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HTC Touch HD - HTC Touch HD

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis



Our Score:


In a way, the screen's issues are not down to HTC, but instead due to Microsoft's failure to quickly produce an OS with decent touch support. If Microsoft properly re-jigged Windows Mobile for touch input then HTC would probably love to switch over to a capacitive screen. As it is the company is left trying to paper over the cracks in Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional with its TouchFLO interface.

It has worked hard on this and it now looks very stylish and is relatively easy to use. There are some nice animations, especially the smooth transitions on the weather screen, but you still don't have to scratch very deep before you end up back in the unsightly Windows Mobile menus. What's more, running TouchFLO on top of Windows Mobile weighs down even the HD's speedy Qualcomm 528Mhz processor as the interface can feel quite sluggish at times.

On the plus side, the HD uses Opera Mobile 9.5 and this really does provide a top-notch browsing experience. It automatically re-orientates pages as you move the device from portrait to landscape view thanks to the HD's accelerometer, and although you can't pinch to zoom, you can double tap to automatically resize a picture or column of text, or scroll around the screen using a single finger. Pages are speedy to load over either Wi-Fi or HSDPA and its rendering engine rarely mucks up the layout of a site.

Naturally the phone also has built-in GPS and this works a treat with the Google Maps application. Using it in central London we found it was fairly quick to find a lock on enough satellites to pin point our location and good at holding onto a signal even when surrounded by loads of tall buildings - something which lesser GPS chips often struggle with.

Seeing as the iPhone is still stuck in 2-megapixel camera territory, the HD's 5-megapixel snapper could be a major selling point. However, apart from the autofocus feature the camera isn't as hot as the megapixel count would suggest. While shots are certainly usable, they're not in the same league as even those from a fairly cheap digital camera and not all that much better than most 3-megapixel camera phones. The lack of an LED flash also means that it's pretty useless for taking shots in low light.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Oliver Levett

November 24, 2008, 3:35 pm

I didn't realise things like native copy and paste, support for multitasking, proper exchange server support, support for third party SIPs, a native instant messaging client, and a lot more things i really can't be bothered to waste time typing weren't important to an OS...

Clearly you failed to notice the depth of alterations and innovations made by HTC to the device to make it more friendly to the "dumb phone" market (what the iPhone actually is), with things like a popup after a call asking whether you'd like to save the number to a contact, if the number isn't already linked to a contact, and the ability to use the device as a storage device, or tether it rather than connecting to ActiveSync/WMDC.

There some improvements that could be made to the OS, such as the integration of .NET CF 3.5 (that was released after platform builder for 6.1) instead of version 2.0 of the Framework.

Being able to use a stylus allows you to do things you can't do on an iPhone. Handwriting recognition anyone?

Also, your statement about using an SD card to expand the "288MB of RAM" seems slightly ridiculous, unless you can get a truly outstanding data rate accross the SD interface I think you meant expanding the ROM, which is 512MB rather than the 288MB of RAM.


November 24, 2008, 4:13 pm

> Being able to use a stylus allows you to do things you can't do on an iPhone. Handwriting recognition anyone?

I think the iPhone has proved beyond all doubt that a stylus just isn't necessary any more. Handwriting recognition? How 90's... I (and most people in the digital age) can type faster than they can writ anyway.

Francis Phillips

November 24, 2008, 5:00 pm

Its interesting that Jonathan Bray who is a regular Trusted Reviews contributor gave this phone 5 Stars (the maximum) in this months PC Pro. The inconsistency between your reviewers is becoming more and more noticeable.

Whatever anyone says about WM it cant be denied that its connectivity, particularly in the area of syncing is unsurpassed. With most phones you cant sync between a number of computers whereas WM allows syncing with my work server via exchange and syncing between my home PC & Laptop so my diary and contacts are the same on every device I use. Try doing that so easily with any other OS.


November 24, 2008, 5:10 pm

@Oliver, Crikey! the mere mention of the word I-Phone and you've gone ballistic. But to be honest these constant I-Phone haters venting there anger is getting a bit tiresome. If you don't want one, and MMS & Cut'n'Paste is so important, then don't buy one, not too complicated is it?, And the fact of the matter is, if it wasn't for Apple they wouldn't even be the (copycat, catchup) HTC.


November 24, 2008, 5:41 pm

@Francis Phillips - Jon Bray isn't with us anymore and is speaking to a different (presumably highly tech-centric) audience now. Consequently I can understand his willingness to give the Touch HD a higher score and I don't see it as inconsistency at all.

That said, he doesn't write from TR these days and we are not responsible for the reviews he writes elsewhere or what his motivations might be.


