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Early september 2009 the HTC Touch2 was announced by HTC as their first device with Windows Mobile 6.5 pre-loaded, together with the additional services Windows Marketplace for Mobile and Microsoft MyPhone.

During the local Windows Phones launch event on October 6th in Amsterdam, Netherlands the HTC Benelux was present as one of the strong partners of Microsoft Windows Mobile in addition to Samsung, LG, and Sony Ericsson.

In addition of the local announcement of the HTC HD2 by Mark Moons, HTC Benelux provided MobilityMinded with a HTC Touch2 to experience Windows Mobile 6.5 in combination with TouchFLO 3D. In the following article an in depth review of the HTC Touch2 is conducted, while hardware, functional design as well as software are addressed.

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Specifications HTC Touch2

In order to provide an overview of the possibilities of the HTC Touch2, a detailed specification list is shown schematically below:

  • Model:  HTC Touch2 (T3333)
  • Processor:  Qualcomm® MSM7225™, 528 MHz
  • Operating System:  Windows Mobile® 6.5 Professional
  • Memory:  512 MB ROM / 256 MB RAM
  • Dimensions (L x W x T):  104 x 55 x 12.9 mm. (4.1 x 2.16 x 0.51 inches)
  • Weight:  110 grams (4 ounces) with battery
  • Display:  2.8-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with QVGA resolution
  • Network:  HSPA/WCDMA: Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz, Up to 384 kbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds;  Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: Europe/Asia: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, Band frequency and data speed are operator dependent.
  • Device Control:  Zoom bar
  • GPS:  Internal GPS antenna
  • Connectivity:  Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g, 3.5 mm audio jack, HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0)
  • Camera:  3.2 megapixel color camera with fixed focus
  • Audio:  supported formats AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A
  • Video:  supported formats WMV, ASF, MP4, 3GP, 3G2, M4V, AVI
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, Capacity: 1100 mAh
  • Talk time:  Up to 370 minutes for WCDMA / Up to 440 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time:  Up to 500 hours for WCDMA / Up to 370 hours for GSM
  • Expansion Slot:  microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • AC Adapter:  Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60 Hz, DC output: 5V and 1A

In the upcoming hardware section the main hardware pieces and functional design of the HTC Touch2 will be adressed, but some key features are already highlighted in the list above.

Furthermore I would like to recommend an excellent review of Chris Davies, Editor at Slashgear, HTC Touch2 Windows Phone review“, in which a demo video of Windows Mobile 6.5 can be watched! Let’s start quickly with an in depth look of the HTC Touch2 hardware and design.

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1.  HTC Touch2 Hardware

In this first section I would like to have a detailed look at the HTC Touch2 hardware, the content of the retail box in which you get the HTC Touch2 and furthermore discuss the functional design of this Windows Phone.

In the picture above the contents of the HTC Touch2 retail box is shown. In addition to the device itself and the battery, a headset, a sync and charge cable, the wall charging plug and various manuals are included. Although you might find the box small, it is packed with a complete set of hardware (everything an end-user needs).

The picture below shows the front(side) of the HTC Touch2. The upper black part just above the HTC logo is a grille, behind which the charging LED and the front speaker are placed.

The middle part, which looks a little more dark grey is the 2.8-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen featuring a 240×320 QVGA resolution. Between the actual screen and the row with keys on the bottom, there is a touch sensitive zoombar, which we also know for the HTC Touch Diamond2 and the HTC Touch Pro2.

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Below the screen and zoombar there is a row with keys, in a minimalistic design. From the left to the right: (1) the talk button, to start a voice call or pick-up a phonecall (2) a home button, to easily get back to the homescreen (3) a Windows “logo / flag” button, to open the start menu (4) a Back button, which is typical for a Windows Mobile Standard device normally,  and (5) the end button, to end voicecalls.

The material of this bottom part including the keys is of brushed black aluminium. A similar minimalistc key implementation and layout can be seen on the recently announced HTC HD2, which was locally announced a few days ago by Mark Moons (HTC Benelux).

The picture below shows the clean right(side) of the HTC Touch2, while you just see a non-telescopic stylus on the left side in the picture. The middle part of the casing has a chrome finish, while the front and backparts have a metallic silver finish.

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The bottom(side) of the HTC Touch2 is shown in the picture below. On the right you can see the non-telescopic stylus again, while in the middle the HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0) port is shown. In comparison with for example the HTC Snap this is the right position for the mini ExtUSB-port. Furthermore I’m happy that the ExtUSB port is not covered with some rubber flap, which makes it easily accessible !

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The left(side) of the HTC Touch2 features a set of dedicated volume control buttons (on the left) for turning the volume up and down. In the middle the cover of a microSD™ memory card expansion slot is shown. The microSD card slot is SDHC or SD 2.0 compatible, while it is remarkable that the microSD card slot cover “snaps” under the batterycover.

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The top(side) of the HTC Touch2 only features a 3.5 mm audio jack, which is shown in the picture below. I’m really happy that end-users are able to use their own high quality headsets -for example Etymoyic Research ER-4-.

This implementation certainly shows that HTC listenes to the feedback from its users. Some time ago I wrote the article: “Micro USB and 3.5 mm headphone jack to become mobile standards ?” While an HTC employee told Jason Dunn, Windows Mobile MVP and Editor in Chief of PocketPC Thoughts, that the 3.5 mm. audio jack would become the standard on upcoming HTC devices, I’m really curious if HTC will adapt to the microUSB standard as well.

In addition to the 3.5 mm. audio jack you can see a small groove (slightly out of the middle) which makes it able to easily release the backcover of the HTC Touch2. A very simple but clever solution, that does the job perfectly in everyday practice.

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The back(side) of the HTC Touch2 has a metallic silver finish. on the backcover of the HTC Touch2 you notice directly an element with a chrome finish, which protects the 3.2 megapixel color camera with fixed focus. The dark grey slit on the left of the camera is a speaker, which is used when you play music or put the phone in speakermode.

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2.  HTC Touch2 Software

I already mentioned in the introduction that the HTC Touch2 is the first device on the market (certainly in the Netherlands) that features Windows Mobile 6.5.

In this section I will have a detailed look at both Windows Mobile 6.5 and the combination with HTC’s TouchFLO 3D user-interface. Finally I would like to show you some additional pre-loaded third party software as well.

REMARK:

The received HTC Touch2 has a localized Dutch ROM preloaded on the device, so therefore the screenshots consist of Dutch translations. However I honestly do hope that you will be able to get an idea of the device software and its functionality.

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2.1  Windows Mobile 6.5

In February, earlier this year I was able to cover the announcement and key features of Windows Mobile 6.5 in teh article: “MWC 2009: Windows Mobile 6.5 announcement & screenshots” In this paragraph I will look back at the key features of Windows Mobile 6.5 in a step-by-step way.

The left screenshot above shows the lockscreen of the HTC Touch2. This screen not only lets you unlock the HTC Touch2, but you can also take direct one-click action in the case of an incoming e-mail, sms or voicemail. In the right screenshot above you see the basic Windows Mobile 6.5 homescreen layout, with its Microsoft Zune-like influences. This renewed homescreen is to some extend pretty basic, however works well from a functional perspective.

Furthermore the screenshots below show you the new start menu with integrated settings menu, in the renewed honeycomb structure optimized for fingerfriendly use. More extensive background information about the new start menu an be found in the article above.

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In addition to the direct touch-related improvements on Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft launched two services as well. Directly after Mobile World Congres the first beta of Microsoft MyPhone was launched, and with the official Windows Phones launch on October 6th Microsoft MyPhone is launched with new premium features! The screenshots below show some on-device screenshots of the Microsoft MyPhone service, which is bundled with every new smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.5

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The screenshots below show you some of the new premium features, like “locate your phone on a map” and sharing your pictures on you social networks. A more extensive article about the premium service and new features is written by my colleague and good friend Paul Willen.

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The second bundeled service which was launched together with Windows Mobile 6.5 is the service called Windows Marketplace for Mobile -an online application store where you can directly purchase applications on the go-. The screenshots below show you the homescreen and an application specific screen in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

In a sequence of articles I tried to cover different aspects -for example the payment mechanism- of the Microsoft online application store: “Windows Marketplace for Mobile coming to Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.0” and “Windows Marketplace for Mobile – Payments and Operators

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Arne Hess, Windows Mobile MVP and Editor in Chief of the::unwired, has written an interesting article as well about a “localization issue” of Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Unfortunately I have a similar experience with the local Dutch Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and I truely hope that there will be a fix / solution for this.

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2.2  HTC TouchFLO 3D – A detailed view

We all know that HTC has heavily invested in the development of their HTC TouchFLO 3D / HTC Sense userinterface. In the left screenshot above you can see that “only” TouchFLO 3D version 2.0 is included, while for example you can see TouchFLO 3D version 2.1 on the HTC Touch Pro2. You probably directly notice that this version has colored icons in the bottom TouchFLO 3D “navigation” bar. TouchFLO 3D on the HTC Touch2 consists of  11 (!!!) different tabs which will be shown in a step by step overview.

