By January 29, 2008

HTC Touch Cruise review

Is it time to put my tired XDA Orbit to sleep and upgrade to the HTC Touch cruise?


Having been a loyal Orbit user since launch, I have to say that it has been very reliable and useful in a whole manner of applications; the announcement of the HTC Touch Cruise quite some time ago was welcomed and anticipated by many worldwide. And the obvious clamour of people trying to obtain this PDA certainly make it one of the most desirable new units of the moment, and apparently difficult to get hold of, to say the least!

HTC Touch Cruise

HTC Touch Cruise

On first opening the box, which you can see on Matt’s unboxing, the device appears solidly built and well screwed together. The device I have been using is a preproduction unit, so does not have all of the goodies included such as the Tomtom Taster software etc, but in the box there is:

HTC Touch Cruise Box contents

  • HTC Touch Cruise device
  • Battery
  • Mains Charger
  • USB Data Cable
  • Stereo Hands free Kit
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Screen protector
  • User Guide
  • HTC Touch Cruise specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • 400Mhz Qualcomm MSM7200
  • 128MB RAM / 256MB ROM
  • 2.8″ TFT LCD Touchscreen 240 x 320
  • Tri-Band HSDPA/UMTS
  • Built-in GPS receiver
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g
  • 3.0 Megapixel main camera with Auto-Focus
  • Bluetooth version 2.0
  • 1350mAh Lithium Ion battery
  • TomTom Navigator 6
  • MicroSD card slot
  • FM Radio
  • 110mm x 58mm x 15.5mm
  • 135 grams

    On the top of the Cruise there is only the power button. I do prefer the power button on the side, but that is only because I am used to it being there.

    HTC Touch Cruise top

    HTC Touch Cruise top

    The bottom houses the Mini USB, the reset hole, there are a couple of holes for connecting a strap or a lanyard (or one of those horrible phone charm things!). It also has the non-telescopic stylus housing.

    HTC Touch Cruise bottom

    HTC Touch Cruise bottom

    On the left side we find the voice command button, and volume slider which as Matt mentions is a slider and not a wheel. This also feel well put together and has a solid but smooth action.

    HTC Touch Cruise left side

    HTC Touch Cruise left side

    The right hand side gives us the Camera Button and the covered microSD card slot which is a better location than the old Artemis which housed the miniSD under the SIM card, much better for quick access.

    HTC Touch Cruise right side

    HTC Touch Cruise right side

    All the side buttons are in the shiny, blingy, chrome effect, as you can see in the pictures, it looks impressive.

    HTC Touch Cruise buttons

    HTC Touch Cruise buttons

    The back of the unit holds the 3.0 Megapixel main camera with Auto-Focus, with mirror but no flash. 2 aerial sockets, one for an external aerial and one for external GPS, both of these have a rubber cover although one was missing from our review unit.

    HTC Touch Cruise back

    HTC Touch Cruise back

    Finally, returning to the front of the device again the it does look impressive; the flat 2.8” screen has a mirrored effect, below this are the usual left and right phone function keys, answer and hang up, Internet Explorer key and communication key (which can be set up to launch your GPS app.). In the middle is the rotating dial with enter button in the centre, the dial also acts as a directional up/down/left/right rocker. At the top of the screen is the VGA camera for Video conferencing. There is also the earpiece and microphone.

    Sharp clear screen – noticeably better than its previous P3300
    Feature packed specification – the inclusion of GPS, HSDPA, WiFi, 400Mhz processor, 128MB RAM / 256MB ROM, Quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, and of course the TouchFLO interface. This really is in there with many and most competitors
    Weight – Only marginally heavier than the P3300 even when you include the extra specifications.

    Fingerprints – Mirrored flat face looks the part but very difficult to use in bright sunlight.
    Touchscreen is not quite as responsive as one would hope, there is a definite lag with activating the UI quite often needing 2 or 3 taps to get the required response at times.
    Camera and video are a step up from the usual models, and the autofocus is a welcome inclusion, however I do feel that it is still work in progress, and are linked to the ongoing problems HTC are having with the Qualcomm MSM7200 chipset, details of which have been previously covered in Matt’s article, HTC respond to HTCClassAction. Hopefully to be resolved in the future to allow FULL functionality of the device. Maybe this is affecting the Touchscreen response as well.


    The Touch Cruise uses Window Mobile 6 and is pretty standard as it goes, the inclusion of the TouchFLO aids the most common and basic functions, I did find again that with the slightly unresponsive screen I was using the Jog dial and directional rocker more and more.

    The inclusion of the Task manager at the top of the screen is very useful and again a welcome addition, helpful for closing and switching between programs quickly.

    There is an issue known to owners regarding the backlight, when in a call, the backlight dims and then blackens completely after 15 seconds to prevent battery drain and also to aid the accidental activation of other programs by touching the screen with your face. I did find this a little annoying when you want to access the features of the phone they are unusable without having to wake the machine. I managed find a fix that stopped this from happening but this caused the next problem, when on a long call the unit is very hot next to your face, as well as the chance of activating other programs. A compromise would be needed for me, perhaps dimming after a minute or two not 15 seconds.


    Using the device day to day, was improving all the time and I liked it more and more with familiarity, I still didn’t really get the hang of or particularly like the TouchFLO and preferred to use the standard methods of input and using programs, nowadays there is a such wealth of 3rd party programs that allows the owner to really pick and choose what they prefer in the way of ‘extras’.

    The GPS is very welcome but unfortunately as mentioned this particular model did not have the bundled software but Google maps worked fine. I was glad to see the inclusion of the now familiar Camera Album, allowing you at see the files very quickly, thanks to the faster processor again, and also enables zooming in and slide shows amongst rotation etc. Very easy to use and completely uncomplicated.

    HTC Touch Cruise side buttons

    HTC Touch Cruise side buttons

    As mentioned the screen although looking good is a complete nightmare in bright sunlight the fact that the screen dims down to conserve energy makes it worst at you can’t see the screen at all.

    HTC in this case have decided to include an alphabetical sidebar on the contacts screen and as you scroll down the letters enlarge to demonstrate whereabouts you are on the list, OK unless you happen to have a lot of contacts. They have also included a few more input methods such as a 12 and 20 button keyboard, however I still found myself downloading a 3rd Party application as I think the buttons are too small especially on the 20 button version.

    I have read about sound issues as well on the Touch Cruise and my experience in this area was very good, volume and quality where for me not an issue at all and when paired with my bluetooth car kit worked excellently, both through the earpiece and loudspeaker.


    The obvious comparison for me is my old faithful XDA Orbit, and although dimensionally they are near identical at 110mmx58mm and the Touch Cruise being approximately 1mm thinner, the TC oddly looks and feels smaller, perhaps it is because of the weight difference and also that flat front screen.

    Matt was completely correct when he mentioned that the screen would be a fingerprint magnet and as also mentioned is liable to scratching quite easily without some kind of protection. We will have to watch and see if this is a common problem, and when the cost of the unit to take into consideration scratching the front would prove expensive.

    Is it a reasonable upgrade to the P3300 Athemis, most definitely, the added G3, faster overall performance, and in my opinion as nice looking as an other models on the market, the only real barrier is finding one and at a good price!

    Review by: Steve

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    Posted in: Reviews

    About the Author:

    More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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