By November 18, 2008

HTC Touch HD Review

Can this be the iPhone beater?



HTC, the worlds leader in Windows Mobile devices, have been churning the handsets out recently and as far as a self branded Windows Mobile device goes the Touch HD has to be the flagship of the company just now.

It seems so long ago now that we reported this phone on the site courtesy of MoDaCo (10/09/08 to be exact). Since that date we have had several updates, videos, rumours and the likes appearing but finally last Friday we got our hands on the Touch HD. Surprisingly this wasn’t as big a deal for HTC as the G1 and for us but it certainly has had several people talking and looking for more info.

Sitting in the "can I beat the iPhone" category the touch HD is one of only 7 WVGA devices on the UK mobile market which include 3 from HTC (Shift, Touch HD & Touch Max 4G), 3 from Toshiba (G900, G910 & G920) and finally the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 (willing to accept if I got this wrong).

The 10 second review:
Device: HTC Touch HD
Cost: around £549.99 (handset only)
Available to order from:  eXpansys, Clove Technology and
Summary: An amazing device with features jam packed within
Best of:  Display in general
Worst of: MicroSD location

What’s in the box?

The version of the phone that I received is not the standard "retail" box which means that the details give here are not as per however the version Matt received and videoed is the retail version (sim free). We are yet to see the Orange version of this which will be the one most people will have unless they can afford to go out and buy it direct.


Touch HD Specification in comparison to the XPERIA X1

Xperia X1 Touch HD
Windows mobile 6.1 Professional Windows mobile 6.1 Professional
Qualcomm MSM7200 528 MHz processor Qualcomm MSM7201A 528 Mhz processor
512MB ROM / 256MB RAM 512 MB ROM / 288 MB RAM
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100 GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100
Flush 3.0" WVGA screen (480×640),65k colours WVGA 480 x 800 pixels, 3.8 inches
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth® v2.0 with A2DP Bluetooth® v2.0 with A2DP
A-GPS function A-GPS function
3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, autofocus, video(VGA@30fps), flash; secondary videocall camera 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, video(CIF@30fps), secondary VGA videocall camera
Stereo FM radio with RDS Stereo FM radio with RDS
Standard battery, Li-Po 1500 mAh (BST-41) Standard battery, Li-Ion 1350 mAh
110.5 x 52.6 x 17 mm 115 x 62.8 x 12 mm
145 g 146 g


Completely unlike any other HTC phone in relation to size the Touch HD has (as mentioned above) a Flush 3.8" WVGA screen. Apart from the screen itself the front of the phone has the printed HTC logo at the left, an ear piece grill to the right of it and the secondary VGA video call camera to the far right. At the bottom of the front there are (from left to right) the call end, home, back and call start buttons which are also touchscreen flush.

HTC Touch HD

On the left hand side of the phone there is nothing except a very long volume rocker button.


Moving over to the right hand side we can find  the removal area for the stylus.


Moving up to the top of the handset we have a 3.5 mm Stereo Earphone Socket (Finally!) and the power / standby button to it’s right.


The bottom features the MiniUSB charging / sync port and the microphone.


On the back there is a large metal plate surrounding the 5MP camera  and a small grill for the speaker phone to its left.


Removing the back cover exposes the simcard area, MicroUSB slot, Battery and reset button.


Highlights and Lowlights

+ Screen Size

+ Screen Resolution

+ Speed of processor

+ 5MP Camera

– Inability to delete multiple messages / mails using drag and delete

– Dimensions (Height mainly)

– Location of MicroSD card slot

– Inability to hit snooze on Alarm without unlocking device


Where honestly do I begin with this one? By miles this is the highest end handset I have ever used and it oozes style

Having used the phone now for just under 1 week solid I have grown to enjoy it more than I first expected. My initial reaction was "God it’s big" (save the jokes!) and I had a chat with Matt telling him that I just wasn’t a fan however this view changed within 1 hour of using it.

The battery life particularly impressed me as I use WiFi constantly and found that it lasted around 12 hours more than the Touch Diamond that I was used to.

Over the week I had just 1 issue which forced me to do soft re-boot which I think was just a simple glitch that rectified itself quickly.

Thanks to another blog site I can add this lot customised to suit the HD.

I don’t plan to cover or look at all applications and programs that the device has built into ROM however I thought it would be nice to highlight the applications or programs that have been added by HTC that are not part of Windows Mobile.

