Mention non-touch screen smartphones and the usual association is a Symbian S60 device, but a less known fact about Windows Mobile is its Standard edition, which is a non-touch screen version of Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. Being a smartphone manufacturer, HTC has to cover all its bases, and that's what it did with the introduction of the HTC S740, also known as the Rose.
Measuring 43.4mm long, the S740 is one of the longest devices in HTC's lineup, even more so than the recently released HTC Touch Pro. Likewise, the S740 adopts the shine and luster as seen on the HTC Touch Diamond, minus the glossy (and fingerprint smudges) backing. Unfortunately, its front panel which consists of a 2.4-inch 240 x 320 resolution QVGA screen, and a 12-key numeric keypad, will still be prone to fingerprints.
Speaking of which, we were pleasantly pleased with the keypad. Flat as it may be, messaging remained fast and accurate. The issue with the S740 though, is its Call and End buttons. In their attempt to fit everything nicely on the remote-control like device, HTC made the primary call buttons too small and raised too high. This leads to situations where you'll be hitting the call buttons more often than not when you are reaching for its two softkeys, Home and Back button just above and below both the Call and End buttons.
Unlike the Touch Pro's design, the S740's slide-out QWERTY keyboard is designed with one less row and is a four row keyboard instead, more so to fit the width of the device. With its lengthy dimension, you'll notice that the keyboard is wider, and unfortunately, makes it much harder to reach the keys at the extreme ends. Furthermore, the two softkeys are situated rather close to the top edge, thus requiring one to utilize the fingernails to reach them.
There's actually one last issue we had with the HTC S740: the SIM card and microSD slot location. Our first attempt in locating both card slots was a botched one, right after we removed the battery and found it to be empty. Failing which, we slid the device and noticed a small panel at the underbelly of the display. Once we opened it, the first thing that hit us, was the "unique" positioning of the card slots. Essentially, the microSD slot rests below the SIM card holder, and what this means, is that you'll be required to remove your SIM card before you can access your microSD card should you wish to swap it.
Putting aside the above mentioned design grouses, the S740 managed to remove the frowns from our faces and gave us a few reasons to smile, one of which is its technical specifications. Similar to its sibling devices, the S740 runs on a Qualcomm MSM7225 528MHz processor. It's also sufficiently packed with 256MB of both RAM and ROM, and this definitely showed in its application handling when we scrolled through its interface in a manner which can be only described as smooth.
Besides the myriad collection of Home screens such as the Sliding Panel and Sliding Panel Media, HTC also added in their HTC Home screen to fit the black hue of the S740's exterior. This was also where the Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard operating system shone, being a major update to its previously less intuitive Windows Mobile 6 interface. With the sliding panels that allow one to squeeze more shortcuts and access routes via a single panel, we gained access to the S740's multimedia and wireless features in a matter of seconds.
While we're on the topic of features, the S740 is also very well equipped for a device of its size, with connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, HSDPA and even GPS. As with all devices that are small in stature, we didn't set our hopes up too high for its 1000mAH battery, but surprisingly, the S740 managed to last up to almost a day and a half with normal usage.
After exploring the HTC S740, you'll notice that there were quite a number of misses on this devices, more so than its hits. Its design won't achieve the same degree of popularity as enjoyed by its siblings due to a less than accessible slide-out 4-row QWERTY keyboard. But it's also undeniable that the S740 was able to perform its duties well, especially in the speed department with its swift processor and decent memory capacity. Thus, we believe it has a rosy outlook with its S$848 price tag (without contract).