the built-in browser on the N900, and still the best mobile browser on the block). Opera Mobile 9.5 does not have the full flash capabilities of MicroB and its page rendering is slightly inferior, but it is a capable browser still.
Email on the TP2 works without issues. I didn’t have to slug it out with the OS to get Gmail and Google domains mail working on it as obtained with the N900.
Like with every other Windows Mobile device that I have used, I have no complaints with email.
Organizer and Office features
The TP2 contacts app is extensive, letting you save almost any detail to your contacts. It also comes with Facebook integration. This pulls your contacts’ Facebook status, photographs and other contact information and integrates it with their details on the device. Cool.
Even the ability to view the location of a contact via maps application is integrated into the contacts app.
There’s full Office viewing and editing out-of-the-box. There’s online backup and synchroinisation via Microsoft’s My Phone service, which works extremely well. All my previously synchronised contacts, calendar entries, and browser features from my previous Windows Mobile devices (Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, Samssung B7320, and LG GW550) were retrieved to my TP2 without issues.
If I wanted, I could opt for images, videos, music, documents and even items on my memory card to be added to the mix. Honestly, everytime that I use My Phone, I am tempted to stay with Windows Mobile. It just makes switching handsets seamless.
Synchronising with PC via ActiveSync is also available, though personally I find little use for it.
The TP2 is a strictly business; right? Right. And wrong.
Right first. The poor 3.2 megapixel camera is the worst thing on the TP2. As a matter of fact, if HTC had left it out with the excuse that the TP2 was strictly business, the TP2 would have been a faultless device. Just take a look at the TP2’s camera shot samples and see why HTC shouldn’t have bothered.
But camera aside, it is amazing how good this device is for multimedia consumption. That huge, lovely display makes watching movies a lovely experience. Add to that the fact that the TP2’s loudspeakers are LOUD and audio quality is good.
Unfortunately, there’s no XviD/DivX support out-of-the-box, but 3rd party solutions for that exist. Still, let me say this: if you ever have the opportunity to watch a movie on the TP2, don’t miss it.
Music playback is good as well, but I wish that HTC had put in a 3.5 mm audio slot. The supplied earpiece set is just not up to scratch. I wouldn’t use it if my life depends on it.
For a powerful device totting a 3.6-inch touchscreen display and consistently connected to a 3G network, the TP2’s 1500 mAh battery delivers the goods.
I have the device connecting to my mail server every 5 minutes, and using the device the way I do, I find myself not having to nurse the device in order to make it through a day. I cannot say the same of the N900. With the N900, I had to disconnect from the 3G network, set mail polling to 30, 60 or 120 minutes, turn off some desktop items, etc in order to keep the device alive till 5 p.m.
While I love the N900’s feature set and fluid interface, I live in the real world and have better things to do than nurse a mobile device through a busy day. The battery life of the TP2 is a breath of fresh air. I need no compromises to use this device to the max.
Windows Mobile has thousands of applications available for customising your device to your needs. Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s appstore, MarketPlace, hasn’t been a hit in any way, but its there and you can download and install a range of apps from there.
If you have a Windows Mobile device, what you should not miss is OMarket, a 3rd party appstore that trounces Microsoft’s Windows Mobiile MarketPlace in every way – including number of apps and usability. Best of all, all apps there are freeware.
Besides 3rd party apps, one of the most unique characteristics of Windows Mobile is the active modding community. You can mod your device and flash it with a wide range of custom ROMs available from a number of online communities, including the popular XDA Developers where I am a member too (though I’m mostly dormant).
Even camera performance can be enhanced somewhat via modding and tweaking with the device’s registry settings or available hacks from the community. That is the beauty and strength of Windows Mobile. You can take a device and transform it into almost anything you want.
The TP2 also has GPS and there’s Google Maps pre-installed to put that to use. Alternatively, there’s Garmap for Mobile if you want something more comprehensive.
As a phone, call quality is good. There is little to dislike about the TP2 once you get past the terrible camera performance and the lack of a 3.5 mm headset.
Do I like the Touch Pro2? Like crazy!
It has all my needs checked – and very well too. The integrated package that delivers a powerful desktop-like web, email and office experience without making me paranoid about battery life has me sold.
I think I’ll keep this one over the N900.