Review: HTC S740 (aka Rose) Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard device

Summary:While at Mobius last week in Seattle (check out my event summary HTC gave each participant an HTC S740 Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard device. I have a large number of phones and the S740 was one I was particularly interested in trying out in person because I find the non-touch screen Windows Mobile device to be more responsive and more stable than the touch screen devices, in general. There are getting to be fewer and fewer non-touch screen Windows Mobile devices (HTC is really focusing on the Touch line) and while I am still pleased with my T-Mobile Dash and Shadow, I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest devices. The S740 has one of the coolest form factors I have seen on a Windows Mobile device and so far is performing very well, as I will detail below.

While at Mobius last week in Seattle (check out my event summary) HTC gave each participant an HTC S740 Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard device. I have a large number of phones and the S740 was one I was particularly interested in trying out in person because I find the non-touch screen Windows Mobile device to be more responsive and more stable than the touch screen devices, in general. There are getting to be fewer and fewer non-touch screen Windows Mobile devices (HTC is really focusing on the Touch line) and while I am still pleased with my T-Mobile Dash and Shadow, I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest devices. The S740 has one of the coolest form factors I have seen on a Windows Mobile device and so far is performing very well, as I will detail below. Check out my image gallery that has product photos and screenshots from the device.


 Image Gallery:A walk around the HTC S740 Windows Mobile Standard device.  
Image Gallery: Open HTC S740
 
Image Gallery: S740 Home screen
 

You probably haven't heard much about the HTC S740 because it isn't available from any carrier here in the U.S. You can find the device from online importers like MobileCityOnline.com, ImportGSM, and SimonCells from US$500 to US$650. I wish HTC would start using names like the Diamond more often rather than numbers. S740 is too easy to forget and I personally prefer the code name of the device, the Rose.

After opening up the small box, popping in the battery, and plugging it in to charge up I have to say that my first impressions of the device have me wishing that carriers would pick this up in the U.S. It is narrow, long, and feels fantastic in your hand. The back is modeled after the Diamond with a matte, soft touch finish. If you were to see this on the stand at your carrier store you would probably just think it was a new cool phone with the standard front phone keypad and large display. The device is not that thick and yet the QWERTY keyboard that is revealed is still highly functional and pretty well designed.

In the box: HTC includes the S740, battery, A/C adapter, USB cable (attaches to the A/C adapter plug to charge too), wired stereo headset, and cool HTC slip case. The slip case material is mesh with a tight diamond pattern and is handy for keeping the S740 covered in your pocket or bag.

Specifications: The HTC S740 is a top-of-the line Windows Mobile device with the following specificatons:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard operating system
  • Qualcomm MSM 7225 528MHz processor
  • 256MB ROM/256MB RAM
  • 2.4 inch 240x320 QVGA display
  • Quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and Dual-band HSDPA (900/2100 MHz)
  • Slide-out 4 row QWERTY keyboard
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
  • Integrated 802.11 b/g radio
  • Integrated FM radio
  • 3.2 megapixel camera with fixed focus
  • 1000 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery
  • microSD card slot with support for SDHC capacities
  • Dimensions: 4.58 x 1.71 x 0.65 inches, 4.94 ounces

Walk around the hardware: I can't get over how good the S740 feels in my hand and to use a term that Michael Gartenberg uses with preferred mobile devices, it is extremely caressible. The reason I think this is because the S740 is narrow, long, has a diamond-angled soft touch back, and has a heft that feels very good and gives you a sense that you have a substantial device in your hand. There is something to be said for a cellphone that extends from your ear to your mouth as it seems to assure new mobile phone users that the caller on the other end can hear them.

On the front of the device you will see the 2.4 inch 240x320 display that is a very good resolution for a non-touch screen display of this size, IMHO. It is bright and flush with the front of the device, which is what HTC is doing with all of its new devices. Below the display is the directional pad, four hardware buttons (two soft keys, Home, and back) and the send and end keys. The send and end keys are quite small, but do protrude up above the other hardware buttons so they are easier to find and press. All of the keys and buttons have white backlighting and are black and white. I would have liked to have seen the send and end keys colored with green and red backlighting or colored buttons so they would stand out more though. Below all of the hardware buttons is the standard 12-key phone keypad. The buttons are quite large in size, but they are also flush with each other and there is not much differentiation between the keys. They are slightly raised above the side of the device.

