Verdict: Overall, very nice phone with a few productivity issues
Pros: Beautiful screen, tons of ... HTC Androids forum
REVIEW: AT&T Fuze / HTC Touch Pro
Verdict: Overall, very nice phone with a few productivity issues
Pros: Beautiful screen, tons of third party support
Cons: Not as productive for me
Price: $249 w/ two year agreement
Overall rating: Casual User: 4 out of 5. Business User: 2 out of 5. (Explained in the Conclusion section below)
I'll be the first to admit, I loved my Blackberry Curve 8310. It did everything I absolutely needed it to do but was missing a few "cool" features such as WiFi and 3G. However, my local area didn't yet have 3G and well, I figured WiFi wasn't absolutely necessary -- so I continued to delay upgrading. Finally, AT&T flipped the switch on the local 3G network and I had a week off around Christmas, so I decided it was time to pull the trigger on a new smartphone figuring I'd have a week to get things setup before I returned to work.
Please keep in mind that this review is written from the perspective of a former Palm PDA user who migrated first to the Blackberry Pearl 8100 and then to the Curve 8310. I've also used a number of iPhones, and a couple Windows Mobile phones so I'm not a complete newbie to the smartphone playing field.
My general smartphone usage consists of receiving about 200 emails on 9 IMAP accounts per day. I probably send around 20 -- most under 500 words. I also send / receive over 2000 text messages per month. I rely on my smartphone for GPS functionality and basic web browsing. I really don't use media player capabilities. I sync my calender and over 500 contacts with Outlook.
There were really only two options when it came to what my next smartphone would be. I wanted a full QWERTY keyboard and I wanted 3G capabilities. I also wanted WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. This really narrowed the playing field down as I only have ATT service at my home. Therefore, my decision boiled down to either the ATT Fuze (aka, HTC Touch Pro) and the Blackberry Bold. I was feeling a bit disgruntled with RIM and their lack of true 2-way IMAP support and there is a wonderful email client for Windows Mobile which performs these tasks perfectly called FlexMail. Therefore, I decided to try something different and go with the Windows Mobile Fuze.
To see my full reasoning see my blog entry here.
I'll be very honest here. I have to give HTC full marks for beautiful hardware. 3.2 megapixel auto focus camera with flash. Full VGA 640x480 screen. Solid feeling slide out keyboard. There are many reviews out there, but suffice it to say, the Fuze is a solid, well built phone. It's not Blackberry solid -- but for a slide mechanism phone, it's really very nice. I have no complaints in that department.
The biggest feature that stands out when you hold the Fuze is it's heft. It's not heavy exactly. But it's very solid feeling. The screen is beautiful albeit a tad small for my taste. The touchscreen is a resistive model and I think this is the one area where HTC dropped the ball a little. A capacitive touch screen similar to the iPhone would have been a huge improvement.
The slide out keyboard was actually pretty good. I've grown very accustom to the slightly curved keyboards of the Blackberry phone and admittedly, the Fuze keyboard seemed very wide at first. I really felt that the travel from the "a" to the "f" was almost too far. After about a week of ownership, I was starting to really get used to it though and I do feel that while the Blackberry has a better keyboard, the Fuze is perfectly acceptable.
The biggest bummer of the whole phone was the left and right directional D-Pad. There's a great article here about the proper way to use this function, but even after implementing this method, I found that the D-Pad never really lived up to my expectations. More often than not I'd end up switching applications instead of navigating right or left.
The Fuze implements HTC's newest Touch Flow 3D interface. What this means is that HTC developed a really nice wrapper for Windows Mobile to "hide" the operating system and make the whole experience more touch-screen friendly. I have to say, I really feel like they did a decent job. Navigation was pretty intuitive and for the most part, the phone was easy to use.
However, Touch Flow 3D has been described with the proverbial "Lipstick on a Pig" metaphor and sadly, I understand this all too well. Once the phone is setup, it works great, but setup often drops you into the same old Windows Mobile interface where you actually have to pull out the stylus (yes, even in 2008 you still get a stylus) and do some work.
Having come from a Blackberry where you just setup your e-mail on the BIS web page and everything works, I found the e-mails setup painful. Plus, as I said earlier, I use 9 IMAP accounts on my Blackberry. This gave Pocket Outlook an absolute heart attack and I only managed to get three configured. Where the Blackberry would dump all the mail into a common folder for me to browse, there were numerous back --> forward operations needed to switch mail boxes. Combine this with a D-Pad where back and forward don't work reliably and you end up pretty frustrated.
