HTC HD2 vs. …HTC Touch Pro

Ok here is a comparative review you haven’t read before.
(note that in this article you won’t find nice photos or screen captures since you can find plenty on the net)

If someone was to make a WM comparative review even between two different type devices (one with hardware keyboard and one without), you would expect maybe the newer Touch Pro 2.
Well, basically I do not own a TP2 and I don’t like it! I consider it a step back from Touch Pro in some vital areas.
Also going a bit back (just a bit – I don’t consider TP old in any way), we can see trends more clearly and things going obsolete possibly because some statistic found they are not widely used.
So let’s see what we have, starting with hardware and moving on to software…
  • CPU
    • HD2: Qualcomm 8250B @ 1024MHz
    • TP: Qualcomm 7201A @ 528MHz
 HD2 is the beyond any doubt clear winner here. Snapdragon CPU feels fast. Very fast. This is the first time I saw such a «snappy» WM device for years. I think the last time I saw such a strong device was with a 624MHz CPU back in PocketPC2003SE days. PPC2003 (pre-SE) sucked in terms of speed and WM5.0 REALLY sucked in terms of speed (I really skipped that generation altogether).
  • RAM
    • HD2: 448MB RAM
    • TP: 288MB RAM
I’d say HD2 is again the clear winner, but in reality both devices has very similar FREE RAM for the user (possibly because Sense + WM6.5 is way more memory hungry than TF3D + WM6.1)… and both have plenty (that nothing came close before).
  • ROM/Storage
    • HD2: 512MB + microSDHC
    • TP: 512MB + microSDHC
Same for both and both great. 512MB is plenty for «vital» apps/services that HAVE to be online whatever happens to the card (although again, the system doesn’t give all the space to the user). microSDHC means up to 32GB for storage (up to 16GB readily available). Really plenty and since you can in fact swap… unlimited.
  • Display
    • HD2: 480×800, 4.3″, capacitive transflective
    • TP: 480×640, 2.8″, pressure-sensitive transflective
Big discussion.
Let’s start from the resolution. WVGA is indeed better than VGA. VGA on the other hand is already good enough (four times QVGA resolution) and still much more compatible (esp. in games) than WVGA as VGA is available for more years than WVGA. Things are getting REALLY better for WVGA by the day though.
Screen size. Well… HD2’s screen is a dream to use and watch. It’s way bigger than almost any modern smartphone (inc. iPhone of course). The small TP screen has its virtues though too. First of all the DPI are better (i.e. pixels are smaller) so TP display is theoretically more crisp. Also, big screen means a big device. That part is a matter of preference. I remember the time when «smaller was better» (IN TECHNOLOGY) but now it seems we have the opposite trend. Again, it’s hard not to love HD2 «satisfying» display.
Capacitive vs. Pressure-Sensitive. Well… HTC has done a FANTASTIC job to make stylus redundant for all the features shipped WITH the device. On the background we still have WM (and Thank God, as I am not of those people that fail to realize what an Enterprise-grade mobile OS is). WM6.5 nevertheless which has taken steps towards «finger friendliness» (waiting for WM7). Still there are times (esp. with older software) that stylus is indispensable. I have bought a «capacitive friendly» stylus (for iPhone), but it’s not very friendly after all… Seems that HTC is developing its own though.
  • Telephony
    • HD2: All modern standards up to 3G, with limited US band choice (no problem for me). NO videotelephony
    • TP: All modern standards up to 3G, with limited US band choice (no problem for me)
Seems the chipset HTC uses doesn’t go well with being a «universal cell phone». Works in the states, but not on all the possible bands. For some reason, HTC believes videotelephony didn’t catch up, thus eliminated the option and the (cost of the) front camera. Well they are right to be honest but this is still considered a step back. We have an older phone with «more hardware» in this area. If videotelephony magically catches up in 2010, then HD2 (and all of the same trend) becomes more obsolete than TP. BTW, since I work with VoIP I see video options expanding day by day rather than becoming obsolete.
  • Audio
Well the options are virtually the same. Both devices have speakerphone, can deal with bluetooth headsets and have wired audio in/out. TP uses the HTC extUSB connector (for which there are adaptors to transform it to normal 3.5″ audio I/O) and HD2 has a normal 3.5″ I/O connector. Eliminating extUSB BTW had other side-effects too (to mention below). HD2 speakerphone is way better (also ringtones louder) and this not (only) because HD2 has a larger rear speaker, but also because TP in fact DID have a great rear speaker but the rear cover made too good of job to… silence it (! – I wonder if this cost the job of some HTC designer).
  • Wireless
    • HD2: BT 2.1+EDR, 802.11b/g(/n?)
    • TP: BT 2.0+EDR, 802.11b/g
Well we have a bit of a generation gap here, but nothing too serious. HD2 has the latest BT stack (pending 3.0 chipsets) and in WiFi area there are reports that draft-n (which is now n-final) is just a registry tweak away. Haven’t tested yet, but for HTC to have it disabled, there must be a reason (POWER if you ask me). After all g is more than enough for anything this phone can do. I would prefer a switch anyway.
I have to note that I never got why irDA protocol got eliminated from WM a few years ago. OK it didn’t say much for file transfer, but they killed a whole market of «programmable remote control» software. Was it SO difficult and/or expensive to keep it in?
  • Camera
    • HD2: 5MP, autofocus with dual-xenon-like LEDs
    • TP: 3MP, autofocus with LED + 0.3MP front camera for videotelephony

Well leaving aside the obvious difference (one vs. two cameras) already mentioned, we see a nice jump in camera hardware. 5MP is still «mediocre» in the mobile-phone market but still much better than 3MP. For some reason WM cameras are nothing to write home about, yet they are more than ok. TP LED is very nice, but HD2 flash is over the top. It blinding. Now I really mean it’s blinding. Friends will curse you for taking their photograph if the flash goes off and subject will be very easily over exposed. Needs some software work.

