AT&T Fuze Review
And to help you decide whether it’s worthy your attention or not, we already have a full AT&T Fuze review for you.
I had the opportunity to get my hands on an AT&T Fuze a couple days ago to demo and review in time for the anticipated launch of November 11. The AT&T Fuze is Big Blue’s version of the HTC Touch Pro, a device that has already been available outside North America and was launched recently by Sprint. This particular phone is replacing the year-old AT&T Tilt that overall was a good phone but due for a face lift.
My impressions of the Fuze are largely based in comparison to the iPhone, which I have been using as my primary phone for the last 3 months. As such I have developed a bias against Windows Mobile devices in general, but must be perfectly honest when I say my first impressions of AT&T Fuze have been much better than originally expected.
Let’s dive in.
AT&T Fuze Design
The Fuze is quite a bit smaller than the Tilt at 4.02″ x 2.01″ x 0.71″. It is still a little more weighty (5.8 oz) than I hoped, but I did enjoy the fact that it easily fits in the palm of my hand without feeling bulky or clunky. HTC opted for a more glossy black look this time, with a rectangular look instead of rounded. The back of the Fuze has a style similar to that of the Touch Diamond, with triangles positioned in a interesting manner. I felt it was a unique twist and a bold move, considering the Fuze’s target audience will be more business-oriented.
On the front we see the touchscreen using up most of the real estate with a basic 4-button interface on the bottom: home, previous screen, call and end. In between the buttons we find the direction pad; there is no joystick or optical mouse on this one, just a simple 4-direction pad with a select button in the middle.
Sliding out the screen is a smooth process, and will reveal the QWERTY keyboard in a 5-row design instead of the 4-row designs of previous models — thus, the keys are a little smaller. While the keys are smaller, they are raised and distinct in order to make your typing experience better. On the AT&T version there are plenty of shortcut buttons that can send you to various programs with ease, such as messaging, Windows Media Player, email, and calendar, among others.
A stylus is included, even though it’s just as easy to use your finger on the touchscreen, iPhone-style. It is designed in a way that, when the phone is on standby, pulling the stylus out will awake the Fuze from its slumber. The stylus is also magnetic, which means when you put the stylus back into the phone, the magnet will help push it back in for you.
Under the back cover, you will find a microSD slot — under the cover but above the battery, thank heavens — as well as your battery and SIM card.
AT&T Fuze Display
Upon turning the phone on for the first time, I discovered a breathtaking view. The screen of the Fuze has full VGA resolution — in comparison, the Blackberry Bold’s screen is only half VGA (and even on that screen I loved the clarity). It’s bright and easy to see, and the colors come out brilliantly.
The touch aspect of the screen works out rather well, though it took me a little while to get used to. Having used an iPhone for a few months, I was used to a higher amount of sensitivity; on the Fuze, the screen is not as sensitive so it takes a more firm touch to get a reaction. Interestingly enough, it’s just as easy to use your finger on this touchscreen as the included stylus.
AT&T Fuze on-screen keyboard
Cleverly, the touch keyboard can employ several different styles to fit your needs. By default you can type on the QWERTY the normal way, or change it to the numbers screen and you can choose numbers or 8 screens’ worth of symbols just in case you need a special one. You can also choose to do letter recognizer — a graffiti-style input method — or go with the numeric keypad and do predictive text. I also enjoyed the auto-correct functions that predicts what you are really trying to say, thus allowing you to type faster without worrying about having to back up and retype a word you spelled wrong.
I had few problems using the keyboard with my fingers. From time to time I typed the wrong one, but I feel this is something I would get used to after a few days of general use. However, if I’m typing a long message or email, I will just slide out the physical keyboard instead. But the touch keyboard is great for faster messaging.
