HTC Touch Pro 2 review

News 15:25, 4 Jun 2009

We review the HTC Touch Pro 2, a serious smartphone with a slide out Qwerty keyboard

HTC’s Touch Pro 2 is an absolute beauty of a smartphone. Yes, it runs Windows Mobile, which doesn’t always endear itself to us because of its fiddly user interface, but HTC’s TouchFLO 3D does much to deal with that situation. The screen is huge and superb to look at, and there is a very clever tweak to the build that makes using the device much easier compared to other devices.

There's a slide out Qwerty keyboard on the HTC Touch Pro 2 and when it's visible you can tilt the screen section upwards to an angle of 50 degrees. This means you can easily view the screen when the HTC Touch Pro 2 is sitting on your desk. We find this single feature absolutely marvellous and on its own it is enough to really draw us to the device.

But there is a lot more to the HTC Touch Pro 2 than a tilting screen. The Qwerty keyboard is impressive. There's a number row above the Qwerty row and all the keys are raised significantly from their surroundings. Holding the HTC Touch Pro 2 in both hands and tapping the keys with our thumbs allowed us to reach pretty good typing speeds. The on screen keyboards aren’t quite so good. The one in portrait format is a little cramped, though the landscape one is more spread out and so easier to use.

The screen is very responsive. One of the problems with touchscreens is that they can have difficulty differentiating between the beginning of a sweep and a tap. The HTC Touch Pro 2 seems to understand the difference and certainly when web browsing we had little difficulty panning around a web page and selecting links.

Underneath the screen there is a bar along which you can run a finger to zoom in and out. This doesn't function in every application but it does work in the web browser, when viewing photographs, and when looking at text. Beneath the ‘zoom bar’ are physical buttons for Call and End, back and the Windows Mobile Start menu.

The screen measures a generous 3.6-inches and its 480x800 pixels are sharp, clear and bright. If you are a keen data user, for example you spend a lot of time on the web, this screen could be ideal. The full screen view of web pages gives you the opportunity to pan around and select the place you want to zoom into very easily.

If we have a grumble about handling it relates to the accelerometer. There is one but it doesn't function in every application. It does work when viewing photographs and when using the web browser, though, and it is pretty quick to respond to turns of the device.

That large screen and the Qwerty keyboard coupled with some high quality build materials mean this is a large and heavy device. It weighs 178.5g which is getting on for double what some smartphones weigh. And it will trouble smaller pockets at 116mm tall, 59.2mm wide and 16.65mm thick.

The HTC Touch Pro 2 is a quadband smartphone with GPRS and EDGE. It supports HSPA with uploads to 2Mbps and downloads to 7.2Mbps, though what you actually get will depend on what your operator caters for.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS are all built in. There is a link to Google Maps so you can start taking advantage of the GPS immediately. There is TV-Out support, but no cable is provided. With 512MB of ROM and 288MB of RAM there is plenty of memory on board and straight out of the box our review sample had 252MB of free storage. You can add more with a microSD card, and a slot is under the back plate on the left edge of the casing.

As a 3G handset it's nice to see a front facing camera for two-way video calling. Not everybody makes use of this feature but if you do like to use it the camera will be welcome. The main camera is a little disappointing. It shoots at just 3.2 megapixels, has no flash, no self-portrait mirror, and few fancy shooting features. For all that it did produce fair photographs provided the lighting conditions were good. Not surprisingly indoors, lighting conditions deteriorated and so did its performance.

HTC's TouchFLO 3D interface has had another makeover for this smartphone. It retains both its very familiar look and the scrolling bar of shortcuts that sit along the bottom of the screen allowing you to quickly get to various aspects of the phone. Access to the calendar has been added to this bar. The makeover really comes in with the fact that TouchFLO goes a little deeper so that you hit the Windows Mobile user interface less.

For example when you press the start button instead of being given a list of applications as Windows Mobile likes to offer you get a 12 icon grid of shortcuts. You can scroll this down to see another 12. Most of the first 12 are preset but you can swap most of them for your own preferences and put your own favourites into the blank spaces.

Press the softmenu key to see ‘all programs’ and instead of the Windows Mobile icon-based listing you get a finger scrollable list. It isn't rocket science but it does help with finger access.

HTC wants this smart phone to appeal to business users as well as consumers and to that end it has included a feature called Straight Talk. This provides some help with setting up conference calls and lets you turn the HTC Touch Pro 2 into a speakerphone system simply by flipping the phone onto its front on the desk when you're in a call.

We have to admit to being not overly excited by the other fancy feature HTC is shouting about. Its so-called Push Internet facility is not much to write home about. You can set up web pages to automatically load at set intervals so that they are there when you want them. This is fine in theory but falls down a little in practice because: you can only set up four pages, you have to set them up outside of the web browser by choosing from the bookmarks list (which means you can't be in a page and suddenly decide you want it to be a push page) and the feature only works with bookmarks you have saved to Opera which is present in addition to Internet Explorer.

And we have one other grumble. The headset connector is miniUSB and the provided headset is one piece. If you are a keen music fan and want high-quality earphones you will need to purchase an adapter.

We had no trouble using the HTC Touch Pro 2 during our test period. Its processor let us run multiple applications at once, and the touchscreen was responsive enough for our needs. Call quality was good to.

Our main grumble is with battery life which we found to be a little below par. If you are a heavy user of features like GPS, or Wi-Fi or indeed want to spend a lot of time listening to music via your phone you may find you need to charge the HTC Touch Pro 2 daily.

We do have one or two foibles with this smartphone, and SIM free it is far from a pocket money price. But that tilting screen is absolutely marvellous, the keyboard and display quality are superb, and overall we’d say this is the best smartphone we've seen from HTC to date.

HTC Touch Pro 2 Info

Typical price: £436 SIM free (available from Clove)

Latest HTC Pro 2 Prices

Pros
Good quality screen and Qwerty keyboard
Tilting screen for easy desktop use
GPS, Wi-Fi, HSDPA
Cons
Average camera
MiniUSB headset slot
Average battery life

Verdict: The HTC Touch Pro 2 is a quality smartphone with a clever tilting screen

Rating:

More Info: HTC website

Recycle your phone: Sell HTC Touch Pro2

Disqus - noscript

Can you tell me if the phone has User Selectable Fonts please or if you are able to enlarge the text in SMS?

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