HTC Touch Diamond CDMA Review

Introduction and Design
This review has been updated on 28 April, 2009


Out of the numerous companies that manufacture Windows Mobile based smartphones, HTC continues to hit the mark with innovative products. We were highly impressed with the first HTC Touch Diamond we reviewed last year, though it was a GSM import, and then later with the CDMA variant that became available through Sprint. Now Verizon has followed suite with their release of their version of the Touch Diamond, and we’re glad to say that they got it right this time.

The retail package includes:
  • HTC Touch Diamond phone
  • 1340mAh battery
  • wall charger with detachable miniUSB cable
  • multifunction audio cable
  • two stylus
  • CDs
  • User manual


When looking at the HTC Touch Diamond for Verizon, it is almost unmistakable from the GSM model, as both share the same shiny black exterior, sharp edges, and “diamond cut” design on the rear battery door, unlike the Sprint model that is more curved and has a burgundy painted battery door. The device has a good weight to it, though not as heavy as the Touch Pro, and is slightly thinner since it lacks the sliding QWERTY keyboard. The overall construction feels good, though a little plasticy, as there isn’t any metal used on the internal parts.

You can compare the HTC Touch Diamond CDMA for Verizon with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The 2.8” VGA resistive touchscreen appears to be the same one that we loved on the other models, including the HTC Touch Pro, as images and text look amazing on it. Next to the earpiece, there is a sensor to automatically adjust the display’s backlight, or you can manually adjust it via the software. We found that the sensor worked quite well, and the display would get brighter when used outside, making it easier to view while in sunlight. Even though the resistive technology is used, instead of capacitive, it was very smooth and responded to the slightest touch. Two styluses are included, but most of the time we were using just our finger.

Located on the left side of the HTC Touch Diamond is the volume rocker, with the power button located at the top, 3.2MP camera on the back, and miniUSB port at the bottom. One stylus is held in place magnetically, and will wake the Diamond up when removed. Under the display is the unique d-pad, as it has physical buttons for up/down/left/right, but the center “select” button is also capacitive. This provides different features, such as touching the capacitive button for the camera to focus, then pressing it down to take a picture, or moving your finger around in a circular motion to zoom in or out of a web page. There are also dedicated buttons for home, back, send, and end.

HTC Touch Diamond CDMA Video Review:

HTC Touch Diamond CDMA 360 Degrees View:


The TouchFLO 3D (TF3D) user interface is what makes this Diamond truly shine. The “home screen” is an interface in itself, and users will rarely have to venture outside of its environment. Of course the device is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, so once you get outside of TF3D, the user will find the familiar WM interface of devices past, but like we said there is often little reason to ever leave TF3D.

Along the bottom of the screen is a row of tabs, but each version of TF3D seems to have its own unique color scheme. The GSM Diamond was black and white, while the Sprint model added a different color to each tab, and the Verizon Touch Pro maroon. Now the Verizon HTC Touch Diamond uses a purple theme, which is used to highlight the tabs and the background is charcoal gray. This isn’t a bad combination, and looks better than the Verizon Touch Pro, but still doesn’t look as nice as the Sprint version. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to change the TF3D color theme through the software.

While you can just tap to select a tab, they do not all fit on the screen at once, so you will actually place your finger on the bar and slide right or left. The selected tab becomes larger and there is a transparent icon and text over the display to tell you what tab you are on as you move across the bar. It is very intuitive and fluid moving, and most importantly it works as advertised. The dedicated Home Key on the bottom pad will return you to the home tab whenever you wish.

The tab layout is identical to the Verizon’s Touch Pro. From left to right they run: Home, My Favorites, Messaging, Music, Email, Browser, Photos and Videos, My Applications, Weather, and Settings.

Both the Home tab on the Verizon Touch Diamond and Touch Pro look the same, with a large digital clock and the date underneath, instead of the flip-clock we saw on the GSM Diamond. Of course, there is the unmistakable Verizon logo at the top, with the Start menu button and status icons above it.

