The long-time Taiwanese based manufacturer of Windows Mobile phones, HTC, was once happy to let other companies put their brands on its creations, but while that still happens, HTC has become a worldwide brand name of its own accord in recent times.
HTC launched its original HTC Touch just before the 2007 iPhone 2G launched, bringing improved fingertip and swipe controls to the Windows Mobile OS through the introduction of the Touch software shell.
But good though that software was, and is, it has still been no match for the iPhone’s precise, sophisticated and smooth user interface and fingertip controls, including multi-touch.
The HTC Touch HD features the very latest version of the Touch software suite, embedding itself even further into the Windows Mobile experience, while still dropping you back into standard Windows Mobile programs such as the calendar and contacts list when you dig a little deeper.
The Touch HD was designed to be an iPhone 3G clone while beating it on all of the major specs.
It offers a 3.8-inch screen instead of the iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen, a 5 megapixel autofocus camera instead of 2 megapixels, full Bluetooth support, a 3.5mm headphone socket, MMS support, video recording support, removable microSD memory, a removable battery, the ability to use your fingertip, fingernail or a stylus, full cut/copy/paste, Internet sharing tethering capability with desktop and notebook computers, Microsoft’s own Office Mobile implementation and plenty more.
As with the iPhone, there is no keyboard, although an external Bluetooth one could be added, and as the Touch HD uses the Opera Mobile 9.5 browser, it also offers Safari-esque tabbed browsing with double tapping to enlarge a section of the page or to shrink it back to full screen, with only the multi-touch zooming feature missing.
On paper, the Touch HD is the clear winner, but in use, the iPhone’s operating system and user interface still reigns supreme over the Touch and Windows Mobile 6.1 combination.
The news that Windows Mobile 6.5 isn’t installable on the Touch HD (when WinMo 6.5 actually launches) is yet another blow, but there are plenty of positives.
For those in a Windows environment at work and at home, Windows Mobile powered devices still offer the best integration with Exchange servers and Outlook. A plethora of third-party apps have always been available, with all kinds of iPhone apps providing plenty of competition and innovative ideas to borrow.
Microsoft’s own Office Mobile software offers the excellent out-of-the-box compatibility to open and edit Office 2003 and 2007 documents, without needing to purchase additional software.
Internet sharing is a total cinch, the sync software actually works very nicely and while Windows Mobile is a bit clunky and showing its age, it’s a very mature system that does actually work, just without the finesse of the iPhone even despite the otherwise very gallant attempt by HTC with its Touch interface.
Windows Mobile 6.5 brings extra fingertip friendly improvements and is due to arrive in phones this year, while Microsoft has said its true iPhone-beating phone operating system, Windows Mobile 7, won’t arrive until 2010.
But until then, the ultimate Windows Mobile iPhone clone is the HTC Touch HD.
If you can’t wait and must upgrade, this one is certainly worth considering, but if you don’t have money to burn and can wait, see what the iPhone 3.0, the Palm Pre, Nokia N97, Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows Mobile 7 phones, the HTC Dream G2 Google Phone and others bring first.