HTC Touch Diamond2

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INTRODUCTION

    The original Touch Diamond was the best selling Windows Mobile device of all time, and for good reason. It was sleek, sexy, and brought a breadth of finger-friendly enhancements that we had yet to see on a device running Windows Mobile. HTC decided to aptly name the next Diamond the Diamond2, and we finally have one to give a full and thorough review. Is this a worthy successor to the legend, or did HTC miss the mark? We’ve got the full review ahead.

WHAT’S HOT

    Let’s talk specs. The Touch Diamond2 sports a Qualcomm MSM7200A processor running at 528MHz. It has 512MB ROM (317MB accessible), 288MB RAM (192MB accessible), and has a microSD/HC expansion slot for added memory. The resistive touchscreen is 3.2" and is WVGA 480×800 resolution, making for a pixel density of 292ppi (the Touch Diamond’s screen is 285ppi and the iPhone’s screen is 164ppi). It’s a quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900) phone with dualband UMTS (900/2100) with HSDPA and HSUPA. It also has assisted GPS, WiFi b & g, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, USB 2.0, FM radio, and an accelerometer for screen rotations in Opera Mobile, while viewieng the photo gallery, and while emailing. The rear camera is 5MP with auto focus and no flash, and the front camera for video calls is VGA resolution. Powering all of this is a 1110mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

(all images link to larger versions)

The Diamond2, like the original Diamond, feels petite in hand. To accommodate the taller screen, the Diamond2 is .23" taller than the Diamond. In-hand, the high level of build quality is evident.

Device
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
4.44" x 2.47" x 0.52"

132 | 4.65
4.44" x 2.27" x 0.63"

156 | 5.61
4.74" x 2.63" x 0.43"

157 | 5.53
4.33" x 2.09" x 0.59"

117 | 4.12
4.66" x 2.48" x 0.47"

130 | 4.58
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.64" x 2.36" x 0.48"

129 | 4.55
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"

133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"

120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"

178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"

137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"

117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"

151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"

140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"

130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"

120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"

146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"

125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"

133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"

124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"

640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"

154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"

147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"

165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"

140 | 4.94
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"

110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"

134 | 4.70

4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70

WHAT’S IN THE BOX



Here is the unboxing video for the Touch Diamond2.

This is the box for the Diamond2. Unlike the Touch Diamond and Touch Pro, the unboxing experience for the Diamond2 is under-whelming. The device is presented without fanfare in a boring cardboard box.

    Inside the box we have a charger and sync cable, an extra stylus, software/reading material, extUSB earphones with extra felts, and a screen protector. Missing is a case or pouch, and the extUSB converter jack that lets you use your own headphones. You can get one for super cheap from Amazon.

THE DEVICE

    The Diamond2 is undoubtedly a sweet looking device. It uses a mix of metals and plastics, which gives it a high quality look while saving on weight. You may agree that the Diamond2 lacks the stunning visual appeal that the original had. Missing is a D-Pad, but the interface on the Diamond2 is finger-friendly enough to where the D-Pad isn’t missed. The 3.2" screen is larger than the original Diamond, but really, the screen is just taller.

Zooming into the top, we see the speaker grill with the light sensor and status light on either side. To the right of that is the VGA camera for video calls.

   Closer to the bottom we can see the zoom slider, which uses resistance to register taps. You can use the zoom slider in Google Maps, the photo gallery, and Opera Mobile. Below that are four hardware keys, which offer great tactile feedback. We have call start/end, plus an OK button, and the Windows flag, which will open the Start button.

Turning over to the left side, we have a predominant volume up/down rocker.

    On the bottom we have the microphone, a lanyard hook, and the extUSB port used for syncing, charging, and audio. As mentioned, the Diamond2 doesn’t come with a converter jack for 3.5mm audio, but it does come with headphones that work in this port.

