HTC Touch Pro
After a slight delay, the HTC Touch Pro for Sprint has reported for duty. Described by the carrier as “the sophisticated approach to business,” the Touch Pro mostly delivers on that claim. The overall look of the device and HTC 3D TouchFlo interface is definitely sophisticated, and there’s plenty of features to keep the mobile professional happy–Windows Mobile 6.1, EV-DO Rev. A, Wi-Fi, GPS, just to name a few things . The Windows Mobile smartphone also expands on the capabilities of the HTC Touch Diamond with a full QWERTY keyboard, an expansion slot, and a couple of extra business tools.
Of course, it’s not all roses and peaches. There are some design issues, and the smartphone can feel underpowered at times, but we’d say the pros outweigh the cons. It’s one of the most feature-packed and powerful smartphones in Sprint’s lineup, and offers business users a device that can keep you productive and entertained on the road. The HTC Touch Pro is available now for $299.99 with a two-year contract (after rebates and with a $25-or-higher data plan).
From straight on, the HTC Touch Pro looks much like its sibling, the HTC Touch Diamond, with its sleek, smoky mirrored face, rounded edges, and attractive silver trim. Of course, the big difference is the addition of the slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which is a boon for messaging fanatics but also consequently adds some bulk to the smartphone. At 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and 5.3 ounces, the Touch Pro is thick and heavy, making for a pretty tight fit in a pants pocket, but it’s a more compact device compared with the HTC Mogul. The handset has a solid construction and features a soft-touch finish on back for extra texture. However, instead of a burgundy cover like the Touch Diamond, the Touch Pro has a silver back, which is somewhat plain but a more safe color for the corporate-centric smartphone.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard adds extra thickness and weight to the HTC Touch Pro, making it a slightly bulky handset.
The Touch Pro features the same 2.8-inch, 262,000-color touch screen and 3D TouchFlo interface as the Diamond. With a 640×480 pixel resolution, everything looks incredibly sharp and vibrant on screen. The touch screen is responsive and works well with the 3D TouchFlo interface. There is a toolbar along the bottom of the screen that lets you scroll left to right and launch applications with one touch. In several of the programs–more specifically e-mail, the camera, and music–you can go through your files and messages by swiping your thumb/finger up or down the screen, all with a cool animated 3D effect. While the Home screen is set to the Sprint theme by default, you can choose from others in the Settings menu as well as add items to the Today screen and change the background image.
On top of all this, the Touch Pro is also equipped with an accelerometer, so when you physically rotate the phone (left or right), the screen orientation goes from portrait mode to landscape mode. However, there are a couple of caveats. First, the accelerometer only works in certain applications, such as pictures, video, and Web browsing, but not for others like Office documents, Calendar, or e-mail when the phone is closed. We also found that at times, it takes some time for the screen to switch, and the delay was long enough to make us wonder whether the system froze. This was never the case, but the lag got to be pretty annoying. There is a utility called G-Sensor, which you can find in the Settings menu that lets you recalibrate the screen if you think it’s off.
The Touch Pro’s QWERTY keyboard features large buttons, but they’re a bit stiff to press.
The screen also changes to landscape mode when you slide open the keyboard, and you get a new menu layout of eight shortcuts (E-mail, Messages, Bookmarks, Web search, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, and Contacts), rather than the TouchFlo interface. To access the keyboard, you just slide the screen to the right, but we found the sliding motion wasn’t the smoothest. There’s a bit of friction that makes it feel like the front cover is grating against something. However, the phone feels sturdy enough to endure multiple openings and closings, and the screen securely stays in place. The Touch Pro keyboard features large buttons with a matte finish, giving it a nice nonslip texture. That said, we found them a bit stiff to press and again, we noticed a slight lag between the time we hit a button to the time it registered onscreen. We were still able to write e-mails and text messages with minimal mistakes, though not quite as fast we like, and we’re pleased that there’s a dedicated number row. In addition to the QWERTY keyboard, you get other input options, including an onscreen keyboard (full and compact QWERTY), block recognizer, and transcriber.
