Friday, July 25, 2008

BATTLE OF THE YEAR: Can HTC beat the iPhone??

I am referring to the HTC Touch range of new mobile phones. The Diamond is the consumer model which has a joystick, 4 buttons and a touch screen (no keypad). The Pro which will be out in the next couple of months has a sideways sliding full qwerty keyboard.

I have tried the HTC Touch Diamond as on paper it beats the iPhone, plus it runs Windows Mobile operating system which I have used before and really liked. The main benefit is full synchronisation with Outlook contacts and calendars.

The adverts all show off the screen with a selection of album covers to choose from to play your music, and some very nicely animated weather program.

I will cut to the point - it does not work. Trying to use this handset to make calls and text is next to impossible. Windows Mobile v6.1 cannot cope with a touch screen. There is one simple flaw that they have not addressed. If I am on the contact screen and flick the screen from the bottom to the top to scroll the list the phone will on about 30% occasions dial the contact on whom your finger first touches.

As for texts there is a nice HTC front end to the text inbox. However to view old texts or to compose a new text you have to revert to the standard Windows Mobile interface.

The album covers that are in the ad are only available within the playlist. This device has 4Gb internal storage so can hold a decent amount of music. This is impossible to flick through and select from the text list (and there is no other way). Lastly you have to buy a third party adapter if you wish to use anything other than the bundled hands-free kit to listen through.

When I said the HTC beat the iPhone the main point was the screen resolution. iPhone boasts 480x320 over 3.5". The HTC has a physically smaller 2.8" screen (allowing the handset to be much smaller than iPhone) but has twice as many pixels (640x480). The "minor" problem is that the processor in the phone can't process a movie anywhere near that resolution. I uploaded a 480 line mp4 and was lucky to see 1 frame per second. And it downsized that to view in portrait - couldn't get it to use landscape...

Which brings me on to my next issue. Not only is use of the accelerometer restricted to the flashy but useless album viewer and opera mobile, but most apps do not have a setting to tell them to put the screen in landscape. For example Windows Remote desktop took over my PC but with a screen res of 480 pixels across and 640 down!!

Lastly the internet experience - there are two browsers loaded. Opera was the easiest to use, but couldn't use the bookmarks sync-ed from your PC. IE could see the bookmarks but had problems rendering a lot of websites and had poor support for the touchscreen.

To sum up this phone has a lot of features and a large amount of apps are available to customise the phone with it being Windows based. I chose this phone thinking it was a cross between a phone and a laptop - against the iPhone which is a cross between a media player and a phone. But it simply doesn't work. There is no point having a phone if you feel like throwing it everytime you try to ring someone.

The last problem for HTC is simply that iPhone is "the iPhone". Doesn't matter what anyone else launches it will not BE an iPhone. The iPhone is from Apple. It has the press coverage. Everyone has heard of it just because it is!

Chris heads to the Apple store........

PS. When you go to the store to buy the iPhone the O2 website will not work in Mac OS. They boot their lovely Mac into Windows XP before they can process the order lol.

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