Review: T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 is a hefty device with a price to match

Summary:The T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 is definitely not a small pocketable device, but more of a portable computer with functions those in the business field may appreciate. The hardware is quite good, but I was left with the feeling that Android would have been much more enjoyable on it. As I wrote last week I went all in with T-Mobile and as a result had a line with full upgrade eligibility. I planned to wait until this week and purchase my own Touch Pro2, but left the store with a new Merlot myTouch 3G so let's go through the device and see why I didn't stick to my original plan.

The unlocked HTC Touch Pro2 had been out for a short while and we posted some first impressions of that device after spending about a week with it. I've been using the HTC Touch Pro2 from T-Mobile USA for just over a week now and have a few more thoughts to share. It is definitely not a small pocketable device, but more of a portable computer with functions those in the business field may appreciate. The hardware is quite good, but I was left with the feeling that Android would have been much more enjoyable on it. As I wrote last week I went all in with T-Mobile and as a result had a line with full upgrade eligibility. I planned to wait until this week and purchase my own Touch Pro2 (I may still not be able to resist), but left the store with a new Merlot myTouch 3G so let's go through the device and see why I didn't stick to my original plan. You can check out several photos of the T-Mobile Touch Pro2 in my image gallery.

UPDATE: After a reader comment I called up T-Mobile twice and both reps told me that the 2-year price is $279.99! I need to get official T-Mobile confirmation and then will update my headline because at this price I will go buy one today. The T-Mobile website now has it up and shows the $349.99 price. I will try a store myself when they open in 45 minutes. Confirmed in store that the price is $349.99 with 2 year contract.


Image Gallery: Check out photos of the T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2.
Image Gallery: Retail packaging
Image Gallery: Close up of the left side of the QWERTY keyboard

The last Windows Mobile touch screen device from T-Mobile was the rather anemic Wing. The Wing had a very nice form factor and design (blue rubberized finish), but the 200 MHz processor and limited RAM kept it from being a device I would recommend anyone purchase. The HTC Touch Pro2 has improved vastly over the Wing and should appeal to quite a few folks looking for one of the best QWERTY devices available. HTC focused on making the Touch Pro2 a conference calling machine and there are a few key components optimized for this functionality. I personally make very few calls on my mobile phones and am a data hound so even though the speakerphone/conference calling capability is present, it wasn't something I was looking for myself so it did not have much impact on my purchase decision.

Specifications

The T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 is priced at $349.99 with a two-year contract, required plan, and instant rebate. This makes the Touch Pro2 one of the highest priced subsidized smartphones available, but at least the hardware feels like it is worth that price. Then again, the resistive display kind of hampers the overall experience and the device doesn't scream like it really should. One thing I found out last week when I bought my myTouch 3G is that almost all T-Mobile rebates (particularly phones with required data plans) are instant and eventually there should be no more mail-in rebates, which is another awesome customer service feature being provided by T-Mobile. The full, non-contract price of the Touch Pro2 will be $549.99.

Specifications include:

  • 3.6 inch 480x800 WVGA resistive touch screen display
  • Windows Mobile Professional 6.1
  • 528 MHz Qualcomm 7200A processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 512MB ROM
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Quad band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • Dual band UMTS/HSDPA (1700/2100 MHz)
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Accelerometer
  • HTC TouchFLO 3D interface
  • 3.2 megapixel auto focus camera (no flash)
  • microSD card slot
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 4.57 in x 2.33 in x 0.68 in
  • Weight: 6.61 ounces

The Touch Pro2 supports myFaves and there is a special TouchFLO 3D tab for this functionality. Unfortunately, there is still no UMA support and I was actually a bit surprised since the T-Mobile Shadow that was released a few months ago had it and I assumed that all future higher end Windows Mobile devices would support this technology.

As you can see the device has very good specifications. I do think it could have been even better with a faster processor, some amount of integrated flash memory, and a better camera. This is a premium device available at a premium price and should have all the latest and greatest specifications with fast, solid performance. It is also a bit tough to buy a new expensive Windows Mobile device at this time with WM 6.5 just around the corner and availability of updates for specific devices an unknown at the moment. The Pharos Traveler 137 that I am still evaluating (due to recent updates) has been confirmed as a device that will get this WM 6.5 update and also supports T-Mobile 3G so you may want to consider that device.

In the box

The T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 comes in a fairly standard T-Mobile package with an upper flap that contains a pocket for the manuals, screen protector, and CD. The device is then set in a bed of protective foam with the rest of the contents placed below this platform. Under the device you will find a wired stereo headset, audio/charging adapter (lets you use 2.5mm or 3.5mm headsets), USB cable, charging adapter, and carrying case. The leather carrying case secures with a magnet and is designed to provide some scratch and minor bump protection for the Touch Pro2 as you place it in your bag.

Walk around the hardware

The mocha color with yellow highlights is very attractive and for some reason the T-Mobile Touch Pro2 feels better in my hand than the unlocked model. It must be the curves and the layout of the back panel. I also found the screen hinge to be rock solid with the ability for you to prop it up from 0 to about 40 degrees as you like. The unlocked model I had must have been a bit defective because it flopped around quite a bit.

The hardware is the same as the unlocked Touch Pro2 I checked out before and even the keyboard is virtually the same. The leaked photos of the AT&T model show numbers in a phone keypad layout rather than the full top number row. I enter punctuation more than numbers so would rather have seen this layout on the T-Mobile model. I wanted to see a shortcut for the Start menu and it isn't there so you have to bounce back and forth between the touching the display and tapping on the keyboard and this just isn't an experience I enjoy.

We have also seen leaked photos of the CDMA Touch Pro2 with a 3.5mm headset jack on the bottom next to the ExtUSB port and I wish HTC would have done the same here.