To try to get some semblance of 2-way IMAP functionality, I installed FlexMail. This program is awesome and I really wish RIM would consider implementing some of these features. Full access to all my server folders was amazing. Not to mention I could move messages from one IMAP folder to another! And, the best part, reading a message anywhere showed up as read on the phone. However, left and right navigation were needed to efficiently use this program as well and so I again, became quite frustrated.
The browsing is done via the default Opera Mobile (not the Opera Mini version available for the Blackberry). Coupled with the touch screen, the browsing is similar to that of an iPhone. Not as good exactly, but way better than the Blackberry Curve. Web pages loaded quite quickly using either 3G or WiFi and navigation was easy and intuitive. This is one of the times though that the small screen really came into play. While it's a beautiful resolution, I really wish the physical size was larger. Perhaps getting rid of the dysfunctional D-Pad and a couple of the navigation keys would allow them to expand this screen a bit. Regardless, it's a really good web browsing experience.
Yes, I'm skipping right to the conclusion section. I do realize that there's a lot more that could be said on this phone, but there are also a ton of reviews out there. I really feel that my overall conclusion will better help people than more babble regarding every feature of the phone, so I'm skipping to the good part after covering the basic functionality.
Out of the box, the Fuze is decent. After spending over 40 hours tweaking, installing custom ROMs and fussing with the phone, the performance was downright snappy! I really have very little to fault here except for the overall workflow of Windows Mobile and the Fuze. I realize that sounds like a contradiction, so let me explain.
Say, for instance, that I get to work and there are 20 emails in my inbox on 4 different email accounts. 5 of them are junk, 5 need replies and the other 10 need reading and should be left on the server to file at a later time. Here are the example workflows:
Blackberry Curve - Email Workflow
- Open up the mailbox folder where all my e-mail goes. Go through and delete the obvious junk leaving the 15 good messages.
- Start with the oldest. Read the message. Reply if needed or delete from the handheld if I want to file it later.
- After replying / deleting, I'm automatically taken to the next message.
- My reply is sent from the address where the e-mail was received.
- Overall time on a good day -- 20 minutes.
ATT Fuze - Email Workflow
- Find I have mail in four of my accounts. Pick one to start with.
- Get out the stylus to select the junk mail and then press the delete key. My fingers are too large to select the message reliably without the stylus.
- Go to the messages. Read / reply / delete them.
- Go to the next account. Repeat steps 1 - 3.
- Overall time on a good day -- 35 minutes.
Plus, with the Blackberry, I can easily delete messages one handed so I can filter the junk mail out while walking to a meeting. Having to get out the stylus, tap on a message, set the stylus down, press delete, pick up the stylus -- you get the idea. It's just not as fast.
What about text messaging? I'm constantly receiving and sending text messages for the pure fact that they are very fast and usually very short replies.
On the Blackberry, I can navigate to the text with one hand using the trackball. If I need to reply, press "R" and quick type off a note. I can use two hands or one hand depending on what else I'm doing. Fast, easy. On the Fuze, viewing texts was great. Tap on the screen in a message you are taken to a reply screen. Again, easy. Now one would assume that the on-screen keyboard would pop up if you don't have the slide-out keyboard open. This sometimes worked. And if it did, you were never sure if you'd get a full qwerty keyboard or a "suretype" like keyboard. And regardless, on a screen that's barely an inch and a half wide, neither are good for people with large thumbs. Which meant that I had to turn the phone on its side, slide out the keyboard (which is very difficult to use with one hand), send the message and slide the keyboard back in. Overall, much more time consuming and often it forced me to stop what I was doing.
Which brings me to the real breaking point for me. The keyboard software. Perhaps, as a Blackberry user, I'm spoiled. When I type two spaces, I get a period. When I type "hes", I get "he's". And these are easy to configure. I can add auto text till my hearts content! Plus, the BB automatically capitalizes the first letter in a sentence. None of this worked reliably on the Fuze. Sure, I could use T9 input with a qwerty, and it would do a pretty good job of things like capitalization, but the two spaces equals a period functionality doesn't exist. While this may seem like a small complaint, my typing speed dramatically decreased. And my emails became somewhat illegible. Not good for a business user.
So, I'd give the device a 4 out of 5 for a casual user. The media player capability and other cool applications that abound for Windows Mobile will make many non-business users very happy. For a business user who's more concerned with function over extra applications and touch screens, I'd give the device about a 2 out of 5. Not a total failure, but definitely not as productivity oriented as a Blackberry.
