Review: AT&T Pure

 

AT&T has a habit of occasionally pulling rabbits out of hats. The Samsung Jack came out of left field with very little advanced notice, and it appears AT&T has followed the same tradition by pushing out the AT&T Pure with a mere three days' advance notice.

The Pure is AT&T's version of HTC's Touch Diamond 2.  We've already looked at the European version of the Touch Diamond 2 and we were interest to see how well AT&T adapted this Windows phone to the U.S. market. The Pure is an impressive Windows phone but some already have written it off because of one missing feature.

Follow the break to see what the AT&T Pure has offer and if it can overcome that one missing feature.

 First Impressions

Out of the box, the first impression of the Pure is that it's light. Measuring 4.33 inches by 2.10 inches by 0.59 inches and weighing in at just over 4 ounces, the Pure feels good in the hand. It's noticeably smaller than it's bigger brother, the Tilt2/Touch Pro 2, but it's not too small.

The Pure is very comparable with the Touch Diamond 2 but has more of a curved body. It is a smidgen longer than the AT&T Fuze, and it's thinner.

AT&T is packaging the Pure with a spare stylus, multifunction audio adapter, wall charger, USB cable and the obligatory software disk and manuals.

Design

The Pure isn't much different than the design of the Euro Touch Diamond 2 we have reviewed. As mentioned, the Pure is more curvy than the Touch Diamond 2 and the metallic framing has been replaced with black framing. The finish on the Pure is high-gloss black with just a hint of blue glitter. The finish is somewhat reflective and could double as a signaling mirror in emergency situations. I was surprised how well the finish reflected the cloth pattern of my backdrop in some of the product photos.

The finish attracts dust and fingerprints much like pollen attracts bees. While I do wish AT&T would have chosen a matte finish with a little texture, the Pure's conservative, professional appearance does look good.

To the left side of the Pure you will find the volume controls. The right side is bare. To the top is the power/sleep button and a panel of control buttons (answer, start screen, back and end buttons) rests at the bottom of the Pure's face, just below the zoom bar.  The keys sit flush enough to the Pure's body to minimize accidental presses but far enough to make them accessible.

There is no directional pad and while there are times that I do miss this it, I'm getting used to living without it. The improved touch navigation helps tremendously towards living without the D-Pad.

Underneath the back cover of the Pure, you'll find the micro-SD expansion slot and a 1,100-mAh battery. I'm concerned about the smaller battery, but a full charge has lasted 24 hours with moderate use (several downloads, calls, and OTA syncs) and I suspect that by adding routine e-mail downloads and browser activity, the battery should make it through the day without needing a charge.

The reset button is located in the stylus port. It's positioned in such a manner that you can reset the device without the need to remove the back cover, as you have to do with the Euro Touch Diamond.

What's missing

For some, there is no joy in Mudville today because the Pure is lacking one feature that many longed for: a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead you have the traditional ExtUSB port at the bottom of the phone. At least ExtUSB is still compatible with mini-USB.

While many are disappointed, the absence of the 3.5mm jack could be explained by a few things. There plain might not be room. Or, possibly, AT&T didn't want it competing with that other media-heavy phone in its lineup. Having said that, watch Sprint or Verizon announce their Touch Diamond 2 with a 3.5mm jack!

While I can live with the ExtUSB port, what I'm not a fan of is the hinged cover that AT&T put over the port. The port is recessed more than USB ports on other HTC phones and I would have much preferred a uncovered, flush with the bottom USB port. The cover makes it a little difficult to connect the USB cable to the Pure, and you can't help but feel that it's going to break off with every connection.

The camera

The Pure is fitted with a 5-megapixel, rear-facing camera that has still and video capabilities and the typical HTC software. We're working on a separate review of the camera, but it noticeably better than the 3-megapixel cameras on the Touch Pro, Touch Pro2 and original Diamond.

The screen

While not as large as the Touch Pro 2's screen, the 3.2-inch, 480x800 screen of the Pure is impressive. The colors are vibrant and I had little difficulty seeing the screen outdoors. Touch navigation was very responsive and I experienced very few accidental launches where touches were interpreted as taps.

The screen does have a haptic setting where the Pure vibrates to confirm touches and taps. While interesting at first, it did get annoying and fortunately you can turn the vibration off in the Pure's settings.

Screen rotation can be turned on or off. Not every application can be rotated (the current version of TouchFLO 3D can't) but for those that can rotate, I experienced no lag time.