    On the right side, we can see the non-collapsable stylus, which is not magnetic like the Touch Pro, Touch HD, and Touch Diamond. That said, when you slide out the stylus, the phone comes out of standby and the screen turns on. To the right of that is the speaker which fires to the right so that it doesn’t get easily covered when on a table. Unfortunately, the speaker distorts at 80% volume and above.

Here is another shot of the stylus. Because the screen sensitivity on the Diamond2 is so high, and because the interface is well optimized for finger-friendly operation, I seldom used the stylus.

HTC did away with the diamond faceted backing, which we really liked. Instead, the back is covered with a shiny black cheap piece of plastic that is scratch and fingerprint prone.

Zooming closer into the 5.0MP camera, we see the that the lens is surrounded by a nice brushed metal triangular piece. There is no flash on the camera.

If we slide off the back cover, we reveal the 1100mAh battery. Under the stylus is a soft reset hole.

And here is the microSD slot, under the battery cover. We wish it were more accessible.

And when you are in dark conditions, the hardware keys glow white.



In case you missed it, here is our hardware tour video of the Touch Diamond2.

COMPARISONS

Here is a comparison shot with the Apple iPhone, Touch HD, Touch Diamond2, Touch Pro, and Mobinnova ICE.

Here they are in the same order, stacked. The Diamond2 is just a bit thicker than the Touch HD and original Diamond.

Click onto the next page where we’ll talk about software and the new version of TouchFLO 3D that comes on this device.

TouchFLO 3D has been revamped for the next generation of HTC devices like the Diamond2 and Touch Pro2. Here on the Home tab, as usual, we see the time/date, with our next appointments below.

If you tap on the clock, you are taken to an elegant-looking multi-city screen like this. This will be great for travelers.

And finally, we have a new alarm clock application…

…that works much like the one on the iPhone. You can set which days for the alarm to go off, the time, and the sound your device makes when it wakes you.

    Something else new to this version of TouchFLO 3D is the notification area. In previous versions of TouchFLO 3D, if you tapped the top area of the screen, you would get several large pixelated tiles that allowed you to visit connection settings, missed calls, etc. This is a much more elegant solution. Missed calls, new SMS, and new email will show up in the message tray, while you can glance towards the top and check your connection status.

The People tab, like before, allows you to flip through pictures of people you call a lot. What’s new and exciting is the unified communications screen, which we’ll cover later in the review.

If you tap "All People" in the People tab of TouchFLO 3D, you’ll get a list of all of your contacts. Lists, such as these, respond very well to flick-scrolling.

The second tab of this screen allows you to see your favorites.

And the third tab gives you a look at your call history.

The Mail tab is unchanged.

    HTC has added a great new feature called Push Internet. The idea is that your device will, at given intervals, download a webpage so that it is ready and waiting for you. This is perfect for preloading pages that you check on a regular basis. You can only have four Push pages. Also from this screen you can do a Google search with the box up top.

This is what it looks like when you add a new Push page.

To save on data and battery, you can opt to have the Push function hibernate during the weekends or at night.

Speaking of internet, the Diamond2 includes Opera Mobile 9.5, which we are quite used to seeing by this point.

And, as with the other HTC devices, flipping the device to the side puts the web page into landscape. You can use the zoom slider on Opera Mobile, but it is quite imprecise because it zooms to the left side of the page, rather to the center or other predetermined area.

Here is the the new calendar tab for TouchFLO 3D. The little flag in the upper right corner means that you have an appointment on that day.

Here is what happens when you tab on a particular day. This tab integrates with weather. Cool!

    A note on the calendar. I applaud HTC’s attempt to fix the ugly Windows Mobile calendar application, but they didn’t go far enough. You cannot get a week view, nor can you click and drag appointments to move them around. It is mostly a calendar viewer, more than anything.

The stock tab has been simplified.

Adding new ticker symbols is easy. While in this screen, note the finger-friendly soft key menus. HTC has implemented this throughout the operating system, so that every soft key menu is this large. Nice.

