The HTC Touch is one of HTC's most attractive and controversial handsets to date. At its launch, HTC firmly denied that the iPhone played any part in the Touch's design and added that the Touch was the first device of its kind.
But with such similar styling and a finger-friendly interface, it's impossible not to draw the comparison. It's out in the next couple of months for free on a monthly contract and SIM-free from eXpansys for about £310, but can a Windows Mobile 6 handset really take on the might of Apple?
The majority of handsets running Microsoft's mobile OS are butt ugly. Fortunately, the Touch doesn't fall into this category -- it's a design masterpiece you can proudly take out of your pocket and show off to your mates.
It's slim, light and features a large, easy-to-view, colour touchscreen. The Touch's casing has that lovely rubbery finish that feels great and the handset fits really well in your hand, making it enjoyable to hold.
As the name suggests, it's all about the touchscreen, which is the primary way of interacting with your phone's contents. The screen is large -- 71mm (2.8 inches) -- and yet small enough to reach every corner comfortably with your thumb.
HTC has created a menu interface called TouchFlo, which is activated by flicking your thumb up from the bottom of the screen.
The TouchFlo menu presents you with a set of applications, media apps and contacts that you navigate through by swiping your thumb left and right. It's presented in a three-dimensional way and gives the illusion that you're turning a multi-faced block.
It works rather well, although you have to press the screen a little harder than you might think. Unfortunately, as soon as you click one of the thumb-sized buttons, you're ejected back into the less thumb-friendly Windows Mobile interface. You then need to pull out a stylus to input text messages or browse Web pages properly.
The lack of a phone-wide finger-friendly interface isn't great -- compared to the iPhone this is pretty lacklustre, but compared to most of the Windows Mobile devices out there it's a great improvement.
Another HTC-made improvement is a new start page that displays the time, weather and a quick-launch section for accessing your apps much faster than before. It's a small improvement technically but a big one for users, since it cuts out a lot of clicks.
What about the specs? Here's where the story gets a little confusing. There's Wi-Fi, an expandable microSD slot and all the Windows Mobile 6 trimmings. But there's no 3G and while some people might not mind that much, it's a deal-breaker for others.
Audio quality during calls was clear, as was the speakerphone, although as with most phones it could have been slightly louder.
The 2-megapixel camera took decent shots for MMS messages, but don't expect print-quality photos from it.
Windows Mobile 6 ran fairly well on the OMAP850 201MHz processor, but the phone did lag a little when opening some applications.
The Touch's TouchFlo system is pretty cool, but it lacks the full punch of Apple's offering, which takes finger interaction to the next level. If you're not a fan of using a stylus then you should give it a miss.
If you're a features freak then you might want to have a look at HTC's other offerings, such as the TyTN and the Advantage. If email is your game then the HTC P4350 or S710 come with full Qwerty keypads, which are great for tapping out long emails.
Similarly, connectivity-wise the Touch doesn't do too badly with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPRS, but we really missed the power of the HTC TyTN's HSDPA (3.5G) connectivity and hope the next edition of the Touch features it.
Ultimately, the HTC Touch is aesthetically one of the most pleasing smart phones we've seen to date. Buy this handset and your business buddies will be salivating over it like children in a sweet shop.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide