Ramblings from another nerd on the grid
Earlier this week I received the Sprint HTC Touch Pro. I really didn't start playing with it until Thursday because I just came off a busy couple of weeks. It's always like that following a vacation. So what's this new phone like? Is it a keeper?
I don't know about you, but I've always been a sucker for lots of chrome. I miss the days when you could buy a car with a big chrome bumper. Now days, everything is painted plastic. Well, I guess someone on the Sprint design team likes chrome, too.
The Sprint HTC Touch Pro is a looker. Of the Touch Pro units I've seen directly from HTC, ATT, etc., this unit is my favorite. As you can see in the picture at right, the face and edges around the screen are shiny chrome. The back cover is plastic but it is painted a matte silver to look like aluminum and matches nicely with the rest of the phone. It looks really nice but I wonder how it will look over time with wear and tear.
Probably the next thing you notice about the unit is the high quality screen. It's the first thing you see when you hit the power button. At 2.8" the screen isn't massive. But HTC did make the screen relatively high resolution at 480x640. As a result, the TouchFLO™ 3D add-in, themes, pictures and video all look great. It also makes surfing the web with Opera or Pocket IE nicer as well.
The screen is also a touch screen. It seems to work pretty well with your finger but so far I am not real happy with it's sensitivity to the stylus. I went through the alignment setup program a couple of times already to see if I could get it to work more to my liking. It's ok, not bad but I would prefer that I didn't have to press so hard on some areas.
I have seen some complaints about the keyboard being too flat. It is rather flat so it's very different compared to something like the Palm Treo Pro or Samsung Saga. It doesn't bother me too much because I don't do a lot of texting. For those of you with callused thumbs and thumb 120 chars per second, you'd better check this out pronto when you get the device.
The backlighting for the keyboard is very nice. One of the other things I like about the keyboard is access to most of the special keys I use. Special keys were on short supply on my Palm Treo 750 and Treo Pro.
Let's face it, the Windows Mobile interface that's been around for several years now is not the most exciting in the world. But it's easy to use and sometimes there's a lot to be said for just getting the job done easily. With all of that said I was anxious to try the HTC TouchFLO™ 3D interface to see how I like it.
Like a lot of folks, I wanted to turn the TouchFLO™ 3D add-on off and just use the standard interface that comes with Windows Mobile. It wasn't that I disliked TouchFLO™ 3D, but more because I wanted to see how the unit responded with the regular WinMo OS and interface. After running without TouchFLO™ 3D for a day or so, I turned it back on and have been running with it ever since. I would suggest giving it a chance as well. I didn't see any significant degradation of performance with TouchFLO™ 3D. However, if the memory of the Touch Pro gets constrained by a bunch of running programs, you will see the overall environment slow and that includes TouchFLO™ 3D. So keep an eye on the number of programs you leave running.
A number of people I know also run the wonderful software from Spb Software House. Those folks have all sorts of cool customizations for Windows Mobile like the Spb Mobile Shell. If I keep the Sprint HTC Touch Pro I'll probably try their mobile shell and see if I like it better than the TouchFLO shell.
Data Network Speeds
I figure if you're going to buy a 3G or EVDO phone, you might as well test the connectivity. Unfortunately my home is in a cell phone dead zone. Not really dead, but poor enough reception that I don't get high speed 3G or EVDO service from Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile or Sprint. So every time I go to the store or run some errands, I'm hitting a few of the mobile test sites to see how the Sprint network is doing.
So far I have not been impressed with the speeds from the Sprint network. I haven't traveled with the phone yet so all of my testing has been here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I haven't been anywhere near 1MB download speeds with this phone. For that matter, I have not been above 500KB. That isn't a good sign. I routinely got 700-800KB on my ATT and Verizon phones. This is probably going to be a deal breaker for me. Make sure you test your phone thoroughly in your area and as you travel.
So far the voice call clarity and volume has been very good. I didn't expect anything different. I haven't seen many complaints with the HTC Touch Pro in general so it's good to see that it's working nicely on the Sprint network. Since I don't have or use a Bluetooth earpiece, I will not be testing calls using that technology. I know a lot of you make many calls in this manner so I'd recommend checking that out pretty quickly if you decide to order one.
One of the biggest complaints I've seen leveled at the HTC Touch Pro is that is doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack. I would prefer to have one, too. I will be testing the adaptor over the next few days with my Shure ear buds. If I spot any problems I'll come back and update this post.
One of the most important aspects of any phone, especially a "smart phone" is the battery life. The problem with battery life is that everyone has different usage patterns. I may say the battery life is great, but it might suck for you. In fact, I have seen a number of complaints levied at the HTC Touch Pro. This is a bit disconcerting. The first day I had the phone I charged it fully then managed to drain the battery by the end of the day. That drain happened just by fiddling around with all of the settings on the phone. After using the phone for a few days I am suspicious that the screen is a big power consumer. During that first day of fiddling I was using the screen a lot.
Now that I have settled into what is a normal usage pattern for me, I am getting a couple of days of battery life. I don't use Bluetooth and I turned off Exchange ActiveSync Direct Push. I have my phone set to sync every 15 minutes during prime hours and every 30 minutes in off hours. I am not very chatty on a cell phone so the lion share of the time the phone is sitting there waiting for a call or syncing email. It gets used a lot more when I am traveling, but I won't be traveling before I need to make a decision to keep it or not. One thing is for sure, playing movies on this phone is going to kill battery life. Sounds like a fun test.
I am no where near done testing this phone but so far I like it. Can I live with it for a year? Yea, probably. The Sprint corporate rates I get are really perfect for my needs. I like the flat rate pay what you use style plan. I rarely use 400-450 minutes per month so paying for that is silly if I don't have to. That's one of the things I like about Virgin Mobile USA. Rock bottom prices.
There are very few cons with the phone that I can find, except maybe the Sprint EVDO network speed. I'm hopeful the rumors are true and Verizon is in fact going to be launching their HTC Touch Pro, and the Samsung Omnia this week. If so, I'll get a chance to compare price of the Touch Pro, and possibly get my hands on the Omnia before I have to return the Sprint HTC Touch Pro. Let me know if you have any questions.
[UPDATE for 11/29/2008] Returned. In the end I didn't like the build quality of my unit. The unit I had made all sorts of crutching sounds when using the buttons and screen. This is likely due to the connection between the keyboard and the rest of the phone but the bottom section of my phone didn't seem like it was made properly.
I didn't like the circular navigation button. It didn't work very well in my opinion and the lack of other assignable buttons to use for navigation help really hurt the use of the phone.
How are you getting a couple days of battery life. Mine runs down very quickly. I just text mostly..
Sorry Keisha. My suggestion would be to return the unit if you are still inside the first 30 days.
Good news for AT&T subscribers is that the AT&T Fuze is their version of the Touch Pro. Get same phone, with a better broad band connection.
Mine came in today and I will be writing up a blog post about it in the upcoming week.