Below the display, you’ll find some phone controls, including a navigation toggle that’s both touch-sensitive and works as a traditional directional keypad.
Below the display you get a navigation array of Talk and End buttons, a Home shortcut, a back key, and a directional keypad with a center select button. In addition to pressing the latter up, down, left, or right, you can use your thumb or finger to make a clockwise or counterclockwise circle to zoom in/out of pages since the control is touch-sensitive.
On the left side, there’s a volume rocker and a power button on top. The camera is located on the back, and unlike the Touch Diamond, there is a microSD expansion slot, though you have to remove the back cover to get to it. There’s a mini USB port and a reset hole on the bottom of the phone. Unfortunately, like the T-Mobile G1, the USB port is the only option for connecting a headset. There is an audio adapter included in the box, but we’d rather just have the 3.5mm headphone jack built natively into the device. Hopefully, HTC will start doing this in future products. Also, of note, there’s no dedicated capture button, which we missed while trying to take pictures.
Sprint packages the HTC Touch Pro with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a 1GB microSD card, a wired headset, an audio adapter, a carrying case, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Billed as a business device, the HTC Touch Pro is fully stocked with productivity and communication options, as well as plenty of diversions for after work hours. Starting with phone features, the Touch Pro offers a speakerphone, voice dialing and commands, speed dial, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is only limited by the available memory and you can store multiple numbers for a single entry, as well as home and work addresses, e-mail, IM screen name, birthday, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or one of 59 polyphonic ringtones. The smartphone also has Bluetooth 2.0 that supports mono- and stereo-Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, file sharing, dial-up networking, and more. If you want to use the Touch Pro as a modem for your laptop, you will need to sign up for a Sprint Power Vision Modem Plan, which runs $39.99 per month for 40MB or $49.99 per month for unlimited.
The Touch Pro runs on Sprint’s EV-DO Rev. A network for faster Web browsing, e-mail, and downloads. The Rev. A offers an extra boost over regular EV-DO, bringing download speeds up to the 600Kbps-to-1.4Mbps range versus 400Kbps-to-700Kbps, while upload speeds will average around 350Kpbs to 500Kpbs (compared with EV-DO’s 50Kpbs to 70Kbps). Of course, this is all dependent if you live in a coverage area (you can find a coverage map from Sprint’s Web site). If you’re not one of the lucky ones, the Touch Pro also has integrated Wi-Fi, so you have another option for getting online. In addition to Internet Explorer Mobile, the Touch Pro also ships with the Opera Mobile HTML Web browser (version 9.5), which arguably gives you a better browsing experience with the ability to open numerous tabs, zoom and pan pages, bookmark sites, and more, all with ease.
The final wireless radio included on the Touch Pro is GPS/A-GPS, which means the smartphone will use both satellites and cellular triangulation to get a fix on your position. Plus, there’s a utility called QuickGPS installed on the device to speed up the time it takes to find your position by downloading the latest satellite information via an Internet connection. You can get some basic navigation tools with Google Maps but for more robust capabilities, you’ll have to turn to a location-based service (LBS) like Sprint Navigation. The LBS offers turn-by-turn text- and voice-guided directions, traffic updates, local search, and more. Sprint Navigation is free for the first day of use, but afterwards, you will have to pay $2.99 per day or $9.99 per month for unlimited use.
The HTC Touch Pro runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition and comes with Windows Live integration. For document management, you get the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, as well as ClearVue Presentation 5 Pro for creating, viewing, and working on PowerPoint presentations. The Touch Pro also has video-out capabilities, so you could even give presentations or show images from the smartphone onto an external display. Other PIM features include a business card scanner, Adobe Reader LE, a Zip manager, Jetcet Print 5 for connecting to a printer, a voice recorder, a calculator, a notepad, and a task manager.
