OK, so here it is – the HTC Touch Dual. We’re lucky enough to have this handset way before it’s release and long before other websites. It’s the evolution of the original HTC Touch we reviewed earlier.
It’s a little longer and a little thinner than the HTC Touch, but the dieting has meant the loss of the WiFi. When I asked the guys about the lack of WiFi I got the expected reply.. “No, the HTC Touch Dual does not have WiFi, however it does have 3G and HSPDA capabilities”. HSPDA, for those of you who don’t know, is like 3G on drugs – it’s like EDGE is to GPRS. If your network supports it (and you’ve got a good data connection) you can merrily browse without worrying too much about the cost.
As is usual with our reviews we’ve managed to bag the phone even though it’s not completely available yet. This means that we get a “test build” of the OS. Essentially this means that any screenshots you see from the phone may change in the final build. This will probably just be the programs listed in the main screen, like Flash Lite Player, Audio Booster etc but they’re not huge changes.
A closer look
Let’s have a look at the phone itself first of all. I figured it’d be good to start with a comparison to the existing HTC Touch so you guys can see the difference..
As you can see, it’s slender and tall compared to the original Touch. We can also see that the thickness of the device hasn’t changed a great deal either. This was a major selling point with the HTC Touch, so to have it as slender as before is good news.
Oh! Notice something on the shots above ? Yup, the miniUSB port has moved. At the bottom of the new HTC Touch Dual there’s nothing but a microphone and a small indent which lets you pop the battery cover off. Let’s do that and see what we can find below…
The entire back comes off this handset and reveals the 2 megapixel camera (yes, I know, I’d like to see a higher resolution camera too), speaker, battery and a slot for the SIM card. On the top right you can see the stylus, which is a normal none-slide-away ones.
To be honest there’s not much else, even if you do take the battery out there’s nothing underneath. I’m going to sound a bit geeky here, but it’s pretty amazing how they fit this battery in – it sits slap against the back of the lower portion of the device.
Being a 3G device we’ve got two cameras. The first is a high quality one for videos and shots of your nearest and dearest getting drunk, whilst the second one points at you for video calls. There’s no flash but they do the job well and the 2 megapixel camera round the back produces decent photos – read on for those.
Note the small ridge on the silver surround of the camera above – this is to stop you getting nasty scratches on your sexy shined surround.
The 3G video call camera sits on the top right next to the speaker which, like the original Touch, houses the LED lights that flash away to indicate network activity, charging and Bluetooth etc. Note here how rubberised the casing is. Apart from the strip around the centre and the navigation pad, the whole device is cloaked in a soft rubber finish which is very Goldilocks – i.e. not too hard, not too soft… Just right ;)
To snap those all-important photos you’ve got your easy-to-find camera button. This is located on the lower right of the device which, when you turn the device slightly, sits squarely under your trigger-finger for snapping photos.
The camera application is pretty trick, but the best part about it has to be the HTC Gallery application, which knocks the existing Microsoft “Pictures and Videos” application for six. It is, quite simply, the best photo-viewing thing I’ve used for some time. More on this later though!
Sticking with the right-side of the device we’ll take a look at the top-right and you’ll see the stylus…
The stylus has, as usual, a small ridge so that you can slide it out gracefully.
At the top there’s one of those little lanyard loops should you feel the need to hang the Touch Dual round your neck or wrist, plus a nice power button. As we continue down the left side there’s the volume up / down buttons….
… and look! There’s the miniUSB port. Now, you could be sitting there thinking, “Hey, why have they put it there??!” Well, if I was to guess I’d probably think it was due to the normal “bottom” location getting in the way when you’re trying to use the device whilst it’s on charge. You’ve probably all got a device that has a miniUSB port at the bottom – try plugging it into your PC or charger and then pick it up – you end up squashing the cable with the bottom of your hand. This new location makes things a lot better….errr.. provided you’re right handed of course :)
At the bottom left is the microSD card slot, which is cleverly angled on the corner.
So there we go – that’s the HTC Touch Dual in a nuttshell… ;) Of course it isn’t.. :) The added extra on the Touch Dual is, of course, the addition of the numeric keypad underneath.
