HTC Touch Pro2 £500
17th Jun 2009 | 10:00
It's big, and very clever, with full QWERTY keyboard and tilting screen
HTC Touch Pro2: overview
The HTC Touch Pro2 is the latest touchscreen marvel from HTC, a company that's currently bathing in the glory of a good run of fantastic handsets.
The last couple of Windows Mobile devices from HTC have been straightforward updates of its premier models – the style-conscious Diamond2 and now the business-centred HTC Touch Pro2 with its slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
HTC has been impressively consistent in moving its handsets forward, with ongoing improvements to its rather nifty TouchFLO 3D interface and other innovations.
The Pro2 is considerably larger and heavier than its predecessor, but it also has a bigger and better tilting touch screen as well as a much improved interface, and a new conference call facility which HTC has named 'Straight Talk'.
It's most definitely not cheap though– HTC clearly sees this as a high-end business device and for the most part, it lives up to its promises, delivering on messaging, connectivity, internet use and media playback, though as usual with HTC, the 3.2 megapixel camera leaves much to be desired.
HTC Touch Pro2 - Design, keyboard & calls
Make no mistake, this is a brick of a handset at 116x59x17mm and a whopping 179g.
Shy and retiring it is not, and if it's subtlety you're after, you'd be advised to look elsewhere. It has a more stylish look than its blocky predecessor though, with its silvered, bevelled sides, which makes the bulk a little easier to take.
WEIGHT: it's a heavy phone, and it's not the smallest, either
The screen sits flush with the casing, the smoothness of the front broken only by the only very slightly raised profiles of the four hard keys along the bottom of the screen: call start and stop/home, back and Windows.
The sides seem wilfully lacking in accoutrements with just a volume rocker on the left side, reset slot and stylus on the right, power button on top and USB 2.0 power/headphone socket on the bottom.
Around the back is the 3.2 megapixel camera lens, microphone and large Straight Talk speaker for conference calls, plus a mute button. The back panel feels a little flimsy incidentally, and didn't always click easily back into place after we'd opened it.
The Touch Pro2's QWERTY keyboard slides out to the left with a satisfying thunk to reveal a fully specified five lines of keys. It comes very close to what you'd get on a standard computer keyboard.
TYPING: they on-screen keyboard compliments one of the best slide-outs we've seen
The keys are well spaced, stand slightly proud of the base and they're backlit too. Each is slightly rounded and made of an extremely tactile rubberised plastic.
In practise it's very easy to use with the thumbs and it's even just about big enough to rest it on a desktop and use your fingers just like a proper grown-up keyboard.
And if you do decide to use it this way, the Touch Pro2 has a little trick up its sleeve – you can lift up the screen to an angle of about 45 degrees, which makes it easier to view if you're not holding it in your hands
TILT: the screen tilts so you can put the phone on a desk and type on the keyboard
It's so good that you'll have little need to use the onscreen keyboard, which isn't too shabby either – a little snug in portrait mode perhaps, but still perfectly usable, though the extended landscape version is better, even though it's pretty much made redundant by the hard keyboard.
Call quality seemed good on the Touch Pro2; clear and crisp, plus you can get a fair level of volume out of it.
The phone interface is well laid out too, with big number buttons, and it will suggest alternative phone numbers as you tap, so if you've called a number before, you'll only ever need to tap in the first few digits in future.
It's designed with conference calls in mind and there's an easy interface option to set up multi-party calls from the phone layout. You'll need to set it up with your network first though.
Once your call is set up, you can put the phone face down on a desk to reveal the large, loud, noise-cancelling Straight Talk speaker on the back. There's also a useful mute button which glows red or green to indicate whether or not it's in use.
HTC Touch Pro2 - Screen and interface
The Pro2's luxuriously large 3.6-inch touchscreen (that's 79x47mm by the way) offers a resolution of 480x800 pixels.
It's bright, sharp and clear, with all the usual Windows Mobile options for dimming and limiting backlight to save on battery life.
With all that screen acreage on display, it's useful that it comes with a neat little leather-look pouch, though this bulks it out more, and there's no clip for attaching it to a belt.
FLIP: the accelerometer flips the screen when you tilt it to landscape
Sensitivity is just about right (which is just as well, since there's no way to adjust it) and it had very few problems distinguishing between a press and a swipe
The TouchFLO 3D interface, which sits on top on the Windows 6.1 Professional operating system, seems to be getting better with each new release from HTC.