Touch FLO 3D
The Touch HD has the following (customisable) tabs:

  • Home
  • People
  • Messages
  • Mail
  • Photos and Videos
  • Music
  • Internet
  • Stock
  • Weather
  • Settings
  • Programs

Each of the panels interface with the user via ‘touch’, that being the panels can be navigated through by holding and sliding across the dark grey slide bar at the bottom of the screen. As the finger slides across the various panels are previewed in a larger than normal style and when the finger movement stops the required panel becomes current. Each individual panel can further be interacted with either through stroking the screen up / down or left / right or by use of the on screen soft buttons. We’ll cover each of the panels in detail next.

The only drawback of Touch FLO 3D is that it prevents other Today applets from being used as it does take over the entire screen.

The Home tab initially shows a large flip-style clock detailing the current time. Below this is a tappable ‘Missed Calls’ area which takes you into the ‘Missed Calls’ tab, below that is the next forthcoming or all day appointment.
If the screen is stroked upwards the clock reduces in size and allows you to view more calendar details. If any appointment is tapped upon it will open in the Calendar application to show more details. If the Clock is tapped on it will open to allow you to set the time, or to configure any required alarms.

The People tab allows you to create favourite contacts of the people you most often communicate with. To do this you tap on the ‘+’ sign which take you into the contacts selector from where you can select a phone number (Work, Home, or Mobile) or an email address for that contact.
If a contact has a photo assigned (via Exchange) that photo will be used, of if not you can select a picture or silhouette from the photo library.
You can have a maximum of 15 favourite contacts.

Once you have your contacts configured you can stroke the screen up / down to flip through your contacts. You can also slide your finger up / down the photo strip on the right hand of the screen to quickly navigate through the contacts.

Touching the Contact picture allows you to phone the contact on any number, send an email or a text message. If the text (or arrow) beneath the picture is tapped then the default action you defined when setting up the contact is actioned immediately.

The Messages tab allows you to view any incoming Text Messages (SMS / MMS) as they arrive as well as create new ones.

To move through the various messages you simply swipe the finger up or down the screen or touch the counter icon. Replying to the message is simple, you just tap upon it which will then open the message on screen for you to reply to.

The new message icon can be tapped (top right) to create a new message.

The SMS messaging system is fully threaded so you can see the flow and history of any conversations.

The ‘All Messages’ soft button allows you to access all text, picture and video messages on the Touch HD in the various Inbox folders. The ‘Menu’ soft button allows you the options of ‘New / Reply or Delete’.

The Mail tab allows you to receive, preview and send email messages. A maximum of four email accounts can be added to this tab. Each email account has its own email counter so you can instantly see how many emails are unread in each mail account. The counter can be tapped upon to switch between accounts.

For the active mail account the large envelope is displayed which details the name of the account (bottom right) and shows a preview of the messages in that account. Swiping up / down the screen serves to switch between the emails being previewed.

If you tap on the previewed email it will open in the Inbox application and you can then read or reply to that email using the standard Email editor. Touching the New Email icon (top right) opens a new email in the Inbox immediately.

It’s worth noting that swiping he screen sideways also moves you between the different email accounts which includes the SMS / MMS message folders.

Photos and Videos
This tab allows you to visually flip through your photos and video clips via swiping up / down the screen with your finger. If you touch the current photo or video on screen you can then view it in full screen mode. Tapping on that full size image allows you access to the album, start a sideshow, email the picture, save it to a contact, save it, delete it, or view its properties. Swiping left / right in full image view serves to move you through each photo in turn.

If you physically turn the HD through 90 degrees the motion sensor within it will automatically rotate the photo from portrait to landscape view. Rotating it back again changes the display to portrait. Swiping your finger clockwise over a portion of the photo serves to zoom you in to that area, and anti-clockwise serves to zoom you back out. Double tapping serves to reset the image back to the original fit to screen view.

Once in the Album you can swipe through your various saved pictures or switch between any folders on the device in which pictures or videos are stored.
From the main tab itself you can use the icons top right to initiate the camera for taking a photo or video.

The Camera
The camera software included is the updated HTC application which replaces the camera part of the ‘Pictures and Videos’ application. This offers a one screen display consisting of a central view finder with adjustment / mode controls surrounding it.

Camera Options may be changed by tapping on the surrounding icons or via selecting the bottom right ‘menu’ icon (options icon).

When actuated the screen rotates into landscape mode and in effect becomes the viewfinder for the camera.

Taking a picture is simple, you press the picasa looking icon on the right of the touch screen slowly (which activates the auto-focus system) wait for the viewfinder to turn green and a beep to occur (focus complete) and then depress the icon the rest of the way to complete the shot.