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A.  Start

The first tab is labelled “Start” and provides a true overview of your Windows Phone, showing time, weather, your agenda, alarm status and operator. When you push the home button on the bottom of the HTC Touch2 this is the screen you will get, since it gives you the actual status.

B.  Contacts

The left screenshot above shows the second tab called contacts, which is nothing more than a customizable grid in which you can add 12 preferred contacts. It are “just” shortcuts for dailing these contacts, and since this is TouchFLO 3D v2.0 it lacks the people centric communication approach, which was implemented first on the HTC Touch Pro2. If you are used to a certain feature it is hard to live without and, more because it lets you easily switch between the various communication modes.

C.  Messages

The right screenshots above shows you the latest SMS messages, which makes the name of the third tab “Messages” nothing more than a logic choice. With the use of gestures you can easily swipe or flip through the SMS messages, while via the Windows Mobile softkeys you can enter Pocket Outlook, or directly reply to a SMS message.

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D.  Mail

The fourth tab is devoted to mail, and analogue as in the messages tab you will get an overview of your last e-mails. However right next to the message you can see a few envelopes, which feature the different configured mail accounts. In this example it my Microsoft (Hosted) Exchange account and the MobilityMinded e-mail account are added on the HTC Touch2, so I can easily switch between accounts and swipe/flip through the different messages. Despite the relative small area the SMS messages and e-mails are very good readable !

E.  Internet

The right screenshot above shows the 5th Internet tab, which lets you easily open the Opera Mobile webbrowser, the YouTube viewer, or any other website which is configured under the favourites in this tab. Later in this review you will read more about the comparison of Internet Explorer 6 for Mobile and Opera Mobile 9.5.

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F.  Pictures and Video

The 6th tab in the HTC TouchFLO 3D GUI is called Pictures and Video’s and is closely integrated with HTC’s custom camera- and camcorder applications, as well as their own picture viewer. On the right you see thetouch buttons to open the applications, while you can easily flip through your pictures, in a same way we have seen with e-mails and sms messages.

G.  Music

Tab 7 is dedicated to playing and managing music on your HTC Touch2. Again touch buttons are used to go forward to the next song, or go backward to the previous song, and obvious you can play and stop the current song. :) However the Music tab is integrated with an Audio Management application that HTC includes on their devices.

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H.  Weather

Very helpful and something I use on a daily basis is checking the weather-forecast. Bassed on Accuweather information HTC has developed a really nice weather tab within TouchFLO 3D, which is shown in the left screenshot above. A similar approach is seen for example in the recently launched SPB Mobile Shell 3.5, in which weather forms a significant part of the GUI.

I.  Search on map

I’m not 100% sure if this was already included in TouchFLO 3D on the HTc Touch Pro2, but this tab cleverly combines Google Search and Google Maps. The example text shows the search string “pizzeria in Amsterdam”, and I personally tested with the search text “mcdonalds”. After you hit the search button, your current location is calulated and the nearest options of mcdonalds restaurants are shown in a list view on your device. I have seen a similar concept with Microsoft Live Search and customer-driven features !

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J.  Settings

The left screenshot above shows the settings-tab within TouchFLO 3D. It let’s you quickly configure and access the most important settings from you Windows Phone from withint TouchFLO 3D. Even with the improved start menu of Windows Mobile 6.5 the “shortcuts” witthin the settings-tab are one-click faster to access the specified settings.

K.  Programs

The right screenshot above shows the final Progams-tab of TouchFLO 3D. I can configure 18 (!!!) shortcuts to my most used programs, and therefore it helps in everyday life. Although it was not part of TouchFLO 3D on the HTC Touch Pro2 as a separate tab, the concept of this programs-implementation was seen on this device as well.

However if you look back at the released Windows Mobile 6.5 with improved start menu, in which settings and programs are merged, it is a little contradicting to see a HTC implementation which keeps these separated. Furthermore I do think that this might be a field of tension between the standard Windows Mobile 6.5 solution and the custom HTC TouchFLO 3D overlay. Closely related to this topic is also the fact that two browsers are pre-loaded on the HTC Tocuh2, which I will discuss in the section below.

2.3  Additional out-of-the-box software

You already noticed that the HTC Touch2 is a feature rich device, featuring the latest version of Windows Mobile as well as the well developed HTC TouchFLO 3D interface. In addition the HTC Touch2 is packed with a large bundle of third party software, and in this paragraph I will quickly discuss the most important software titles.