November 24, 2008, 5:52 pm

I change my phone at the end of February, and I would have gone for this without hesitatation if it wasn't for one thing - the fact that Windows Mobile 6.5 will not be available to update onto exsiting Windows Mobile devices.

Having tried the iPhone I'm not a fan, and will therefore be kept waiting until something beter comes out early next year. Fingers crossed...

Francis Phillips

November 24, 2008, 6:05 pm


Jon Bray is still shown as a contributor on your 'about us' page.

Andy Vandervell

November 24, 2008, 6:18 pm

Yes, it's badly in need of updating. Will sort this out soon.



November 24, 2008, 6:18 pm

@Francis Phillips - the site will be updated in due course.


November 24, 2008, 6:19 pm

Besides the reviews, I really enjoy reading the comments on this site just as much as the comments on Randall kennedy's blog @ infoworld, because you get a lot of very opinionated chaps. Well the review was alright but will rather wait for microsoft to release the new windows mobile OS before i plunge some cash into a brand new phone. Besides i am too broke after buying the M6400(http://www.adoniteink.com/r.... Need my pockets to recuperate.


November 24, 2008, 6:55 pm

@all - I find it hard to justify the purchase of ANY Windows Mobile handset right now (regardless of its merits) in the knowledge Windows Mobile 6.5 will be unveiled in early February at WMC and seemingly won't be available to WM6.1 owners...


November 24, 2008, 8:10 pm

I'm currently using an O2 Exec PPC and was considering this as a top class upgrade but I was not aware I wouldnt be able to move over to WM 6.5! Thanks for the heads up, guess more waiting for me.

This is a great looking phone though, the interface is slick and im guessing it would make video on the move amazing!

Michael 8

November 24, 2008, 9:35 pm

I usually enjoy the reviews here but I find this one somewhat lacking. Yes it uses WM 6.1 and everyone hates it, but surely in reviewing a flagship product, that is hotly awaited, a more detailed and balanced review would be needed. No Android, who cares! Android is still not up to scratch from what I've read and probably won't be for a few more months. The fact that I survive quite happily on my antiquated WM 5 surely means there are a lot of other people out there who want a more thorough, non WM bashing, review. Any chance?


November 24, 2008, 9:51 pm

"No Android, who cares! Android is still not up to scratch from what I've read and probably won't be for a few more months."

I've heard this quite a lot recently and it really is missing the point of early criticisms of Android. Yes, Google's mobile operating system isn't perfect yet but it is still far and away better than WM. I would actually rather have the G1 than the Touch HD.

Michael 8

November 24, 2008, 10:21 pm

Personally I'd rather have a phone (not G1) that ran Android but I'm willing to wait and stick with WM for now and I'd imagine there are many others out there like me. What I think was missed from my prior comment is the lack of a proper review as this one is clearly more interested in complaining about WM whilst throwing in a few positive comments. At the end of the day a reviewer should strive to remain impartial and review a product based on its merits rather than solely talking about the competition, (a necessary part of reviewing but not the be all ...). After all every blog I've read on this product ended with the words, install Android, and as a long time reader I'd like to think TR is a step above that.


November 24, 2008, 10:24 pm

Well, we went with "The most telling thing about the Touch HD is that everyone we showed it to asked why Google didn't use this as the phone to launch Android."

So we're a little above it ;)


November 24, 2008, 10:31 pm

Thank you for a fine and balanced review. As opposed to some of the above comments I don't think it is completely out of touch with the general reviewer consensus.

I also think the wish for Android on the Touch HD is complete logic. Basically what you have is a potentially exciting OS on disappointing hardware, and an ancient OS on an exciting piece of hardware. To me it seems like a no-brainer to combine the two halves.

And why is it that a Windows Mobile (business) phone need to have a nice design? It is not really the users who buy it is it? In reality it is some cost conscious accountant who makes the decision, with a bit of input from the IT division. Not that I am any expert, but this is how I imagine it must work.

And one last thing, where does this rumour that WM 6.1 won't be upgradeable to 6.5 come from? I got the opportunity to ask a PR guy from HTC Denmark about upgrading from 6 to 7, and he said it won't happen, specifically for the touch HD. Ever since 6.5 was revealed I have kept my eyes peeled on any info on upgrading and haven't seen anything, until this comment jumps up out of nowhere. I mean, we haven't even seen anything of it except for some obviously fake screenshots posted last week on this site.

So please, a link or a source, anything to substantiate this claim would be appreciated, since it would certainly kill off any considerations I had of buying the Touch HD.


November 24, 2008, 11:13 pm

"I would actually rather have the G1 than the Touch HD"

It's official...you're nucking futs!