HTC have taken great trouble to improve the camera application with the HD and have added a Quick Settings panel that allows one to quickly vary:

  • Resolution
  • White Balance
  • Brightness
  • Storage Medium used
  • Camera Mode
  • Call timer

Digital zoom is available from 1x to 2x which is operated by using the on screen zoom icons. Navigating up / down serves to switch through the varying photo modes which are available via the regular options.

  • Modes – Photo, Video, MMS Video, and Contacts Picture
  • Resolution – 1M / 2M / 3M / 5M / M / L
  • White Balance – Auto / Day / Night / Incandescent / Fluorescent
  • Brightness
  • Camera – Front / Back / Back (flipped)
  • Self Timer – On / Off
  • Widescreen – On /Off
  • Touch Focus – On / Off
  • Review Duration – none / 3 secs / 10 secs / no limit
  • Quality – Basic / Normal / Fine / Super Fine
  • Capture format – JPEG
  • Time Stamp – On / Off
  • Storage – Internal Storage / Main Memory
  • Keep Backlight – On / Off
  • Shutter Sound – On / Off
  • Shoot Option – Touch and Hold / Touch
  • Image Properties – Contrast / Saturation / Sharpness
  • Effect – None / Greyscale / Sepia / Negative
  • Metering Mode – centre Area / Average
  • Prefix – Default / Date / Date and Time
  • Counter – Value / Reset
  • Flicker Adjustment – Auto / 50Hz / 60Hz
  • Grid – On / Off
  • Help – Help system
  • About

The Music tab allows you to visually browse through your albums and play music. Swiping up and down the screen allows you to flip through your albums and tracks.

To move forward or backwards through the track touch hold and slide your finger along the progress bar.

Tapping the menu option allows you to set up a music play list and to configure repeat or shuffle modes.

The Internet tab allows you to tap the globe and launch the Opera Mobile browser which is installed on the HD as a superior replacement to Pocket Internet Explorer. As an alternative you may swipe up / down the tab to reveal your bookmarks and tap on any one of those to go directly to that site.

Once Opera has loaded a web site you can rotate to view the pages in landscape using the accelerometer in the machine, or zoom in on areas of interest via double tapping the screen. To zoom out just double tap again. Once in zoomed mode you can navigate round the screen via simply dragging the page with your finger.

The weather tab allows you to check the weather both locally and around the world.

As standard the it is configured with eight default global weather locations and these can be navigated through by swiping up / down the screen or tapping the up / down arrows. The 5 day’ soft key allows you to look forward at the forecast for the next 5 days.

The menu soft key allows you remove and add entries. New locations are added via the country / city selector whereby you first select the country and then the town / city you require.

Navigation through the selector screens can be done via swiping up / down or by using the alphabetical quick selector on the right of the screen.

Options within the menu also allow you to choose between centigrade or Fahrenheit and to turn on / off auto updating as well as updating whilst roaming.

Additionally from the menu when in 5 day weather mode you have the option of ‘more’ which takes you to the Accuweather page which is the source of the information used by the tab.

The settings tab allows you to modify common configurable aspects from one common place.

You can turn on / off flight (airplane) mode whereby all connectivity is disabled, turn off just the cellular radio, modify the sound settings such as your ring tone, choose a new wallpaper for use with the Touch FLO 3D interface, control wifi, direct push operation and even the download options for weather.

The Program tab serves as a quick launcher for programs whereby you can set favourite programs to execute at a single tap of the screen.

If you tap the Remove soft key an ‘X’ will appear in the bottom right corner of the icons, and if you then tap that icon it will be removed from the tab. If you tap ‘Done’ then you will return to the launch tab and any icons that have had applications removed will be showing a ‘+’ symbol. Tapping on that symbol will bring up a scrolling list of installed applications which you can swipe through and then tap the icon you wish to add as a shortcut to that icon.

The programs tab itself can be swiped and moved up and down to reveal additional launch parts. Tapping the All programs soft key will take you to the standard windows mobile programs screen.

All the Applications

Sitting in the programs menu lies

  • Audio Booster
  • Calculator
  • Camera
  • Comm Manager
  • File Explorer
  • FM Radio
  • Getting Started
  • Google Maps
  • Internet Sharing
  • Java
  • JETCET Print 5
  • Messenger
  • MP3 Trimmer
  • Notes
  • (Sim)
  • Opera Browser
  • Pictures & Videos
  • QuickGPS
  • Remote Desktop
  • RSS Hub
  • Search
  • Sim Manager
  • Streaming Media
  • Tasks
  • Voice Recorder
  • Voice Speed Dial
  • Windows Live
  • WorldCard Mobile
  • YouTube
  • Zip

The HD comes preloaded in ROM with the RSS Hub application. This is a version of Ilium Software’s Newsbreak Application which allows you to subscribe to and read RSS feeds on the move.

