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back to article HTC TyTN II smartphone

Don’t you just love it when a good product is tweaked ever-so-slightly to make it much better? Not just gadget tick-list bonus points, or fashion-conscious dabbling, but genuine changes that do the business. HTC's TyTN II, first announced back in August, is evidence that the Taiwanese manufacturer has done just that. Like the …

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Jobs Horns

Makes you wonder about the iPhone

What does the iPhone do that this phone doesn't do better?

You can write your own apps, you can buy it unlocked and it doesn't come with all the AppleFanboy-ness either!

I'll be having one then.

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Alert

All that much different to TyTn v1?

I own the original TyTn, rebranded and the front panel rejigged by our lovely T-Mobile people to remove a whole swathe of cool HTC and Microsoft provided software (thanks a bunch!). The chances are that Orange+T-Mob will permamently remove the HTC branding - they've always wanted it to appear like they came up with the whole thing.

I've since upped my TyTn v1 to Windows Mobile 6 - unofficially of course, but its opened the device up a lot from T-Mobiles standard crippling practices. But I'll gladly use a T-Mobile supplied WM6 ROM if they ever bother to release one.

Anyway...

So why would I specifically want to go to this from the TyTn 1??? I cant think of many reasons -

-The screen tilt thing to me is pointless, its about putting the phone down on a surface and typing - as if you'll be able to use more than two fingers when doing so. The keyboard is too small for any more fingers - the TyTn v1 has a slide out keyboard and thats just fine for holding and typing with thumbs, all is well with what I have right now.

-Is that CPU actually any better!? TyTn 1 has a 400Mhz Samsung, V2 has a Qualcomm 400Mhz, seems like a cost cutting exercise to me that might be detrimental, kind of like buying a 1Ghz transmeta CPU instead of a 1Ghz Intel or AMD for a desktop PC (going back a few years!) they are NOT the same speedwise.

-Built in GPS, yes would be very cool, but all I do right now for navigation is pull out my bluetooth GPS receiver, turn it on and put it under the windscreen. TomTom does the rest.

-3MP camera. Big whoop, image quality still only good for quick dirty snapping - I'm used to my Digital SLR @ 10MP! No flash = no good, I know it was only a hi brightness LED but at least u could get up close to illuminate something. No macro mode = no sale!

-I hear it still only comes with a 1350mAh battery, what with all the gubbins theyve stuffed into it, I'm not expecting it to last as well as the TyTn 1 - at least with my separate GPS receiver it has its own battery of course.

.

Now if they'd upped the screen to 640x480 (or even 480x320) with some kind of graphics acceleration, that would be cool. They upped the screen of the HTC Universal (Orange SPV M5000 I think) it seems without any acceleration because the whole Windows Mobile experience slowed to a crawl!

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Dead Vulture

Oranges are not the only fruit...

I appreciate that as Orange provided you this unit, it necessary to drop their name often, however it would not have kiled you to mention this is on T-Mobile (MDA Vario 3) and soon on Vodafone v1615 / VPA Compact V. (In the interest of balance)

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Headphone adaptor

HTC do make a 3.5mm headphone adaptor/sync splitter which plugs into the USB port, so you can then use any headphone you want and charge/sync at the same time. Additionally, they also do a remote, mic + 3.5mm adaptor which gives you handsfree with a normal set of headphones and ability to control Media Player via play/pause/skip buttons.

I love my Vario III (the T-Mobile variant) and it's far, far more featured than the iPhone!

Are you sure about the handset only price? I think it was more like £450 SIM free, rather than the £150 quoted at the end. I got mine for £80 on a £32 per month contract (before my line-rental discount).

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Dead Vulture

Oranges are not the only fruit...

I appreciate that as Orange provided you this unit, it necessary to drop their name often, however it would not have kiled you to mention this is on T-Mobile (MDA Vario 3) and soon on Vodafone v1615 / VPA Compact V. (In the interest of balance)

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MrT
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@ AC re:T-Mobile and Vario II WM6 upgrade...