At first there are two browsers pre-loaded on the HTC Touch2: (A) the standard browser of Windows Mobile 6.5, which is Internet Explorer 6 for Mobile; and (B) the standard browser of the HTC TouchFLO 3D interface, which is  Opera Mobile v9.5. Both the screenshots below provide some background information about the browsers’ version and buildnumber.

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The screenshots below show both the browsers during “normal” use of looking up a website. While at first sight the overview might look the same, the menu’s are a little differently structured, and you can see furthermore that the Opera Mobile browser features a Google search box in the center of the screen so you can easily type in the URL or simply search based on keywords.

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You might think “Does it make sense to pre-load two browsers on your Windows Phone?”  Personally I do think it doesn’t, however I do understand the underlying dynamics of the combination Windows Mobile and HTC ThouchFLO 3D which both feature one browser. I honestly hope that in future it becomes more easily to exchange browsers and provide the end-user more choice. In this case it would mean work for both Microsoft and HTC since, Internet Explorer 6 for Mobile should be made available for download by Microsoft, while HTC should include the option within TouchFLO 3D or HTC Sense to “plugin” Internet Explorer 6 for Mobile easily.

Allright enough browser thoughts, lets look at some additional preloaded software. It is not really new, but certainly worthwhile to mention is the included RSS  Hub application. In fact it is the familiar Iliumsoft Newsbreak application, which is included on your device for free. In the right screenshot below an excellent YouTube viewer is shown, and if I’m informed correctly the credits for this application fully are HTC’s development work.

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However also a relative simple application like the calculator seems HTC’s development work, and therefore the company adds innovation both in terms of software and hardware. However I must admit that the calculator application is optimized for fingerfriendly use, and it works really well in practice.

New to me is the included MSN Money Widget, which shows me the latest important financial information like the situations on the world’s most important stock exchanges or simply the US Dollar / Euro exchange rate.

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The left screenshot below shows a great addition since a PDF reader is not standard in the Microsoft Office Mobile suite. Adobe Reader LE v2.5 is the pre-loaded PDF-reader, and to my experience this is a must have application for business users. So my compliments to HTC for bundling this piece of software with the HTC Touch2.

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Finally a 14-day trial of the CoPilot Live Navigation software is included on the HTC Touch2, while similar downloads were made available for the HTC Touch Pro2 in the recent history. I haven’t spent much time testing it, but it is a nice move to include a well known Navigation Suite on the HTC Touch2 so you are ready to go !!

3.  Conclusions and first overall thoughts

After this extensive review addressing the different aspects of the HTC Touch2 I can only concluded that this is a very feature rich device packed with a bulk load of helpful software. Despite the fact that the HTC Touch2 is aimed at the middle end of the market, I strongly believe that it is a very powerful device that gets most things done for a business professional as well.

Furthermore remark that this is the first Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphone on the market (in the Netherlands), while Samsung for example announced the Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade for the Omnia II on October 6th as well. I can only compliment HTC for packing a lot of features and connectivity options in a small formfactor, with an excellent combination of Windows Mobile 6.5 and the HTC TouchFLO 3D GUI. For example the lockscreen and the Microsoft MyPhone & Marketplace for Mobile services perfectly complement the HTC TouchFLO 3D interface.

I personally I do miss the people-centric-communication concept, but that is a matter of positioning and pricepoint. Furthermore the HTC Touch2 is also the first device where I can “feel” some tensions between the basic Windows Mobile 6.5- and HTC TouchFLO implementations.

In the review I made some points on these tension fields, but its good to summarize them here:  (1) Internet Explorer 6 for Mobile vs Opera Mobile webbrowser, (2) New Windows Mobile 6.5 start menu vs. Settings and Programs tabs in HTC TouchFLO 3D, (3) the Windows Mobile 6.5 homescreen vs. HTC TouchFLO 3D GUI. I’m curious to see how these tension fields will evolve over time, -and on different devices.

I would like to wrap-up that the HTC Touch2 is an excellent feature rich device that gives you excellent value for money! If you want to make the switch from a classic Nokia 3210, the HTC Touch2 is a perfect step to explore the smartphone market!

Finally I would like to recommend an excellent review of Chris Davies, Editor at Slashgear, HTC Touch2 Windows Phone review“, in which a demo video of Windows Mobile 6.5 can be watched!

Pricing and availability

“The HTC Touch2 will initially be available to customers on October 6 with broad availability in a variety of European and Asian markets in early Q4 2009. According to the local HTC Touch2 press release the pricepoint will be E299,- without a subscription.”

 
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