The main features are:

  • Listen to your favourite podcasts, watch vidcasts, and view attached files and images.
  • Save your podcasts to listen or view when you have the time, and schedule them to download however you choose
  • Tell the Hub what news to search for – save keywords and let it find stories you’re interested in
  • Get the news you care about as it happens. Have the RSS Hub scan your feeds and notify you about important stories by setting up alerts
  • Spot the headlines that matter to you by using keyword icons

WorldCard Mobile
WorldCard Mobile is one of those applications that you come across and wonder whether it will be useful, and then you try it and find it is very useful indeed. It is simple enough in concept – use the camera to capture an image of a business card, perform a bit of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to input the text, allow any errors to be edited and then add to your contacts. It may take a few attempts to be proficient with positioning the business card, but once you get used to working with the application it can be very useful. It can certainly save a lot of typing!

JetCet Print
JetCet Print allows you to link the HD to a remote printer, whether it be linked to a wireless network connected to a domain, or a standalone Bluetooth enabled printer.

The facility is offered to print documents, emails or images. From within Opera if the print option is chosen JetCet will then be used to complete the operation.

Remote Desktop
Connect to and remotely control your Windows desktop from your HD with the Windows Mobile Remote Desktop client.

Teeter is a Labyrinth-type maze game. On loading Teeter starts up and a silver ball bearing appears on a dark table with black holes, walls, and a single green exit hole. The object of the game is to get the silver ball into the green hole without vanishing into any of the black holes and disappearing. The challenge is that you do not use your finger or stylus to move the silver ball, by holding the HD parallel to the ground you tilt the device to move the ball.

The sensors are very sensitive and you can even move along the edges of the black holes without falling in. It also picks up how much you tilt the device and the ball will accelerate/decelerate depending on your angle.

The real surprise though, is what happens when the ball hits a wall/side. You physically feel the strike in the actual area where the ball hits the wall. Plus, the vibration/feedback varies by how far the ball travels before it hits the wall/side. This is completely amazing it almost feels like the HD has come alive in your hand!

At the end of each level you will are presented with a score as to your performance and then given an even more complex and challenging table to navigate and complete. Tapping the screen during game play gives you the option of exiting the game or resuming. On reloading the game you are allowed to either resume the last game or start afresh.

Once again for this to function the wired headset must be in place and this has a secondary function as an FM antenna.

The first time the application is run it will automatically scan for the available FM channels in your area, save them as presets, then play the first FM station found.
Full control of the radio is allowed with options / features of:

  • Allows you to switch between Mono and Stereo modes.
  • Switches between speaker and headset output.
  • Search the FM band for the next lower / higher FM channel.
  • Volume adjustment
  • RDS Station name display
  • Preset saving and adjustment

Settings / Personal
The personal settings are completely standard WM6.1, no great surprises here at all.

The only device specific customisation is:

  • ‘Buttons’ applet only has one setting for the only customisable button. This is the Call Start button which if held down will activate the application defined here.

Settings / System
The System applets are very much standard with the only extra (or non-standard) applets being:

  • Auto Volume Control
  • G-Sensor
  • Managed programs
  • Touch FLO

We’ll look at these below.

The G-Sensor is used for recalibrating the accelerometer within the HD. It should be used if / when the auto-rotate function is not working properly.
Unofficially if the sensor is already calibrated it can be used as a spirit level.

Managed Programs
Managed Programs Displays the programs that are installed on your device using System centre Mobile Device Manager (SCMDM). This means that in a corporate environment if SCMDM has been used to push install any applications to your HD this is how you will be able to see what has been installed.

The Touch FLO applet allows you to configure a few small parts of the Touch FLO system. The first setting is that of having a sound sample play when finger scrolling or panning. You can turn it on if you so wish but be warned it becomes annoying very very quickly!

You can also toggle on and off the large start menu whereby the start menu font is increased in size and the ‘last run’ programs at the top of the menu are also larger – both good options for finger use.

Another option is to toggle on or off the System Status screen; this replaces the WM6.1 standard notification bubble system with a finger friendly touchable full screen notification selector.

Finally there is the option to vibrate the device when taping the tabs of TouchFLO, YouTube and Opera.

A Touch FLO effect is also used when the Volume controls are used to lower or raise the sound level. This full screen display will pop onto the screen and give you a visual and audible (rising or lowering tone) indication that the volume level has been changed.

You can also tap the ‘Vibrate’ and ‘Silent’ buttons to switch to less intrusive modes of notification. Tapping on the ‘<‘ and ‘>’ arrows allows you to switch the volume control between that of the System Volume and the Ring Volume.

