HTC Pure Review

US version of Touch Diamond2

By on 9 Jul 2010, 14:12 GMT
Especially released for AT&T network operator, HTC Pure is the American version of HTC Touch Diamond2. The only technical difference between the two is the 3G network compatibility, HSDPA 850 / 1900 for Pure and HSDPA 900 / 2100 for Diamond2. So, if you live in Europe and you got yourself a Pure smartphone when visiting the States, then you won't be able to use its 3G network.

Of course, those that really want to be able to do that, and are not afraid of juggling with the device’s ROM software, can install another ROM, which will open up the 2100 MHz network, the standard 3G line for the continent. HTC Pure is an affordable smartphone for AT&T customers, but if you're looking for something that excels in multimedia and Web browsing, I suggest you keep searching or stick with the iPhone. Thanks to PureMobile, we had the chance to test the HTC Pure and share our thoughts with you.

HTC Pure was officially made available on the market on October 2009. The device is being distributed by AT&T for about US$50 with a 2-year contract or free of plan for around US$350.

Design

HTC Pure features a standard bar look: simple and professional. It is average in size and weight, and has been marketed as a smartphone that's big on screen and small in everything else. It measures 108 x 53 x 13.7 mm and weighs 117.5g (including battery). As you can notice from the pictures, HTC Pure is built around its 3.2-inch display, which makes it look a little bit smaller. Just below the screen, there's a touch-sensitive zoom bar that helps users browse between menus when the TouchFLO 3D interface is employed.


There's also a set of buttons placed below the zoom bar: Accept/End calls keys, Menu key and Back key. Above the touch screen, an earpiece and an LED status light can be noticed. HTC decided to move the loudspeaker from the back of the phone, where it usually stands, on the right side of the device. This will reduce the chance that music will sound muffled because you accidentally placed your hand on the loudspeaker.


The left side features two large and thin volume keys, while the microUSB port has been placed on the bottom of the smartphone. The latter has been covered in a plastic stripe to protect it from getting too much dust inside. The power button on top is also used to wake up the gizmo from standby mode. There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the back in a thin metallic plate that doesn't have any specific functionality. HTC Pure also includes a standard stylus placed on the bottom right corner.


The only design-related drawback is the shiny plastic that covers the entire phone. Even though it makes the gadget look nicer, it is in fact a fingerprint magnet. Overall, HTC Pure features a very simple, yet elegant design that perfectly fits its business phone status.

Display and Camera

HTC Pure features a 3.2-inch TFT resistive touchscreen that supports 65K colors and a 480x800-pixel resolution. Being a resistive display has some disadvantages, such as low sensitivity to touch, thumb-control functionality, visibility under strong sunlight, and the lack of the multi-touch feature. Pure features the accelerometer function, but the rotation process is slow or not working correctly sometimes. Usually, you need to rotate the device a few times to change to landscape or portrait mode. Still, the quality of the image displayed is excellent, as the contrast is very good and the colors shiny.


The 5-megapixel camera is simple to use, as it doesn't have any complex features. Basically, you will only need to point and shoot what you want. There's no dedicated button for the camera, but you'll be able to employ the touch button that appears on the display. You can zoom in/out by swiping your fingers on the grade scale at the base of the display. You may take advantage of the touchfocus feature by slowly clicking the touch shutter appearing on the screen. That will make your photos look clearer.


The camera interface is simple and straightforward, as you can see from the screenshots. The maximum resolution you can use for pictures is of 2592 x 1944 pixels. Clips can be recorded in CIF mode at a maximum resolution of 352x288 pixels (15fps).


Unfortunately, the camera misses LED flash, or any other editing software and complex features. The basic settings you can use are limited to the usual, White balance, ISO, Brightness and Effects. To my surprise, the pictures look more than decent for a smartphone camera. Check out the pics below.

Menu and Software

HTC Pure runs the new Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional operating system (HTC Topaz platform), featuring the second version of the TouchFLO 3D interface. The same innovative, touch-sensitive control for interacting with the device introduced with Touch Pro is also present within the Pure.


The TouchFLO 3D enables finger-swipe navigation through menus, but won't work when the GUI is disabled. You can disable TouchFLO 3D by going to Main menu / Today / Items, uncheck TouchFLO option and check anything you wish to be displayed on your Home screen. The touch-sensitive bar will help you browse the menu very fast. Keep your finger pressed on any of those icons and then gently swipe to the left or to the right until you reach the window menu that you need.


The navigation can be easily done without the need of a stylus, by using only the finger and swiping to the right or to the left on the Home screen, just as I have described above. The Start menu will not get you directly to the main menu of the smartphone, nor list the most used programs. To facilitate the writing method and to come to the aid of those who are used to various inputting methods, HTC has introduced three types of keypad layouts: Phone keypad, Compact QWERTY, and Full QWERTY. For businessmen, HTC has included the Office Mobile package, which now comprises the OneNote Mobile application, besides the usual Excel, PowerPoint and Word Mobile programs.

Zooming can be done by double-tapping on the screen. Don't try pinching, it doesn't work. The Internet Explorer browser has been gifted with Adobe Flash Lite, which works flawlessly.


The rest of the pieces of software included are pretty much standard for a Windows Mobile device, with several exceptions coming from AT&T. The HTC Pure includes the standard productivity tools: Notes, Tasks and Calendar; the Office Mobile suite with Word, Excel and PowerPoint; Adobe Reader (version 2.5) for viewing PDF documents; Voice Recorder; and lots of games, some of them requiring registration on AT&T’s network.