Tapping on one of your stocks will bring up a screen like this.

In Photos and Video, we can flip through the pictures that are on the device or storage card. On the next page of the review, we’ll talk about photo and video quality.

This is the new HTC Album photo gallery.

Tapping on an image will make it full screen. You can swipe your finger right or left to see the next image. Oddly, when viewing a picture, rotating the device doesn’t rotate the picture anymore.

This is the options menu for a given image.

The Music tab is unchanged. As before, the device will scan your device for music and present it to you here.

The weather tab, which lets you keep track of weather for multiple cities, is the same that it is on the Touch HD – you can see the forecast right on the screen.

And in the last tab, Settings, we can adjust certain system settings. Or, we can get to the normal device settings by hitting "All Settings."

If we tap Sound, we get this elegant-looking panel that lets use change the ringtone, adjust the profile, etc.

As with the Touch HD, we can remove certain TouchFLO 3D components, or rearrange them.

HTC has spruced up the Mail Setup dialogue.

And finally, here is the screen to enable automatic screen rotation. Sadly, screen rotation will only occur in Opera Mobile, messaging, and in Album.

PHONE

    Let’s talk about the phone experience – since this is a phone afterall. If you press the call start button, you will get this screen which present you with finger-friendly numbers with which to dial. You can switch between a video and audio call easily with the bottom left button.

When someone calls, you get the "slide to answer/ignore" screen, which helps immensely to avoid accidental answers. The photo ID is nice and large (if you have an image assigned to the person calling).

    Then, when on a call with someone, you get this screen, which is new. For some reason, HTC shaded out some of the buttons on the screen unless you slide down the windows shade. This was probably done to prevent accidental presses.

When you pull down the window shade, you can turn on the speaker, make a note, mute the call, etc. Note the four buttons along the button. This is HTC’s new unified communication screen.

    So, allow me to explain. The idea behind the unified communications screen is to allow you to have a central place for ALL communication you have with someone: SMS, email, and phone calls. Here is the first screen, where I can see this person’s email address, phone numbers, and any other information that I have associated to their contact card. Actually, there was supposed to be Facebook integration with this system so that you could have a fifth tab to associate pictures, status updates, etc, to a certain person, but it wasn’t included on the Diamond2.

Flipping over to the second screen, we get to see an archive of all SMS I’ve had with this person. This is also the new SMS screen – it’s much more elegant that the usual Windows Mobile 6.1 SMS screen.

    In the third screen, we get to see emails sent to this person. The problem here is that you only see emails that are on your phone, which is determined by your ActiveSync setting for email. Your best bet is to have your device store the maximum amount of emails.

The final screen of the unified communications app is call history – so that you can reference all calls you’ve had with a certain person.

Click on to the next page as we cover Settings and talk about photo quality on the HTC Touch Diamond2!

    So now, when you press the Start button, you are taken to this screen. Basically, it’s a more visually pleasing and finger-friendly grid of programs. You can remove and add programs, but you can’t rearrange them, which is annoying. If you disable TouchFLO 3D, you will see the regular Windows Mobile Start menu and Programs list again.

If you tap "All programs", you see this list.

…which is very flick-friendly.

    Looking at Google maps on the Diamond2 is terrific thanks to its high-resolution screen. The zoom slider will zoom straight into the blue dot…which is your location. Speaking of Google Maps, which uses GPS… the GPS acquisition time was fantastic on the Diamond2. A cold start would take about 15 seconds, with a warm start taking only 5 seconds to get a fix. Nice!

We’ve seen this before – if you plug in your headphones, you will be able to access the FM radio.

Finally, we have a new calculator!

Flipping the device over will reveal a scientific calculator.

Watching YouTube videos with the included application on the Diamond2 is great. Video playback is super smooth.

HTC has upgraded the all-important on screen keyboards. The space bar is larger, the boundary between each key is more pronouced, and the T9/ABC switch is easier to use. Also, there is now vibration feedback when you strike a key.

