HTC Touch. In the Ghetto.
Finding the perfect phone is an exercises in futility. I was very hesitant on picking up the HTC touch because at the end of the day, it is still a windows mobile 6 phone device. It would be difficult to talk about a smartphone without speaking of the iPhone, which as a device is very cool hardware wise and the software interface is exactly what a phone needs. I want one.
Unfortunately, I am skeptical of the data network. If I didn’t travel and lived in an area that had good AT&T coverage, I would pick up a next gen iPhone in a heartbeat. The problem is that I do travel and my phone is my lifeblood to the internet. AT&T doesn’t even have a nationwide coverage map for their 3g network, only having maps for specific cities. Compare that to Verizon where whole swaths of the US is covered (still not complete, but at least the coverage points are visible on a nationwide map). I don’t want to be stuck in Bumblefuck, Nowhere, USA with no internet.
I’ve been using the HTC Touch for my trip, and it’s pretty much a PDA with phone capabilities. Previously, I had the Motorola Q, which worked terribly but did everything that I needed it to do. The Touch’s integration with Exchange is still phenomenal and it can run normal Windows Mobile programs. I can also stream video onto it via orb (www.orb.com) and that works pretty well. It seems a little more choppy than the Motorola Q, but it’s still watchable. It’s strange that the video performance isn’t as good because the interface performance of the Touch seems better than the Q’s. Overall, it’s a win.
Verizon’s network performance is a huge win. The Touch, with EVDO rev A, the fastest performance I saw was 1900 kbps down (rated at 3.1 Megs/sec down). If you think about the fact that tds currently is charging $45+phone line for 2 Megs/sec down, using a broadband connection for downloads doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I also tested the iPhone on the EDGE network in Madison at the Apple store at Westtown mall. It was able to download at 145 kbps.
The Touch also has an interface that they call the TouchFLO. I don’t use it, but it’s gimmicky enough that someone might use it to try to be as cool as an iPhone. The TouchFLO allows to use to access some contacts, pictures, programs, etc via different sides of a cube that rotates with a swipe of the thumb. The interface change that I made to my phone was to download a new keyboard to allow for typing on the glass. The keyboard that I downloaded acts similarly to the iPhone keyboard and I’ve been able to use it and have become relatively comfortable with it.
The biggest issue with the Touch for me is the built in web browser, Pocket IE. It doesn’t render most sites correctly. I’ve worked around it by using only the mobile versions of different sites, and that gets me by but I’m not happy about it. I’ve learned to live with it, sorta like a disease. But instead of leukemia, I have PocketIE. I can purchase Opera, but a new version is on its way of being released. Also, the developers of firefox is gearing up to release a mobile version of their browser, as well as a company that’s about to release a mobile browser called Skyfire. Currently both those solutions are free. These browsers may even have an advantage over the iPhone Safari because the goal is to have Flash and other multimedia plugins work with the browsers.
All in all, I can recommend the touch for users such as me. It’s not as flashy as the iPhone, but I need a stronger network more than a slick user interface. I just need an usable user interface.