The My Favorites tab lets the user set visual speed dials from their contact list. The contact’s assigned picture shows up and the user can flip through them with a swipe up or down on the screen. The Messaging tab displays SMS and MMS messages and is set to threaded view by default. The Email tab displays your email accounts, and can connect to POP3, IMAP, and Exchange servers. Received email messages are previewed as a letter coming out of an envelope, and again the user can scroll through different messages by flicking up and down on the letter. Selecting a message will open it up fully on the screen, where you can then reply or delete the message.

The Music tab opens the music player, and clicking on Library will allow you to select files from now playing, artists, albums, playlists, all songs, genres, composers, and purchased. When an album begins playback, the cover art is shown on the screen, and you can change tracks by moving your finger up or down the screen. There is also a progress bar at the bottom you can slide left or right. The music quality is adequate, but not as good as a music phone, such as the Chocolate 3. Still, quality does improve when using a good stereo Bluetooth or wired headset. The included adapter that plugs into the miniUSB port allows you to attach 2.5mm and traditional 3.5mm headsets.

Photos and Videos
allow the user to scroll through their albums directly from the main screen. Flicking up and down moves the user through their images and movies, and tapping on one will bring it into full screen mode. While in full screen, the user can rotate the device horizontally and picture will change orientation thanks to the accelerometer. Moving you finger in a circular motion around the d-pad will zoom in and out, and the same gesture onscreen will produce the same results. From this tab the camera and camcorder can also be launched.

My Applications allow the user to add up to 18 shortcut links to different programs. It shows 9 per screen, but to access the second screen the user simply flicks their thumb upward. The user can also launch All Programs, which is a skinned version of the WM Programs menu.

The Browser tab shows a link that will launch Opera Mobile, but also displays the YouTube application and any saved favorites for one touch access. The Weather tab is very cool. It allows users to add up to 10 cities worldwide and has some slick animations for the current conditions. For instance, when it’s raining the screen will appear to get drops of water on it before a windshield wiper cleans them off. Flicking up and down through the cities plays different animations related to their current weather. You can also pull the five-day forecast for that location. If you want even more information it will launch the browser and take you to AccuWeather’s homepage.

The final tab is for Settings, and is in essence a skinned version of the standard WM settings screen. Available settings are for Sync Data, Sound, Wallpaper, Communications (Comm Manager), Data (to manage weather download options), and About. The user can also launch All Settings, which takes them to the standard WM settings menu with all the options.

We found TF3D to be incredibly smooth on the GSM unit, but both CDMA Verizon and Sprint version feels faster. HTC has issued performance updates for the original ROM, and we’d assume these improvements were implemented in the CDMA software. While in the TF3D environment everything runs smoothly; animations, transparences and kinetic scrolling all work flawlessly. We still feel that TF3D is our favorite user interface, even though it’s really a skin rather than a proper UI. We still encourage HTC to expand it and take as much Windows out of Windows Mobile as possible.


Outside of the My Favorites tab, the phonebook on the HTC Touch Diamond is standard Windows Mobile fare. From that tab the user can launch the full phonebook, which is identical to what we have seen on past HTC WM devices, such as the Touch Pro. The contacts are listed alphabetically by last name, though the list can be sorted by company as well. We’re not sure why, but HTC’s Random Access plug-in is missing, though it is on the GSM and Sprint Diamond. From the phone screen, as you begin to type a number, it will match it with your contacts both numerically and alphabetically. For instance, if you type in 866 it will match any 866 numbers, but also bring up anybody with a form of Tom in their name.

Contact storage is limited only by system memory, so for all intents and purposes it is limitless. Each contact can store a wealth of information, such as company, job title, picture ID, several different numbers and addresses, multiple emails and IM names, assistant and manager information, customer ID and account numbers, birthdays, anniversaries, spouse and children. And if that’s not enough, you can always add notes. In fact, if you’re on a call with a contact and you pull the stylus out, the Touch Diamond will automatically launch the notepad and associate the note taken with that contact.

