The HTC Touch Pro2, the killer sequel to the already excellent HTC Touch Pro, brings back the tilted screen found in the original AT&T Tilt, and adds a few new features as well. With a large, comfortable keyboard, a gorgeous 3.6-inch display, and a new version of TouchFLO 3D that tightly integrates your contacts with your social life, the HTC Touch Pro2 is a feature-packed Windows Mobile phone. This device also takes voice communication seriously, with integrated noise-cancelation technology, and the ability to activate the speakerphone by placing the handset face down on a table. It’s a pricey at $349, and it’s not the most pocket-friendly smart phone, but the Touch Pro2 is powerful enough to let you leave your laptop behind and a good choice for business users requiring a Windows Mobile phone.
There’s no way around it: the HTC Touch Pro2 packs a good deal of bulk, to the point that it’s not the type of phone someone wearing tight jeans will want to carry. The Touch Pro2 is bigger and heavier than the original; it measures 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.7 inches and weighs 6.3 ounces, whereas the Touch Pro measured 4.0 x 2;0 x 0.7 inches, and weighed 5.3 ounces. The Nokia N97, which has a similar sliding QWERTY keyboard, measures 4.6 x 2.2 x 0.6 inches, and weighs a lighter 5.2 ounces.
The large 3.6-inch, 800 x 480-pixel resolution screen is beautiful and bright, and the spacious slide-out keyboard is a pleasure to type on. Our review unit had a copper metallic hue, which extends across the keyboard and onto the plastic back cover.
HTC moved the microSD from under the battery cover of the unit to a more convenient location on its left side. Volume controls are just above the microSD slot, and a power button is on the top left; a microUSB charging port at the bottom of the phone doubles as a headphone jack. (Still no 3.5mm headphone jack? Come on, HTC.) Under the large display, you’ll find a touch-sensitive zoom slider bar, Send/End keys, as well as Home and Return buttons. On the back of the Touch Pro2 is a speaker and a 3.2-MP autofocus camera without flash.
The phone’s slider function is solid and smooth, and it reveals a 5-line QWERTY keyboard. You can also swivel the screen on a hinge to prop it up at about a 30-degree angle, which means you can rest the phone on your desk and still view the screen easily while watching videos or surfing the Web. Unlike the Nokia N97, which has a hinge that locks into a single position, the HTC Touch Pro2 can be tilted forward or backward, allowing for much easier screen viewing.
Because the Touch Pro2 has such a large base and screen, there’s also plenty of room for a spacious keyboard. The layout isn’t as flat as the original Touch Pro’s, and the keys are much more defined and spaced comfortably far apart. The result is good tactile feedback and high accuracy. However, we can type faster on a BlackBerry Curve 8900, whose keys are closer together. The Touch Pro2 also has keyboard shortcuts to put the phone into silent mode, display your text and e-mail inboxes, launch the Web browser, and open the communications manager.
The Touch Pro2 has HTC’s own TouchFLO 3D user interface on top of Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. The original Touch Pro had a similar treatment, but the latest version of TouchFLO 3D adds a boatload of new features, such as Straight Talk (more on that below). In the desktop view, you can swipe your finger across the bottom of the screen to view (in order) your contacts (represented by stamp-size images), recent messages, new e-mails, your calendar, Web favorites, stock and financial information, photos and videos, the music player, the weather, settings, and programs. You can quickly switch between these shortcuts by dragging your finger across the screen.
HTC added a few enhancements that are more subtle, but no less useful. For one, when you create a new contact, instead of just using a picture in your phone’s library, you can log into Facebook and use a friend’s profile picture as his or her address book photo. The software also automatically pulls down your friend’s birthday, and stores it in your phone as a reminder.
Another new feature in the UI is called Straight Talk, which lets you dial out to multiple contacts at once from your address book. The Touch Pro2 also finds conference call appointments in your e-mail or calendar—provided that the dial-in information is available—and asks you if you want to place the call at the time the conference is supposed to start. Moreover, when you place the phone screen face down, the call automatically moves into speakerphone mode with a dedicated mute button.
On the whole, this function works extremely well. When you’re on a call, just place the phone face down and the speakerphone kicks in; voices reach full volume in about 3 seconds. When you’re ready to make the call private again, the speakerphone turns off as soon as you pick up the handset. Our friends thought the quality wasn’t that great during a phone call; they said they could tell we were on a speakerphone in a big conference room, and that we sounded as if we were half a room away. On the other hand, our friends didn’t report any background noise, thanks to the phone’s dedicated noise-canceling microphone. When we moved to a smaller cubicle, they said we sounded much clearer than we did in the larger conference room.