You can also use the T9-style keypad.

In Opera Mobile and messaging, you can flip over the device to type with the landscape keyboard. Doing so makes each key wider, but not as tall as the portrait keyboard. I prefer the latter.

In Input settings, you can disable the vibration feedback.

Just like the Touch HD, the Diamond2 doesn’t have any great video player built in. We highly recommend you get CorePlayer, which plays all major video formats, including High Def. It’s not free, but you’ll get good use out of it.

Here I am watching an episode of The Office in glorious HD in CorePlayer. Video playback was smooth.



This video shows some software features that we’ve written about so far in this review.

SETTINGS

You can still access the old Windows Mobile settings.

One of the disadvantages of having so few hardware keys is that you don’t have any to program. We can only program a tap and hold of the Send button.

Here we are in System.

Taking a look at memory, we have 75MB free after a soft reset.

And in the third tab, we see the Connections options. Thanks to the Connection Setup, the Diamond2 immediately recognized my AT&T SIM after turning the device on, and proceeded to configure the phone for that network.

Here is the communications screen. Now, the left and ride sides are separate tap zones. You can switch on any radio on the right, or tap the radios name to get more settings.

Check out this cool new WiFi screen!

CAMERA

The camera application is taken from other HTC devices. It is responsive and easy to use with a finger. Unfortunately, there is no hardware button to take a picture…you have to press a button on the screen.

The Touch Diamond2 is the only HTC device to offer VGA video recording.

Using the selective autofocus allows you to focus quite well on a subject. This picture came out super crisp and clear, with accurate colors.

But if you’re not completely steady while taking a picture, like with this one, it may come out blurry. This is where a flash would really help.

Here is an outdoor shot of some yellow flowers. The colors are accurate and the flowers are in focus. Nice!

The Diamond2 is the first HTC device to offer true VGA video recording. Click here to see a sample in MP4 format. You’ll notice that the video is clear and the sound is crisp, but the colors are dull.

Click on to the next page as we wrap up the review with a note on performance, battery life, and talk about all the Pros and Cons of the Diamond2.

BENCHMARKS

   Spb Benchmark from has been used for the
following benchmark comparisons with Touch Diamond2.

The Diamond2 does quite well in the overall Benchmark Index.

…and even better in the CPU index.

In terms of overall performance, the Diamond2 is faster than the Touch Diamond and HD but not as fast as the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 in terms of everyday usability.

BATTERY
    The battery on the Touch Diamond2 is 1100mAh, which is actually quite low for a device of this kind. That said, HTC has done some magic to extend the battery life on the Diamond2. With heavy use of WiFi, GPS, and many calls, the Touch Diamond2 will get through 1.5 days. With moderate use, you’ll last about 2 days, and with light use, expect around 3, maybe 4 days. That is above average.

BUGS AND WISHES

    There are a lot of small issues we have with the Diamond2. To start, we were quite disappointed by the unboxing experience and the inclusion of accessories. If you own an unlocked Touch Pro or Touch Diamond, you’re familiar with the memorable unboxing experience that you had on the day that you opened up the box. On the Diamond2, the device is displayed in plastic between two pieces of cardboard. Yuck. Then, once in the box, two key accessories are lacking: a case or pouch and a 3.5mm headphone adapter. Has HTC become cheap, or do they think that the consumer doesn’t want these additions?

    And then there are the other small issues: the microSD slot is inconveniently placed beneath the battery cover, there is no flash on the camera (really?), the battery cover feels cheap and plasticy, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack, and the stylus is no longer magnetic.

    Also, there are a few software issues. While HTC has gone a good job at outfitting the user with the right amount of software, there still lacks an adequate in-built video player. HTC touts the high resolution screen of the Diamond2 as "pixel-packed," which it is, but what good is a high resolution screen if your videos won’t play on them? Fortunately, we have CorePlayer.

