Last June I reviewed the HTC Touch and was less than impressed. To me the Touch was a desperate attempt by HTC to cash in on the hype surrounding the, as yet, unreleased Apple iPhone. The reason that this strategy annoyed me so much is that I'm a big fan of what HTC does, and I view it as a company that innovates rather than imitates. The Touch was simply a bog standard Windows Mobile device wearing a party dress called TouchFLO. Now I have the successor to the Touch before me in T-Mobile guise - HTC call this device the Touch Dual, but this T-Mobile model is called the MDA Touch Plus. The obvious question is whether this new device is better than the original Touch, and the simple answer is yes.
I'll cover the most obvious enhancement first - the sliding mechanism. Like the plethora of "slider" phones that have flooded the market over the past few years, the front fascia of the Touch Plus slides up to reveal a keypad, saving you the hassle of using a soft keypad whenever you need to dial a number. Having the physical keypad within easy reach also means that you can make use of your T9 skills for writing text messages and emails, rather then the tiny and fiddly Windows Mobile virtual keyboard. Surrounding the standard 16 button numeric keypad are a Backspace button and shortcuts to the Windows Mobile Start menu, your email and Web ‘n' Walk - the latter basically opens up Internet Explorer.
At first the keypad feels quite flat and lacking in tactile feel, but after using it for a while I found that the buttons had a good response, while the smooth finish did little to disrupt fast texting. What's interesting is that HTC produces two versions of this device, with the other version sporting a 20 button keypad, with a similar layout to the BlackBerry Pearl handsets. The 20 button version is aimed more at the mobile email user, where the predictive text is even more accurate thanks to there being fewer letters per button. I can however, understand why T-Mobile has chosen to go with this version, due to its intrinsic simplicity - it basically makes the Touch Plus feel more like a phone than a Windows Mobile device, which is no bad thing.
Compared to the original Touch, the Touch Plus is slightly slimmer and longer, while being slightly thicker - 107 x 55 x 16mm compared to 100 x 58 x 14mm (LxWxD) - but what's really surprising is how little thickness has been added by the sliding keypad. T-Mobile claims a weight of 120g which is only slightly heavier than the 114g of the original Touch, although placing the Touch Plus on the TrustedReviews scales revealed a weight of 131g. Also the slightly slimmer width has resulted in a screen size of 2.6in instead of 2.8in, although the 240 x 320 resolution remains the same.