  • GPS
Both devices use the embedded GPS functionality of their Qualcomm chipset – I’d say it’s worse than SiRF Star III. On the other hand, HD2 seems to function way better than TP (I have yet to directly compare them side by side, but I still get this feeling). HD2 seems to actually really use assisted-GPS functionality (which TP is also capable, but seems the software didn’t manage to utilize it fully). HD2 has another nice feature too. Digital compass. I wouldn’t call it 1-degree-accurate, still it works and doesn’t depend on open sky visibility (or ANY visibility) and this really makes it a tool.
  • Radio
Well, Nokia (pffff) make us believe good-ol-FM-radio is nice to have. Both devices have this functionality along with RDS. Nothing much to say here except that they do need the headset cable as antenna and that the software could be WAY WAY better.
  • Sensors
    • HD2:  Accelerometer, light sensor, possibly proximity sensor (I think it’s possibly the light sensor again)
    • TP: Accelerometer, light sensor, keyboard open/close sensor, stylus in/out sensor, capacitive area in the buttons (that supports multitouch)

Well I am not sure if HD2 is a step forward in this area. It’s not missing anything that it HAD to have, but just seeing the listing, you can’t help but say the same. TP was over-its-head with sensors. On the other hand HTC never published a proper API to use them – third party HAS done it though. You could trigger things by opening or closing the keyboard (I had a program that killed the soft-keyboard), taking out or back in the stylus, doing gestures on the capacitive area (I had a program to unlock my device by tripple touching the action button) etc. HTC made use of all these in their own software. Was very nice indeed. Software makes good use of the (remaining) sensors in HD2 too.

  • Notifications
    • HD2: Vibration, single LED
    • TP: Vibration, LED pattern
Well this is a category you rarely see, but I like talking about this. For some reason, after PocketPC2002, making sure that you are notified about something stopped being too important (!), contradicting the role of a «PDA» as I knew it. People remember problems with notifications not activated, or when activated, making a pathetic job of actually notifying the user. Anyway…
All current WM devices have vibration alert. Good.
TP had a nice far-from-kitsch (ahem-X1-ahem) white LED pattern around the action button, that depending on the pattern (unfortunately not programmable), meant something else. Really nice.
HD2 has a single LED hidden in the earphone hole, which I am not even sure that it actually uses for notifications. Well… I wouldn’t call this progress. At least as I said, HD2 speakerphone audio is much louder.
  • Power
    • HD2: 1230mAh li-ion, removable
    • TP: 1340mAh li-ion, removable

Well… Another big debate. For some reason, nice 1500+ mAh batteries are a thing of the past. If you asked someone 3-4 years ago, they would bet their thumb that in 2009 2000+ mAh batteries would be commonplace, which along with more power-effective hardware would mean that finally WM devices would be able to survive a week without charging. Well… it didn’t happen. Don’t ask me why. Today you are considered lucky if your WM survives 24 hours without charging.
HD2 in fact shows the trend. Smaller although the device is bigger; and it’s not that Snapdragon is really power-friendly. Quite the contrary.
On the other hand my VERY-loaded TP does eat batter faster than my yet-to-overload HD2. Time will show.

  • Control
    • HD2: Finger control, 5 non-(seemingly)-programmable hardware buttons, volume +/-
    • TP: Stylus, 3 non-(seemingly)-programmable hardware buttons, 1 programmable hardware button, volume +/-, 5-way keypad, side-slide-out keyboard, separate power button

OK one of my favorites too. About finger vs. stylus we already talked. We could talk more, but there are many articles out there for this already. Let see the rest. The trend for some STUPID (STUPID STUPID) reason is (a) to eliminate cursor control (WHY?), (b) stop having programmable buttons (again WHY?).
For «a» I don’t really get it at all. This is one of the STUPID things iPhone brought to the world. It was even more stupid with HD(1) that had cursor control eliminated already but did not support multi-touch (thus you didn’t have ANY alternative DUH!). I don’t get it. Esp. for games… g-sensor, screen touch control, do not compare with good-ol’ cursor control. As for «b»… I understand that vendors wanted uniform control, not something messing with their intended functions, but still the Planet survived just as well back when we did have plenty of programmable buttons. In this respect TP does better, yet NOT as good as expected. For example even the keyboard is not fully utilized by software that you really expected to utilize it.
One point for TP: The reset hole is easily accessible in contrast to HD2. HTC wanted us to believe that WM6.5 + Sense won’t need so much of a reset. Well… think again.

  • Physical
    • HD2: Big and thin… not very light
    • TP: Small but fat (remember there is a full keyboard there with separate numeric row)… again not very light

Well we see two different schools here. HD2 is of the iPhone school. Big flat, yet because it’s very thin and well contoured still confortable in the hand. If it wasn’t for iPhone people would feel awkward to put it on their ear anyway. TP on the other hand, is surprisingly small. It is tiny. Diamond (which is same dimensions with TP but since it has no keyboard also very thin) was BY FAR the most compact WM. TP feels great in your hands, like a generation back of non-smartphones. In your pocket? I’d say surprisingly HD2 feels better.

I’d say this is pretty much it for hardware. My next article will be on the software side and wrapping it all up.