    Other Windows Mobile devices with an accelerometer like the Samsung Omnia will automatically rotate the display in any screen. The Diamond didn’t do this, and neither does the Diamond2, which is surprising. The automatic screen rotation only occurs in a few places: Opera Mobile, photo gallery (but not in the actual photos themselves), and messaging. There is finally a landscape version of TouchFLO 3D that we’ve seen floating around – why isn’t this accessible on the Diamond2?

    The Diamond2 has a lot in common with the Touch HD…the screen resolution, form factor and camera. If you remember, the Touch HD was the first HTC device to not have a dedicated camera button. Well, the Diamond2 is the second, and we really don’t like it. It’s difficult enough to steady the camera while taking a picture, but to have to awkwardly press the screen to release the shutter is a huge annoyance.

    TouchFLO 3D goes quite deep on the Diamond2. Early on, TouchFLO started out as a simple Today screen skin in addition to some enhancements dealing with finger friendliness. It has evolved much beyond that today, to the point where you can spend most of the time in the elegance of TouchFLO 3D without venturing into the ugliness of Windows Mobile. But, in this latest iteration, there are some problems. First, the calendar tab allows you to see your monthly and daily appointments, and even lets you add a new one, but it doesn’t let you easily move appointments or edit appointments (you can do these, but it’s a manual process), or view them in a weekly view. What’s worse, if you’re trying to find the native WinMo calendar app by going to the Start menu, pressing Calendar spits you right back into the TouchFLO 3D tab.

    Also, I’d like to be able to disable the HTC Start menu. It’s visually pleasing, but it doesn’t include recent programs, nor does it allow for the rearrangement of the icons. The only way to go back to the regular Windows Mobile Start menu is to disable TouchFLO 3D. It’s all or nothing.

PURCHASING

    The Touch Diamond2 is only being sold overseas right now, but you can import it into the US and it’ll work fine on GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T, though you won’t get 3G data (only EDGE). We expect that several US carriers will pick up the Diamond2 in the summer and fall of 2009. Hop on over to Clove Technology where they are selling it for about £342, which, depending on the current exchange rate of the day, comes out to $500-600 USD. They’ll ship worldwide.




PROS


  • Terrific build quality


  • Solid performance


  • Almost capacitive-like screen sensitivity


  • Very good battery life


  • The many new TouchFLO 3D enhancements are useful and go pretty deep


  • Screen is super crisp and clear with great outdoor visibility


  • Takes great pictures (except in low light conditions)


  • Call quality is top notch


  • Records VGA video


  • Will be Windows Mobile 6.5 upgradable for free


  • Push Internet feature is a smart idea

CONS


  • No case included


  • Automatic screen rotation is limited

  • Speaker distorts at loud volumes

  • Stylus is no longer magnetic


  • Needs a more robust built-in video player


  • No flash on camera


  • No 3.5mm jack or converter included


  • microSD slot is under battery cover

  • Zoom slider is imprecise in Opera Mobile

  • Battery cover feels cheap


  • No physical camera button


  • Not yet available with US 3G bands

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    On its own, the Diamond2 is a true winner. It’s refined in every way that a phone should be refined, and it represents the best hardware and software interplay that we have yet to see on a Windows Mobile device. The increased screen sensitivity, focus on finger-friendliness, and many TouchFLO 3D enhancements make the Diamond2 a true joy to use.

    But you are probably reading this review to determine if you should get yourself a Diamond2. Here is a little help. First, if you don’t like on screen keyboards, the Diamond2 probably isn’t for you, though this device has the best on screen keyboard experience of any Windows Mobile device that I’ve used. Second, if you already have a Diamond and are debating on whether to upgrade – I’d encourage you to wait a bit if you can. The Diamond2 has many incremental improvements over the original, but it is not a huge leap. If you’re a business user and like what you see in the Diamond2, wait for the Touch Pro2 – it’ll have a keyboard, larger screen, and further improvements to TouchFLO 3D.

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.