HTC has created custom screens for incoming and outgoing calls. The outgoing screen displays the contact name and phone number at the top, and to the left of that is the Picture ID (if one is not assigned a default silhouette is used.) There is a grouping of six buttons in the middle (two rows of three), which includes Call History, Calendar, Note, Mute, Speaker and Contacts. At the bottom is a large red End Call button. The incoming screen is a bit plainer; the Picture ID is centered at the top, and below is the contact name and number. A large green Answer and red Ignore button sit below that, and finally is a Mute Call option along the bottom. The Picture ID is not quite as small as a standard Windows Mobile ID is, but it’s still not large. It is larger on the incoming than outgoing screen, and with the VGA resolution the size isn’t really an issue.

Of course this all syncs neatly with Outlook, making contact management that much easier. If the user is connected to an Exchange server, two-way Outlook sync can be done over the air.

Voice dialing is handled by Cyberon voice commander. It is very similar to VoiceSignal, but adds some advanced features such as controlling music playback, checking upcoming appointments and launching applications. Unfortunately, most of our commands were not recognize and it asked us to repeat several times.


Again, the PIM functionality of the HTC Touch Diamond is the same as other Windows Mobile devices. The calendar is launched from the Home tab, and can be viewed in several ways: Agenda, Day, Week, Month and Year. Adding an appointment is simple, though not exactly finger friendly. Since we’re dealing with the standard Windows Mobile interface here, it is best to pull out the stylus to add events.

It is a very advanced calendar, offering everything a user would need and expect including recurrences, reminders, category grouping, sensitivity settings and much more. Notes can also be added to an event, for instance the user can set an appointment for a meeting, then take notes for that meeting within the appointment. That way, the user can simply go back to that calendar event to find the corresponding notes.

The Diamond offers other essential PIM elements such as Tasks, Notes, Voice Recorder and a Calculator. These programs are more basic and work as you would expect them to. There are a few options available for Tasks, for instance setting priorities, reminders, recurrences and categories. Notes can be handwritten or entered via the various keypads.

We love TF3D, and wish HTC had paid more attention to the core PIM elements of the Touch Diamond as well. Finger-friendly programs like One Touch Organizer and PocketCM Contacts have made life much easier on WM devices in the past, but with the Diamond’s VGA resolution they do not work properly. Hopefully the WM developer community will again rise up and offer some solutions to this problem.


Messaging is simple enough on the HTC Touch Diamond. It supports SMS and MMS, and users can set up personal and corporate email accounts. There are separate Messaging (SMS/MMS) and Mail (email) tabs on the TF3D interface, but the user can view all of their mailboxes in one place via the Windows Mobile messaging screen.

The Messaging screen allows users to view the full message onscreen in TF3D. Flicking up and down moves between messages, and tapping a message brings up the threaded conversation in the WM environment, a new feature of WM 6.1. For MMS the media shows up as an attachment, which is launched by its respective application.

On the Email screen the user sees a different envelope for each email account they have set up. The envelope is open, and the emails appear as letters coming out of the envelope. The user only gets a top portion of the message here, but tapping on it will bring up the full message in the WM environment from which the user can reply.

New SMS, MMS and emails can be initiated from the TF3D interface, but are typed out in the normal WM environment. Email setup is quick and easy, as the Touch Diamond supports POP3, IMAP, SMTP and Lotus Domino formats and can utilize Microsoft Direct Push when associated with an Exchange server, allowing for instantaneous mail delivery. Personal account setup is fairly simple; settings are automatically obtained for many common accounts like Gmail and Yahoo, and if they cannot be obtained the user will be taken through step-by-step to input the proper servers. If not connected to an Exchange server the user can select a download interval from every 5 minutes to once a day, or just download manually.

