Anyone who read my review of the original Touch Diamond will know I wasn’t all that big a fan.
In my experience it was slow, cheaply made and its battery life was appalling. The great thing about HTC is they keep trying and seem to learn from past mistakes, which made me all the more interested in testing the Diamond2.
Off the bat I’d like to talk about looks, since that was one of the big selling points of the original. Whilst the Diamond was wrapped in a consumer-style glossy plastic shell, that upon closer inspection felt cheap, the Diamond2 has grown up. Gone is the massive plasticy buttons below the display, instead replaced with four slim brushed aluminium ones that just exude quality. The brushed aluminium also borders the whole front of the device, and looks much classier than the usual chrome bling a lot of phones are going for these days (including the Touch Pro2).
Unfortunately the back is still plastic, a very scratchy, smudgy plastic, and in the few weeks I’ve had the Diamond2 has already picked up loads of scuffs from sliding into jeans pockets and sitting on tables. At least the back is flat this time, not a weird impractical mess. Using the previous model whilst it was laying on a table was a pain, thank goodness this is no longer the case. Such a shame it’s not metal too.
The same goes for the plastic screen. Unlike its glass-screened capacitive brethren, the display on the Diamond2 is plastic, and thus very susceptible to scratching. Sorry HTC, but my unit picked up a bit of a mark recently!
Despite the plastic, the Diamond2 feels very solid and doesn’t feel at all cheap like its predecessor.
The display stuck me as odd straight off the bat. Whilst it shares the Touch HD’s 800×480 resolution, packed into an even smaller screen, the display is sunk into the device by several millimetres, so the touch layer isn’t sitting right against it. This seems totally bizarre to me as it looks weird, and made it feel less accurate.
On the plus side the display is very sensitive, not as good as capacitive, but pretty damned close. This makes using the on-screen keyboards and TouchFlo 3D a much more pleasurable experience.
On the inside the Diamond2 has pretty much every piece of hardware you could possibly want. The device is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7200A 528Mhz processor, which keeps it running along very smoothly. HTC have obviously done a lot of work to make sure its software customisations play nice with Windows Mobile 6.1 without bogging it down.
Whilst some platforms forgo multitasking to ensure a smooth, if on occasionally frustrating, experience, the Diamond2 manages to combine both quite well. The Diamond2 has the power and programming under the hood to make using multiple apps simultaneously a pleasant experience.
The latest edition of TouchFlo is truly an outstanding attempt at covering the dated Windows Mobile operating system. Whilst it can only go so far, it digs a lot deeper than it’s predecessor in keeping Windows Mobile buried under a nice layer of large, finger friendly buttons and flick-scrollable menus. As it has matured, TouchFlo has manages to shake off the performance hit associated with it’s graphical slickness, and provide the best experience currently available on a Windows Mobile device. None of the other manufacturers have been able to make Windows Mobile look as good, nor as finger friendly as HTC in my opinion.
The next version is shaping up to go even further, here hoping HTC don’t leave these devices out of an upgrade!! There is always XDA-Dev if they do…
As has become the norm on HTC devices Opera Mobile 9.5 is included, and it is truly an excellent browser. It renders desktop pages nicely, rotates with the flick of a wrist and is getting more responsive as it gets revised. For some strange reason it has been limited to only two tabs, with can be changed in the opera:config hidden menu, but it should be set higher by default. Have two windows open and click a link that wants to open a popup and you get an error.
Multitasking doesn’t seem to dull the Diamond2’s performance, even when the running task list goes from the top to bottom of the screen. I like to keep Messenger logged in whilst doing other tasks, and often left Opera, Email and a few other apps open simultaneously without a hitch.
Something that I wasn’t expecting the Diamond2 to have is outstanding battery life. Based on my experience with the Touch HD I was expecting it to be decent, but not this good!! The Diamond2 definitely has the best battery life out of any Windows Mobile handset I’ve tested. It will easily make it through a day of medium to heavy use, with phone calls, email, websurfing and music playback all mixed in.
The camera is 5 megapixels and includes autofocus, but is otherwise unremarkable. The is no button for taking the photos, instead using a software button and touch-focusing, which can make things a little awkward at times, and the results a average, lacking saturation. In short, a standard HTC camera.
Despite liking the performance and the battery life, typing is the biggest problem I found with the Diamond2. The Touch HD doesn’t have a problem with this, as it’s large 3.8” display means the on-screen thumboard is quite big and easy to use, but with the much smaller display on the Diamond2 it becomes quite tricky.
It would seem that the answer to that problem is the Touch Pro2, but I don’t really consider that a solution since the Pro2 is a much bigger, heavier, and expensive device, despite sharing almost the same specifications.
So I’m left in a bit of a pickle. The Diamond2 is a good phone, it is fast, it is small, light and has a gorgeous display, and combined with excellent battery life it is pretty much a winner. However, if you are heavy on the text entry and have sworn off the stylus, then a Touch Pro2 or even a Touch HD may be the better choice.