This slides out with an “automatic” feel to reveal the 12 or 20 key keypad. The one we have here is the 20 key version – it looks a lot like the keyboard on the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 in the way it’s laid out and, to be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to use it that well. However, after pretty much no effort at all I had it mastered – it’s just like a regular computer keyboard except you press there’s two letters on each key so it’s really easy to locate. Strangely I hopped between this and my “normal” T9 on the HTC S710 without any fuss, so I was pretty surprised by the ease of use.
Around the keys is a polished black surround whilst the keys are a charcoal matt colour with one single ridge going through each key for easy location. You should hopefully be able to see that slightly on the image below…
Above the keys in the navigation pad, which is pretty much identical to the HTC Touch. Note the lack of “soft keys” – you simply tap the bottom of the screen to locate these.
Just above the navigation pad is a small hump. This is wasn’t on the HTC Touch and appears to have been added to stop damage to the navigation pad should you sit on / lean on or squash the HTC Touch Dual somehow. It just shows how HTC are listening to the needs of users and (most probably) network returns / insurance departments too. :)
Notice something yet? Yes, there’s no reset button!
Here’s the main screen on the HTC Touch Dual. This may change slightly in the production build, however there’s already some extra additions…
Clicking on the top-right of the screen will zoom into that area. This makes getting detail and information a lot easier than before. It’s also been expanded to include memory and program information. This means less stylus-action too, so you can easily prod the device with your finger to get what you need.
HTC have included their new homescreen plugin once again, which lets you find local weather and launch programs quickly and easily..
Plus you can easily change your ringtone type – normal, silent, vibrate or
automatic – perfect for silencing your phone when you’re in a scheduled meeting. This is much easier to use than the standard setup within Windows Mobile and we’re loving the additions that HTC are adding.
Now, we mentioned the fact that stylus-pointing was very much reduced in this new handset and indeed this continues when you slide open the numeric keypad.
Once pulled down, this menu pops up which gives quick access into the most used parts of your phone. Just jab the relevant option with your finger and you’re away.
As usual this will activate the Windows Mobile app in question, dropping you to the usual Microsoft interface, however we’re getting the feeling that HTC will continue with their current successful changes to the UI and perhaps develop their own messaging, calendar and browsing applications.
I really liked this pop-up menu thing and it really did cut down the faffing I had to do.
HTC have brought the existing TouchFLO technology to this device.
One quick “swoosh” of your finger up the screen makes this menu pop up below.
You can easily add or remove contacts here and then it’s just a matter of poking the person you want to dial (oo-err). Although you only get 9 squares for your “regularly used” contacts you can also use the row of buttons at the bottom – the dial pad, call history, contacts list and the add / remove switch button mean that there’s no limit to who you can call.
If I glide my finger across the screen I’ll get one of these screens – again, no need for a stylus. This will give you quick access into programs like the comm manager (minus the WiFi, which as you may know by now isn’t on this handset), text and emails and more.
But there’s something we want to highlight more than any other option. Sure, we love the swoosh interface and the ease of use. We love the fact that the phone is still thin even with the addition of a numeric keypad, but there’s something else we love too…
Camera and Album
Say goodbye to Windows Mobile “Pictures and Videos”. It was a tad slow and forgetful (how many times did you see it forget what directory you were looking at). Say hello to the new HTC Album. This is everything you could ever want from a photo album and then some. When you run it the screen will rotate to make best use of the space for your photos. Click on a thumbnail and the picture will blend onto the screen – it’s like watching water flowing over pebbles. Smooth, smooth, smooth. This is really sexy.
Click “Menu” and you’ll get the option to send a picture to someone (email, MMS etc), save that picture as a contact photo, delete it and more. If you move around the pictures each thumbnail will
becomes larger to show that you’ve highlighted it, plus the menu has a Vista
Under that “Options” tab. You’ll get some slide-show options.
The fade and blend transitions are continued here and there’s stacks to choose from – blinds, fades, slides,
checkerboard and splits to name just a few. There’s more options too, like the
duration of each image etc..
The slideshow is simply gorgeous, it’s as close to the iPhone as I’ve ever seen.
Each image fades into the next (this is default, but of course you can change it
as above) and it works so well. But wait – that’s only half of it.