The onscreen keyboard remains the biggest sticking point for critics, but HTC has revamped their offerings from the original Touch. The 12 and 20 key keypads still remain, but have been reworked a bit. The 12 key T9 keypad, or “Phone Keypad” as HTC is now calling it, has been especially improved. There are now four columns instead of three, meaning the dialing buttons are smaller, but the space key has been enlarged and the buttons are still plenty big for typing. Another nice improvement is that users can now select the Full QWERTY keyboard. Despite the small keys it is surprisingly accurate and we were typing error-free right away, but can only be used in portrait mode. The Compact QWERTY keypad remains unchanged, except for the re-skinning. Pressing and holding a key will bring up the alternate option (for example, in QWERTY mode holding the Q will produce a 1,) which makes typing faster since you don’t have to switch modes. Other keyboard options are the small Microsoft QWERTY pad (which is so small you have to use a stylus), Block Recognizer, Letter Recognizer, Transcriber and of course third-party alternatives like SPB and TouchPal. We still wish HTC offered haptic feedback for their keypads, but at least they are easier to use. The biggest competitor to the Verizon’s Touch Diamond is the Touch Pro, since it offers a sliding QWERTY keyboard with physical buttons. This is still the easiest and most error free way of typing messages and emails.

Mobile IM also comes standard, and can connect you to AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo. When a new voice message is received, you are automatically prompted to the Visual Voicemail program. It allows you to see a list of your voice mails and play them using visual controls on the screen. This is much simpler than the older touch-tone prompt system.

Connectivity and Data:

The Diamond features EVDO Rev. A for high-speed cellular data, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g for local connections, and Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR.

One of the standout programs of the HTC Touch Diamond is the browser, powered by Opera. It is a customized version of Opera Mobile 9.5, and unlike Opera Mobile 8.x it is powered by Opera Mini’s Presto engine. Browsing is, in short, fantastic. Complex HTML pages are rendered flawlessly, panning and zooming is fluid and simple, full-screen mode is automatic and it supports tabbed browsing. Once site are loaded the user can easily drag the page to pan around in any direction. A double tap zooms in on the selected area and another double tap zooms back out. The user can fine-tune the zoom level by moving their finger around the d-pad in a circular motion. When zoomed in, the browser renders text to fit the view, eliminating the need to constantly scroll right and left to read a paragraph. Rotate the device horizontally in either direction and the page changes to landscape mode nearly instantaneously.

When not in full-screen mode there is a menu bar at the bottom with Back, Favorites, Tabs, Home and Menu. At the top of the page is the address bar and stop button, as well as a close tab button. Unfortunately it does not support Flash and there is no zoom pinching like in Safari, but Opera has the ability to copy and paste text as well as download files.

Pocket Internet Explorer is of course available as well, but we fail to see why it would ever be used.

Since the Touch Diamond can use EVDO Rev A or Wi-Fi for data, we tested both downloading a 1MB file from

On average, we would get between 500-700Kbps while using EVDO Rev A, and 1200Kbps or faster while using Wi-Fi.

The Touch Diamond syncs with a PC via ActiveSync (Windows XP) or Mobile Device Center (Vista.) Users can choose to sync any number of items, such as contacts, calendar, tasks, favorites, notes, media and more. We tested it with ActiveSync and had no issues syncing with our existing Outlook database. Officially there is no Mac support, but programs such as Missing Sync can remedy this. The phone also gives you a Mass Storage mode option when you connect, enabling use of the device as a USB drive.


Verizon’s HTC Touch Diamond features a 3.2MP camera with autofocus, which appears to be the same as the GSM and Sprint models. Images taken outside were excellent, with good color representation and sharp detail. There was a bit of blurring at times for indoor shots, but that is due to the shower shutter that is used. Still missing is a Flash, like the one on the Touch Pro.

Touching you finger on the d-pad’s capacitive center button triggers the autofocus, and pressing the button all the way in snaps the shot. There are 5 resolution steps, a two and ten second self-timer, and the user can choose from predefined white balance settings and adjust the brightness. The camera can shoot with grayscale, sepia or negative effects, and there are user preference options such as where to save the files, review duration, etc.