The keyboard

The Pure relies on an on-screen keyboard. Those with larger fingers may find the individual keys too small, but the responsiveness of the screen helps with accidental keystrokes. The keyboard can be set to vibrate with each keystroke as well as a keystroke sound effect.

The software

The Pure comes loaded with Windows Mobile 6.5 as well as TouchFLO 3D version 2.1. It is also loaded with the obligatory AT&T bloatware. The one bad thing about bloatware is the challenge of finding a way to prevent it from installing but with TouchFLO 3D version 2.1, you can now at least hide the AT&T tab.

The bloatware includes an AppCenter which is more or less the traditional AT&T Media Mall, AT&T Navigator, AT&T WiFi which allows you to access AT&T hotspots, AT&T Music, as well as a few other AT&T branded apps we've come to know and love.

There are a few mystery apps on the Pure including AT&T Software Updates, which appears to be an OTA firmware updater (yeah, we've been hearing that story for a while), AT&T Online Storage, which appears to be a online storage app for photos and videos, and Auto Volume Control (which appears to be standard for WM 6.5).

 

You do have a copy of Newsbreak Lite, which is a RSS Feed Reader, and a copy of MSN Weather installed. For what it's worth, there is also a 5-minute trial version of MobiTV.

The Pure is loaded with Microsoft's Internet Explorer Mobile 6 and Opera Mobile 9.5. Pre-loaded games include Astraware's Suduko, Monopoly Here and Now, Ms. Pac-Man and Astraware Board Games.

The AT&T Pure does come loaded with a link to download the new Windows Marketplace, but for some reason there is no such link/widget for My Phone. It's a little surprising seeing how closely Microsoft has paired Windows Mobile 6.5, Marketplace and My Phone for the Windows Phone launch. My Phone can be downloaded by pointing the Pure's web browser to myphone.microsoft.com/install.

The Qualcomm 7201a 528MHz processor moves things along nicely. I didn't experience any lengthy delays in software load times or transitions.

One last observation on the Pure's software is that some applications aren't in their traditional locations. For example: I'm used to the QuickGPS app to be on the main page of the Programs Screen. With the Pure, AT&T has moved QuickGPS to the "Tools" page.

There are also some applications that are on the Pure but don't appear anywhere but the File Explorer. For example, there is a YouTube app in the Windows Directory, but the app doesn't show up on the Start Screen or folder therein. I was able to copy the shortcut from the Windows Directory into the Start Menu directory to have it visible. I'm sure that the more people explore the AT&T Pure, the more hidden secrets will be found.

TouchFLO 3D

The Pure is loaded with TouchFLO 3D version 2.1.19183217.0, which while an improvement over version 1.2, that appears on the Fuze, it's hardly the most current version we've seen installed on HTC phones. There may have been customization issues with the more recent version and AT&T simply went with the older version out of expedience. Regardless of the reasoning, TouchFLO 3D performs well on the Pure and is graphically improved over the TouchFLO that appears on the Fuze.

The version 2.1 installed on the Pure includes the AT&T tab, which can be hidden with the tab settings, as well as the calendar and stock tabs. The four-day weather forecast is transposed to the daily agenda view of the calendar. As customary, the graphics of TouchFLO 3D are stunning and compliment the Pure's screen really well.

GPS

The Pure is fitted with a GPS receiver and while loaded with AT&T Navigator, you can use the GPS with third-party apps such as Google Maps. From a cold start, with quickGPS updated, it took the Pure forty-five seconds to acquire a satellite fix. The GPS location was within a few yards of my actual location and I experienced no lag time in movements.

Phone

With respects to being a phone, the AT&T Pure's call quality is very good. Earpiece and speakerphone volumes were good and the microphone picked up my voice with no difficulty. While the Pure lacks the dual microphones of the Tilt2/Touch Pro 2, it does a good job of filtering out background noise.

Overall impressions

The Pure is AT&T's first venture with Windows Mobile 6.5 and the more I use this Windows phone, the more I like it. Personally, I need a physical keyboard but if I could find a way to live without one, the Pure would be my Windows phone.

It's not perfect, but the pros outweigh the cons. I'm not a fan of the shiny finish and would have rather seen a matte finish or the metallic finish of the Euro Touch Diamond 2 used. While the hinged cover on the ExtUSB port gives the Pure a clean look, I can't help but consider it useless. It makes connecting to the ExtUSB port more challenging and as with other hinged doors, you can't help but feel it's on the verge of breaking off. Unfortunately if you remove it, the phone looks like something's missing.

