The HTC Touch Diamond has a 3 megapixel auto focus camera producing photos with a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 pixels. The camera offers an intuitive user interface and shoots in landscape mode.
It lacks a dedicated camera key so, in order to pre-focus before you snap a picture with the Diamond, you simply touch the touch-sensitive D-pad. Once focus is locked, you can take the picture by pressing the confirm button of the D-pad.
The Diamond camera also lacks a LED flash, but our team is hardly fond of LED flashes, so we don't count this as a serious flaw.
Interface and features
The Diamond viewfinder is free of any overlaying controls by default but you can display those by touching the display once, while in camera mode.
In terms of camera features, the HTC Touch Diamond is regularly equipped and offers the standard self-timer, white balance presets, as well as color effects, and a viewfinder gridline. You can shoot images with the front-facing video-call camera too and there's some nice custom resolution setting for contacts' images.
Probably the biggest letdown, when it comes to features, is that the camera lacks geotagging. Why that's left out is beyond us. Nevertheless, we have found a free third-party fix for that, but we'll discuss it in the Tweaks & Modding chapter of this review (tip: it's getting closer).
With the Touch Diamond you can shoot macro images easily without changing modes or anything. However focusing in close-ups is rather hard and is more of a hit-or-miss - sometimes the Touch Diamond focuses correctly, while other times it's way off.
There is also a panorama mode that offers on-screen framing guidance. After all the individual shots for the panorama are taken, the Diamond stitches the images automatically. The downside here is that in Panorama mode each individual image is shot at roughly 480 x 480 pixels. Plus, images are badly stitched. Obviously the Panorama mode is only ok if you intend to show your images on the handset display exclusively (which is exactly 480 pixels wide) with no further zooming.
There is one great construction fault of the HTC Touch Diamond camera, which renders all produced images mediocre. It may sound surprising but it's the little plastic lens cover that comes as a part of the gem-shaped back panel.
It stands right in front of the camera lens and even when perfectly cleaned, it reduces both the contrast and the resolved detail of all photos and especially those of backlit subjects. It's the same fault the iPhone suffers but, luckily, here we can remove the back cover and do some comparative shots.
With the back cover on, the Diamond camera produces images, which are well bellow the average level for a 3 megapixel camera on a mobile phone. The only good thing we can say about it is that it at least lacks the strange maze artifacts, exhibited by earlier versions of the Touch Cruise and TyTN II cameras, that appeared all over uniformly colored areas.
With the back cover removed, the Touch Diamond photos take another shape. Contrast and the resolved detail increase noticeably and images turn out quite obviously better.
Check out some other photo samples from the Diamond, all taken the regular way - with the back cover on.
The Touch Diamond video capturing capabilities are not impressive by any means. All you get is CIF recording (352 x 288 pixel) at 30fps. It's not that bad: after all the VideoCD standard uses that resolution, but it's nowhere near what you would expect in a high-end smart device.
The interface of the camcorder resembles the one of the still camera. You can only adjust the white balance, the resolution and brightness and finally add some color effects.
Here is a sample video produced by the Touch Diamond. It's an MPEG4 recording in CIF resolution at 30fps - the maximum that the device offers.
The Touch Diamond offers excellent connectivity options - HSDPA 7.2Mpbs, Wi-Fi and stereo Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR are all on board.
The Diamond has only tri-band GSM and dual-band HSDPA support, however it will have two localized versions to cover markets world-wide.
USB 2.0 support is also present of course and every time you plug in the USB cable the Diamond prompts selecting between ActiveSync and USB Mass Storage connection.
On the other hand, the Touch Diamond lacks a memory card slot, which proves quite an inconvenience for many users especially those that have or are about to purchase applications that ship on a memory card.
The HTC Touch Diamond is equipped with the latest version of the Opera browser, which makes the Internet Explorer Mobile redundant. The Opera 9.5 browser is extensively touch-optimized and seems heavily inspired by the iPhone Safari browser. However it's such a new piece of software, that there isn't even a public beta available to other PocketPC users. That alone should tell you that the web browser is in for some early development bugs.
The Diamond VGA resolution display snatches a point again in the web browsing department. When the browser loads the full website preview, the minute text still remains recognizable.
While it fails to deliver the same level of usability as the Safari browser, the Opera 9.5 makes up for it by throwing in a few features that totally lack on the iPhone, such as text copy/paste, Flash Lite 3 support and a download manager.
By default, when you zoom in the browser wraps the text, so the content fits the screen width.
As the Touch Diamond offers automatic screen rotation inside the web browser, the Opera 9.5 is pretty much the only place where a landscape QWERTY keyboard is available for text input.
And a few words about the Opera 9.5 interface. By default web pages are opened fullscreen free of any overlaying controls. A tap on the bottom right corner however brings up the available controls.
First, you've got the address bar at the very top. At the bottom of the screen there is a row of icons that can take you back, take you to bookmarks, bring up the tab switcher, the home page or the browser settings.
There is one drawback we've noticed on the Diamond implementation and the reason probably lies in the early development stage of the Opera 9.5.
So here it goes - at times trying to pan a web page makes the web browser just zoom in or out without any logical reason. That behavior can be a real bugger and we hope they fix it in some of the next software updates.