HTC's real iPhone rival stands up: the Touch HD

High Tech Computer (HTC), the world's largest maker of smartphones that use Microsoft's Windows Mobile software, launched the Touch HD handset in Taipei on Wednesday, a 3.8-inch touchscreen mobile phone that more closely matches up to the iPhone 3G.

Earlier this year, HTC launched the Touch Diamond, a sleek 3G (third generation mobile telecommunications) handset meant to rival Apple's hit handset, but its screen is much smaller at 2.8-inches. The iPhone 3G sports a 3.5-inch screen.

HTC teamed up with network operator Taiwan Mobile to launch the Touch HD. Taiwan Mobile, one of the largest mobile network operators on the island by subscribers, plans to launch the device next month.

Taiwan Mobile has not yet decided on a sales plan for the Touch HD. The retail price suggested by HTC is NT$25,900 (US$776).

HTC representatives at the launch also could not give a time frame on when the Touch HD will launch in other parts of the world. Reports say the U.K. and Singapore will see the handset shortly.

The touchscreen on the Touch HD is the most responsive yet in the Touch series, but HTC representatives were unable to say why. The processor on board, a Qualcomm 7201A, is the same as that on the Touch Diamond, and both handsets use the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

The Touch HD was quicker and more responsive than the Touch Diamond, and more closely matched the touchscreen on HTC's latest development, the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the Google phone).

The Touch HD also sports a better onboard digital camera, with 5-megapixel resolution, than the Diamond.

The HD has on board GPS (global positioning system) and works with Google Maps. The 3G handset allows users to video chat, download information over mobile networks or via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g. The smartphone works on WCDMA 900/2100MHz signals and supports quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE.

The Touch HD weighs 147 grams, and measures 115 millimeters by 62.8mm by 12mm.

Taiwan Mobile threw out a strong sales pitch during the Taipei news conference. The company faces stiff competition from the upcoming launch of the iPhone 3G by market leader Chunghwa Telecom.

Cliff Lai, chief operating officer at Taiwan Mobile, called on Taiwanese patriots to buy the locally made Touch HD amid the global financial crisis.

"If we went with the iPhone, our money would go to America," he said. "But we're not interested in boosting the American economy. We're interested in boosting Taiwan's economy."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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