The familiar icons are all present and correct, with the menu bar at the bottom of the screen which you can brush through to find your preferred function.
PIXELS: the resolution of 480x800 is higher than most other touchscreens
You can also brush across the entire home screen to access each of the functions in turn. Windows Mobile 6.1 is buried even deeper than previously since pressing the Start button now brings up a shortcuts screen with large, thumb-friendly buttons to which you can add up to 30 of your favourite apps.
There's also an iPhone-style scrolling menu with large icons which can be easily accessed with the thumb – so no need to fiddle with the stylus.
HTC Touch Pro2 - Camera
Sad to say that HTC still hasn't cracked the camera issue on its smart phones – they always seem a little underspecced and underperforming.
This one sports 3.2 megapixels, with a maximum resolution of 2048x1216 megapixels, but there's no flash, no self-portrait mirror and not a great deal in the way of extra features.
CAMERA: it's a fairly basic one, and falls behind many of its rivals in this respect
It has autofocus, a 2x digital zoom, some colour effects, a panorama setting, ten-second timer and touch focus, which allows you to set the central focus of the frame by touching the screen.
The panorama stitching was easy to do but the stitching tended to be a bit wobbly, and the touch focus option didn't really seem to make much difference. In good light pics are fair, though edges aren't as sharp as we'd like, and colours aren't as properly rendered as they should be. In less than good light it's even worse – a disappointment really
OPTIONS: the cameras options and settings are fairly limited
Video records at 640x480 pixels but it finds movement too much of a struggle to avoid regular blurring. There's also a bog standard VGA camera on the front for video calling
CLOSE-UP: photos don't look too bad when they're viewed on the phone's screen...
...but when viewed in maximum resolution on a PC screen, the absence of detail is very clear
LIGHT: the camera is fairly comfortable in well-lit areas with plenty of soft light
DARK: but it struggles when there's not an abundance of light
COLOURS: they're washed out, and the sensor doesn't do at all well with contrast
PANORAMA: the phone stitches photos together pretty competently
HTC Touch Pro2 - Internet, media and messaging
Browsing on the Touch Pro2 presented few problems, but the widescreen dimensions of the display means that web pages can sometimes appear a little cramped, with borders on left and right.
Opera is preloaded, though you can also use Internet Explorer, and access is fast via Wi-Fi or HSDPA 3G link (with up to 7.2Mbps download).
FLIP: The onboard accelerometer will automatically switch the screen resolution to landscape mode when you turn the phone on its side. Opening the QWERTY keyboard has the same effect.
The big screen presents text well, you can brush your finger across it to move pages around and HTC's zoom bar on the right-hand side of the landscape screen makes it easy to focus on the bits you want (or you can double tap the screen for an extra quick zoom).
RENDERING: web page display is excellent, with intuitive zooming and navigation
The keyboard is of course a boon for inputting URLs and other data and there's an RSS hub to keep you up to date. It also comes with a YouTube app for easy browsing and viewing of the video site.
Watching video on the Touch Pro2 is a joy. The screen is just 0.2in smaller than the jewel in HTC's video-playing crown, the Touch HD, but it has the same pixel resolution and in comparison, we couldn't really see that much of a difference.
MUSIC: browsing your library is quick, easy and you're listening in seconds
It can show WMV, ASF, MP4, 3GP, 3G2, M4V, AVI formats and we found that it retains the aspect ratio of video clips rather than adjusting them for the screen, showing widescreen movie trailers in letterbox format.
Thankfully the screen is big enough for this not to provide much of a problem.
Music via Windows Media Player offered no real problems either, and there's a ten-band graphic equaliser with 21 presets to help you get the sound you want. It supports a good range of formats, to wit: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A.
The sound is generally pretty good and it will go surprisingly loud, though HTC's distinctive headphones are only so-so, and if you want to upgrade them you'll need an adapter for the USB 2.0 slot (none supplied). We were also a bit disappointed there was no FM radio, like you get with the Touch Diamond2.
Setting up POP3 email on the Touch Pro2 proved very easy, with only the need for email address and password to get started
EMAIL: it's easy to get going and with no fiddly option screens to flick through
HTC Touch Pro2 - Connectivity and GPS
The Pro2's a well-equipped handset, with quad-band GSM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (with stereo A2DP) and USB 2.0, plus a TV out facility for showing off your pics and videos on the big screen, though there's no cable supplied.