Messaging and E-mail
The keyboard isn’t the only thing that makes the Touch Pro2 a solid messaging phone; its software makes messaging a cinch. The TouchFLO 3D user interface neatly displays all of your most recent texts and e-maill; and texts are threaded, thanks to Windows Mobile. A “Set up E-mail” app makes configuring a new inbox a breeze. Just choose your service (AIM, AOL, Gmail, Windows Live, Yahoo, or Other), and then click Next. The program guides you through the e-mail process. If you’re a veteran Windows Mobile or smart phone user, you can also use an Exchange server for push e-mail or manually set up your own IMAP or POP account.
With your inbox open, you can search e-mail addresses, senders’ names, and subject titles (but not message bodies) by simply typing in the search term. If you don’t have an Exchange server for push e-mail, you can choose to check for e-mail manually, or at a designated interval, ranging from every 5 minutes to once a day. You can also open attachments, such as videos, audio clips, photos, Office documents, Adobe PDF files, and more.
Browsing the Web on the Touch Pro2 was a pleasure. It’s compatible with T-Mobile’s 3G and 802.11b/g networks, so data speeds were zippy, but the real fun came when viewing large Web pages on the phone’s massive screen. With a full 3G signal, we loaded m.CNN.com in 7 seconds, m.NYT.com in 4 seconds, and m.ESPN.com in 14 seconds. With Wi-Fi turned on, we loaded the same sites in 5, 3 and 6 seconds, respectively. We loaded the full HTML National Geographic page in an impressive 28 seconds over T-Mobile’s 3G network.
The Touch Pro2 gives you a choice between two browsers: IE Mobile and Opera Mobile 9.5. We prefer Opera Mobile, because it lets you keep two tabs open while browsing, and it’s easier to navigate than IE Mobile, thanks to small icons at the bottom of the app for launching your homepage, favorites, and opening tabs. We suggest upgrading to Opera Mobile 9.7, which adds a new rendering engine for faster page load times, and widgets for accessing Twitter and news feeds. Also, both browsers let you choose between loading the mobile version of a Web page or the full desktop version (either m.CNN.com or CNN.com).
To access Flash content such as Hulu videos, you’ll want to download the free Skyfire browser. When we watched a Family Guy clip, the quality of the video was good over Wi-Fi, but choppy over T-Mobile’s 3G network.
The Touch Pro2 is a mediocre multimedia device. It doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can’t use your own headphones without an adapter. However, we like that TouchFLO 3D lets you play music right from the phone’s desktop. Just swipe your finger along the TouchFLO 3D menu at the bottom of the screen, and choose the music tab; it will show your available tunes. Album art is displayed on the page, as well as the artist name and track. You can skip, play, or pause from this screen, too.
The phone also comes with a standalone YouTube application, which makes streaming videos a cinch. The speaker pumps out audio at sufficiently loud volumes, which makes it a good desk speaker for watching clips or playing tunes.
TeleNav GPS Navigator is loaded on the HTC Touch Pro2 for local search and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. Thanks to its touchscreen and high-resolution display, the phone almost feels like a GPS device designed for cars. TeleNav worked well during our tests: The Touch Pro2 grabbed our location in about 12 seconds, and then created a route from the train station in Long Beach, New York to our house in another 10 seconds. It didn’t work as well near our office in New York City because of the tall buildings, so you’ll want to take that into consideration if you’re planning on driving in urban areas.
T-Mobile ditched the front-facing camera on the original Touch Pro, but it still featuresa 3.2-MP camera with autofocus (without flash). The camera took decent shots around our office. With autofocus on; it took about 1 to 2 seconds to snap a picture, but worked really well with up-close objects. Lacking a flash, darker shots didn’t come out well.
Like the Touch Diamond 2, the Touch Pro2 doesn’t have a dedicated hardware camera button, so you have to touch the screen to take a picture. We would have preferred a dedicated button, which would have helped launch the camera more quickly. Instead, you can assign your Send button to launch the camera in Settings >, but you can’t assign it to other keys
Call Quality and Battery Life
Test calls placed on the HTC Touch Pro2 were very clear. With a full signal, voices came through without any clipped words, and callers said we sounded just as good. When we left a voicemail on our office phone, our voice came through loud and crisp. We could hardly make out any background noises from the busy street outside.
The Touch Pro2 is rated for up to 6.5 hours of talk time, or up to 31 days idle power, with the 3G radio turned on. We used the Touch Pro2 regularly for about a day and a half, placing phone calls, checking e-mail, and installing additional applications, before the battery ran out of juice. If you’re constantly surfing the Web using 3G or Wi-Fi, the battery will run out more quickly, but, overall, we were impressed.
The HTC Touch Pro2 combines excellent hardware design with a first-class touch user interface, making it the most compelling Windows Mobile device yet. Although it costs $150 more than the sleeker iPhone 3G S, the Touch Pro2 is a powerhouse of a device with a full physical keyboard. The hardest choice for T-Mobile customers may be choosing between this phone and the Android powered myTouch 3G. The more affordable myTouch ($199) has a better Web browser and an over-the-air app store, but the Touch Pro2 will serve mobile professionals better, because of its superior keyboard and out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange and ActiveSync.