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HTC Touch Diamond review



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Review Price £417.59

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.

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June 25, 2008, 11:02 am

I just wanted to say thanks to Jonathan for a another excellent and honest review. I was considering buying the Touch Diamond as it does look great on paper but build quality and physical feel is important, especially as I spend a lot of time outdoors.

I expected more from HTC as I felt they were on a roll.

I live in village and there is no O2 coverage - if there was I would probably get an iPhone.


June 25, 2008, 3:10 pm

Love the site, but I must say I felt a bit cheated by your review of the TyTN III. This sounds like the review the TyTN III should have received. Hardware wise a great device, but fundamentally flawed due to it's reliance on Windows Mobile...

The Pope

June 25, 2008, 3:17 pm

I had high expectations also but, as usual, JB cuts through the BS and gets down to the nitty gritty of the thing. It's far from a *bad* phone, but it won't trounce an iPhone.

If you're permanently o2-less then maybe the Diamond wouldn't be all that bad...

Ed Churchward

June 25, 2008, 4:11 pm

I would be interested to know if it is the UK version of the phone you are testing or if it is a grey import. Also which version of the software do you have installed. As I understand it the new version, released last week, improves things quite a bit.

I don't have this phone, and would not buy one, but I am interested in the Touch Pro.

Having said that I always load hacked roms onto my Tytn II so I manage to get the best out of the phone.


June 25, 2008, 8:51 pm

I wonder how the build quality will compare to the new iPhone now that it has a plastic back.


June 25, 2008, 10:37 pm

The reviewer the mentions the iPhones's sold metal build - does he knows that the 3G iPhone has replaced the metal backing with a plastic cover?

Also would be interested to see what version of firmware he was running; the buggy 1.35 or the newer 1.37 which fixes a lot of the performance problems. Could the reviewer respond on this point please?


June 25, 2008, 10:39 pm

LOL another iPhone Beater spanked!

I have had numerous windows smart phones, many of them do more then the iPhone, its just the way Windows mobile works there is no enjoyment using it, so half the time you cant be bothered, thats where iphone gets it right its interface is a joy to use you can forgive it for not having 3g first time out or even mms


June 25, 2008, 10:40 pm

it looks like the only device that could best the iphone this year is sammy's i900


June 25, 2008, 11:44 pm

Thanks Jonathan for an objective review with much credibility.

T Mobile have advised me that the launch date for their version (MDA Compact 4) is 30th June 08.

I am sorry that despite a better processor, it's still sluggish, that will prbably deter me.

The battery life on these products is barely six hours with the backlight on full, even then they are not legible in sunlight, so their reliability/usability ratings should be set at zero until the manufacturers come up with some improvements.

The memory for data is minimal, if they want to compete with the iphone they should copy that phones' ability to utilise all the memory capacity available to store notes in contacts and appointments.

Most business users don't give a toss for cameras, whichever way they point.

I will now wait for the Vario 4,(qtr 3) but that is going to be the last chance for WM to claim any business credibility.

Ed Churchward

June 26, 2008, 3:48 pm

Frank, don't give me Business Credibility. The iphone does not encrypt the data on the phone so anyone who takes it can read the data off it. Hence why windows and blackberry do so well in the Business sector. They understand business needs. I think the iphone has it's place in the market and the diamond has it's place. They both seem to do certain things very well. Be fun to see an iphone trying to do remote desktop over a vpn connection whilst receiving Messenger messages and active sync all at the same time. (It wont because it can't multitask, something people seem to forget about the iphone)


June 29, 2008, 10:33 pm

Ed, I didn't intend to give anyone, anything.

These devices give me something though.

Be also fun to see reliable MS Activsync , frequently when I connect my MDA a box then pops up to tell me I am "not connected" a peculiar logic and crap end user experience, remedied (occasionally) only by adopting battlefield doctor pose, holding the device up in the air like a saline drip connected to soon to be corpse, while the donking noise of connecting/not connecting battle continues.

Not just my desktop either.

I want the MS system to work, but staring at a frozen screen with half a process incomplete for a minute after tapping 'contacts' ruins my understanding of business cred

or usability for a single, simple task.

If I understand this review, the faster processor probably hasn't cured much, hence my lament.

dave 4

July 6, 2008, 8:11 pm

My mate has an HTC touch diamond and an iphone, he says the diamond is really good and not sluggish (has latest ROM) but the battery life does suck as he uses it heavily. Still he said he uses them for different stuff but that he liked the diamonds interface as much as iphone and that the diamonds web browser was better (opera 9.5).


July 23, 2008, 2:57 pm

I own the Touch Diamond for a couple of weeks now and it's an awesome phone. Great design, easy to use and not slow or sluggish at all. I would never buy an Iphone, the TD is, in my opinion, a true IPhone killer. Reasons enough not to buy an Iphone but to choose for a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone:

1. 3rd party applications in iPhone 3G cannot run in background: only one application can run at any given time in iPhone 3G so no background running of applications possible! In Windows Mobile phone several (many) applications can run at the same time so it is possible for example to simultaneously run in Windows Mobile: a) downloading a 50 MB MP3 file with a podcast, b) IM chatting with somebody including native Skype client for windows Mobile or native Live Messenger from Microsoft, c) edit Office documents, d) browse Internet, e) make a phone call, etc.