The Task Manager has also been enhanced on the HD to use finger friendly controls which make it very easy to switch / stop applications and as well view the memory currently in use on the device.

Some Q&A’s Now:

Q. How does it handle PDF files? I have a tytn II but you cannot see much of a pdf without zooming in to around 200% I was wandering how this compared to the xperia x1, same res screen, just bigger as i carry a bunch of printed pdf’s with me for product information. Regards, Phil.

A. At 200% you would never need glasses. The system defaults normally to 78% but I find that 80 to 90% is perfect for the screen size.

Q. Does the proper youtube site work (not the client) after you have installed flash lite 3.1?

A. In short yes.

Q. Is there any chance of bbc iplayer working?

A. Trying to run iPlayer causes script warnings that freeze the device and I have never left it long enough to see it it would work after processing the script Sorry!

Q. Have installed any gps programs, and do they run smoothly?

A. TomTom 6 has been installed and works without issues.

Q. is there absolutely no chance of getting tv-out on this device

A. Not unless HTC re-design the handset.

Q. Do you think can be upgraded to WM7 when it comes out?

A. A device like this would (I’m Sure) be included by HTC and Microsoft for upgrade

Q. Looks like there is no option to attach a Lanyard, is this correct?

A. Correct there is no Lanyard area.

Q. in the unboxing you said 1560mah battery. is that correct?

A. If I did say that then I made a mistake, it’s 1360mAh – sorry!

Q. Does slingplayer use the whole screen?

A. Sorry I don’t have this to test.

Q. Could you see if it plays streaming video such as BBC News or CNN? It’s something that no one thus far has tested on the Touch HD!

A. Since this question was aimed at Tracy or Matt I’m not going to answer it as a matter of Principle.

Q. I would like to see how it handles Excel spreadsheets, also compared with the TytnII or any PDA with QVGA screen, as I own a TytnII and use a lot of spreadsheets.

A. Just for you I had a data analyst in my work run some very complex formulas and move them to and from the HD to the PC and he was well impressed. So much so that he now wants a WM device to do work from home.

Q. Could you let us know how the Touch is as a PDA? – in particular for email (gmail client or gmail via IMAP), text entry and calendar/pim.

A. For me this device works great as a PDA, comes with everything needed to run it as one and has no issue running emails or any of the items above.

Q. I use outlook web access a moderate amount for work email and calendar (since they won’t let unauthorised devices use their Exchange or Blackberry servers). Does either device have an advantage in accessing that?

A. I also use OWA and it works perfect with this phone, all the data you need is transferred from the OWA Server onto your phone and vice versa although I will say I am not a heavy user of this so some items may not run just as well

Q. One of my other options would be a more camera focused phone (eg LG Renoir), to eliminate another device from my pocket. Does the Renoir stack up against the HD in terms of syncing with Outlook, managing calendar/tasks and contacts?

A. Unfortunately until we get a Renoir we cannot answer this question!

Q. Is Matt enjoying the device too much to be torn away and post his thoughts for us minions?

A. Not at all, he would love to but I asked to do this review so blame me for the delay. Sorry!

Q. Is there an on screen keyboard?  What is it like? 
How does the onscreen keyboard (if there is one!) compare to SPBFull Screen keyboard software? 

A. There is indeed an onscreen keyboard although the actual size of the keys does not differ greatly (maybe 1 or 2 mm) from the Touch Diamond.The latest SPB Keyboard software has far bigger keys than th inbuilt keyboard. One thing i do like thought that is quite big is the Phone Pad which can be used like a STD phone pad and with T9.

Q. I currently use a TyTnII and I love the built in keyboard but hate the smaller screen having formerly owned an IpaqHX2490.  Bigger screen or built in keyboard? 

A. For me it will always be bigger screen but then I like watching streaming and movies on my phone too.

Q. Can this be the iPhone beater?

A. Short and simple answer to this is NO. Why not? It just wasn’t made by Apple. The device is supperior to the iPhone in many ways but the whole iPhone thing is just style. The phrase "I have an iPhone 3G" runs better than "I han an HTC Touch HD".

Q. I would love a comparison between Touch HD, Omina, X1, and Touch Pro.

A. I’ll see what I can do on this one, Don’t have many the Omnia or X1 to compare with just now.


I aint gonna lie folks, I want one to keep (someone offer me one please)! This is a gift for Dad at Christmas or your typical "look how flash I am" users.

There are a few minus points but no where near enough for me to not like it any any way, shape or form.

If you have any further questions I should have the device for another week or so which means I can answer them straight away.

Posted by: John

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