Hailing from the Touch family, the HTC Touch Dual bears a strong resemblance to its sibling, the HTC Touch, with its minimalist design and buttons. But that resemblance stops at face value, where you'll find an all improved processor, interface and feel to the HTC Touch Dual that should keep your fingers trigger happy.
The Touch Dual is a tad taller and thicker, but sports a smaller (by 0.2-inches) screen compared to the Touch. It is also a dual input slider now, featuring a keypad in addition to its touch interface. The keypad is relatively easy to slide out as the thumb rest at the bottom of the display allows you to thrust your finger or thumb ever so gently and push it open. Pushing it back is just as easy too with a flick of your fingers.
As its Dual moniker implies, the Touch Dual allows you to choose between the screen or the keypad for text input, which proved to be swift and accurate. The biggest issue we have with the new sliding design is its top heavy factor and length when the phone is open, as you'll find yourself performing a balancing act every time you use the keypad for messaging.
There are actually two versions of the HTC Touch Dual in production: one featuring the usual 16-key numeric keypad (which is the version available in Asia), and another sporting a 20-key QWERTY keyboard similar in appearance to that found on the Sony Ericsson P1i and BlackBerry Pearl. At the moment, the European market gets to enjoy the QWERTY model, and there is no word so far as to whether HTC will bring it into Asia in the future.
Other than the obvious design changes, a slew of updates have been inserted into the Touch Dual as well, the first being its TouchFlo interface. Specifically, improvements to both its Pictures and Messaging functions.
Pictures can now be rotated with a semi-circle gesture, and you can also zoom in/out using a full circle motion in a clockwise/anticlockwise direction respectively. It does take some getting used to, and our initial attempts got us slightly frustrated before we got the hang of it.
There's also an easy way now to move between messages when reading SMS or e-mail. Swiping your finger to the left and right of the screen will act as next/previous commands. This can also be used to switch between SMS and e-mail windows.
Besides TouchFlo enhancements, processing power gets boosted with twice the love, sharing the same brains as the TyTN II, plus featuring twice as much memory as the original Touch. During our tests, we found the handling of applications to be very smooth and more responsive, evident when accessing the TouchCube interface on both the Touch and Touch Dual. Nonetheless, we have a major bone to pick regarding the removal of WiFi capabilities, a sorely missed function even with the addition of HSDPA on the Touch Dual.
For audio connectivity, the mini-USB port is located at the left side of the device rather than at the bottom, and is the only connector on the Touch Dual so if you want to listen to music, it's either the bundled earpiece, USB converter or wirelessly via Bluetooth A2DP. Battery life is rated to last for 180 hours on standby with a 5 hour talk time. In our tests, a full charge held on strong for around 3 days of moderate usage comprising of Bluetooth connections, cellular calls and text messaging.
With an improved TouchFlo interface, stronger processor and additional input options, the HTC Touch Dual addresses most of the problems with the original Touch, with a compromise of losing WiFi support. Still, the Touch Dual should appeal to a wider user base, and finds itself worthy of its S$1098 (~US$756) price tag.