Videos can be record in MPEG4, 3GPP2, and H.263 formats and can be shot in Small, Medium, Large, or CIF resolutions. The documentation doesn’t specify what those resolutions are, but it appears Large is actually 352x288. The camcorder utilizes the autofocus features as well, but as expected the overall quality was not on par with the camera. For a cell phone it was above average, there was some pixilation which got worse as you pan around, but it was plenty good for YouTube and general web use. The user can again change white balance settings, adjust the brightness, change the effect and set a few preferences, but overall the settings are minimal.


HTC offers a custom music player and album viewer that is integrated within TF3D, but when media files are opened through the File Explorer, Microsoft Picture Viewer and Windows Media Player serve as the default players. HTC Album (the picture/video player) is very good, but the music player has some shortcomings.

HTC Album allows users to view pictures and video full screen. Turn the Touch Diamond horizontally and the picture follows suit, and you can scroll through your media with the flick of your thumb. The video player is very similar to the iPhone. Videos play in full-screen landscape mode and tapping the video brings up transparent controls. Even YouTube videos look amazing on the crisp, VGA screen. We were able to playback H.264 videos ranging from 220x96 resolution at 128Kbps to 720x306 resolution at 1500Kbps, but you will get some occasional dropped frames at higher resolutions and bit rates. Unfortunately, DivX and Xvid is not supported, unlike the Omnia.

The music player looks nice enough, but isn’t the simplest program to use. From the Music tab on the home screen you can control your music, with out the need to launch Windows Media Player. The interface is still a bit awkward, though HTC has made some improvements. In the past art for each track was queued behind the playing track, but if it were from the same album obviously it would be the same art. Now only different art is queued, but it’s more confusing than it should be. For example, if there are four songs from Sgt. Pepper’s followed by two tracks from Abbey Road followed by a track from Revolver the user will see one instance of art from Sgt. Pepper’s, one from Abbey Road and one from Revolver, but when playing the first Sgt. Pepper’s track the same art will be displayed for the next three songs, with no indication that there are three other songs before you get to Abbey Road. In our opinion HTC needs to just ditch this queued wannabe Cover Flow altogether and just display larger art of the current track.

The library works like TF3D, with tabs along the bottom. In the library you can sort by artist, album, song, genre and composer. You can create playlists, but otherwise you can either play all the songs at once or a single album at a time. When you play all songs they are sorted alphabetically regardless of album. In this case, we prefer Windows Media Player and its library, which allow you to play all albums in alphabetical order while staying true to the original track lists.

Supported audio codecs include MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, WAV, and AMR-NB. There isn’t an on-board audio jack, but there is a miniUSB to 2.5mm/3.5mm adapter. Even though were not a fan of adapters (since there easy to lose or forget), it is nice that it has ports for both sizes.

One very nice feature of the Diamond is the YouTube player, as it is a stand-alone program nearly identical to the one found on the iPhone. There are four tabs: All Videos, Bookmarks, History, and Search. All Videos is further broken down into Most Viewed, Top Rated and Featured. Videos launch in full-screen mode, and like the iPhone, tapping the screen brings up transparent controls. The scroll wheel around the d-pad is active here as well, though it’s not as smooth as we’d like. The video quality was surprisingly excellent and better than most other phones, due to the VGA screen, and audio was always in-sync. We still wish there was an option to play embedded YouTube files directly in web pages, but this program is a good substitute.

Out of the three included games (Bubble Breaker, Solitaire, and Teeter) Teeter is our favorite, and really shows off the accelerometer. It is a Labyrinth-style game, where you have a ball that you need to tilt through a maze and avoid the holes to get to the green end. Not only is it a fun game, it really showcases the phone’s software capabilities. For instance, when you hit a wall there is a dull thud you feel that truly seems as if you’re hitting the wall with a metal ball. We imagine it’s done though haptic feedback, but it sure feels like a solid thump and not a vibration. Eventually you begin to play not on a flat surface, but on a 3D rendering of the Diamond’s faceted battery cover!


