Friday, May 09, 2008

Touch take 2

I have'nt blogged about devices for a while, what better time for an update...

There's some posturing going on by the big 5 handset manufacturers to have the best flagship, high end, multi-feature phone for their 2008 portfolio - this includes touch screen devices.

Nothing new there of course.

But, since last year's iPhone, the race has intensified to get something close to the user experience it provides 12 months on. We are now seeing the second generation of iphone-like-clones hit the market and if the rumours are true we'll shortly see Apple's second offering too.

Haptic feedback is appearing and more emphasis is obviously going into the user interface and user experience.

Slimness of device has long since been to be a a differentiating feature in the flagship models.

The HTC Diamond (MDA Compact IV), Samsung F480, LG KF750(Secret) are all launching now or very soon and further devices coming later this year include the Samsung Instinct(i900), Sony Ericsson X1 and rumoured Blackberry 9500).

All of the above have great form factors (I particularly like the HTC and Samsung,- the latter being very similar to the LG Prada). They're, thin and small, with large touch screens.

The haptic feedback on the F480 works well and tapping around the interface is simple and response time fast (but the transitions are too slow). Typing a text or email with one hand/thumb is possible since it supports T9-equivalent input and the haptics helped here as did the sensitivity of the screen.

Usually I'm less a fan of the stylus based touch screen devices (like the HTC Diamond /Compact IV) as I find them fiddly and very difficult to use single-handedly even to make calls. However, HTC have introduced their TouchFLO 3D finger based interface (in a nod to the iPhones interface) to address this and there are also third party installable options. This makes the phone much easier to use through a simpler, attractive interface than the traditional windows mobile menu based interface.

With other touch screen devices coming from Nokia, Motorola and devices running Android the second half of the year will see things heat up further in this area.

If touch based devices are not your thing then there's also some great non touch based handsets coming as well, both consumer and enterprise, such as the Blackberry 9000, E71 and N96. I'm sure Sony Ericsson will put some strong top end non touch based devices out too.