HTC Pure Final Review


The Pure is a solid, full-featured Windows Mobile phone, and I give it a hearty recommendation for existing WinMo tech freaks like myself. If I wasn’t locked into a service at work, I would likely get one. My wife wanted to keep it (her original Razr is finally dying), but I sadly had to pack it up and send it back. I was very happy with the speed and responsiveness of the Pure, and definitely like the few interface upgrades in 6.5. The web browsing experience is much improved, but page loads are still a bit sluggish. Some of the screens are cramped, and pulling out the stylus is still required due to some legacy windows/apps, but the phone’s stability was rock solid. I plan to round this up with the main features of the phone (dialing, messaging, GPS, multimedia, and apps), and post a brief summary in this final installment. You can see my previous posts here and here, which mainly focused on hardware and the UI features of the Pure.


Phone Features

Phone1 Phone2  Phone3 I had the Pure for almost a month, and used it about as much as my regular phone. For comparison, I have a work- provided Blackberry Curve, which I think is one of the best messaging devices I have ever used (sorry Microsoft). As merely a phone/email device, RIM has earned their ranking in the market with an excellent product. The Pure does not do quite as well as the Curve in pure messaging abilities (no hardware keyboard/thumbwheel are a coupla obvious reasons). Both phones offer voice command, and I found that they could be equally infuriating recognizing my inputs. Dialing is not that easy on the Curve (the number keypad is pretty small), but not that easy on the Pure either. When outdoors in bright sunlight this was especially true, as it was tough to type accurately due to screen washout. If you are a righty, like me, I would also recommend NOT picking a password that starts with a left-edge letter (like upper-case Q). When trying to enter my password single-handed using my thumb (not while driving of course…), I kept getting W or other letters. I almost always had to pull over and use stylus for this. The speakerphone is pretty decent-sounding at high volumes and the phone provided good audio quality in general during calls. TouchFLO again struts it’s stuff showing good integration between contacts and phone functions.


Map Features

VoiceCommandGPSATTNAV  nav1 I did not get much chance to use the map features besides between my home and my work (which is like a 20-minute drive). The AT&T Navigator software is in a word, awesome, with 3-D map views and turn-by-turn navigation that worked really well. Again, I chafed a bit over the voice command issues (the software was always getting spoken locations wrong). But it made up for that by also handily interrogating traffic conditions for my route. The app is pretty thumb friendly, and my only other complaint was that it would not tilt to landscape. I know I keep beating this drum about “landscape”, but what can I say? I like landscape mode! Is that so wrong?


Mail and Messaging

chat2 WinMo still has a few warts in the messaging department that have already been pointed out in previous posts. The Pure, however tries to overcome much of these with better integration through TFLO. Threaded messaging is certainly a good start though, and quick messaging shortcuts in the home screens also help. I used gmail imap configuration to get push updates for my personal mail account, but was only able to evaluate ActiveSync-based transfer for my corporate mail due to security policies at my company. The BBerry has a most useful ability to meld my personal and business e-mails together in one folder view. The Pure could not do this, unfortunately (or I simply didn’t find this option). The mail apps in the Pure  benefit greatly from gestures. Even the native apps allow you to gesture between messages/app views. The notification area tells you when a new message arrives, but doesn’t provide a preview…



mspotmusicsync PLayoff Lot’s of apps and options here, including some AT&T services that require subscriptions. The Pure has built-in local, streaming and service-based player capabilities. The audio player in the TFLO is pretty handy, but getting songs from my storage card into the library almost had me standing on my head. The library feature in WinMo’s media player managed to index every .wav file (like some 300 sounds from programs I have installed there), but somehow didn’t find my music folder?!! I eventually ended up navigating directly to each song to get them added to the library. It would have probably been easier to have added them through A/S to the “My Documents” or music folder on the local device storage. AT&T added a phone sync program of their own, but this requires you to download and configure yet another PC-based application. 



