In the second of our HTC Touch hands-on pieces, we’re looking at the HTC Touch Pro2. SlashGear met up with HTC’s Dave Catt and Eric Lin at Mobile World Congress today, to find out exactly what makes this QWERTY flagship so impressive. After the cut, the fruits of our interview, a huge hands-on gallery and, as soon as it’s processed, live video of the HTC Touch Pro2.
Update: Video now added – and in HD!
To recap on the specs, the HTC Touch Pro2 has a 3.6-inch 480 x 800 WVGA resistive touchscreen, dualband 3G/HSDPA, WiFi b/g and Bluetooth 2.0, together with GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera with autofocus and a touch-sensitive zoom control. There’s also a slide-out five row QWERTY keyboard, and the display tilts up and can be positioned at any angle across its range.
The Pro2 uses a 528MHz processor, like the Diamond2, and has 512MB of ROM and 288MB of RAM; onboard storage can be augmented with a microSD card. In addition there’s an FM radio and accelerometer, together with HTC’s latest version of TouchFLO 3D, and a new dual-speaker, dual-microphone speakerphone.
To understand the key differences to HTC TouchFLO 3D, check out the Diamond2 demo video. Software across both devices is the same, with greater integration between the different GUI tabs: you can now do more communicating – whether by voice, email or IM – without dropping into Windows Mobile,
The obvious hardware difference is the physical QWERTY keyboard. Eric told me that the Pro2 was in no small part prompted by user requests for a handset with the display of the Touch HD but the keyboard of the HTC Kaiser. The end result is a very impressive input offering, with large, well laid-out keys that have decent travel and good tactile response.
Less obvious, but also impressive, is the integrated speakerphone technology. HTC have given the Pro2 dual microphones and dual speakers, which, together with some home-grown DSP software, Eric assures us gives the best audio quality on a smartphone to-date. Turning the Pro2 screen-down onto the table automatically kicks in the speakerphone; there’s a small pause while the DSP works its magic, and then we’re told it’s crystal clear. That wasn’t something we had an opportunity to try in the demo, but we’ve high hopes for it; not only might it make impromptu conference calls easy, it could also be useful in a car when you don’t want to wear a Bluetooth hands-free. There’s also a dedicated mute button underneath the camera.
Like the Diamond2 compared to the original Diamond, the Pro2 will get a larger standard battery than the first Pro; Eric estimated two days between charges, even with regular use. Being further down the roadmap than the Diamond2 though – the Pro2 is due in the second half of 2009, while the Diamond2 should land in Q2 – there’s more work to be done finessing the larger device. HTC are still flushing out the last bugs, but of most interest to us is Eric’s promise that the final build will be faster and more responsive. That’s something to bear in mind when you’re watching the demo video: the Pro2 you’ll be able to hold in your hands will be another degree slicker than the pre-production unit I looked at today.
If I had any grumble about the Touch Pro2, it’s the smartphone’s balance. When opened up, and sat on a table, touching the display can cause the device to rock backward; to get around it you have to support the back with your fingers, or steady the base. It’s not a deal-breaker, by any means, but it’s a mild frustration all the same.
For those addicted to messaging, the HTC Touch Pro2 could just be their fingers’ salvation. They keyboard really is that good, and HTC’s improvements to TouchFLO 3D turn what started out as an attractive launcher into a real GUI alternative to Windows Mobile. We’ll have to wait until our full review device arrives before we can make any real conclusions, but just like the Touch Diamond2 we’ve got very high hopes.