November 24, 2008, 11:22 pm

@Jesper - it came up when Microsoft revealed it won't allow Pocket IE 6 to be installed on any existing WM6.1 handset: http://www.trustedreviews.c...

PIE 6 is core to Windows Mobile 6.5, so to disallow a browser upgrade but to allow an entire OS update with this browser at its heart would be madness.

I've also had it hinted at by a industry source who doesn't wish to be named, but I can't say anything concrete until February I'm afraid. Hence the general suggestion that it "seemingly won't be available to WM6.1 owners"...


November 24, 2008, 11:23 pm

@lifethroughalens - standing up for Ed here. I don't even like the G1 handset, but I'd rather have it with Android than the Touch HD with this software implementation. It's ALL about the software I'm afraid.


November 24, 2008, 11:35 pm

"standing up for Ed here"

when do you guys ever, not get each other's back on TR?! The G1 is a rubbish handset. Yes, the Android OS is (still in it's infancy) far superior to any WM (in it's twilight!) phone, indeed i've slated WM loads of times on this site. But to say that you'd rather have a G1 over the Touch HD solely because you hate WM is very short sighted....(cutting your nose off to spite your own face, anyone?)

I'll tell you what, I'll happily swap a G1 for your Touch HD ;o)


November 24, 2008, 11:56 pm

@lifethroughalens - only if I agree with them ;)

And amusingly I think you're being very shortsighted because the hardware is fixed but the software can change. The G1 - despite being a poor piece of hardware - will now only get better. The Touch HD is now the best it can be and will only fall behind the imminent Windows Mobile 6.5 and all future Android updates.


November 25, 2008, 12:17 am

"And amusingly I think you're being very shortsighted because the hardware is fixed but the software can change"

Well, that's kind of my point too, the hardware of the G1 is rubbish. If you want to use an obsolete & ugly handset for your 18 month contract, be my guest. The HD Touch is king of the crop at the moment (hardware) and that a lot more appealing to me to use for 18 months over the G1.

As soon as Android makes it in to any other half-decent spec phone then this argument will be null and void anyway. Luckily for me I don't have to plump for the WM HD (on Orange- YUK!) since my contract ecpires in Feb when there should be some proper Android handsets and WM 6.5 to choose between.

I know it's all in the software, but really....a G1 over the HD? Oh dear, WM isn't *that* bad :)

Michael 8

November 25, 2008, 12:43 am

Depending on how deep your pockets are, the hardware can change as often as you want. I'll come clean and admit though that I've bought a Touch HD and am awaiting delivery; having said this though, I am truly convinced that with the occasional envious glances at new OSes and phones in 2009 that this phone will keep me going for the next two years. I've lived off a K-Jam for two years so having a Touch HD is not really a hardship.

At the end of the day people need to remember that the Iphone, for example, is successful because it looks good on top of a great OS. For me, having WM 6.1 doesn't detract from the hardware benefits (and looks) of the phone at least for a couple of years. Does that make me shallow? A little, but I will enjoy the new technology confident that in two years times I'll probably be buying a new HTC with Android as the OS.

By that point, there will be something else to argue over and at the end of the day I want a phone now and am not willing to wait for something better. After all, as with all technology, six months is a short time for something new and fabulous to appear.


November 25, 2008, 1:00 am

Now now kids! Let's all be reasonable about this issue...

We all know that these devices have different hardware specs, and they come with different software installed on them.

We all should know that the hardware capability married with the software engineered for it will deliver the end user experience.

Taking the cue from the current 'popular choice' leader (Apple iPhone), we can see that only so many changes can come through software updates, enabling features that the hardware can support.

As a consumer aware of the money i pay for these things, i tend to see what i can get out of a device not just today, but in the near to not-too-distant future. I look at the cost, i look at the spec sheet, and i look at the potential of the device to either piss me off or keep me happy until a suitable upgrade comes along.

If i look at the iPhone 3G, i can see that may capabilities within the hardware are within my grasp, because all that is required is either a jail-break or an App or an official Apple update to enable the functionality. Ditto with the G1, whether you like how it looks or not.

Can you say the same about the Touch HD?

(1) - 800 X 480 res screen is pretty to look at, might initially be fun to poke at with a stylus, but ultimately doesn't point to what such a powerful-sounding device can do..

(2) - 500+MHz processor, and it can still 'feel sluggish' - that does not point to a good future for the device. progress should make things quicker, smoother, less hassle, less of a pain..

If you are used to doing things that way, fine.. But don't get all up in a huff about people who are yearning for the sort of progress which would bring competition to a seemingly elite market.

(@ lifethroughalens)...

Show me a fully functional windows mobile device that can complete a set task with fewer finger/stylus taps and error correction than either a G1 or an iPhone, and i'll show you progress!


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