What sucks about the Touch Diamond

Contrary to all thinking and common-sense I’ve displayed in my «Which phone for me?»-post, I went and bought the Touch Diamond. The perspective of having a hackable device with high resolution, GPS and voip capability and flawlessly working Exchange-Synchronization finally pushed me over – oh and of course I just like new gadgets to try out.

In my dream world, the Touch would even replace my iPod Touch as a video player and bathtub browser, so I could go back to my old Nano for podcasts.

Unfortunately, the Touch is not much more than any other Windows Mobile phone with all the suckage and half-working features they usually come with. Here’s the list:

  • VoIP is a no-go. The firmware of the Touch is crippled and does not provide Windows Mobile 6+ SIP support, Skype doesn’t run on Windows Mobile 6.1, but all that doesn’t matter anway because none of the Voip-Solutions actually use the speakerphone. You can only get VoIP sound on the amplified speaker on the back of the phone – or you use a headset at which time, the thing isn’t better than any other VoIP solution at my disposal.
  • GPS is a no go as the Diamond takes *ages* to find a signal and it’s really fiddly to get it to work – even just in the integrated Google maps application.
  • Typing anything is really hard despite HTC really trying. Whichever input method you chose, you lose: The Windows Mobile native solutions only work with the pen and the HTC keypads are too large for the applications to remain really usable. Writing SMSes takes me so much longer than every other smart phone I’ve tried before.
  • T9 is a nice idea, but here and then, you need to enter some special chars. Like dots. Too bad that they are hidden behind another menu – especially the dot.
  • This TouchFLO 3D-thingie sounds nice on the web and in all the demonstrations, but it sucks anway, mainly because it’s slow as hell. The iPhone interface doesn’t just look good, it’s also responsive, which is where HTC fails. Writing an SMS message takes *minutes* when you combine the embarrassingly slow loading time of the SMS app with the incredibly fiddly text input system.
  • You only get a German T9 with the German version of the Firmware which has probably been translated using Google Translation or Babelfish.
  • The worst idea ever from a consumer perspective was that stupid ExtUSB connector. Aside of the fact that you’d practically have to buy an extra cable to sync from home and the office, you also need another extra cable if you want to plug in decent headphones. The ones coming with the device are unusable and it’s impossible to plug better ones. Also, the needed adapter cable is currently not available to buy anywhere I looked.
  • The screen, while having a nice DPI count is too small to be usable for earnest web browsing. Why does windows mobile have to paint everything four times as large when there are four times as many pixels available?
  • Finger gestures just don’t work on a touch sensitive display, no matter how much they try. At least they don’t work once you are used to the responsiveness and accuracy of an iPhone (or iPod touch).
  • The built-in opera browser, while looking nice and providing a much better page zoom feature than the iPod Touch also is unusable because it’s much too slow.

So instead of having a possible iPhone killer in my pocket, I have a phone that provides around zero more actually usable functionality than my previous W880i and yet is much slower, crashier, larger and heavier than the old solution.

Here’s the old feature comparison table listing the features I tought the touch would have as opposed to the features the touch actually has:

assumed actually
Phone usage
Quick dialing of arbitrary numbers (the phone application takes around 20 seconds to load, the buttons are totally unresponsive)
Acceptable battery life (more than two days) ? yes. Actually yes. 4 days is not bad.
usable as modem yes yes
usable while not looking at the device limited not at all mainly because of the laggyness of the interface
quick writing of SMS messages it’s much, much worse than anticipated.
Sending and receiving of MMS messages yes not really. Sending pictures is annoying as hell and everything is terribly slow.
PIM usage
synchronizes with google calendar/contacts
synchronizes with Outlook yes yes
usable calendar yes very, very slow
usable todo list yes slow
media player usage
integrates into current iTunes based podcast workflow
straight forward audio playing interface
straight forward video playing interface
acceptable video player yes no. No sound due to no way to plug my own headphones.
hackability
ssh client yes not really. putty doesn’t quite work right on VGA Winmob 6.1
skype client yes no. a) it doesn’t work and b) it would require headset usage as skype is unable to use the speakerphone.
OperaMini (browser usable on GSM) yes limited. No softkeys and touch-buttons too small to reliably hit.
WLAN-Browser yes no. Too slow, Screen real estate too limited.

Now tell me how this could be called progress.

I’m giving this thing until the end of the week. Maybe I get used to its deficiencies in the matters of interface speed. If not, it’s gone. As is the prospective of me buying any other Windows Mobile phone. Ever.

Sorry for the rant, but it had to be.