T-Mob have told myself and several colleagues that they'll never be releasing the WM6 OX for Tytn/Vario II, despite HTC releasing the reference code back in January to all operators. Orange, on the otherhand, have responded that if enough business users demand it, HTC can produce a suitably citrus-flavoured version of WM6 for them. So, there's a chance all the ones supplied by my employer (at basically handset cost to the person getting it) will be upgraded.

However, for the rest who saved a shedload by getting the T-Mobile Web'n'walk version (and I only paid 50 quid for mine on a £25 contract back last December - just pick the greenest guy in the shop and start talking price-match; it should have been over £120), we have only one option - to follow MrVanx's HowTo and burn Black, Dutty's or one of half-a dozen other cooked WM6 firmware onto it (if only to unlock stuff like the GPS settings that T-Mobile hide away to sell more copies of CoPilot). Going from v1.05 to v1.38 or v1.41 on the radio code even on WM5 is a substantial improvement in itself - hardly any drop-out of signal, and much better on 3.5G.

Actually we have two options - one of my colleagues is already trying to blag an upgrade to the Vario III without changing contracts etc on the grounds that he needs something or other to do with WM6.

But at least this sort of thing is possible with this smartphone - for me it's the best handset I've owned. And for the photographers out there, best get the SE K800/810/850 range - a properly good camera-phone (my wife has one) - a camera with a phone added, rather than vice versa. BTW the camera is one of the weakest features on an iPhone, which doesn't even do video-capture - very surprising for such a media-rich handset.

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Get some of the benefits now!

for existing original TyTn owners, there is a great Flash ROM upgrade that moves up to WM6, makes much of the original RAM contents, optional, allows you to ditch lots of lame carrier based software, adds the home screen described here, also adds an iPhone like address book with the fast scroll iTouch feature.

The RAM is AT&T branded but loads of people with other carriers have used with success and you can bypass the AT&T customisation, details here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=317952

I've used it with AT&T, O2 and t-mobile SIMS

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed

I've got one of these. Had it a couple of weeks now. It's the real McCoy though; not a service provider branded one.

I concur that it is very nice indeed. My biggest problem so far has been with the WM6 software, rather than the device as such. The OS seems stable enough (which coming from a MS hater like me should be viewed as a huge compliment). The problem is that stuff that should be easy, isn't, and many of the standard WM6 apps are deficient in various (sometimes stupidly trivial, but annoying) ways.

Problems so far:

- File selection dialogue: Who the hell designed this? It's rubbish; you can't even see the whole file system!

- Contacts: If you have your contacts saved on the phone and on a sim card (for backup purposes) at the same time, the contacts list displays both, and you can't switch this off. apparently there is a registry hack for this, but there is no registry editor as standard!

- The email client is very limited in what it will talk to. Can't find any WM6 email client yet that will support client certificates (for authentication); pretty rubbish state of play on a mobile device (even FlexMail doesn't seem to work in this respect)

- The standard file explorer won't display file extensions and you can't change this. Also, it hides dll's completely! Not at all helpful when you are trying to install software on the thing. There are alternatives though - try "Total Commander"

- No RAM disk support. This is actually a serious omission because it means all your web stuff is cached in flash, which is slow and not particularly healthy for the flash. There is a RAM disk prog available elsewhere but it doesn't actually work that well on WM6

- The WM6 "internet explorer" is rather limited. Opera is better, but there are still issues.

- You can only add progs to the HTC "Today" app that are "registered" (presumably in that dreaded abortion called the registry). You can't select an arbitrary executable (some apps don't need/use an "install" procedure and so are only bare execs).

I think many of the above problems can be fixed with various registry hacks, or installing 3rd party apps. Thing is though, by the time you've bought all these new apps to make-up for deficiencies in the in-built apps, you could be doubling the price of the phone, and some things are just broken with no means to fix them! These are mostly WM6 issues though, and not necessarily problems just with the TyTN II.