The Touch Pro2 comes with A-GPS and Google Maps, both of which worked perfectly well. There's no sat nav offering supplied as standard, though some dealers are offering packages with big-name sat nav providers, but you'll have to pay extra for the privilege.
Windows Office and Adobe Reader are pre-installed, allowing you to create and view Word, Excel and OneNote docs, as well as view PowerPoint docs and PDFs.
But there's also JETCET Presentation, which allows you to edit PowerPoint docs.
There's also instant messaging with Windows Live Messenger, Java games, including Teeter, which makes use of what HTC calls a G-Sensor (and the rest of us call an accelerometer), stock quotes, weather updates and a calendar.
The HTC Touch Pro2 has 512MB of onboard memory backed by 288MB of RAM, and you can add up to 16GB via microSD card.
The card slot is under the casing, but not the battery, so you can hot swap if necessary. The processor incidentally hasn't been upgraded, it's the 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A, which did a good job of keeping things running smoothly, even with several apps open at once.
A big old smart phone should have a big old battery and the one on the Touch Pro2 fits the bill. HTC quotes up to 510 minutes of talk time (GSM) and up to 750 hours of standby, but in practise we got decent but not spectacular two days and a little more out of it, with Wi-Fi switched on, though we did limit the screen time and brightness.
HTC Touch Pro2 comparison with HTC Touch Diamond2:
HTC Touch Pro2
The Touch Pro2 is very much a business phone – big and bulky, with a QWERTY keyboard too. It has the very latest version of the TouchFLO 3D interface, which includes a modified, thumb-friendly Windows menu and the luxurious 3.6in screen is great for viewing video.Size: 116x59x17mm, 179g.
- Screen: 3.6in TFT LCD with WVGA resolution
- Camera: 3.2 megapixels
- Memory: 512MB onboard, up to 16GB microSD
- Connectivity: Quad-band GSM, HSDPA 3G, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi
- Slide-out QWERTY keyboard: Yes
- FM radio: No
- Battery life: Talk time 390mins, standby 750hrs
HTC Touch Diamond2
The Touch Diamond2 is aimed at iPhone-averse gadget fans. It's much more pocketable than the Pro2 and it has a superior camera, though it still falls behind better 5 megapixel camphones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and Samsung.
- Size: 108x53x14mm, 118g
- Screen: 3.2in TFT LCD with WVGA resolution
- Camera: 5 megapixels
- Memory: 512MB onboard, up to 16GB microSD
- Connectivity: Quad-band GSM, HSDPA 3G, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi
- Slide-out QWERTY keyboard: No
- FM radio: Yes
- Battery life: Talk time 340mins, standby 360hrs
HTC Touch Pro2 - TechRadar verdict
The HTC Touch Pro2 is designed as a premium business handset and almost everything about it cries out to be noticed, from its acres of screen space to its tilting QWERTY keyboard.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is a little marvel – very easy to use with well-spaced keys, including shortcuts to email, text messaging and the web. We also liked the way the screen can be tilted to a 45 degree angle, which makes viewing easier if you choose to rest it on a desktop.
And speaking of the screen, it's 3.6in of sharp, clear joy, which makes watching video and viewing web pages a very moreish activity. The browser too is easy and fun to use, the zoom bar at the side of the screen being particularly useful.
The latest version of HTC's TouchFLO 3D interface which sits on top of the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system is the best we've yet seen, with additional levels that mean you have even less reason to reach for the stylus.
We didn't like:
It might pack in a lot of features but there's no getting away from the sheer bulk of the Pro2. It's big in every way and many will simply find it too cumbersome for everyday use.
The 3.2 megapixel camera will do the job but not as well as many of its rivals. That said, we'd rather have this camera than none.
We'd have liked the option to view videos as full screen, which wasn't always possible, and we'd have preferred it if the accelerometer always adjusted the screen's resolution, rather than being dependent on which programme you're in. For music, we'd have preferred better headphones, or at least a 3.5mm jack plug, and an FM radio.
If you can handle its size and weight, the quality screen, QWERTY keyboard, connectivity, messaging, A-GPS and additional features make the HTC Touch Pro2 is a great business tool which is also plenty of fun to use