There's no getting away from comparisons to Apple's iPhone 3G these days, so here it is: the HTC Touch Diamond was built as a follow up to the HTC Touch, launched last year as a Windows Mobile-based competitor for the original iPhone. UPDATE: HTC Touch Diamond P3700 with CoPilot Live 7.0 review, August 18 2008.

The HTC Touch Diamond is also a 3G handset, made with a touchscreen, 4GB of storage for music and photos and more. It's an elegant follow-up to the HTC Touch and should give the 3G iPhone a run for its money, so long as HTC is able to work with service providers to lower the price of the handsets.

And in Taiwan, HTC has done just that. The company announced Thursday a plan to sell the Touch Diamond for around £50 with certain 3G contracts from Chunghwa Telecom, the island's largest mobile phone service provider. That's a dramatic price decrease from the original £400 or so price HTC talked about earlier.

The price also beats the £99 price tag on the iPhone 3G with 8GB of flash memory storage, which won't be available in Taiwan when it's launched today. As long as HTC is able to work out more such deals with mobile phone service providers around the world, it should do well against the new iPhone.

The best part of the HTC Touch Diamond by far is its beautiful craftsmanship, but the touchscreen and functionality come in a close second and third. The handset is sleeker and smaller than the iPhone at 102mm in height by 51mm wide by 11.33 mm thick. The iPhone 3G, which sports a 3.5in inch screen with 480-by-320 pixel resolution, is 115.5mm by 62.1mm by 12.3mm.

The back of the HTC Touch Diamond has diamond contours that drew "oohs" and "aahhs" of praise whenever we showed it to people. Even for people who don't want to buy one, you should have a look at the design.

One problem with the HTC Touch Diamond's black exterior, as with many gadgets that have a glossy finish, is that it holds fingerprints. Handle the phone for a few minutes and you have to wipe it off before you show it again. And with a handset built for touch navigation, that's an issue.

The 2.8in touchscreen dominates the front of the HTC Touch Diamond and the 640-by-480 pixel display resolution is beautiful. We've never seen nicer screen quality on a phone. You can even see it well in direct sunlight because the screen auto-adjusts for different lighting conditions.

The company's TouchFLO 3D software makes it relatively simple to use but we had to read the instruction manual to get the hang of it. A lot of the movements start with your finger in the middle of the screen. So if you want to scroll up, for example, you put your finger in the middle of the screen and flip upwards. At first we had tried swiping a finger up the entire screen, but that didn't work well. Once we got it, though, it was easy.

The 3D view of the HTC Touch Diamond's software is excellent. You can look through your contact list by picture with the sweep of a finger if you add pictures to people in your contact list, or take their picture with the phone's 3.2Mp auto-focus camera. For music listeners, the album covers show up so you can flip through them in the same way you look through the contact list. Of course, you can type in names as well by hand or stylus.

The HTC Touch Diamond uses Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 as its OS and its a nice program, easy to use, and familiar to people who use Microsoft on their PCs.

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There's no getting away from comparisons to Apple's iPhone 3G these days, so here it is: the HTC Touch Diamond was built as a follow up to the HTC Touch, launched last year as a Windows Mobile-based competitor for the original iPhone.

The device comes loaded with applications, including Microsoft Mobile Office and two browsers, Internet Explorer and Opera. Both worked well, as did connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi or 3G, including HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access). The Opera browser was customised for HTC for one-handed internet navigation. You can zoom in by tapping the screen twice, or pan a website with one touch. The view automatically rotates if you turn the handset sideways to take advantage of the wider viewing angle.

Although surfing the internet sucked power out of the battery, that's generally the case with smartphones. The battery on the HTC Touch Diamond is rated for four hours of talk time and we used it for four days before having to recharge. That was before we tried accessing the internet, however.

There are a lot of nice extras on the Touch Diamond. There's a second camera for video calling, a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, and Bluetooth for wireless data transfer. The primary camera also takes video, and the handset comes with a direct connection to YouTube.

One area we thought about praising was the Touch Diamond's user manual, because it's easy to understand. But we note that at 268-pages, it's more than twice as long as the original iPhone manual, which is a 130-page marvel of economy.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

HTC Touch Diamond: Specs

  • Qualcomm MSM7201A 528MHz
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • 256MB ROM
  • 192MB DDR SDRAM
  • 4GB internal storage
  • 102x51x11.5mm
  • 110g (with battery)
  • 2.8in TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with VGA resolution
  • HSDPA/WCDMA
  • Tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
  • Device Control: TouchFLO 3D
  • GPS and A-GPS ready
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • 11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one
  • 3.2Mp colour camera with auto focus & VGA CMOS colour camera
  • built-in microphone, speaker and FM radio with RDS
  • rechargeable Lithium-ion or Lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Qualcomm MSM7201A 528MHz
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • 256MB ROM
  • 192MB DDR SDRAM
  • 4GB internal storage
  • 102x51x11.5mm
  • 110g (with battery)
  • 2.8in TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with VGA resolution
  • HSDPA/WCDMA
  • Tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
  • Device Control: TouchFLO 3D
  • GPS and A-GPS ready
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • 11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one
  • 3.2Mp colour camera with auto focus & VGA CMOS colour camera
  • built-in microphone, speaker and FM radio with RDS
  • rechargeable Lithium-ion or Lithium-ion polymer battery

OUR VERDICT

The HTC Touch Diamond is a nice phone with a better camera than the 3iPhone 3G and other extras that will help make it a good rival, as long as HTC is able to spread its new Taiwan price of £50 to other parts of the world.

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