Above you’ll see the controls for the album. This is all part
of the enhanced TouchFLO technology on the HTC Touch Dual. Stick your finger on
the screen and spin it clockwise and you’ll zoom into the picture. Do the
opposite and it’ll zoom back out again – but do a semi-circle and you’ll rotate
the picture, or if you fancy you can click and hold on the picture to pan around
the picture – this is especially good when you’ve zoomed into a shot.
Brilliant, just brilliant. I loved this – zooming into shots
I’d taken, dragging them round and then sliding sideways to go to the next shot.
Lovely stuff. Even better, when you tap the screen once you get this..
As we go around there’s the option to send the picture as an
attachment, set the image as a contact picture, go back, start a slideshow, bin
the image or go to the help screen.
Here’s me using the album in the panning mode. You can see the
window at the top-left here shows where-abouts on the picture we are. Currently
we’re zoomed all the way out so it shows everything.
Zooming in, by “drawing” a circle on the screen zooms me into
the picture beautifully. No hangs, no slowness.
I did a little YouTube video showing this interface in action – have a look below..
The camera application has had a bit of a facelift too. This,
of course, is interlinked with the HTC Camera Album above and it’s great to see
the small design tweaks that have been done to match it together. As usual you
can tap the bottom of the camera preview screen to adjust settings like
brightness, timer, storage settings, quality and more.
Let’s not forget that you can record onto video or choose one
of these fun frames to put your mates into a fun picture.
The HTC Touch Dual supports the new SDHC format too, so you can
stuff rather huge microSD cards in –
like this 6Gb one.
I did another video showing the HTC Audio Manager. This is fired up from the “Music” option on the TouchFLO. It’s got a graphic equalizer, shuffle and loop options. To test things out I ran this alongside the HTC Gallery / slideshow application to really push things…
Here’s some shots from the camera. The picture quality is pretty good, although I’m always eager to get an even higher resolution camera. Click each one to see the full size “direct from the device” shot.
Contacts and dialling
Something else that HTC have added, much to my delight, is this
new contacts sorter. One thing I’ve always groaned about is the delay in finding
contacts – sure, you can dial in the name, but HTC are obviously aware that
people don’t always use just one method to find their contacts. This, here, is
great – I drag my finger down the right-side and a letter jumps up on the
screen. This means I can dial even without extended the keyboard OR getting the
stylus out. Top stuff.
This is another feature that deserves a video, so have a look below..
When you do dial people you can, of course, use 3G when available. The
face-pointing camera works well in low-light and the 3G test calls I did worked
perfectly. Now, if only the screenshot of me using it had come out…
During the call you can switch around the video screens if you want your own
moosh on the bigger screen.
Voice calls sound crisp and clear, plus the addition of the keypad is a
god-send. To be able to pick up the phone, flick it open and punch in the
number. No more stylus (even though there’s one on board), no more worrying
about that none-multi-touch screen – slide open the pad, punch the number in as
quick as you like and then press green. ALL HAIL! This is how phones are
SUPPOSED TO WORK!
New on the HTC Touch Dual is the Flash Lite Player. Yes, Flash. Say hello to SWF
files and YouTube.com videos. When you open this up a swish HTC logo pops up and
flicks across the screen… it’s a Flash file of course. ;)
Now, we’re looking at a test build here but you’ve got everything a normal
Pocket PC has … apart from the bulk, and the possible geek factor. We’ve got
Office Mobile – the full mobile version with the ability to create new files and
When we look around the programs there’s a few little extras you won’t see on
the production build (ignore those HTC Debug Tools… ahem..). However, there’s
an excellent Audio Booster for pumping up the tunes when you’ve got your
headphones through the HTC Audio Manager, Adobe Reader for checking those PDF
files, Bluetooth Explorer for checking the content of other phones and more..
Messenger (yes!), that Flash Lite software, Java, Notes (for recording and
jotting down all those quick items) and the rather dull (compared to the HTC
version above) version of Pictures and Videos, which we presume will be ditched
in the final build.
Zip, Voice Speed Dial for starting apps and calling people just by talking,
Windows Live, and Windows Media Player are amongst the on-board programs.