AT&T Fuze TouchFLO
While the TouchFLO interface is nothing new, it was my first experience using a TouchFLO device. TouchFLO differs from a normal touchscreen in that it allows the user to slide their finger up/down, left/right and have the screen move with it in a smooth “flowing” manner. I found the TouchFLO to be a breath of fresh air in comparison to other Windows Mobile touchscreens I have used in the past.
When looking at the Today screen, I found a bar on the bottom (just above the soft keys) with several tabs, each one highlighting a different application. By touching the bar and sliding my finger to the right, I was able to get quick access to my email, internet, texting, and pictures via these tabs.
TouchFLO adds a lot of animations and other finger gestures to Windows Mobile to increase the user experience. For example, accessing the internet takes you to Opera which gives you full HTML webpages, and to zoom in you just need to double-tap the area you want to zoom in on. The weather app is an amusing use of animation; on a rainy day, raindrops will appear on the screen and a windshield wiper brushes them off for you.
Overall, TouchFLO is a must-have for a Windows device. The fluid movements and animations certainly made me feel more at home.
I want to take a moment to go over some of the features that stand out on the Fuze.
- 3.2 MP camera with video capability
- YouTube application (an “easter egg” — you have to dig deep into File Explorer to find it, but it’s there!)
- Business Card scanner using the phone’s camera
- On-device printing app — both USB and Bluetooth connections so you can print directly from the phone
- Voice recognition and voice notifications
- TV Out capability — show powerpoint presentations on a projector via the Fuze
- Internet Sharing feature — tether phone to computer for use as a modem without downloading AT&T’s software. Your computer will automatically recognize your phone as an internet source
- Accelerometer — comes included with games that emphasize this feature
- Automatic sound profile — sets phone to vibrate during your appointments, turns it back to normal at the end
- Blackberry Connect and Direct Push support in addition to Exchange
Not to mention there are thousands of third party applications out there that amplify the usefulness of the Fuze.
GPS and WiFi come included, as well as pretty much every Bluetooth profile you can think of.
AT&T Fuze Music Player
With the aid of TouchFLO, the music tab looks eerily similar to Apple’s CoverFlow, and the library itself is easy to manuever around. The tabs on the bottom are geared toward finding the music you want to play by artist, song, album, and even allows you to make a playlist directly on your phone.
Worried about space? While the Fuze packs around 512 MB of internal space, it allows for MicroSD cards with up to 32 GB capacity. This means it can be used as a primary music player if needs be, as well as a video player.
In the box I found a headset adaptor with 3 ports: 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm, and USB. While it would be nice to have all these ports in the phone itself, I do like the fact that HTC took the time to include an adaptor giving me the ability to listen to music through my normal headphones while charging up the phone at the same time.
AT&T Fuze Camera
The phone’s camera is wonderful. It is 3.2 MP with autofocus and a light (not true flash, but at least there is a light). I was also able to take panoramic shots and record video. As a way of showing off how crystal clear the pictures come out, most of the pictures in this review were taken with a AT&T Fuze.
AT&T Fuze Voice notifications
This neat feature gives you the ability to have a virtual assistant inform you when an email or text comes in, who is calling you at the moment, or that an appointment is approaching; this is all done vocally.
AT&T Fuze Performance
Under the hood we find a 528 MHz MSM7201a processor which, for my use, was plenty fast. I did not have any troubles with the OS freezing on me, though that may have just been because I didn’t have too many apps open at the same time. Speaker volume was high and I didn’t have any trouble with others recognizing my voice during calls.
While I did not have the chance to test out total battery life, it is rated for 6.3 hours of talk time and 462 hours (19 days) of standby. Not bad for an all-purpose device that has so much going on. It’s actually rather surprising, as the included battery is only 1320 mAh — though an extended battery should be made available not too long after launch.
In conclusion, I cannot say whether I have found an “iPhone killer” — that will be for each individual to decide — but I came out very impressed by the features, functionality and performance of the Fuze. The TouchFLO interface was easy and smooth to use, the multimedia functions worked like a charm, and was easy to sync up with my computer.