Microsoft Direct Push Technology brings real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. The Touch Pro also supports HTML-formatted e-mail and you can access POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, which, in most cases, is a simple process of inputting your username and password. For quicker communication, Sprint offers three of the major instant-messaging clients–AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live Messenger, and there’s threaded text messaging for an IM-like chat view.
When you’re ready to relax, the HTC Touch Pro can take care of your needs with a number of multimedia features. You get the standard Windows Media Player 10 Mobile player with support for AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, WMV files, and more. Like the HTC Touch Diamond, there are also some multimedia extras on the Touch Pro, including a dedicated YouTube application, a streaming-media program, and a utility called MP3 Trimmer that allows you to cut and trim MP3 files and make them into ringtones. As far as memory, the Touch Pro 512MB ROM and 288MB RAM, and we’re happy to see that the Touch Pro has a microSD expansion slot, which was missing on the Touch Diamond.
Unlike the HTC Touch Diamond, the Touch Pro includes a microSD expansion slot, which is located behind the battery cover.
As an EV-DO-capable smartphone, you can access the carrier’s various multimedia services, including Sprint TV and the Sprint Music Store. Sprint offers these services as part of the Sprint Power Vision pack, which ranges in price from $15 to $25 per month. Sprint TV gives you access to programming from a variety of channels, including CNN, Comedy Central, and Sprint Exclusive Entertainment. In addition, you can listen to live streaming music and talk radio from Sirius, VH1 Mobile, and MTV Mobile. Meanwhile, the Sprint Music Store offers track downloads for $0.99 each, or you can get a six-pack for $5.94. However, be aware, that you no longer get a PC download included in that cost.
For a 3.2-megapixel camera, picture quality was a little disappointing.
Finally, the HTC Touch Pro features a 3.2-megapixel camera with up to 4x zoom and video-recording capabilities. The editing options are the same as those found on the Touch Diamond’s camera, which you can read about in our full review. Picture quality was a little disappointing for a 3.2-megapixel camera. Though we could make out the images, the colors looked gray and flat. There’s also some delay between the time you actually press the button to the time the image is actually captured, so be sure to keep your hand steady. Video quality was good, that is if you’re recording slow-moving scenes. Anything with action looked blurry and almost unwatchable.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) in San Francisco using Sprint service and call quality was generally good. There were a couple of times where voices sounded slightly muffled, but for the most part, we enjoyed admirable sound quality with very little distortion or background noise. We also had no problem checking flight information using an airline’s voice-automated system. Our friends also reported good results. Speakerphone quality was OK. We were able to carry on conversations, but there was some slight voice distortion. We paired the Touch Pro with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
Armed with a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM 7201A processor, the Touch Pro couldn’t quite seem to keep up with our needs at times. As we mentioned earlier, there was some sluggishness with simple tasks like changing screen orientation or composing messages, yet at other times, the smartphone was quite responsive. There is a task manager that can help optimize your phone’s performance but even so, we wish for better and more consistent overall performance.
With the combination of Sprint’s EV-DO Rev. A network and the Opera browser, surfing the Web on the Touch Pro was a good experience. Unfortunately, Sprint TV was a little problematic; there were a few occasions where a program wouldn’t launch and the network would time out. When we finally did get video, the quality wasn’t the greatest though fine for short amounts of time. We had much better luck with the YouTube application, as we enjoyed good-quality video and better download times. Music playback was decent for a smartphone. Nothing to write home about but we suspect most of you won’t be playing your songs through the speaker and instead will use headphones, which makes the inclusion of a standard headphone jack all the more important.
The HTC Touch Pro features a 1,340mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 3.75 hours. In our battery drain tests, the Touch Pro was able to beat the rated talk time slightly with a total of 4.25 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the Touch Pro has a digital SAR rating of 0.908 watt per kilogram.