By all major counts, I should hate this phone. I don’t generally like candybar QWERTY phones, and I don’t like Windows Mobile 6.1. But somehow, HTC has brought both of these things together in a way that I really like.
The hardware itself is rock solid; it’s well balanced and nicely weighted in the hand, and the 12mm profile looks deadly sharp.
The software is virtually identical to that of the HTC S743 – that is, it’s Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard with a few modifications, such as custom text messaging and weather applications amongst the sliding panels on the homescreen.
The camera booted up quickly, without much lag upon taking a photo. The speaker wasn’t the loudest we’ve ever heard – we could hear music playing back over the rumbles of the passing crowds in the Las Vegas Convention Center, but not very well. That’s an unfair metric, however – for most cases, it’s likely to be plenty loud.
The keyboard buttons were nearly perfect – they were sized and shaped well, but they were a bit too close together for our tastes. HTC went almost all the way to the edge with the keys to maximize the size – but as a result, the keys are a hairs width from touching each other. For clumsy typists like myself, this means the occasional double-key press. Fortunately, the large size of the keys makes up for it – after a few moments, we were blasting away like Mavis Beacon.
The flagship feature here is the “Inner Circle”, which allows one-button access to a whitelist of contacts you consider most important. Tap it at anytime, and it’ll pull up solely those emails which are from your preselected closest compatriots. There’s no noticeable lag in the process whatsoever. It seems well designed; it works across all of your active inboxes, and adding people to the white list can be done directly from an email, or manually from the Inner Circle application. When doing it the latter way, Inner Circle prints out all of the people you’ve ever communicated with – not just your address book contacts. Fortunately the search function is just a click away.
For a form factor we generally despise and a platform we avoid, we liked it far more than we expected to. Solid job, HTC.
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