[Review] HTC Touch Windows Mobile 6 Device from Bell

BellHTCTouch One of the cooler parts of my job is being able to take a look at different hardware and software that our partners provide us with and then share my impressions with you.  Recently, Bell provided me with an HTC Touch Windows Mobile 6 device to try out and use as my every day mobile phone.  I was very happy to receive the device as other members of the team purchased the HTC Touch, raved about it, and I really wanted to see what al the fuss was about.

Now, I need to preface my review of this device with what my typical usage pattern for a mobile device is, which includes

  • voice calls
  • email reading and limited amount of replying/sending
  • calendar
  • some browsing

Within the context of those tasks, the HTC Touch is an awesome device.  The most amazing thing, for me, was the fact that the device is small and light and really just about the perfect size to hold in your hand when making a phone call.  It is only about 1/2" (slightly over 1cm) thick and weighs less than 4oz (112 grams).  Just plain perfect for talking without feeling too big or small.  You can get the full specifications on the device at the HTC web site.

The neatest thing about the HTC Touch is the way that you work with it when reading email or doing anything on the touchscreen. As the name implies, the main interface is touch.  You use your thumb (my preferred digit) or a stylus (supplied) to interact with the screen and select what you want to do.  Taking your thumb from the Bell logo straight upwards brings you to the second menu screen, which has a quick pick of contacts you frequently interface with and you can call or email them from there, or modify the list.  Scrolling your thumb right along the screen presents the second menu with quick links to music (more on this later), photos, and videos.  Doing the same action with the thumb again takes you to a third menu with quick links to email, SMS messaging, Internet Explorer, Tasks, Comm Manager (for turning the antenna off when in an airplane), and Calendar.  Moving your thumb down across the screen takes you to the home screen pictured above.  While it is not the same as an iPhone, the impression I was left with was very iPhone-like, and quite cool.  The interface is called TouchFLO and you can get a demo of it at this link on the HTC site.

Using the Touch as my primary device made me aware of only one thing that I had become used to with other devices - the keyboard.   Maybe it's because my fingers are a tad large and typing with the touch keypad on the screen is a bit cumbersome, but I found myself loving reading my mail on the device but I would not always reply to messages if the response required more than a few words or a very short sentence.  The supplied Touch Keyboard was OK and pretty smart at figuring out what I meant, but it was not the full thumb keyboard I was used to.  Perhaps having some time to think about response to an email before sending it out is a good thing, but that was about the only thing that I found a tad cumbersome.

What I especially liked about the HTC Touch supplied to me by Bell was all the additional things that Bell put around the device.  Key to these is the Bell Full Track Music Service allowing you to download from a library of over 1.5 million songs to the HTC Touch and listen to them either across the speaker on the Touch or through the supplied headset.  I also found it really useful is that you can download a preview of the song, listen to it and then decide if you want to download the whole thing.  By themselves, though, songs are a tad pricey at $3 per track but for $15 a month you can get unlimited music and unlimited browsing, which includes the ability to do Exchange ActiveSync push email - a must in my mind.   You can also move up to the Fun Bundles such as the Fun Bundle $25 with Music which adds Call Display, Message Centre, and unlimited text, picture and video messages to the unlimited music and browser.   This is the right direction for carriers to go - bringing the prices way down and what you get for the price way up.

In terms of pricing for the device itself, Bell is on par and maybe slightly better than the other carriers with it comes to the HTC Touch, but unlike other carriers Bell supplies a 512MB microSD memory card with the HTC Touch so that you can take advantage of the Full Track Music store, which requires an external storage card for the music you download.  I think the unlimited browsing and the music service really are a cut above though.  Now, if HTC just added a keyboard to help my fat fingers, I'd be head over heels in love with the device instead of just in love with it.  I'm not sure I want to give it back.


Comments (10)

  1. Brian Hampson says:

    For a keyboard: HTC Touch Dual.  You lose the WiFi though.



  2. As a HTC Touch user, I have found and now use a free keyboard for any Windows Mobile 6 Pro based device called TouchPal (http://www.cootek.com/)…

    It absolutely ROCKS… oh – and it is free until mid December.

    Rick Claus

    IT Pro Advisor

  3. Anonymous says:

    You absolutely must collect a paycheck from Microsoft, because an objective reviewer will note that with anything bordering regular usage, the device regularily requires reboot and/or battery removal and that as a phone its borderline useless.  This is not a device you can use to make a call while driving.  To unlock without the stylus is cumbersome at best, and dialing with your thumb on a touch screen only works if you’re a small girl.  If you have to use a Windows Mobile device, then at least the HTC5800 has some keys on the front.  Best plan, get the new Blackberry 8830 with full keyboard, intuitive interface and GPS!!!

  4. KyleLadwig says:

    I am a bell user looking to upgrade to this phone, with a few questions.

    I heard Bell has disabled WifI is this correct?

    Can I set the Touch up to my gmail account?  If so, how often does it check for new emails, or is this something I have to manually do?

    How is the battery life?



  5. @anonymous

    Why Yes, I do collect a paycheque from Microsoft – that doesn’t slant my oppinion on this phone and my personal experience with it.

    The phone dialing on screen is the same experience with my other touch screen devices. I don’t have girly hands or fingers and I personally try not to dial while driving 🙂 . If I do dial, I use voice command, which is about the only app I have installed on the phone besides TouchPal keyboard.

    I haven’t had the same experience as you for reboots or resets – I’ve not had to reset mine going on a number of weeks now – WAY better than the old UT starcom 6700 running mobile 5.0.

    When I do crave a keyboard, I swap out use the older HTC 620 (or now 621 from rogers).

    Rick Claus

    IT Pro Advisor

  6. @KyleLadwig

    I find my battery life lasts 2+ days, but I am not a large voice user – I’m a data / email guy.

    You can configure it to download POP mail from any POP mail provider like GMAIL, but it works on a polling basis (that you control). I use ActiveSync with my corporate Exchange server, which uses Push technology that does not require polling and is easier on battery life/data plan consumption.

    The Bell Device is a V2 CDMA device that does not have WIFI – mine is a first gen GSM device that uses my Rogers SIM and has WiFi.

  7. ye110wbeard says:


    There is a another thing you don’t get to hear.   If the phone survives Rick, it has to be sturdy and reliable.

    (Sorry Rick, but it’s sort of true right? At least from the ‘stories’ I’ve picked up on)

    It would be like me with a car, if it survives a year of my driving it, it HAS to be of a good design.

    Rick, what is your GSM version that you’re using?   Could it survive my phone abuse?  (Ignoring that going through the washing machine part, the old SMT5600 it turns out didn’t QUITE survive that)

    Now this is a serious/funny question.   Does ANYBODY make a good cell that has a “finder beeper” on it that will run off a reserve battery to make sure you can always find it?

    I’m still digging trying to find my trusty old SonyEricsson P900 unit.   If it just had enough battery power left to ring it…

  8. Eurichs says:

    I was wondering a few things about the touch for Rogers.  Is it a tri band phone or a quad band.  I heard hat keyboard was small but while in the rogers store, it clearly had something like the touchpal software and the reps stated that no stylus accompanies it.  In the reviews I read that the ram is crappy, but now I’ve heard that the rogers one has upgraded the ram.  I am shopping for a new phone and have a hard time deciding btwn the razr2, blackberry 8310 and the touch.  Please help!

  9. Anonymous says:

    One of the neat things about my job is that I’m often given cool technology to play with and review.

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