As suggested by the presence of a stylus, the touch sensing is resistive and the screen is particularly soft and flexible making it very prone to scratches. There’s no protective pouch included in the box either. Thankfully, the screen is still very responsive and using just your finger to navigate is perfectly possible.
This is helped immensely by the combination of HTC’s TouchFLO 3D and the new WM 6.5 operating system, otherwise known as Windows Phone, which make finger operation much more manageable than previous versions of WM.
For instance, unlocking the phone is a simple slide gesture as are many other ‘switches’. The main programs and settings menus are also now split up into a grid of finger-friendly icons. Finger scrolling is also supported throughout so it’s quick and easy to navigate menus and web pages. HTC has also implemented a decent text entry system. There are options for a full QWERTY, compact QWERTY (two letters per key) and numpad arrangement of keys and all are easy to use with just your fingers. Sadly the lack of an accelerometer means there’s no landscape keyboard, which would allow the keys to be bigger and easier to hit accurately.
The much talked about Windows Phone marketplace is also available, giving you easy access to hundreds of new apps for your phone. Sadly the list is a little limited at the moment but it shouldn’t take long for this to grow and you can of course install the thousands of existing WM apps in the conventional way.
There are plenty of other little tweaks here and there that add up to a significantly better experience than previous WM phones but possibly the most obvious thing is just how fast this phone is. In particular this means all the fancy graphical wizardry of HTC’s TouchFLO 3D interface responds near instantly giving it the smooth, flowing, easy to use feel it should always have had. Programs also load very quickly and multitasking is a breeze as you can flick between different programs in the blink of an eye.
However, not everything is rosy. For a start, we still maintain that HTC’s TouchFLO 3D homescreen is actually quite an inefficient use of onscreen space and has more to do with style than substance. Also, dig a little deeper into menus and you get dropped back into a fairly un-finger-friendly interface. Even something as basic as the time/date menu, which is only one click away from the home screen, results in you having to poke away at tiny drop-down menus. If you have small fingers or long nails, it’s just about usable without resorting to the stylus but it’s still perplexing that such a fundamentally crude interface even exists. Both the Opera and Internet Explorer browsers are also a disaster thanks to really poor text-scaling. As you zoom out from a page, text becomes pixellated and unreadable rather than smoothly getting smaller and smaller, meaning you have to view pages at near 100 per cent to actually read them.
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The HTC Touch2 certainly isn’t the most inspiring piece of mobile phone hardware but it’s compact, light, very fast, and has all the essential features. Likewise, its Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system still trails way behind many alternatives but it’s still highly functional and is now just about usable without needing to resort to a stylus. Overall, then, the Touch2 is a good but not great smartphone.