HTC Touch Diamond (CDMA) review

September 30th, 2008

Here’s HTC Touch Diamond for CDMA. Unlike the previous CDMA Touch, the Touch Diamond boasts some impressive specs: 528Mhz processor, 480×640 VGA display, WiFi, Bluetooth, 4GB of built-in storage. It also sports an updated version of HTC’s TouchFlo software which I previously found to be a pleasant piece of software.

The Diamond is a solid phone. It has good heft to it and has nice rubberized paint on the back and sides.

Sorry for the huge image but that’s the screen. It measures 2.8″ diagonally and has a stunning resolution of 640×480. Compare that to it’s predecessor which has 1/4 the resolution (320×240). Text is incredibly sharp.

Having a super high resolution display is great but I noticed one problem; When I was trying to view an image of the New York Subway system, images display as half the size they are on a 320×240 display. This in itself isn’t a problem but when I tried to zoom in I couldn’t zoom in enough so the image was still quite small.

There’s a stylus which is located at the bottom right. The stylus holder is magnetized so it ‘grabs’ the stylus when you stick it in. The stylus even sticks to the right side like a magnet on a refrigerator – it’s pretty slick.

The navigation pad looks very special but in actuality the circle is the select button while the up/down/left/right buttons aren’t labeled – to press them just press the areas adjacent to the select button.

Besides the navigation pad, there’s a home, back, call and end buttons in front. I found that I accidentally press left instead of the home button sometimes.

At the top is the power button. On the left there are volume buttons.

The only connector on the Diamond is a mini USB connector on the bottom. It’s used for connecting to your computer, charging and for headphones. Included with the Diamond are a pair of USB headphones plus an adapter that lets you use your own headphones.

If you want to use the headphones and charge the Diamond at the same time, there’s an included adapter that lets you do this. It also lets you use regular 3.5mm headphones and 2.5mm headsets. The problem is that the adapter is big and clunky, it’s not something I’d want to walk around with.

Also included is an AC to USB adapter (for charging), a horizontal carrying case and an extra stylus.


I’ll be honest, when I get a new Pocket PC I immediately experience waves of boredom. For the past few years things have gotten quite stale. While Pocket PC’s often sport awesome hardware, the software hasn’t changed much – this is good because it means it will be compatible with many programs but also bad cause very little has changed.

If that describes how you feel about Pocket PC’s, I mean Windows Mobile Professional devices then rejoice – the Touch Diamond brings a few new features to the table that are quite interesting.

Besides the VGA screen you also get WiFi, something missing from the previous CDMA HTC Touch along with 4GB of built-in memory. You do lose a micro SDHC slot though which kind of sucks with the recent announcement of 16GB SDHC cards.

I transferred a bunch of mp3′s and observed a speed of about 1.8MB/second which is respectable.

HTC has updated their TouchFlo software; it’s now called TouchFlo3D and it looks fantastic. The effects are slick and they’re in 3D. It’s optimized for use with your finger rather than a stylus – though you can use either.

It’s a replacement for the today screen – but TouchFlo3D is much more than a launcher. It has 10 tabs of sorts: home, people, messages, mail, photos and videos, music, internet, weather, settings and programs. You can move between each one by sliding your finger across the different tabs near the bottom.

Many of the tabs give you a sort of preview. So when you go to the mail tab it will show you the newest email you’ve received. If you put your finger on the message and move it up it will show the next message. If you want to go to your inbox, hit the inbox link at the bottom left

The photos and video will show you the latest picture you took and scroll between photos in a similar manner as the messages. One thing you can’t do is zoom into your image.

While TouchFlo3D is really cool it makes for an uneven user experience because once you get past TouchFlo3D, there’s Windows Mobile Professional which works very differently – it works best with a stylus.

I also found that the Diamond would bog down a lot which would cause TouchFlo3D to become unresponsive. Despite its 528Mhz processor, the Diamond just can’t keep up.

Besides the TouchFlo3D apps, you can still access the regular programs by tapping the top left corner. The menu items are bigger than usual (to compensate for the Diamond’s 480×640 display and to make it easier to use with your finger rather than a stylus).

Another thing I found was that the messaging client and Opera don’t always show up in the recently used programs list if you press the start button located in the top left of the screen. This means it takes a few more presses if you want to multitask between the 2.

I found that when it came to text entry, the Touch’s 2.8″ display is way too small for use with your finger. The Touch tries to make up for this by offering a ton of different text entry methods; keypad, a suretype sort of keyboard that’s 5 keys wide and has 2 characters per key, keyboard, plus the old standbys; a different keyboard, letter organizer, block organizer and transcriber.

The default is the suretype-like keyboard. One thing I did like is that keypad and suretype-y one is that both have a T9 button which you can press to turn text prediction on and off. It’s very convenient.

Now on the original Touch the text area was often too small to use with a finger. On the Diamond the text entry area is much bigger. This should be a good thing but it ends up blocking most of the screen so it just ends up being annoying.