If there are any questions, feel free to ask. I'll do my best to answer them!
Last edited by mjwood0; 01-02-2009 at 01:18 PM.
~via BB (wap.pinstack.com)~
A much appreciated well constructed perspective which provides one with valuable insight. Good comparative study. Thank you
Thanks! I know that we're mainly Blackberry addicts here, but I also know that we're now the "Smartphone Professionals Alliance" which makes really good sense. Figure I might as well try to give some insight into the other available options.
Blackberries are great, but from my experiences, I've found that no phone does everything perfectly.
~via BB (wap.pinstack.com)~
Very well put. Seemingly in perfect accord with the broadening of our focus here on the Stacks
I am thinking of geting the htc fuze, I understand that it comes with blackberry connect is that true and if it does will it work with the blackberry messenger?
Once you go BlackBerry you never go back!
I'm really sorry but I never looked into Blackberry connect with the Fuze. There's an article here regarding setup with the Hermes or the Tytn.
From my understanding, blackberry connect does nothing with regards to Blackberry Messenger -- it's not available.
Doing a little digging, I found this article talking about BB Connect with the Fuze. From what it looks like, ATT doesn't offer BB Connect for the Fuze. Not sure if other carriers do or not.
Hope this helps!
So do you plan on keeping the Fuze or will you be switching back to another Blackberry??
Originally Posted by mjwood0
I would have to say pretty good review.. i have the fuze and I love it... i also wish the screen was bigger, and all the people that were saying the Fuze is slow and unresponisve do some tweaks or flash a custom ROM and its blazin fast... but great review
I ended up trading it for a Blackberry Bold. I've found the bold simply fits my needs better with regards to heavy email and SMS usage.
Originally Posted by JR_Rider
I agree! The device itself is really fast if you are willing to tweak it or install a custom ROM. Its a shame that ATT doesn't ship it with a better optimized ROM to start with as I think many people don't want to spend the time with it.
Originally Posted by jd885
I was a WM user before I discovered the SK and BB. The only problems I ever had with WM in the past were non-durable devices (I had 3 HP iPAQ 6315 WM PPC Phones that broke at the drop of a hat but they were my favorite of all) and clunky (I had 2 Dell Axim X50's and a Compaq iPAQ 3835 that were not small as a BlackBerry, but they are getting smaller now).
When protected, my WM devices worked fine. No OS crashes, reboots, hourglass, etc. Also, 3rd party programs were abundant for games, chats, etc. One drop and I had to replace them all.
Maybe one day I will go back to WM in the future. Just have to decide which one to get if I decide to go that way.
Last edited by EricaJ1073; 01-02-2009 at 05:07 PM.
It is a shame that At&t has
such a crappy rom on
there... i feel like they
will ruin the device for
people that dont know about
tweaking or flashing rom's
when its really a great
phone~via HTC Touch Pro
Which to purchase.. HTC FUZE or BLACKBERRY BOLD
I am glad that I was able to read this post! I was seriously thinking of buying the HTC Fuze device. I like many others am a blackberry user.. I use the Pearl 8100. Its been a good device for me.. I like to smallness of it.. having it for almost 2 years, the body of the device is still in great shape. Only downfall to the 8100 is it doesnt have the gps or the higher megapixal camera. Being an agent for AT&T, I have held off from obtaining new phones(at least PDA's) I know there is a new phone being made at least every 4-6mos. Back when we all waited for the BOLD to come out back in July, I considered getting it.. but the more I read reviews and looked at the pictures and then actually saw a model in my hand.. I felt that the bold was too big compared to the size Im use to having in my hands with the pearl.. So I was happy to see the FUZe.. Same size as the pearl lenght wise just thicker. But I am not a fan of a windows based phone. Or any touch screen PDA. I know how much they can freeze up if your an excessive user on the device.. And my berry is my connection to the World. So after reading the review.. Im still a litte uncertain on what device I want to go with.. Because you can do alot on any new aged blackberry from the 8100 and up models. Im still going to weigh my options. Maybe because the Fuze has a 3.2 megapixel camera is what really drawn me to it.. And I cant remember what the quality is on the BOLD, I want to say that I think its just a 3.0 And if Im gonna get a phone, I definitely want it to have the best possible camera with video recording.. It would beat having to carry a regular digital camera around.. Does anyone else have any suggestions on which of the two phones I should get.. I must add that I do like the fact that with the Bold you can now, continue to talk on the phone while browsing the net.. But I also want a device where I can watch tv on because I do travel alot
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