...and just to prove I don't spend my entire life moaning, here are some good points...

- Keyboard is very good, though considering it's running a Windows OS, the absence of a '\' character is a teeny bit annoying (but the same could be said for the lack of several other characters too - there's only so much you can do with such a tiny keyboard).

- The built-in GPS is great! BTW - get "Turbo GPS". It's free and really good (if you like that sort of thing).

- WiFi works very well, as does the 3G stuff

- Battery life is very good

- The rest of the phone is also great! :-)

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Re: Headphone adaptor

"Additionally, they also do a remote, mic + 3.5mm adaptor which gives you handsfree with a normal set of headphones and ability to control Media Player via play/pause/skip buttons."

This is worth mentioning, as it means that you can not only keep the phone safe in a pocket (or in the supplied case) and receive phone calls using the mic, but you can listen to music on decent "real" headphones and Play/Pause, change volume and skip forwards and backwards through the tracks. Much better than the bundled set.

"I love my Vario III (the T-Mobile variant) and it's far, far more featured than the iPhone!"

Same here. The HSDPA really widdles all over the iPhone. Broadband for mobiles!

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And another thing

Shame on Orange for removing the HTC Home plugin - it's much better than the crappy Orange lashup or even the default Windows Mobile Today screen!

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Aerial

The original TyTN (SPV 3100) was infamous for having terrible signal reception, which put a lot of people off, especially on Orange, who don't have the best signal strength in a lot of places.

Is the TyTN II any better?

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T-Mobile & WM6 for TYTN v1

I was promised by T-Mobile that WM6 would be made available for the old TYTN when I took out my contract in June.

Last week I downloaded a WM6 RUU file found via xda-developers.com that sure looked like the right thing, and it has been deployed, and I have a UK T-Mobile "branded" WM6 running now...

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What does the iPhone do that this phone doesn't do better?

I assume it actually works for more than ten minutes without locking up or dropping a signal. I'm also guessing the iPhone has a user interface worthy of the name too. And one which doesn't require fannying about with a bloody stylus.

O! HTC Hermes 300, how do I hate thee?

Let me count the ways...

1. Atrocious GUI. If this is really the best Microsoft can do after umpteen versions, they truly deserve to lose to Apple and Symbian. The only reason WM6 may do a better job of this is because it couldn't possibly be any worse than WM5.

2. It's a bloody brick of a machine. Yes, it has a keyboard. Big whoop: it's such a painful process just trying to _get_ to the text message and email apps, I've long since stopped bothering with either.

3. It's unstable and buggy as hell. Seriously: I have _never_ had a computer crash on me as often as this thing does. I've had Windows ME PCs run for longer than this phone without falling over. This damned thing will cheerfully drop calls, complain that a perfectly good phone number now no longer exists or isn't even a valid phone number (huh?) and just plain crash or lock up, requiring a battery removal to reset.

"Install one of the hacked ROMs!" I hear people cry. BZZZT! When a phone sells (unsubsidised) for £400+, I f*cking well expect perfection for that kind of money. At the very least, I expect a decent QA process. (This is, incidentally, the second Vario II I've had; my first died completely within a month.)

So yeah: this phone has lots of features. Unfortunately, features alone aren't enough. It's the interface, stupid.

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Si

There's no way I'd have another one of these

My Orange SPV M3100 was utter rubbish, it would crash all the time, especially when using Wi-Fi. I tried to get it replaced but because Orange couldn't replicate the problem they refused to change it. From now on it's Nokia all the way, I'll leave the PDAs to HP- my 5 year old iPaq still does a better job than these "smart" phones.

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Anonymous Coward

T-Mobile mostly kept HTC branding

The Vario III is mostly the same as the HTC version - even included the HTC Homescreen - unlike Orange. There's a few icon changes, but nothing major and nothing horrible like Orange did, or T-Mobile used to do with older HTC devices. Quite subtle this time - nothing to complain about.