Just like the GSM model, the Verizon HTC Touch Diamond has 192MB RAM and 256MB ROM, but instead of having 4GB of internal storage, it adds a microSDHC card slot that can accept up to 16GB memory cards. We like having a memory card slot, as it’s easier to transfer pictures, music, and files, but the Samsung Omnia has this plus an amazing 8GB of internal storage! As we noted earlier, navigating TF3D is smooth but the Windows Mobile environment is decidedly cumbersome at times. One thing we did notice is that out of the box 53% of the memory was in use, compared to around 65% on the GSM model and 35% on the Sprint Diamond. So it appears that HTC has got some of the memory problems resolved, since both the GSM and Verizon units have the same amount of RAM. The reason the Sprint model is only using 35% is because it has 288MB of RAM.

Additional preloaded programs include Adobe Reader and the Office Mobile suite, among others. We were able to open Adobe PDF files, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files without problem. There are loads of other programs available for Windows Mobile, though many of them will not work with the Diamond due to its VGA display. It is usually a simple fix by the writer, but lots of programs (such as the aforementioned and beloved One Touch Organizer) are not supported anymore. The Diamond is not the first WM VGA device however, and as VGA becomes increasingly popular you will see more and more programs pop up. No Java emulator is included, but of course users can load a third-party offering.

The Diamond uses VZ Navigator for GPS guided directions, which of course is $10 per month if you choose to install it. It allows you to plan your trip and even will re-route you if there are traffic congestions while on the road. Other features include the ability to find local movie theaters and show times, restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, hotels, hospitals, travel (airports, bus, car rental), parking lot/garage, and Verizon stores. The quality is quite good, as maps properly rendered for the VGA display. Unfortunately, the GPS is locked, meaning you can’t use it with other (free) programs, such as Google Maps.

An application that is unique to new Verizon Smartphones is the VZAppZone, wherein you can access news and weather, and download a variety of other programs (entertainment, productivity, utilities, ringtones, games, security, and wallpaper). The ringtones and wallpapers are only a few dollars each, but games and utilities can cost $20-40 to download. This is supposed to be a Windows Mobile version of VCast Downloads, but it is poorly implemented, and doesn’t offer a lot of content. Naturally, you can use a microSDHC memory card and transfer pictures, videos, ringtones, wallpapers, and applications directly.


The sound quality on the Verizon HTC Touch Diamond, both incoming and outgoing, was excellent, about equal to that of the GSM Diamond, and better than when using the CDMA Samsung Omnia. Voices sounded crystal clear on both ends, almost as if you were you were talking to someone in the same room. Speakerphone performance was good, but not as excellent. On our end there was some speaker distortion if the volume was raised past medium.

Talk time is listed by Verizon at 5 hours on a full charge, but HTC lists it at just over 4 hours. In our testing we were only able to get 4 hours of talk time, the same as on Sprint’s Diamond. HTC claims 350 hours of standby time, with Verizon claiming 375 hours, but keep in mind that, as with any smartphone, standby time is considerably affected by what all is going on in the background. For instance, email push or pull will have a significant impact on battery life. With normal everyday use, talking on the phone, checking email, using the browser, and playing some music, we would have to charge the battery each night. HTC made a wise move in beefing up the battery to 1340mAh, but heavy users will undoubtedly upgrade to the larger 1800mAh extended battery.


The HTC Touch Diamond is currently the best smartphone we’ve used for Verizon, beating out the Samsung Omnia and BlackBerry Storm. The combination of TouchFlo3D interface, high quality VGA display, 3.2MP camera, and excellent call quality make it hard to beat. It’s powerful enough for the most hardcore business and techie users, but friendly enough that just about anyone can pick it up and go. Our only complaint is that the video player won’t play DivX and Xvid videos like the Omnia, but this can be fixed with third party apps.


  • TouchFLO3D user interface
  • VGA display
  • Call Quality
  • “WOW” factor


  • Can’t play DivX and Xvid videos
  • Music player still needs some work
  • Power users will end up buying the extended battery
  • The camera is not as good as the one of the Omnia

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User Rating:

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