2. iPhone 3G has resolution of only 480x320 what is 2 times less than VGA (640x480) and W-VGA (wide VGA = 800x480) used in several Windows Mobile phones, what practically means: you can read more text on the display at once and everything is sharper

3. camera in iPhone 3G is inferior to camera in many Windows Mobile phones: it has only 2 megapixels compared to 3 to 5 megapixels in Windows Mobile phones and it does not have auto-focus - also present in many Windows Mobile phones

4. one cannot record videos with built-in camera of iPhone 3G, what is possible up to resolution of 640x480 pixels and 30 FPS (frames per second) in Windows Mobile phones

5. iPhone 3G supports HSDPA of maximal speed only 3.6 MB/second, while some Windows Mobile phones (including HTC Touch Diamond) suppport HSDPA of speed 7.2 MB/second

6. iPhone 3G does not have exchangeable battery that all Windows Mobile phones have, but only built-in battery so if you run out of battery you cannot replace it to prolong battery life - as it is possible with Windows Mobile phones

7. original (i.e. from Microsoft) Office Mobile is built-in in each Windows Mobile phone and allows not only for viewing but also for editing of Office documents, so there is no need ot buy 3rd party software for it

8. there is much more 3rd party applications (programs) for Windows Mobile: over 20,000 compared to 500 for iPhone 3G

9. to make applications for Windows Mobile one needs either PC computer or Mac but to make applications for iPhone 3G one needs to buy a Mac computer - if you don't have Mac computer then you cannot develop applications for iPhone 3G

10. most Windows Mobile phones come without SIM lock so they can be used at any operator in given country and with SIM cards from abroad (important when traveling and you want to use local prepaid SIM card to avoid International roaming fees) while iPhone 3G has SIM lock and can work with only this operator at which it has been purchased

11. iPhone 3G has capacitive touch-screen meaning that it must be used with fingers and that it cannot be used with stylus or fingernails (what women like)

12. iPhone 3G has no physical keyboard or keypad, so users have no choice but to use virtual keyboards on the display while Windows Mobile offers phones in various form-factors, including such that have both touch-screen and a physical QWERTY keyboard

Conclusion: do not buy iPhone 3G but instead buy one of many Windows Mobile phones!


July 24, 2008, 5:11 pm

I've had my Diamond around a month now and to be honest it's a bit of a mixed bag.

I have to agree with the reviewer about the slowness of this handset which is a shame as it's a very capable phone and has a great display.

Battery life is not the best and the touch-flo system is not as polished as the iPhone.

Would I recommend you buy one? perhaps the pro version may have been a better bet?

Thomas 1

July 25, 2008, 1:39 pm

I would rank this as one of the worst htc machines. Battery life extremely short... The speed is also disappointing. User interface overlay is a bit confusing. Definitely not worth the money!!!


July 26, 2008, 6:15 pm

This is a bad product. We had five come into work and sent them all back. No real logical thinking on the UI and the sluggish performance was a pain. Fortunately for us our company has migrated to the iPhone and binned all 75 HTC handsets for the iPhone and and i must admit that the iphone is a engineering masterpiece and a master class on user experience and journey. Unbelievably we are a MicroSoft outfit so that says it all about the iPhone.


August 4, 2008, 11:19 pm

What is the led for in the left side of the ear piece for the htc diamond phone do, it dosen't flash what is it there for?

Alex Dann

August 12, 2008, 11:27 pm

I'm considering getting an HTC Diamond as it's the only phone I can find that has handwriting recognition. I'm using an ancient Sony Ericsson which has 'graffiti'. I've tried the HTC handwriting in the shop and it seems fast and accurate. Anyone know of any others that have handwriting recognition?


September 15, 2008, 10:36 pm

I got my phone free on a 㿅 a month contract (got the deal after I threatened to leave my network), and I immediately headed over to XDA developers forums where there are loads of people tweaking all the performance and battery issues on this phone. I may have invalidated my warranty, but it's definitely been worth it (for now!) because the machine is sleek, works very well and has everything I could ask for in a phone and more. I took a chance, and it is paying off. It is a shame HTC didn't get it right first time though, as I'm sure many people will be put off by the risks. It's a risk nothing, gain nothing phone.


November 5, 2008, 1:09 am


It's not an LED, it's the light sensor.

The newest 1.93 dramatically improves speed and performance. I love mine but the battery life is worse than rubbish.


November 5, 2008, 7:38 am

I have the US SPRINT CDMA version of this phone..... Their are a few differences to the version you get in the UK, which for the most part are the negative issues highlighted for the EU version.

The US version has the Larger Battery, Flat & soft touch back panel, slighly different clock (UK Version = better) and coloured Icons for the different touch flo area's. Battery Life is superb, on this version, and the Camera is EASILY better than my Three UK Viewty.... The speed of the US version is very good. Only issue is rotation from one screen orientation to another. Sometimes its almost instant, and then sometimes their is a noticable delay. One thing I have never had to do on the US version is reset the phone..... The OS has been flawless. But Jonathan is spot on with what the US and EU versions share...... Touch Flow 3D is a little thin in area's which required the stylus... Being a UK person in the US, I believe for once, the US have a phone which the EU should envy...... The SPRINT version of HTC's Touch Diamond is absolutely awsome....


November 9, 2008, 2:43 pm

Help, Can anyone tell me how to get rid of the clock on the start page,its driving me crazy.


November 25, 2008, 4:27 am

I believed the hype.

I bought one of these.

I feel like an idiot.

This phone is somewhere between rubbish and useless. I've gone back to my Nokia E71.


November 25, 2008, 4:29 am

To get rid of the clock or rather, make it smaller, stroke the clock upwards. This will result in a smaller (normal) digital clock). To get it back, stroke the clock downwards.

James 8

December 7, 2008, 1:12 am

Prem I couldn't agree with you more. I have nothing nice to say about this horrible, poorly designed phone. I went back to my old phone too, and must now wait until my contract is up to get something decent.

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