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Excellent timing

I was looking at upgrading to this phone (as a T-Mobile Vario III), cheers for the review!

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Best.Phone.Ever

Absolutely love mine...

If you have one, make sure you get WIMP for it. Kind of like IIWPO for WM5 in that it will SMS a number of your choice if anyone changes owner info or SIM (ie if it is stolen) but it will also give you the GPS location of the phone too ;)

Review is a bit old though, they have been out for 3 months or more.

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@Mark Fenton

I'm having trouble understanding why you'd bring up the iPhone for a htc review?

Just can't forget about it ay?

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Sat Nav

I'm told the Vario doesn't come with Sat Nav out of the box, is it possible to install tomtom or similar on it?

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Anonymous Coward

T-Mobile Data Plans

I'm surprised with all the people lauding the TyTN2 that no-one has mentioned the data price plans yet. T-Mobile's basic plan does not 'stop' you using the phone as a modem, it's just not allowed.

I'm actually using the TyTN2 on T-Mobile to post this, using the phone as a modem. OK, I have upgraded to WM6, without T-Mobile's help or support (or permission :-)) but sharing an Internet connection from WM6 is a hell of a easier than WM5!

I have to admit, unless you really want GPS (and even if you don't have a map next to you, Google maps on the TyTN2 works fine, do you really need some womans voice telling you when to turn left and right?) there is no other reason to take the new TyTN over the old one.

Although, I've had this for 14 months now, it's looking very battered, certainly not a 'fashion' phone any more. When my contract ends, if T-Mobile offer me a Vario3, I'll take it in a heartbeat!

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Crappy usability initially but great phone

I got one of these from Orange and promptly removed the terrible orange home screen. I installed certain free packages out there that allow me to have the HTC homescreen, plus 'touchflo-like' functionality - I can now use my thumb to control all major functions - swipe up to bring a customisable menu, swipe right for contacts and so on. Also other little things that make it almost iphone-esqe.

But I had to work hard at it; I probably did more research and used more midnight oil to get to this state than I do for most computers, and I'm sorry but its scandalous that MS have not thought about this kind of usability yet - do they expect EVERYTHING to be done with a stylus? Idiots.

The only thing good I can say about WM6 is that, if you have the patience, its absolutely customisable, not like the crap iphone people need to go through to get apps to run.

I'm very happy with it now; Skype works, FingerFriendlyFriends is great, I can use Egress to get vid-casts...GPS is nice, and so is the MicroSD card slot!

I'd still have liked the iphone, but I'm not paying that kind of money - yet. I'll wait for v2. The thing that put me off is the keyboard doesnt seamlessly work in landscape mode. I have fat fingers.

Cheers!

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AT&T Tilt on the other side of the pond

Cool phone. Got it here in the US a couple of days ago, branded here as the AT&T Tilt. Although when looking at the screenshots, the little camera on the front of the phone is missing on the Tilt.

Two really annoying things:

- when using the keyboard it's sometimes easy to push one of the two select buttons near the bottom of the tilting screen. That opens the menus on the screen, and if you keep typing you will activate some of these menu options. Not so nice :-/

- Deleting items from your contact list, using the pointer. Somehow, after selecting one of the items from your list, the list resets itself to the top of the screen. At the same moment the phone will delete the currently selected item... which is now the item at the top of your list :-/

Other than that, i like it. For a long time I stayed away from all these smart phones and all ('Smart phones? Bah! Humbug!'), but i really like this one.

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MrT
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@ Shaun, Steve Foster

:Shaun - most will bundle TomTom, but only the really basic one where you've still got to shop for maps (even for the zone you're in). Options: T-Mobile wil sell one with CoPilot on, but to be honest any satnav software for WM6 will work (TomTom, SmartST etc) so long as you can see the GPS icon (unlocks with a registry key change, but there's digging to do for that). I use SmartST from an old Navman PiN570, and MemoryMap for times away from the blacktop stuff, although the maps for that do take a touch more space - like 3.6GB for all of UK, rather than a few hundred MB for street nav.