You can quickly jump to the Phone program by pressing the talk button. The phone app hasn’t changed much compared with previous versions of WinMo. When browsing the address book, there’s an alphabet on the left side which lets you move around the phonebook quickly.

One thing I don’t like about the Diamond (and many other touch screen phones) is that when you’re in a call you have to press a button to get to the keypad.

The messaging client is the same one found on previous versions of WinMo. It handles email (imap, pop and exchange), SMS and MMS.

The camera is has a resolution of 3.2 megapixel plus it has autofocus but no flash. Image quality is decent though it’s hard to take crisp photos indoors. The autofocus is very slow (like most autofocus camera phones) which makes it hard to take candid photos.

Music playback is handled by TouchFlo3d (WMP is still around if you prefer that). It works in a similar manner to the main menu. You slide the bottom around to switch between artist, album, genre and then move up and down between the choices. There’s a library mode where you can browse your songs as a list. When listening to a song you can move back and forth between songs or move within a song. My only complaint is that you can easily see the next/previous song without switching to library mode.

Browsing is handled by Opera which is a huge step up from Pocket Internet Explorer. It sort of mimics the feel of Safari on an iPhone – that’s a good thing. Opera renders pages similar to how they’d look on your desktop computer, you scroll around with your finger and then double tap when you want to zoom in and read something. Text automatically wraps itself when you zoom in.

Besides double tapping, you can also tap and hold – that’s sort of like right clicking with your mouse. You can do this to open links in new tabs (up to 3 tabs total). You can also use this to send links via text, email, MMS or copy them to your clipboard.

There is an address bar and toolbar which you can reveal by tapping the icon at the bottom right of the screen.

There is a nice history feature which works well. You also have an auto rotate feature like on the iPhone but just like the iPhone, it doesn’t always work.

While not a class leader, Opera is a huge step up from Internet Explorer.

Here are the ‘other’ apps that you get:

Messenger – MSN messenger/Live messenger, whatever they call it now.

MP3 Trimmer – useful since you don’t need a computer to create ringtones.

Notes, Pictures and Videos, Tasks, Voice recorder,

Windows Live – set this up so you can check your Hotmail/Live mail using the mail client.

Two apps which caught my eye are Remote Desktop and RSS Hub. I don’t remember seeing Remote Desktop AKA RDP, Terminal Services on my old Touch. RSS Hub is a RSS reader.

With respect to games you get Bubble Breaker and Solitair plus a new one named Teeter. It uses the accelerometer – you have to tilt the Diamond to move a ball into a hole while avoiding other holes. It’s a real fun game. I liked playing it on the New York Subway.

It seems items like the Calculator, Word, Excel, Internet Explorer are hidden from the menu. The apps are still around, you can use File Explorer to create shortcuts to them. For Word and Excel you can also launch them by opening Word or Excel attachments in your email.


One thing I noticed about the Touch Diamond is that it gets warm anytime you use it for more than a few minutes. It never gets hot to the touch but it’s not the most reassuring thing either.

RF performance is average. I tested the the Diamond against a Motorola v3c and the v3c was noticeably better.

Sound quality is also about average.

Maximum earpiece volume is adequate.


528Mhz processor, 480×640 display, 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera, WiFi, EVDO rev a, etc; While the Touch Diamond looks impressive on paper it has some serious ease-of-use issues. TouchFLO3D looks great but the Diamond can’t keep up – so often TouchFlo3D doesn’t work.

The screen is too small for efficient text entry. You either get keyboards which take up 3/4 of the screen or ones that are so small they’re impossible to use unless you’re standing still.

If you want to use your own headphones you have to use this idiotic dongle which is like the size of an iPod shuffle.

Still, I liked the Touch Diamond’s relatively compact size, you get a lot of power in a small space. Web browsing is somewhat a pleasant experience. It’s a pretty solid phone plus the magnetized stylus slot is sweet.

Howard Chui

Entry Filed under: Phones

5 Comments Add your own

    Evan Tobin  |  October 7th, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Your review is pretty right on but you missed a couple of features. There is zoom capabilities on the diamond, both on pictures and on opera(beyond the double tap) which allow you to see your subway map. The navigation button has an ipod like clockwise/counterclockwise wheel zoom function. Also on the pictures the old touch style gesture of a full circle sweep on the touch screen zooms in (or out). You don’t need file explorer to add links to calculator or office programs, you can add them to the programs option of the touchflo 3d.

    I agree Remote desktop would be nice and I sort of remember seeing it or maybe just read about it in your review earlier, but for the life of me, I can’t find it. Can you tell me where you found it?

    Billy Bob  |  November 19th, 2008 at 2:03 am

    what happened to my post

    Suzzane Fischer  |  November 19th, 2008 at 2:05 am

    health savings plan

    Suzzane Fischer  |  November 19th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    health savings plan

    HTC Touch Diamond&hellip  |  April 10th, 2009 at 10:36 am

    [...] Howard’s review of Telus’ HTC Touch Diamond before purchasing yours from [...]

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