We've rarely praised a mobile phone's call quality - until now. The navy-blue T-Mobile Wing sounds terrific - and as this handset is in essence a rebadged version of the much-vaunted HTC Touch, this may be good news for those who crave touchscreen mobile phone style without wanting to follow the iPhone herd.

The T-Mobile Wing costs $300 in the US with a two-year contract, and is available online in the UK, SIM-free for around £329. This is slightly more expansive than the HTC Touch, which can be bought SIM-free in the UK for £309.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile-phone handset reviews and the best tariffs

First look: HTC's Touch vs Apple iPhone

Using the T-Mobile Wing we heard virtually none of the tell-tale hissing or background noise that usually betrays a mobile phone. And the people we spoke with noted that we sounded very clear - even while on a noisy runway at an airport. Call quality isn't the Wing's only strength: it also offers impressive battery life and a strong array of features.

The T-Mobile Wing - T-Mobile's first mobile phone to ship preloaded with Windows Mobile 6.0 (T-Mobile is also making Windows Mobile 6.0 available as an upgrade for the Dash) - has many features, including a still-image and video camera, messaging and the familiar Windows-like menu system with applications to go.

The T-Mobile Wing includes Office Mobile with Word, Excel and PowerPoint (you can view, create, and edit documents); Windows Live for Windows Mobile (with Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Hotmail, Live Search, and Live Spaces); Windows Media Player; and a My Documents folder structure for storing files and multimedia. Other applications include Instant Messaging (for use with AOL, ICQ, and Yahoo), Java applications, a T-Mobile HotSpot log-in shortcut and a voice recorder.

The T-Mobile Wing comes with a 2.8in touchscreen display (T-Mobile bundles a stylus with the phone, but your fingers to do the walking). Six highly responsive buttons and a five-way navigational control beneath the front-screen display make single-handed navigation a breeze. Slide the display left and the screen automatically reorients itself in landscape view to accompany your typing on the roomy keyboard. The T-Mobile Wing's keyboard's keys are wide and flat, with backlighting that makes using the device in a darkened environment a breeze.

Read our iPhone preview here

We found the T-Mobile Wing surprisingly comfortable for thumb-typing when I held the device in two hands; we were surprised at how quickly we could type - but people with larger hands found the T-Mobile Wing's keyboard hard to navigate.

Unfortunately, other aspects of the T-Mobile Wing's design are less appealing. Specifically, we found many of the buttons around the perimeter of the phone difficult to press and poorly constructed. For example, the volume slider, located near the middle of the phone, along the lefthand side, was difficult to adjust using the pad of a finger (if you have longish nails, this might not be an issue).

The T-Mobile Wing's dedicated camera button is located near the top left of the camera when the phone is oriented vertically, and at the top right when the phone is situated horizontally - the optimal way to use the camera. But the button is flat and hard to press.

When we did click it, we often accidentally twisted the T-Mobile Wing's slider mechanism, too, which makes us worry about the long-term integrity of this critical part of the phone. Pressing the camera button launched the phone's 2Mp CMOS digital camera, with its 8X digital zoom (for low-resolution images) and video camera (capable of capturing clips at up to 176 by 174 resolution), but the phone lagged considerably while the camera popped up.

HTC launches Windows Mobile iPhone challenger

We suspect that some of our gripes with the phone may relate more to Windows Mobile 6.0 than to the T-Mobile Wing itself. The Communications Manager app, for example, houses a dizzying array of options - everything from vibrate and ringer settings to EDGE and GPRS data-connection minutiae. To disable the wireless antennas and put the T-Mobile Wing into flight mode, we had to traverse three screens - more before we found a helpful shortcut - just to get to the point in Communications Manager where we could disable the wireless radio. Not good for a product called Wing.

Like the T-Mobile MDA and the HTC Touch, the Wing is manufactured and designed by HTC. T-Mobile claims that the Wing is about 30 percent smaller than the MDA. It certainly feels more compact than the MDA. When closed, the T-Mobile Wing is dominated by its 240-by-320-resolution, 65,000-colour touchscreen display. When open, it suggests a sleeker version of T-Mobile's Sidekick III.

The T-Mobile Wing is a quad-band GSM phone, with support for 850-, 900-, 1800-, and 1900- MHz bands. It runs a 201-MHz OMAP850 processor, with 64MB of RAM and 128MB of read-only memory. According to T-Mobile, the T-Mobile Wing by default comes with 26MB of free memory and 16MB of available program storage. You can add storage for multimedia and data files via the MicroSD card slot.

The T-Mobile Wing lasted for the full 10 hours of our battery life evaluation. Its performance thus matches that of such models as the T-Mobile MDA (which this model replaces) and the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8300 - our most recently tested top performers.

The T-Mobile Wing comes with a case and an assortment of cables and connectors. The 258-page manual covers all of the important topics; regrettably, T-Mobile doesn't include a copy of the manual on the phone itself in PDF form so that you could view it on the loaded Adobe Acrobat LE reader. When we sought assistance within the phone, the included Microsoft help file didn't address my needs.

T-Mobile Wing: Specs

  • Windows Mobile 6.0
  • 2Mp camera
  • 2.8in Touchscreen
  • qwerty keyboard
  • 26MB storage, MicroSD memory card slot
  • 58x109x18mm
  • 0.2kg
  • Li-Ion polymer baqttery
  • up to four hours talk time
  • up to six days standby
  • band (frequency): 850MHz
  • 900MHz
  • 1800MHz
  • 1900MHz
  • battery
  • charger
  • English/Spanish user guide
  • stereo hands-free headset
  • USB cable
  • Windows Mobile 6.0
  • 2Mp camera
  • 2.8in Touchscreen
  • qwerty keyboard
  • 26MB storage, MicroSD memory card slot
  • 58x109x18mm
  • 0.2kg
  • Li-Ion polymer baqttery
  • up to four hours talk time
  • up to six days standby
  • band (frequency): 850MHz
  • 900MHz
  • 1800MHz
  • 1900MHz
  • battery
  • charger
  • English/Spanish user guide
  • stereo hands-free headset
  • USB cable

OUR VERDICT

For £329, the T-Mobile Wing is a reasonable value, given the phone's versatile functionality, stellar call quality and excellent battery life. We don't yet know how much the iPhone will cost in the UK, but at $499 in the US it is a lot more expensive than the T-Mobile Wing and its sister product the HTC Touch. And as the Apple iPhone is unlikely to launch in the UK until October, you may prefer the HTC Touch or T-Mobile Wing. Our greatest concerns about the T-Mobile Wing involve its limited on-board storage and its poorly constructed buttons; longer term, we'd worry about the integrity of that slider mechanism. But those concerns aside, the T-Mobile Wing makes a great package, especially if you value the easy input that a touch screen affords, together with the computing flexibility of Windows Mobile 6.0. Over to you Apple.

Find the best price