Along the top of the S740 you will find the power button. The right side has a camera shutter button. On the left side you will find the volume buttons. The back of the device feels fantastic with the rubberized soft touch finish on a diamond-esque angled back cover. There is an opening for the camera lens and one for the rear mono speaker. The camera is OK, but the focus is fixed so photos aren't as good as what I found on the HTC Fuze/Touch Pro. The speaker actually is quite loud and does a fine job.

I kept popping off the back cover to replace the SIM and discovered there is only a battery under the battery cover. The SIM and microSD card slot are both found under the display and can be accessed when you slide up the display. There is a small door with a release mechanism that allows you to lift the door and then first place the microSD card under your SIM card. There is a small white piece of tape/labeling that is used to assist in removing the microSD card and I have to say this is the most unusual arrangement I have seen for these two cards.

The distinguishing feature of the HTC S740 that wows EVERYONE I showed the device to is the slide-out QWERTY keyboard. When I handed it to several people I did not say anything about the keyboard to see if they could figure it out and not a single one thought to slide the display/front over to reveal the keyboard. The device feels so good in your hand as a phone that you wouldn't even know there was a keyboard present. However, when you do slide it out you will be amazed at how functional it really is. The keyboard extends the entire length (now the full width) of the S740 so it is quite roomy. It is a 4-row QWERTY keyboard with the numbers present as alternate characters along the top row. A few great features of the keyboard that appeal to me are the dedicated @, comma, period, tab, and directional arrows. There are also a couple of shortcut keys to jump to SMS, email, Internet Explorer Mobile, and Comm Manager. There are also indicator lights on the upper left for shift and FN presses.

The keyboard has black keys and background, white main characters, and green alternate characters. The keyboard backlighting is extremely well lit with very even lighting over the entire keyboard. The left soft key on the keyboard lines up directly below the on-screen left soft key. The right soft key on the keyboard is under the 1, 4, & 7 on the phone keypad so it is set about 1 and a half inches to the right of the on-screen right soft key. This is the one part of the keyboard that does take some getting used to, but even after a couple of days I was able to get it right every time.

When you first slide open to reveal the keyboard the software on the device pops up with options to create a SMS/MMS, email, or sign into Windows Live Messenger.

Other internal hardware features include WiFi, quad-band GSM radio, and HSDPA/UMTS for Europe (900/2100 MHz bands). You will also find Bluetooth 2.0 with support for A2DP stereo headphones. A FM radio is included and requires that you have a headset plugged into the HTC extUSB port to serve as an antenna. An integrated A-GPS rounds out the loaded specifications on the device.

Walk around the software: The HTC S740 is loaded with Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard so it runs the latest WM operating system. Additional applications/utilities that are included above and beyond the WM Standard OS include RSS Hub (Ilium Software RSS reader), Windows Live Messenger, HTC Quick Notes, and Esmertec JBed Java client. There isn't much else to say about the software, but the new WM 6.1 Standard Home screen implementation if fantastic and highly functional.

On this updated Home screen you can easily switch through the time/date, carrier, calendar, missed calls/messages, text messages, email, weather (a slimmed-down HTC weather utility), Internet Explorer Mobile Favorites, music controller, and settings. This refined Home screen makes these WM 6.1 Standard device super one-handed devices and seems to make them very responsive as well.

Usage experiences: When I first heard about the S740 in August I was excited about the prospects of a high powered non-touch screen device since there are so few of these devices available today. After HTC gave us the devices at Mobius and I had a chance to hold the device in my hand, I have to say I can highly recommend this device if you are looking for a solid Windows Mobile device and want to move away from all of the touch screen devices available today. Like most of the latest Windows Mobile devices, the S740 is very responsive and has been performing like a champ. With the fast processor and ample ROM/RAM the S740 should be able to keep up with anything you throw at it.

Unfortunately, you cannot obtain a 3G signal with the device in the U.S., but it works very well with EDGE on T-Mobile and AT&T. The nice thing about EDGE is that the battery life is excellent and I am easily going longer than a day, almost two actually, with Direct Push email enabled, browsing for 30+ minutes, making 20+ minutes of calls, and more. I don't think we will see a U.S. 3G version so if you want this device you will have to settle with EDGE or WiFi data access.

The HTC Rose is very good Windows Mobile device and if you are in the market for a non-touch screen alternative that feels great in your hand, I highly recommend the device. If you get a chance, try to hold it in your hand and feel the quality and ingenuity of the device.

As we discussed in the last Mobius HTC is really all about choices and the HTC Rose/S740 is another in a long line of unique designs that appeal to a certain type of person. With HTC you can stick with your carrier and also have lots of choices to find a device that meets your needs.

Topics: Mobile OS, Hardware, HTC, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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