Internet-related programs are: a Streaming Media application, which does exactly what the name suggests and is designed to be easily used with the finger; Windows Live Messenger and Phone Search; Internet Explorer for Web navigation; MobiTV, Online Locker, NewsBreak, Mobile Banking, Facebook, WikiMobile, MSN Weather, MSN Money, The Weather Channel, Market and Microsoft MyPhone. The last two new features were the highlights of the announcement that made the 6.5 version of the operation system official. Market, as the name suggests, is the place where you will be able to download applications compatible with Windows Mobile.


The Microsoft MyPhone service enables you to synchronize and save your Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Text Messages, Photos, Videos, Music and Documents with your MyPhone account on the PC. Basically, you have access to everything that I have mentioned above from your PC, and you'll be able to add new contacts, events and the likes on the PC and then synchronize it with your Pocket PC.

For the multimedia part, the HTC Pure offers the Windows Media Player for audio and video playback, and Pictures & Video for browsing photos and video files.


Regarding the communications, the device includes Internet Sharing, which allows it to be used as a modem; the Comm Manager for enabling/disabling and changing various communications settings; Bluetooth Explorer for managing Bluetooth connections; built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support and AT&T Navigator.

Other features include a File Manager, a search tool, a ZIP utility, a tool for encrypting files on the memory card, Clear Storage for restoring all settings to their default values, an application for configuring the connection with the internal GPS unit, a Java emulator and the very useful Task Manager, which can be employed to switch between or close running tasks and also to change the behavior of the "x" button, to make it really remove applications from the memory, instead of sending them in the background.

Communication

HTC Pure features quad-band support for 850/900/1800/1900 Mhz and HSDPA 850 / 1900 frequency bands. For wireless Internet connectivity, the Pure offers both GPRS and EDGE, but also the faster HSDPA. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g can be used at available hotspots to speed up things and reduce data-plan costs.

For wireless data transfer between mobiles, the HTC Pure employs Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support, while, for data synchronization with the PC, the device offers miniUSB 2.0.


The smartphone features a built-in GPS receiver that works with the AT&T Navigator. HTC Pure is compatible with all email clients and protocols (POP3, IMAP) and can be synchronized with the PC. The device is compatible with SMS, EMS, and MMS text features. Instant-messaging options include Windows Live Messenger, but other IMs can also be installed. The interface is pretty straightforward and user-friendly. It supports up to four email accounts.

The in-call sound quality is not that good, as I've seen much better. The GSM signal good as long as you don't keep the device set on the 3G band.

Processor and Memory

The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7201A processor family processor, running at speeds of up to 528 Mhz. Overall, I experienced a few freezes and some lags. I'm not sure whether the gadget or the software embedded is the reason behind these freezes, but they are really annoying.


HTC Pure comes with 288 MB RAM and 512 MB ROM memory. The storage space can be expanded up to 8GB through the hot-swappable microSD slot card, which is placed under the back cover.

Multimedia

There isn't too much to talk about here, as the Pocket PC doesn't have a 3.5mm jack port, nor headset. Although the device comes with a 3.5mm adapter, the sales package lacks even the lowest quality earphones, which says something about the target of the phone. You will be able to listen to music using the integrated Windows Media Player 10, which also features an Equalizer function. Overall, the application employed for audio and video playback is more advanced, compared with older HTC handhelds, as it features a very nice user interface. The music player supports MP3, WAV, eAAC+, and WMA format files.


The sound is very good especially as you have access to a wide range of equalizer modes, but you can also make your own settings. The Windows Media Player version 10 supports MP4, WMV, H.263, and H.264 video files.

The smartphone features the Radio FM function, which can auto-scan and memorize up to 20 base stations. The radio can be run in the background and listened to in the loudspeaker. There's also a YouTube client embedded, if you like to watch short movies. Overall, I had a good experience with the multimedia delivered by HTC Pure, but those intent on buying it will need to invest extra money to get some headphones.

Battery

The HTC Pure is powered by an 1100 mAh Li-Ion battery, which, according to the official specifications, gives the device an autonomy of up to five hours and 40 minutes of talk time, and 360 hours in standby mode.

During our tests, the battery depleted after three hours and 20 minutes of standard usage, with the backlight set to the maximum. The results are far from the official numbers, which makes me believe the battery's autonomy won't be satisfying for a typical businessman.

Impressions

I have the feeling that HTC Pure is in fact a pretty decent device spoiled by the software it embeds. Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets are way more difficult to handle than Android-based ones. The difference is huge in performance as well. A high number of freezes and lags turned a smooth experience into a nightmare. I am aware that the device is a mid-budget smartphone with a certain target, but it has some drawbacks that can make even the simplest of users dislike it. If I were to choose between HTC Touch Diamond2 and its Pure clone, I would definitely pick the former.

The Good

HTC Pure distinguishes through its rather low price and a few other gimmicks that make it a possible choice for those looking for a mid-budget smartphone. I would enlist here: elegant design, Wi-Fi and HSDPA connectivity, 5-megapixel camera, good music sound, decent 528 MHz CPU, Stereo FM Radio with RDS function, as well as the GPS receiver.

The Bad

The major drawbacks of the smartphone are the frequent freezes, plus the numerous software bugs (Bluetooth not working correctly sometimes, Wi-Fi not always connecting, etc.). The small keys of the virtual QWERTY keyboard are a nightmare. Besides the fact that you need to click every key with the tip of your nail (which has to be very small), you have 50% chances of clicking the wrong key. I would also add here the low battery life, the lack of headset and a 3.5mm jack port.

Sales Package

Sales Package

HTC Pure Pocket PC;
1100 mAh Li-ion battery;
Stylus;
3.5mm adapter;
User Guide;
Charger;
Mini-USB data cable.

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