HTC Touch 3G review
We review the HTC Touch 3G Windows Mobile smartphone which packs HSDPA, GPS and WiFi in its compact form factor
Verdict: Small format, neatly designed smartphone with good portability but a small screen
Price: From free, depending on contract
Pros: Small, TouchFLO interface, Opera web browser, YouTube client
Cons: Mediocre camera, average battery life, low-resolution screen
Design: Rounded, minimalist and a refreshing change from the traditional black and chrome brick
Operating System: Windows 6.1 Professional
More info: HTC Touch 3G website
HTC’s Touch 3G is the follow-up to the original HTC Touch, notable as the smartphone that launched the TouchFLO finger-friendly control system onto the world.
The Touch 3G is, like its predecessor, small and neat and so just might steal a march over some of its rivals if you are after something fairly unobtrusive for the pocket, yet capable as a smartphone.
Look and feel
In the looks department this is a very minimalist device. It comes in a range of colours and our sample was a rather nice bronzy brown. It has nicely rounded corners and the chassis has a rubbery finish which helps with grip. All these factors make a nice change from the blingy, shiny, black and silver, plastic, metal and metal-alike finishes of many smartphones.
There are just three buttons beneath the screen. The Call and End buttons are tall and thin. They aren’t difficult to press, and they look distinctive. Between them is a large navigation button with rounded corners that match the overall device design.
There aren’t many side buttons. On the top of the chassis you’ll find the main power switch. There is a volume rocker on the left edge, and on the bottom edge is a miniUSB connector. Here comes one of the downsides of this device – and it could be a deal breaker if you are a fan of mobile music. That miniUSB connector is shared by mains power, PC connection cable and, sadly, the stereo headset. If you want to use a favourite headset with a 3.5mm connector, you’ll need to buy a converter.
As far as portability is concerned, the Touch 3G measures an acceptable 102mm x 53.5mm x 14.5mm and it weighs just 96g. Compare that to HTC’s 3.8-inch screen toting Touch HD which weighs a hefty 147g and measures a giant-sized 115mm x 62.8mm x 12mm. While the differences might not look like a great deal on paper, in the hand and in the pocket, they do matter a lot. The Touch 3G is small enough to fit into most pockets without causing trouble, which means it is easy to tote when you want to travel light.
The most important trade-off for a smaller format device is, of course, a smaller screen, and in the case of the HTC Touch 3G the screen measures just 2.8 inches across diagonal corners. Its 320 x 240 pixels are a bit disappointing. We’d have liked 640 x 480. The screen is easy enough to read, it is just that in these days of much higher resolutions, we feel a bit cheated by what’s on offer here.
Given the small screen, it is fair to say that the Touch 3G is probably not an ideal first choice if you are keen on mobile video of any kind, or on serious mobile web browsing, or on reading a lot of text.
Still, if you want to do any activities which require streaming, then you’ll be pleased on two counts. The HTC Touch 3G has WiFi built in and is an HSDPA device. With WiFi, we had no trouble at all getting onto our own wireless network and surfing the web, while the 3G feature includes HSDPA to 7.2MBps.
Having mentioned the web, it is worth noting that HTC has pre-installed the Opera browser onto the HTC Touch 3G. This makes the most of the screen size to deliver high-quality web visuals. There is also a YouTube client, so there’s plenty of potential for streaming over WiFi or your HSDPA connection, if you feel you want to do so on that small screen. Flickr and Facebook shortcuts are also pre-configured. These all augment the core operating system – Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional.
The other essential for a modern smartphone, GPS, is also included. HTC has pre-installed Google Maps so you are ready for some pinpoint accuracy right out of the box. Add in a third party navigation application and you have full door-to-door guidance.
HTC has never been all that wonderful at cameras, and here is no exception. There is no front camera for two-way video calls, and the main camera is somewhat underwhelming. It shoots stills to just 3.2 megapixels, lacks a flash and self-portrait mirror, and shot quality is decidedly average. The camera fares reasonably well outdoors, but not surprisingly the lower the ambient light the poorer quality the images.
Call quality presented us with no problems at all, but we can’t say the same for battery life. It isn’t a disaster by any means, but we reckon you’ll need to charge daily if you want to make the most of this device. The GPS and WiFi are particular drains, as will be music listening if you choose to take advantage of that.
Overall, then, this is a small and neat Windows Mobile device with good hardware design and plenty of features. Just don’t expect great things from the battery or camera.