Soon after reaching out to the HTC folks at CTIA, I received an HTC Fuze to review. The HTC Fuze is AT&T’s locked and branded version of the HTC Touch Pro. This is my first review unit from HTC, and hopefully the first of many. Within about an hour of getting the phone, I unlocked and unbranded it into an HTC Touch Pro (sans front-facing camera).
The Touch Pro is a Windows Mobile 6.1 device with a touchscreen. Although I’ve enjoyed other HTC products like the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1, I’m generally
deadly allergic to not a fan of Microsoft products – in fact, my last experience using Windows Mobile on the Samsung BlackJack scarred me for life :)
So I approached the Touch Pro with some trepidation. Fortunately, HTC put a lot of time and effort into improving the Windows Mobile experience with its own 3D-accelerated touch-based interface, TouchFLO 3D. The result? It makes Windows Mobile significantly more palatable. It’s not as intuitive as OS X on the iPhone but it’s more polished than S60v5 on the Nokia 5800.
The Touch Pro feels solid and well built. It’s about the same size and thickness as the Nokia N95 8 GB, but heavier. It looks very substantial and elegant despite being quite the fingerprint magnet. But it’s the gorgeous 2.8″ VGA (!) touchscreen and 5-row QWERTY keyboard that really shine.
The resistive touchscreen is very responsive, but I think this is a phone worthy of a capacitive touchscreen. Then again, there’s no capacitive touchscreen support in Windows Mobile yet. The QWERTY keyboard feels nice even after prolonged messaging sessions. The spring-assisted slider is well designed.
There is a plethora of Windows Mobile applications available for the Touch Pro, some built-in, like the usual suspects (Exchange, Internet Explorer and Media Player), others available for download, like Google Maps, Twikini, and Qik. But with TouchFLO 3D, HTC includes a collection of lovely touch-friendly applications, such as Opera Mobile, a music player, an image viewer and a weather widget, which all obliterate their Windows Mobile counterparts.
The Touch Pro camera is similar to the G1 camera. The 3 megapixel sensor appears to be identical, with auto-focus, excellent macro (requiring no user intervention), and decent low-light performance. Geo-tagging is supported via a tweak. The Touch Pro camera improves upon the G1 camera with better color balance, an LED flash, a zoom, video recording, and some manual settings.
The resulting pictures are quite good:
The D-pad is touch-sensitive (like Nokia’s Navi Wheel and iPod’s Click Wheel). Circling the D-pad in either direction allows zooming in the image viewer and seeking in the music player. The middle button on the D-pad is also the shutter button. Touching it focuses the camera and pressing it takes the picture. This works well, although I’d still rather have a dedicated 2-stage shutter button. Video recording is limited to CIF (352×288 pixels at 30 fps).
The Touch Pro is a pretty capable music player. It sounds better than average, with a really nice user interface. The mini-USB connector and micro-SDHC slot make it easy to transfer and store music. However, the lack of standard 3.5 mm audio connector is extremely annoying (an adapter is required) – ditto the lack of gapless playback.
With 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS, the Touch Pro is feature packed. Battery life is excellent, as expected for business-centric phone. Reception and call quality is good and the device is pretty stable. I only experienced one recurring problem: the Touch Pro would forget my WiFi scanning preferences when restarted.
Ultimately, the Touch Pro is great device that’s somewhat hampered by Windows Mobile. The TouchFLO 3D interface definitely improves the user experience, but I’d like to see an Android version of this phone. If you absolutely must use Windows Mobile, I strongly suggest you take a look at the HTC Touch Pro.