Wednesday 12 March 2008

HTC Touch Dual: Return to Sender

I've been like a child waiting for Christmas the last few months waiting for my upgrade date to tick round on my phone contract so I could get my HTC Touch Dual without having to pay for it (yeah, I know I pay indirectly but it still feels like I'm getting a free toy).  And on Saturday I took delivery of a sleek black box containing a gorgeous shiny new phone!  Wooo!

It looks nice, feels well made without being too bulky, and most important for me it has a real keypad as well as a touchscreen.  (That was what had me sold from the minute I first read about the thing - I have no desire at all for an iPhone simply because I don't want to have to look at the thing to be able to do stuff I can do with buttons without looking.  And anyway, it has no high speed data.)  When I got my sim activated I browsed a few pages over HSDPA which was impressively quick, synced up my contacts from my PC, installed OneNote mobile (the other thing I'd been missing since I last had a Windows SmartPhone a couple of years ago), synced again, played about a bit with some settings, and generally admired its sleek loveliness and its cute little fabric bag.  There were a few things I was a bit disappointed by, mostly things I used to do on my C600 (a much older HTC, I think, rebadged as 'Orange') and assumed I'd be able to do with this.  But I was cautiously optimistic we'd work out our minor differences.

Four days on I absolutely loathe the thing.  I've just rung up my provider to send it back.  (Thankfully I did my upgrade online so I'm covered by a return policy - phew!)  Just a few of my gripes with it are:

  • Having a touchscreen on a phone is a bad idea unless it's smart enough to lock itself during calls.    See this appendage on the side of my head that I use for listening?  My ear?  Guess what happens when I'm on a call?  Yes, it touches my phone. And usually activates the SpeakerPhone option.  AGH!
  • Going through touch-menus to send a text message is not my idea of convenient, and texting is what I use my phone for most.  To my mind, I should be able to do that without getting the stylus out or making ham-fisted attempts to pick out some tiny menu option with my fingernail.
  • After four days I still haven't found a foolproof way of locking and unlocking the touchscreen/keypad so I can carry it in my bag without accidentally creating a dozen tasks called £*^$%"%%"!.  (Which, coincidentally, is exactly what I said while I was deleting said tasks.)  I'm not some doddery grandma who can't program my PVR, locking and unlocking should be intuitive; if there's a knack to it, it shouldn't take me four days to get it.
  • It's useful to have some kind of 'new event' indicator (other than an amber flashing light that has to be configured by an option buried deep in the menus of the thing) so I know if I missed a call or a text with just a glance.  Even now I have the amber light configured, I still have to look for two seconds before it flashes.  That is not a glance.  I could have done something with those two seconds.  My C600 was slightly annoying in that regard as well, but you can probably tell I've already lost my rag with the Touch Dual.  It's got to the point where the green light - the one you get when you have no new events to trigger an amber light - seems to be mocking me for my lack of calls or texts.  (Now do you see why I have to send it back?)

Those might seem like pretty minor annoyances but I guess the essence of it is that everything I could do on my previous handset (Sony Ericsson W850i) just seems to be so much less 'at my fingertips'.  I used to be able to pick up a text and reply to it and walk down the road at the same time.  Today I actually had to stop in the street to read a text message.  Oh, the humiliation.

Don't get me wrong, if you want a touchscreen PDA with phone features and think the addition of a numeric/T9 keypad will be useful then there's a good chance you'll love this thing, it really is quite attractive after all.  But I wanted a phone with some touchscreen PDA features, which this isn't.  At its heart is a touchscreen OS and the keypad is just an afterthought.  It's a shame.  I'm off now to console myself by window shopping for its replacement...

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