was OK compared with normal digital cameras. Compared with other
camera phones, I'd say the Touch does an excellent job.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
T e c h n o f i l e
HTC Touch phone is OK, but it's not an iPhone
Jan. 27, 2008
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard
Timing is everything. If the cell-phone maker HTC had come out with its Touch phone a few months before
Apple introduced the iPhone, customers by the thousands might have lined up at Sprint stores to buy their own cute-looking
But Apple did it first. What's more, Apple did it better, and that was bad news for HTC, which has none
of the name recognition of Apple.
Normally, you'd think that would be the end of it. The Touch would sink from sight and the folks at HTC
would go back to their drawing boards, or whatever cell phone designers use these days to create a better electronics device.
But it didn't work that way. Sprint wasn't about to give up. So, in a brazen act of public-relations
bravery, Sprint gave me a Touch phone to try out. Lending the HTC Touch to an iPhone fan might seem like asking the Budweiser
CEO to give us his opinions on Coors beer, but life can be funny that way. And I really did want to find out how close HTC
came with its iPhone clone.
The answer, after using the Touch over the course of a 12,000 mile motor-home jaunt around the country,
is clear: The Touch is no iPhone. But it's cheaper than the iPhone ($250 instead of $400 for the iPhone), which might swing
the deal in its favor. (The two phones have similar rates per month.)
The Touch is a nice size -- 4 inches by about 2.5 inches, and about a half-inch thick -- and seems to
be all screen when you first look at it. The screen takes up most of the width and about two-thirds of the length of the
Touch. At the bottom is a button set in a joystick-style recess; pressing left, right, up or down is easy with your thumb
centered on the button.
On the back of the camera is the lens for a 2-megapixel camera, along with a tiny round mirror so you
can see if the photo you're taking of yourself is really aimed at your face. (I hadn't realized other people do this; my wife
and I do it everywhere we go, to have "memory snapshots" of the two of us in exotic places. We just hold the camera or camera
phone out at arms length and snap away.)
The camera takes movies as well as still photos. Still-picture quality was OK compared with normal
digital cameras. Compared with other camera phones, I'd say the Touch does an excellent job. Videos were good when viewed on
the phone, but when I looked at them on my computer, they were obviously too small to boast about.
Web browsing, e-mail and two other features -- a limited selection of jerky-looking TV programs and
pay-as-you-go song downloads from Sprint -- are built into the Touch. An iPod (or the iPod-as-phone, the iPhone itself) is a
better way to listen to music on the go, but it was nice to be able to do Google searches while standing in line at the
The Touch gets its name from the way it works -- or the way it is supposed to work. Supposedly, you
touch objects on the screen to activate them, and you run your finger or thumb along the screen to slide things up or down.
This doesn't work well at all. You can touch the "keys" on an on-screen presentation of a keyboard to type something -- the
Touch has mini-versions of Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word, as well as other Office programs -- but this doesn't work
Luckily for anyone determined to enter text, the Touch comes with a tiny stylus for touch-typing and
menu selection. I had to use the stylus most of the time. (I hate the idea of a stylus. It is guaranteed to get lost.)
Most of the user interface seemed ill-suited to a phone, as if it hadn't been thought out at all.
Occasionally, in my testing, the Touch crashed, just like a computer might do, and had to be rebooted. After this happened a
couple of times, I kept track of how long the Touch took booting back up. It took longer to reboot than my laptop does. (A
phone needs to wake up, and boot up, nearly instantly.) The Touch runs a small version of Windows, which may explain the
instability and slow boot times.
Would I buy the Touch for my own use? No. I'd choose the iPhone. But if you want a phone that takes
good pictures and don't mind the dorky Windows behavior -- and if you aren't going to do much typing -- the Touch is worth