HTC has managed to make a name for itself in its own right having spent years as the design force behind handsets such as the Orange SPV range and other innovative models. It still makes phones for mobile operators - hence the T-Mobile Google Android G1, which is actually an HTC phone - but it also offers devices under its own brand.
The HTC S740 is a candybar handset with a very smart, mirrored front, overlaid with transparent keys and buttons. A solid rubberised back that's all angles, it's reminiscent of the Diamond handset that went down rather well last year.
The slide out keyboard looks good in its gunmetal grey finish and, while you can't exactly touchtype on the HTC S740, the broad layout and familiar qwerty keyboard makes it easier to accurately input text than on many a smartphone.
Despite its good looks, the HTC S740 is a Windows Mobile device, running version 6.1. While Windows Mobile has its detractors, we find the OS ideal for our contact-management needs as its syncs very neatly with our office Outlook email client and gives us at-a-glance updates on received calls, emails and text messages.
The HTC S740 also has some useful preinstalled extras included Google Maps - you get a context-sensitive menu option when you select a Contact to locate them using this service - helpful if you want to arrange face-to-face time with a range of business associates in the most efficient manner.
We also liked the screen on the HTC S740. It's bright and finely detailed and, should you be sufficiently skilled to take a memorable shot using the HTC's 3.2Mp camera, it will look superb.
Another worthy inclusion is the Audio Manager, which supports album art, can be flicked through fairly fast using the left and right sides of the HTC S740's central naviwheel and has a surprisingly loud, clear output. HTC has placed broad speakers just above the top of the screen (ensuring phone calls come in loud and clear) and a second one next to the camera on the rear. The angular design at the back of the phone ensures this sits above the surface and isn't muffled.
This comes in useful too if you're using the device for GPS navigation - frankly, we're amazed HTC crammed in this and an FM radio receiver as well as everything else given the HTC S740's narrow proportions.
Web browsing on the HTC S740 using Internet Explorer doesn't compare with the experience of the real web on the iPhone, but pages load speedily given that this is a GPRS phone, not a 3G one. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth though.
If you want a smartphone that’s first and foremost a phone and quality contact manager to boot, the HTC S740 is the best of the non-3G Windows Mobile ones we’ve seen so far.