Some will complain of the lack of a 3.5mm jack but its absence won't prevent you from using wired headphones or wireless headphones. The 3.5mm jack is nice for convenience sake but I can't see where it would be a deal breaker. If the price of not having a 3.5mm jack is the thin form factor, I'm sure many will find the cost justified.

Phone quality, touch navigation, processing speed, and battery life are all satisfactory, if not down right impressive. Overall, the Pure is a very good Windows phone and well worth consideration.

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

31 Comments
  • Error in the article. The extUSB jack is not compatible with Micro USB. It is compatible with Mini USB like every other extUSB jack HTC phone that I've used in the past.
  • You're right. Mini-USB, micro-USB ... See why we need a standard!?!?!
  • Mini-USB is a Standard, just it is older than Micro-USB. Just like SD and Micro SD are both standards, just different. I can tell you something that isn't standard though...Apples should retardation of a proprietary connection!
  • I am kind of surprised that this runs Opera 9.5. Isn't the current beta of Opera Mobile @ 9.7?
  • indeed there is but why would a company put a beta that may have issues into the rom? since the only way to change it is to install a stable release or change the rom
  • No 3.5mm? Rats. Anyhow, good review! I am deciding between this and the Tilt 2 but gota admit I may take the leap and leave the physical keyboard behind me...
  • broke my tilt 1, so i went with the pure. i am very satisfied, didnt use the sliding keyboard much anyway. the extra slim size and weight loss was well worth it. if hard keyboards are a must, you can get full size foldable infared keyboards for these phones, they fold out to your desktop size and down to about the size of a wallet. office max had some on clearance recently for $10
  • Unfortunately most phone nowadays haven't had an infared option since most connection and information transfer is done with bluetooth or SMS.
  • I bought it for a test drive today. Very difficult to type on the screen keyboard and google says that this phone does not work with google maps.
  • I loaded my copy of Google Maps from a micro-SD card. I don't know why you'de get a compatibility error from Google.
  • i tried the text link to google maps and it also said my phone was not compatible..... so i just downloaded the google maps cab file and installed it on my pure and it works fine, gps and latitude work correctly as well
  • Which applications uses the accelerometer? I tried it at te store and none of them seem to work. As long as the picture viewer, on screen keyboard and browser uses it, I think it'll be enough.
  • Let's see...
    Picture Viewer: The album does rotate but the pics stick with their orientation.
    Screen Keyboard: rotates with email, notes, and text messages. Could rotate with other items but those where the three that came to mind.
    Browser: Yep, that rotates. The screen rotation can be turned off in the G-Sensor settings. The store display may have had it turned off.
  • Thanks for the post! GPS reviews are crucial for persons who are investing in GPS systems for the first time and lack sufficient knowledge about these devices.If you spend much time driving in unfamiliar territory, especially if you rent cars in big cities, a good portable GPS makes an amazing difference.You should always make sure that you know about the product well before you purchase any GPS System.One of the best feature is tracking.Tracking is excellent and without noticable lag. besides it quickly notices that you're off track and recalculates a route quickly.
  • AT&T requires a data plan (+$30/mo) with the contract. - That's a deal breaker for me.
  • this phone requires data plan of a minimum $20/mo w/ contract, not $30. i believe its only the iPhone that requires $30/mo data plan.
  • my fault, its not just the iPhone.
  • The HTC Pure for AT&T ships with Windows Mobile 6.5, which brings an easier-to-use interface, an improved browser, and new services. The compact smartphone also offers full wireless options and a 5-megapixel camera.
  • Picked one up the other day and I really like it. At first I had to get used to how to use the touchscreen the proper way. Once I did it was very smooth and responsive.Sync with the Exchange Server was painless and the call quality is good. The browsers are decent. Opera Mini is good as usual and IE is greatly improved over previous versions. I think it is a winner so far.
  • I just bought the Pure from ATT for $350.00 to hold me over until the Tilt2 (TP2) is available which I plan to get with the contract discount. I have to say that I am seriously impressed with the Pure, as well as the Touchflo3D, the new WinMo 6.5, and even the normally substandard Mobile Internet Explorer has been vastly improved. As a long time HTC Tilt user it is a totally new experience and it all seems pretty good. Exchange server set itself up perfectly. The phone works flawlessly with conferencing, speakerphone options. I checked out the Fuze (TouchPro 1) before and even though the specs are nearly the same there is no comparison because the software and the touchscreen are so much better. The zoombar now (in 6.5) works with too many programs to list and it is indispensable. The only complaint I have is that not enough programs autorotate but that can be corrected in the registry (although I do not like the miniUSB cover either). I could actually see myself not getting the Tilt2 but I know as soon as I check it out its gonna be mine. I may just keep both as the smaller frame may come in handy sometimes.
