Today AT&T announced the HTC Pure with Windows Mobile 6.5 and we had the chance to get our hands on the long rumored device. Windows Mobile 6.5 brings a new Touch-friendly user interface that resolves Windows 6.1’s horrible touch user interface, the long awaited flash support and the access to an app store: Windows Market Place. In addition, a new service, MyPhone, allows the users to sync their data in the cloud, in case of loss, personal data retrieval on the replacement phone is touted to be very easy. Of course, I will compare the Pure to the iPhone 3Gs and the MyTouch / HTC Magic. Read the full review after the jump.
We all have a different usage pattern that influences how we perceive certain features (like a keyboard). It is also the single most important thing that affects battery life. I got the phone less than 48 hours ago so I could not play with it much , I will post a complete review later. I tried the keyboard, checked the phone basics, replied to emails, browsed the Internet, took pictures and updated my Facebook. I could not try AT&T Navigator and GPS since I did not get an AT&T login.
Physical design (good)
The look and feel of the HTC Pure is sleek and stylish, more elegant than the MyTouch, although I prefer the iPhone’s design by far.The HTC Pure is heavier than the MyTouch and the BlackBerry Curve. I am not a fan of the USB port cover that ruins the “Pure shape” when it is hanging out, honestly, is it necessary to cover a USB port (note, the HTC Diamond2 does not have one)? The 3.2 inch touchscreen is great with its WVGA resolution (800×440) and quite responsive as well, which is better than the iPhone that only features a 3.5 inch Multi-Touch display with a 480×380 resolution. However, zooming with 2 fingers is an irreplaceable feature, the icon-driven zoom interface in IE is quite painful to use in comparison. The lack of a standard audio jack is another turn-off. I may not be the ideal person to review a virtual keyboard device as I tend to dislike typing on a display, however I can compare touch UIs pretty well.
The phone basics are working well, it was incredibly fast to set up the Exchange Server connection; we would not expect less from a “Microsoft-operated” device. With 3 bars only the audio quality was very good and the volume was ok, better than my BlackBerry Curve. The unlock is not as smooth as the iPhone, sometimes hard to slide; other than that, from the dialing to the in-call functions, the device does not show any issues.
Phone settings (easy)
Setting up the Exchange Server to get all my contacts that I keep online and connecting to the WiFi network was fast and painless. The menus are somewhat logical to find, although I would have a few UI (user interface) changes to suggest, for example, I would like to have a virtual back arrow icon on top of the display in addition to the physical back button at the bottom: it would save some extra gesture when I am browsing the top half of the display.
My least favorite topic and the first thing I try on a touchscreen interface: virtual keyboard usage. I blog live from my BlackBerry Curve, so a physical keyboard is vital for me. The width of the HTC Pure keyboard is 1.6 inches (device width is 2.1 inches), the MyTouch keyboard is 1.75 inches wide (device width is 2.2 inches) and the iPhone width is 2.4 inches (I cannot measure the virtual keyboard specifically, our iPhone 3Gs is in Tokyo right now). The logical consequence: typing on the Pure is the least comfortable compared to the two other devices. My favorite virtual keyboards are the LG’s smartphones ones, they feature wider keys and a better responsivity. I managed to use the keyboard better with the stylus provided, and it did not work with the MyTouch (no stylus in the package), if you are able not to lose this tiny item, unlike myself, it should work well. Having long nails is another solution, I tried it before and after manicure.
I like the email interface, the home page with the partial content of the latest message displayed is great. Settings are easy to configure and the user interface is obvious to figure out. As previously explained, like the iPhone, the HTC Pure is a great device for *reading* emails, but it can be tedious to reply. Switching the keyboard from portrait to landscape while typing an email is slightly slow.
I tried Internet Explorer and Opera, both installed by default. Opera crashed several times and was slower than IE. The new mobile Internet Explorer provides a desktop-like browsing experience with Flash support but I miss the iPhone’s mutli touch zooming feature, the HTC TouchFlo 3D gesture interface allows users to slide sideways with one finger only, zooming has to be done using virtual buttons.
Camera (very good at 5 mp but no flash!)
With its 5 MP resolution, the camera is the HTC Pure’s key differentiator, but it was disappointing to realize that there is no flash. However, the ISO can be modified up to 800 for low light conditions (see picture), unlike the MyTouch 3.2 MP camera that does not have a flash either.
Fully charged, the device lasted over 24h, and at the time of publishing, the battery is not de
ad yet, the icon displays an half charge, I did not enable WiFi right away though.This paragraph will be updated later with the accurate result.
Windows Mobile 6.5’s new user interface is way better than before and the HTC Pure is a stylish and overall efficient device, except for typing. Just like the iPhone, this smartphone is better suited for people who mainly browse the Internet, snap pictures, read emails *only* and update quickly their Facebook status; Twitter is a great application to use with the device since tweets are limited to 140 caracters. Priced at $149.99 after rebate and a two-year agreement on a minimum $69.99 plan , it is good value compared to the iPhone 3Gs ($199 with a plan). The display and the camera are better than the Apple phone, however, the user interface is slightly less user friendly. I did not play games on the HTC Pure, and we know that the iPhone 3Gs will be a great gaming mobile device, thanks to its powerful Power-VR SGX GPU, for gameaholics, this could worth the $50 difference. The complete specifications are on the product page.
Basic specifications: Processor Qualcomm MSM 7201A, 528MHz, 3.2″ WVGA resolution (800×480), Color TFT LCD with LED back light, 3G, WiFi 802.11 b/g, GPS antenna, microSD card slot up to 16 GB.
See below a pic shot in low light condition with the HTC Pure (800 ISO), it is good for a phone camera.