New Touch-Screen Phone To Rival The iPhone

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Before Apple’s iPhone can even get out of the gate, competitors appear to be lining up with similar devices to challenge it. One of the first will be the HTC Touch, announced Tuesday. As the name implies, HTC’s new mobile phone is operated entirely by a touch screen, presumably to ride the wave of enthusiasm generated for Apple’s own touch screen device.

According to HTC, the phone’s 2.8-inch TouchFLO screen is smarter than the type you may be used to using at an ATM or kiosk. It can distinguish a finger sweeping across the screen instead of a single point of contact, and the system can also tell a fingertip from a stylus and respond differently. The company’s intent was to develop a more intuitive and natural way to interact with a phone. By sweeping a finger up the pad, users can launch an animated three-dimensional interface with contacts, media and applications. They can then spin it around with the same side to side sweeping motion and make selections.

The HTC Touch will weigh in at 112 grams, a little lighter than a standard iPod. A 1GB microSD storage card is included, along with 64MB of on-board RAM. HTC claims the lithium-ion battery will last for 200 hours on standby, or for 5 hours of talking. The phone uses Windows Mobile 6 Professional, which brings a full suite of office applications as well as downloadable third-party software.

"With the HTC Touch, access to your most commonly used content, contacts and features is only a simple finger flick away,” said Peter Chou, chief executive officer of HTC, in a statement. "Mobile phone makers have done a great job of cramming ever-more exciting features into ever-smaller phones. But the way in which one accesses these increasingly sophisticated features has not kept pace. That ends today with the HTC Touch."

The HTC Touch is available immediately in the United Kingdon and will show up later this month in Asia and Europe. Consumers in the Americas will have to wait until the second half of 2007 to get their hands on them. Prices haven’t been announced, but with Apple’s $600 iPhone setting the bar, don’t expect the HTC Touch to come cheap.

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