As I mentioned earlier, the Touch Pro2 is optimized for the speakerphone/conference calling experience and two assymmetric speakers are found on the upper back. They are actually located on either side of the camera and I have to admit I was surprised by how closely they were located to each other. They are pretty loud though and the speakerphone is usable in a fast moving vehicle. There is also a mic with advanced noise suppression and duplex acoustics to help with the overall experience. If you make a lot of conference calls then this device may be just what you are looking for. I would actually be quite interested in knowing if HTC's market analysis showed there was a real need for such capability since it seems that the device was highly optimized to support this.

I know this won't really affect many folks, but I do have to mention that the SIM card on the Touch Pro2 is one of the toughest to remove I have ever experienced. The SIM card slot is located below the battery and then down in a slot that is protected by a small metal piece. The image shows you press down on the metal piece and then slide the SIM back up over it, yet you have to do this in a space of 1/4 inch. I discovered the only way I could get the SIM card out (I wanted to use my own T-Mobile SIM for real life testing) was to use a paperclip to lift up on one end of the SIM while pressing down on the metal piece and then using a finger to slide the SIM over. Whew, I guess you won't have to worry about your SIM ever popping out of this device.

Software

Speaking of the conference calling capability, HTC and T-Mobile have a dialer optimized for this with a slider to switch between a standard call and conference call. If you switch to conference call your contacts then appear with open boxes to the right of their names. You simply tap the two contacts you want to call and then tap Conference to setup the call. You then tap each person, one at a time, and hold a conference call. This is very slick and for those business users on the road making conference calls it doesn't get any easier than this. The software/dialer even lets you take notes and email the contacts as well and is quite feature packed.

The T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 is a Windows Mobile Professional 6.1 device with all the standard features you would expect in the device. T-Mobile also includes their myFaves utility, My Account utility, slick scientific calculator (when in landscape mode), Teeter game, JBlend Java client, Google Maps, Windows Live Search, Opera Mobile browser, and TeleNav GPS Navigator. I was a bit disappointed that the excellent WorldCard Mobile business card capture software was not present.

HTC has implemented their TouchFLO 3D UI so that many users can "live" in this user environment. You can access all your Programs from there, but you do need to dive in to the standard Windows Mobile settings for many settings not found on the TouchFLO 3D panels.

Even though I like to tweak and mess with my devices, even I am starting to tire of the long and deep menus of the operating system. For some things you have to scroll up and down through multiple displays to perform an action and I just don't want to do that as much anymore.

I think the notifications on the Google Android and Palm Pre are the best in the mobile space and was hoping to see HTC add that functionality to a device like this. I know they are working with Windows Mobile and maybe the OS is limiting how much they can do with notifications. The notifications on the Touch Pro2 are better than they were on previous HTC Windows Mobile devices and one level has been eliminated.

While the email panel looks slick and shows you a bit of your email, IMHO it is a bit of a pain to use since flipping through them has no effect on read/unread status and you have to dive into the standard Windows Mobile email client and then try to figure out how to navigate around to switch accounts and perform actions.

The month calendar is useless and just shows you the days on a month view. With the screen real estate wasted by top and bottom task and status bars they could show your day's appointments scrolling by or something. Screen real estate is wasted quite a bit in Windows Mobile.

Experiences and final thoughts

The T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro is definitely a two-handed device and the keyboard really cannot be used with a single hand. That said, it isn't too wide that entering text is uncomfortable, but I still find I am much faster on my T-Mobile G1. I love the layout of the standard keys and think this is just about one of the best large QWERTY keyboards on a phone.

The display is beautiful, however I don't think HTC has optimized their devices for movie playing as the videos I tested were still a bit choppy at times. It is a shame given the display on the Touch Pro2 has amazing resolution.

TouchFLO 3D was pretty responsive, but I did experience some lagging and I hated seeing the spinning beach ball when launching an application. At this time, there really is no reason that these high end phones should lag with the technology and processors we have available.

The display is resistive and HTC has made the targets a bit larger to make the experience closer to capacitive, but it still can't compare to the displays found on the Pre, Google Android, and iPhone devices. Again, people are expecting response from touch displays like we see on these devices and may be disappointed with the Touch Pro2 display response.

You can multitask with the Touch Pro2 and this is something that should appeal to those looking to get a lot done at once. I personally consider myself quite a power user and like to push my devices so the Touch Pro2 does appeal to me on one level. Then again, my usage and needs seem to be changing over time and I am less and less likely to carry a device of this size with me all the time. The new T-Mobile myTouch 3G fits easily into my front pants pocket and gives me much of the same capability at almost half the cost. If I bought the Touch Pro2 I can easily see looking for something trimmer and slimmer to carry around since I don't spend hours and hours trying to be productive with heavy text entry and browsing on a resistive display device with a stylus is just not as fun or easy as a capacitive display device.

Microsoft and Windows Mobile are in need of an overhaul that we won't see in Windows Mobile 6.5. I think HTC is pushing Windows Mobile as far as it can go and Windows Mobile fans may really like the Touch Pro2. However, as time goes by the numbers show there are less and less Windows Mobile fans out there so Microsoft has to pick up the pace or be left behind.

Other reviews

I always recommend reading reviews from lots of sources before making a purchase decision and you can find other reviews on the Touch Pro2 here. I am actually surprised that my review sounds a bit harsh compared to most all these other ones and I am not sure if it is because as a Windows Mobile fan I am expecting more from Microsoft or if I am just too enamored by the Google Android platform.

infoSync WOrld Mobile Tech Review PC Magazine Engadget Mobile Gizmodo CNET

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, HTC, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Wi-Fi, 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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