  • Does your Pure's backplate have a 'hole' for the camera? Mine does - there's no glass to wall off the innards of the phone (battery, SIM, fragile camera lens) from the outside world. I would think that's a bad thing.
  • ...k, I would have like to have 3.5mm too but... the bat life isn't good enough to get a whole day and listen to music... it has a fm radio and I don't use it cause it will suck my batt down... I like my pure in every other way... my battery was even worse except I went to the att store to get a 3g problem fixed so when we swapped sim cards I asked if I could swap batteries too... so now I get three times the bat life... batteries seem to be inconsistent... if yours is really really bad then you need a new one so it's only really bad. with moderate use I can get a full day out of it now... I'm used to my 8525/tytn getting 3 days... course I had a extended battery strapped on it which made it an additional 10mm tall or so =) I use my 8gb microsdhc for my pictures and even though I still have 46% free the camera says I can only take 15 more pics... If I switch to internal memory I've got room for 130 (90mb free)... weird... any ideas? anyone else seeing this issue? I emailed HTC with this issue Did I mention I love my pure!!! it is a great experience compared to my old old 8525... 6.5 has many great additions to it that make the whole window mobile experience much better. finger friendly flicking scrollers makes this phone great plus I didn't loose any of my windows mobile functionality or applications that I've had for years... I use spb mobile shell 3.5 on my phone... I barely checked out touch flo 3d because I knew I was going to put shell on it... spb needs to do a little work to get things right but it still works great!
  • Let me say I own the Touch HD/Xperia/Tmobile Tp2/ and I think my pure is the best out of all of them the Wvga screen is just right the ppc is just the right size as far as software I dont run Stock roms anyways but if I did the new 6.5 stock pure rom runs great I like the tilt2 but just a little to big for me there both the same phone just the tilt2 has a 3.6 inch wvga and Hw Kb and tilt screen but the pure has a 5mp camera so it comes down to what you need because both the tilt2 and pure are the same specs under the hood 528cpu 288 ram 512 rom both wvga So what do you need all you need to do is flash a custom rom or just modd your phone there are tons of new ui to add to your phone..
  • HTC Pure for AT&T ships with Windows Mobile 6.5....And i am very impress with this phone.
  • Just want to know who makes the case in the last picture?
  • I've had my HTC Pure a month. Small but amazingly flexible, customizable. Bought some after markets apps, now the phone is the ideal productivity enhancer. Indespensible. If you don't need an actual physical keyboard, and if your can live without 3.5 audio jack, then strongly consider the Pure. I would buy again.
  • I'M TRYING TO STORE PICTURES FROM MY HTC PURE TO MY MINI SD CARD BUT DON'T NO HOW. "HELP"
  • how did u copy the hidden youtube app into the Start Menu directory
  • You should go to m.youtube.com and download the new mobile app. If you still want to copy the file try to tap and hold until the copy command comes up. Hope it works for you.
  • From articles it seems you cannot use GPS without a data plan but I hear there are lot of softwares which you could use instead for GPS and not have data plan. Is this correct or not? ANother question, do all phones which have GPS can also work on Golf courses to give you yardage while golfing? Assuming the course map is already in the download. Thanks for your help.
  • I just bought the Pure from ATT for $350.00 to hold me over until the Tilt2 (TP2) is available which I plan to get with the contract discount. I have to say that I am seriously impressed with the Pure, as well as the Touchflo3D, the new WinMo 6.5, and even the normally substandard Mobile Internet Explorer has been vastly improved. As a long time HTC Tilt user it is a totally new experience and it all seems pretty good. Exchange server set itself up perfectly. The phone works flawlessly with conferencing, speakerphone options. I checked out the Fuze (TouchPro 1) before and even though the specs are nearly the same there is no comparison because the software and the touchscreen are so much better. The zoombar now (in 6.5) works with too many programs to list and it is indispensable. The only complaint I have is that not enough programs autorotate but that can be corrected in the registry (although I do not like the miniUSB cover either). I could actually see myself not getting the Tilt2 but I know as soon as I check it out its gonna be mine. I may just keep both as the smaller frame may come in handy sometimes.
    scrub m65