:Steve Foster - anything from XDA-Developers isn't the official T-Mobile release - it'll be official if it arrives from T-Mobile on a CD with their logos all over it. Guys like JasJamming (Black) and the rest who cook ROMs are on the ball when incorporating whatever customisations folk require (he even used to package about four different versions for a few big providers, but stopped a while back). Often it's simple - the T-Mobile icon bar with Web'n'walk etc on it is just one file (IIRC it's a dll) that can be added to any mix. The trend these days is to provide a stripped out WM6 image, then a bunch of CAB files to install whatever you want.

Still, in the end you've customised your Vario to become something you want - not hard, but the method is full of points where the device could end up being bricked, so in reality any official WM6 upgrade would probably involve an invitation letter to take the phone to an agent to cut down the risk of 'dead' handsets.

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I miss my HTC

Been using an HTC phone for years, The XDA mini s was the best phone i ever owned.

Made a bit of a boob and got the orbit rather than wait for the TYTN2, then got out of my contract with o2 and got an N95. Really wish i'd gone for the TYTN2, GPS that works and amazingly (considering) better battery life than the N95!

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Vario 1 upgrade

Cool! With all the slating of the Vario 2, the jump from Vario 1 (which must be worse than the 2) to 3 must be a massive leap! Looking to upgrade my Vario 1 WM5 to Vario 3.

I've grown to love the Vario after intially taking a contract with t-mobile and insisting that I didn't want a phone, I was quite happy with my P910i at the time, I reluctantly opted for a free Vario. Sat in the cupboard for 6 months before I tried it. Went back in the cupboard and came back out for a concerted effort. Hardly put it down since!

Upgrade from 1 to 3 worthwhile?

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Boffin

...versus XDA Exec...

I've got an XDA Exec (HTC Universal, rebranded).

You're singing the praises of the TytnII..but tell me why it lacks a 640x480 LCD (the Exec has it)...tell me why is lacks a faster processor (Exec is >500MHz).

Basically, other than GPS and MicroSD/HC, 128MB Ram the rest is Below what the Exec offers... but chances of O2 rebranding a better Exec...nil, cos they sunk their minds into an iPhone...which lacks most of the above (inc.Exec features)

Oh...and I managed to successfully upgrade my Exec from WindowsMobile5 to WindowsMobile6...so the Exec still beats the TytnII for keeping up appearances.

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@Paul Isaac

VGA is available on other PDA phones, it's HTC who are dragging their feet.

Look at the Eten PDA phones if you want VGA.

As for the CPU MHz, you can't compare the MHz on ARM CPUs. Some are dual core, some are faster at lower clock speeds.

Plus you have to take into the account the speed of the embedded graphics controller.

The XDA Exec is pretty damn slow, it looses to pretty much anything when benchmarked.

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Jobs Horns

Battery Life

I have had this phone for about 6 weeks now, branded as HTC and using it on the O2 network. Absolutely fantastic phone

Positives

• GPS is way better than the N95

• General ease of use is great

• Camera is good for a phone

(Too those griping it’s only 3MP - IT IS A PHONE FFS NOT a camera!)

• Syncs with 04 BMW 5 Series (FULL sync, inc contacts. Out the box)

• WAY WAY better than my iPhone, which is slow to use, slow to download anything more than a web pages and utterly useless for anything other than a SHOW toy! It is GPRS argh!!

Negatives

• Battery Life SUX

(On average I have to charge every night or wake up to a flat battery)

• Contacts do not merge well when you log into MSN Messenger

• Bluetooth headsets are quiet, whether a headset or BMW Bluetooth kit

• It is a true Microsoft OS (still have to reboot occasionally)

On a general note, this is the best smart phone there is on the market today, it really doesn’t need better resolution, photo and video performance are really good and you don’t notice the degradation.