I can hardly resist doing a little head-to-head action between newer phones and my iPod touch (2nd generation). The touch is the 800-lb gorilla of media and entertainment portables (and really much more) at this time. So, I transferred a set of songs to both Pure and iPod for a little side-by-side test. The Pure’s small speaker easily rivaled the iPod touch in clarity and even pushed a little higher output. Through my noise-cancelling headphones, both devices produced excellent sound quality. The Pure did not come with earphones so I decided to use my own battery-powered ones (with noise-cancellation, etc)for this test. I do not have a stereo BT headset, unfortunately. I honestly could not detect any difference in playback quality on either device ( I used AAC for the iPod, and WMA format for the Pure, both at 128kbps encoding rate).


The Pure includes an FM radio application and tuner, and it was great to be able to charge the battery though the dongle--with my PC speakers attached—and listen to my favorite FM radio stations at the same time. The app will scan through the frequencies, find stations and set up available station presets. You initially have to plug-in headphones to get the app to start, but after starting, you can change output to the external phone speaker. I have a bit of a complaint about the dongle, actually. It’s great that it provides different audio connector types, but I don’t want to have to drag it around with me (and would probably lose it eventually). I would have added a single 3.5mm jack on the phone itself, and provided a dongle as well. I was able to charge the phone with my Bberry charger/miniUSB cable, but if you want to connect the Pure to your PC, you will need the included extUSB cable.

xmchannel MobiTV2 MobiTV3

AT&T added a bunch of streaming video and audio apps aimed clearly at the under-40 crowd. I have XM radio, so I might consider the XM radio service if the phone came with a complete car kit that worked with my existing satellite radio setup. However, I would probably skip most of these apps. They are not finger friendly at all, and share the same poor interface design that makes it especially difficult to select from even with the stylus. The mobiTV app offered many of my favorite TV shows, however, so I might look the other way for this one application, but the others I would pass on. However if you are under 40 with good eyesight and excellent motor control (and don’t mind paying a huge data bill), you might go for them.



In this case, I mean third-party apps installed to the phone by the user (as opposed to those included in the ROM). I installed apps to the Pure in 3 ways. In many respects, this is where WinMo clearly kicks ass (IMO), and shows it’s maturity and flexibility as a mobile operating system. The new Marketplace app is sort of (yawn) interesting, but it’s obviously new, and vendors are still going through registration rigmarole to get their apps to it, so still a little sparse. Time will tell if it will be a huge game-changer for WM users. The interface is kind of blah, in my opinion, but there is a mix of affordable and no cost apps there already. WM app development was much more open from the beginning, so App stores (plural) like Handango have filled this need, but vendors/developers can easily offer WM apps for download through their own web sites (no phone jailbreaking required to install).

MarketPlaceI installed a free news reader app (AP Mobile) from the MS Marketplace as a simple test candidate. I experienced no malfunctions, and I found the App quite useful in staying up-to-date on current events, but actually the phone’s included (NewsBreak) RSS reader has more desirable options (like the ability to import my own OPML-saved feed lists). The second option I used to get apps on the Pure (actually much like the first) was to navigate to a vendor site (one of my fav mobile vendors: Wizcode) using IE mobile and download software myself using a typical download URL (in this case Photocopy Mobile). That was my plan, anyway--It didn’t work—IE did not recognize the download link. Opera worked fine, and allowed me to download and install the software. When I get some time, will check why that may have occurred??

downloadprob dwphotocopy2

I have to take a moment to give this new Wizcode product some props (see screenshots below), as it’s pretty neat. It allows you to use your phone’s camera app to take pix and compile them into PDF documents (and then send them out via e-mail, etc.). The current version only converts pictures, but an update will soon be available that allows you to insert text as well. The Pure’s excellent 5MP camera allowed me to turn images of our magazine into easily readable PDF files. Wizcode also offers many other valuable tweaking and maintenance utilities that are highly recommended (see my review here of storage card tools).

PhotoCopy5 PhotoCopy6Share

FileExplorer The final way I transferred and installed apps to the Pure was via storage card. I have a pretty big library of WM apps in the original cab installer format (many of which offer free 30-day trials) saved on my microSD cards. The mucho additional cool thing about WinMo is that many apps allow you to install them to storage card. Programs also often save user files/settings into the same path as the binary files. By transferring the card between handhelds, you can access the apps on another device. You simply navigate to the folder with the “.exe” file that runs the app and tap on it to start it (if it warns you it is not trusted, run it anyway), and most apps should run without incident (no installation required). Using this method, you can then create shortcuts to the apps you wish to run from the card instead of actually installing them. I’m not saying I would, uh, ever do this, and this does not work with every application…Oh and probably violates your license agreement, especially if you make copies for all your devices, etc. It could also cause instability, and possible crashes in WinMo, so I suggest you make a good backup of your phone (I recommend a third-party app called SPB Backup).