As with everything Windows Mobile, you’ve got control over pretty much
everything. Use the buttons option to change the programs that appear in the
main menu, change the today screen or the background picture, or… you can turn
on the HTC Touch keyboard…..
Ahhh yes – you didn’t think I’d leave this out did you? Yes, the HTC Touch
Keyboard is yet another bonus from HTC. The keypad will guess at words as you
type or, if you want to add your own you simply choose “Add Word” and then press
each key once for the first letter or twice for the second, Hold the key down
and you’ll get the number or symbol on that particular key. It’s marvellous.
Normal typing is a dream – bash each key once and it guesses the word pretty
much bang on each time. It turns the keypad into a very, very speedy data entry
system. Here’s me thinking that the standard slide-out QWERTY keypad you see in
the likes of the HTC TyTN II was the best option but now, this… this really
has changed my mind in a big way. Now, bear with me here – I know I’m turning
into possibly the biggest HTC fan-boy in the world but, oh my god
this is good.
On this build there’s both the HTC Touch Keyboard (20 keys) and the HTC
Touch Keypad (12 / 16 keys). I preferred the 20-key version myself, which was
kinda unsurprising being as I’m using the 20-key version of the HTC Touch Dual
At this point I did another video to show you the keyboard in action..
On with the settings and there’s the usual plethora of options, tweaks and
details to change.
In connections you’ve got that magic HSPDA (3G and then some) plus all the other
comms settings you could need… apart from the one to turn WiFi on. :(
The HTC Touch Dual is powered by a whopping 400Mhz processor from Qualcomm with
128Mb of RAM and 256Mb of ROM. It’s nippy, it’s potent, it’s.. heck – I think
I’d better get to the conclusion..
OK, so, I should mention all the bad points first. No WiFi, there’s no WiFi…
and it doesn’t have WiFi. Job done. Other than this HTC have done an awesome job
with this phone. It’s lean and shapely yet tough and strong too. HTC really are
pointing the way in more than just phone building and phone design now. They’re
rapidly rolling out more and more software applications and tweaks to their
phones which are all nothing short of astounding.
See, this is what I like – this is a Pocket PC masquerading as a
phone. A cool, thin, sexy-looking phone. Perhaps “masquerade” isn’t the right
word, maybe I should say “cleverly disguised”. Think about it, you’ve got all the features of a traditional Pocket PC – the push email, the touch screen, the Office suite – but it’s wrapped up in a good looking phone that teenagers on the street would lust after.
Every now and then I get sent phones on
loan and I don’t want to send them back. This, without doubt, is one of them.
We recently got chance to look at the Orange version. They’ve gone with the standard 12 (16) key layout and have added a rather “interesting” design on the homescreen. I’ll admit that this Orange homescreen is ok right up until you open the programs list.
It arrives in a HTC box with an Orange designed sleeve and associated manuals. It also has a free 1Gb microSD card and promotes the musical capabilities of the phone with the headphones / handsfree kit sitting proudly next to the phone in the box.
However this is just a sleeve for the real makers – HTC. Orange are no longer hiding the fact that HTC make these handsets. Inside you get presented with the following…
Plus there’s a surprise behind the main handset – a free 1Gb microSD..
Sliding the keypad out reveals the 12 key configuration (16 with the extra Windows / Mail / IE and back keys).
After you get the phone on charge a new homescreen is added to the phone..
..although the white text on the menu can clash somewhat with the backdrop…
..you can change the homescreen if you like (Settings->Personal->Today and change to “HTC” then choose “HTC” from “Items” and remove the tick from “Orange”. I also turned on “Calendar” and “Messaging” here) to the HTC one. I received my Touch Dual through Orange Retentions for free because I’ve finished my contract and I’ve been with them for over a 7 years and spend a fortune!
Things to note…
We’ve just found out where the reset button is on this phone (thanks Biker2000), it’s under the battery cover near to the USB connector!
Also, all images and videos are now stored in DCIM/100MEDIA (like digital camera), so if you’re upgrading and swapping your data card across – REMEMBER TO MOVE your pictures and videos from “My Documents” into this new location, otherwise the HTC Gallery software won’t spot it!
Link – Orange.co.uk