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@All that much different to TyTn v1?

I totally agree. My TyTN 1 (actually, Dopod 838Pro which is a TyTN 1 rebranded) can pretty much do all the things listed. 3MP camera vs 2.1MP? Pfft, I don't usually capture photos above 640x480 for space and "stability" reasons (I have excessively unsteady hands and find that the smaller the picture I capture, the sharper it is). Plus The TyTN II camera has no flash (not that I ever use the flash on my TyTN 1 anyway) and macro (macro mode of the TyTN 1 has become pretty much one of the most used features). Sure, it has more RAM, which is a plus point. And I'd love the GPS (incidently, the TyTN 1 has an onboard GPS receiver, but HTC disabled it at hardware level- read, cut the pins from the chip). But still, the TyTN 1 is the best phone I've ever used and certainly beats the iPhone on any level. Heck, I don't know if you can shoehorn a FLV player into the iPhone. On the TyTN, TCPMP's final free version + unofficial FLV plugin does the trick very nicely.

@MrT: You can flash in HTC's reference code to your TyTN provided you unlock it first if you're willing to give up the warranty of your phone. I pretty much did that to mine (Dopod's code was a joke, it doesn't work with my operator's Mobile TV service and was awfully slow. Plus, it came with games I'd never touch with a ten foot pole, and a MP3 player which was crappy and redundant because 1. There's already Windows Media Player, and 2. I prefer TCPMP anyways).

@Paul Isaac: Up to tastes I guess. I didn't find 640x480 graphics and faster CPUs a priority. For me, it's connectivity (more bands, and availability of HSDPA, 3G and EDGE, the better) and a slide-out keyboard.

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MrT
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TCPMP

@AC: Absolutely agree there - I use it with the FLV plugin to play YouTube movies on the handset, but ones I've collected rather than playing them live. Most teleco's idea of a decent package just isn't. That's why I like the look of Black Satin Light plus choice of app (like Adobe Reader 2.0 instead of the ClearVue PDF thing). Oh, and cut pins to disable GPS? Got a link for this??

Most cameraphones would benefit from a proper flash - tiny lenses need good light and even those hi-bright LEDs don't cut it.

@ John Goodwin: agree about battery life, but at least we can change it for a higher capacity one - the 1500mAh one fits inside the standard case, otherwise higher capacities add a bit of thickness.

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Anonymous Coward

Love mine

Had it for a couple of months now. The GPS is surprisingly good and although it IS bulky at least I don't have to carry around a mobile, a GPS receiver and my ipaq.

Having said that it isn't for everyone; my dad would struggle, for instance (tbh sometimes I do.)

Microsoft really need to kick their PPC UI people up the arse. There's no point trying to shoehorn a desktop UI onto a device with a 3" screen and icons that are 16pixels high. I understand they are selling the Windows brand, hence the reason for the look-and-feel, but it's not suited to a device this size in its current format.

But on the whole, it's great - but maybe that's because I knew what to expect. 3G data (T-Moblie) is a revelation.

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@MrT

> Oh, and cut pins to disable GPS? Got a link for this??

http://wiki.xda-developers.com/index.php?pagename=Hermes_GPS_FAQ

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Stop

What price ? Not gbp 150

More like gbp 450 when you look on line,

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great phone

best £15 i have ever spent, i got it on a 12 month with orange too , i have been a htc user for 5 years and this is great

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Reviewer unfamiliar with this business

Simon Lorne wrote"

"A whopping 2.8in, 240 x 320 (QVGA), 65,536-colour display promises good times for video and picture playback, as well as plenty of real estate for viewing and working on emails and other documents"

Get out of here, noob, why they keep you here ? QVGA is not suitable for browsing and email. As well as 2.8" just leaves a lot of space for surrounding plastic

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