Hot on the heels of the Touch Diamond comes HTC’s Touch Pro, a more business-centric version of its little brother. Along with a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, the Touch Pro gets more RAM, a microSD card slot for expandable memory and a flash for the 3.2-megapixel camera.
Where the Touch Diamond is more of an iPhone 3G competitor, the Touch Pro fills the void for heavy e-mailers who wouldn’t be impressed with a touch screen–based keyboard. The stylish design emphasis remains, but the slide-out QWERTY keyboard is a nice addition. The keys are small and relatively flat, but are easy to get used to. We would have appreciated a bit more space between each key though, as it is easy to accidentally bump the incorrect button. A nice touch was the caps and function status light just above the keyboard, similar to those on a regular PC keyboard.
As with the Diamond, HTC deserves credit for an excellent design. Despite being reasonably thick, the Touch Pro is still one of the more stylish smartphones on the market. The gloss black finish on the rear of the Diamond has been replaced with a matte black one, which is good news for those who hate fingerprint smudges.
The Touch Pro features a full touch screen and stylus, but HTC has also included a navigational pad and touch-sensitive scroll wheel, in addition to home, back and call keys. The 2.8in display is crystal clear and has an excellent viewing angle, though we were disappointed it doesn’t tilt like the TyTN II. A neat touch is the magnetic stylus storage slot; the stylus clicks neatly into place. Removing the stylus automatically wakes the screen from power save mode.
The TouchFLO 3D interface once again looks superb and its design and layout are highly commendable. On the Home tab, a large flip-style clock displays the time; swiping your finger upwards allows you to view calendar appointments. For the rest of the functions a row of icons sit in a tabbed interface across the bottom of the screen. You press down on the active tab and slide your finger left or right across the tabs to cycle through the menu selections. The animations are excellent, particularly the weather application, which shows raindrops hitting the screen and then being wiped away by a windscreen wiper when showers are forecast. Cycling through music albums and e-mail messages reveals more eye candy.
HTC has clearly gone out of its way to push Windows Mobile into the background as much as possible, but it's ultimately not enough. Despite commendable graphics and the stylish user interface of TouchFLO 3D, once you delve deeper into most applications you'll quickly realise this is still a Windows Mobile handset despite the coat of paint.
Conveniently, when the keyboard is slid open the device reveals a handy shortcut menu with commonly accessed shortcuts including e-mail, messages, bookmarks and calendar. One annoying glitch is that when typing in passwords for Wi-Fi networks you aren’t able to enter the password using the physical keyboard. Instead an on-screen keyboard appears.
Selecting menu items and sliding through menus with your finger requires a firm press. If your finger is slightly incorrectly positioned when attempting to slide, swipe or touch certain menus, you won't get a response. Speed is also an issue — we regularly experienced lag and slowdown when opening and closing applications, selecting menu items and using functions like e-mail and messaging, though there is definitely an improvement over the Touch Diamond in this regard (mainly thanks to the extra RAM).
Call quality is average, though it can be difficult to hear in a noisy environment. The Touch Pro’s screen goes into power-save mode when you’re on a call, which can be an issue if you need to use an automated switchboard. To access the keypad, you need to press a button to wake up the screen.
Despite these issues, there are plenty of positive features. The bundled Opera Mobile browser offers a reasonable Web browsing experience and is certainly much better than the standard Internet Explorer application. The built-in accelerometer automatically rotates a Web page, and you can zoom and pan using finger gestures. Pages loaded swiftly over 3 Mobile’s HSDPA network; videos in the YouTube application were also fairly quick.
The Touch Pro features Wi-Fi, A-GPS and A2DP Stereo Bluetooth (an important inclusion considering the USB headphone connection). While the included headphones are average, the port location at the bottom of the unit means you'll have to have the Touch Diamond upside down in your pocket when using them. Finally, HTC has done away with the 4GB of internal storage seen on the Diamond and instead provided a microSD card slot for removable memory.