 Anthelion Anth2 My favorite WM game is Anthelion (a 3D space shooter), and using the stylus was the only obvious way to control the game, but it was still pretty fun. Flux Challenge (a futuristic racing game) also ran pretty well on the Pure, but both these games suffer without a D-Pad for control. Hopefully, similar games will soon be available that support tilt control methods, not to mention the full resolution of the new screen. The Pure ran apps like a champ, and even multiple apps ran fine in parallel up to around the 80% mark before the phone started to show signs of sluggishness. I had also been filling the phone’s memory with on-line content, so I finally resorted to a soft reset (one of about 2 or 3 I might have used all month during my tests) to quickly clean up the app space, but Windows Mobile did not lock up once during that time. I also browsed through settings for the various browsers, newsreaders, and such and deleted any cached content.


Other Cool Stuff

Tools RDP ReadPDF Windows gets a shout out for throwing in a good mix of useful tools and applications (one of which being Mobile Office, though not actually linked here) in practically every build since the first version. I used the built-in remote desktop to get to one of my other home networked PCs and view a file, and the lite Adobe Reader to view the docs I created using Photocopy mobile. The file explorer application is probably the one useful feature in Windows Mobile that cannot be found on most other non-WM phones, probably because vendors worry about users getting root access on the filesystem. Yes, it’s a scary thought, but most WinMo devices, by default, have their entire filesystem in a browseable state. The system path for Windows will not let you manipulate OS runtime files, however, so it is not completely open to changes. I have fixed and tweaked more than a couple WM problems because I had easy access to the filesystem and registry. Several other apps are linked via the shortcut to the AT&T “AppCenter” and the “Apps” links, including a few more games, a Facebook application, and various subscription-based apps.


Battery Performance

I did not perform any formal battery tests on the Pure. The 1100mAh battery is suggested to run: 20 days of standby time, and 5 hours of talk time according to the specsheet, but I used it on a par with my BB Curve on a daily basis. It performed at about the same level as the Curve, requiring a charge every few days or so with moderate use. I kept the phone and data connections active for most of the time, but would turn them off by switching to the Airplane mode profile when reading ebooks or playing games in order to conserve battery life. The screen has a light sensor/dimmer, but I tend to disable this and use the lowest light setting to conserve power. The Curve has a timed nightly shutdown feature that I wish Windows Mobile shared, but the Pure does turn off the screen after a few minutes of inactivity, which helps conserve power as well.


Wow, it is hard to sum up a phone like the Pure that has so much capability and a powerful mobile OS like 6.5. Honestly, I know there are many features of both the newer OS and the Pure itself that I did not cover here. I tried to touch every part of the system in my evaluation, but for example in the case of stereo Bluetooth, I admit I lacked the necessary hardware to do a test. My overall impression is that the Pure is a winner. The device is only a somewhat winner in terms of the more gesture-centric aim of Microsoft’s 6.5 update, but getting better. It is a winner for HTC in terms of packing in good features. It is not such a winner in terms, I think, of bringing in a bunch of converts from other platforms. If you already like WinMo, and are in a position to upgrade, I recommend the Pure. If you are not a current WinMo fanboy or girl like me, and not familiar with these devices, you should be geeky enough to read the Pure specs at least and then strongly consider what you really want. If you just want texting and phone functions, you probably want another phone. If you want multimedia apps or slick player features, etc, you might want a Zune HD or an iPod touch. The Pure can bring together all these capabilities, but the experience is still not completely consistent. A thumbs up for existing WM power users for sure is in order, and 50-50 for savvy mobile tech users on the fence about their next phone. Non-geek noobs may be a bit confused, intimidated and nonplussed by the Pure, especially when they must stray outside of TFLO and pull out the stylus. The Pure is available with 2-year contract from AT&T for $149.99 (after rebates). Go here to learn more or get one…

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