Never believe the hype - it's a saying that I place great faith in, because (most of the time) it's true. I've lost count of the number of times a movie that's been hyped as the "must see" of the year, complete with fabulous trailers and impressive special effects, has turned out to be a turkey. It doesn't just apply to movies: it happens in sport (take the Dutch national football side - so often highly rated, so often also-rans), and often in the technology industry too.
Apple is the chief culprit when it comes to hyping its products, but mostly it's worth putting up with because the end product so often delivers. The iPhone, for instance, was so hotly anticipated you'd have forgiven most people for being cynical upon its arrival. Amazingly, in most respects it actually exceeded expectations. But where that product ultimately delivered on the hype, the HTC's Touch Diamond - desperately touted in all corners as Windows Mobile's answer to Cupertino's belle du jour - sadly, doesn't. I'll get my apologies out for delivering the verdict so high up in the review right now, so sorry, but iPhone killer this ain't.
One of the main reasons it's so underwhelming is its build quality, which is disappointingly plasticky. You can take or leave the Nokia Prism-like multi-faceted rear panel, but the cheap, shiny finish is about as far from the iPhone's solid metal build as you can get. Flip the phone over and the theme continues. The flat, flush-to-the-edges screen and sharply-tailored corners are smart enough, but the button panel below the touchscreen again looks poorly finished. Worse still, the four-way directional buttons surrounding the small, circular select key are stiff and often difficult to operate without accidentally pressing neighbouring controls.
I was expecting more, so much more, from a firm that in the past has delivered such fantastic handsets as the TyTn, TyTN II, S710, and the S730. But next to those phones, the Touch Diamond feels much cheaper.
But I'm probably being a little harsh; after all, there are plenty of reasons to like this phone. So here are some of its good points. For starters, it's slimmer and more compact than an iPhone at 51 x 102 x 11mm versus 62 x 116 x 12mm. Its 2.8in screen, though smaller, is sharper at 640 x 480, and lovely and bright too.
And it has to be said that the Diamond's interface - HTC's new Touchflo 3D - does an excellent job of masking the inadequacies of the Windows Mobile front end. So much so, that if you didn't know its background, you'd initially think it was a pretty slick phone. It's certainly a big improvement on the original Touch's thin veneer.