HTC’s gang of Touch phones have so far fallen short of matching the iPhone’s peerless UI, but their new leader looks like it could live up to its bold assassination claims.

Before you get too excited, the Diamond doesn’t have multi-touch skills. But its 3D TouchFlo UI has been vastly improved, exhibiting some neat iPhone traits like moving around full-fat web pages via your pinkie and cover flow-esque photo navigation.    

Best of both worlds

The Diamond isn’t solely touch-driven – it has a mechanised five-way joypad and surrounding call buttons for those who like the feel of buttons. With no keypad, you’re left to the virtual on-screen for inputting text which, like the iPhone, can be a tad tricky, although a stylus is poised to lend a hand.

Next to the iPhone, the Touch Diamond is very trim, flaunting a fetching Nokia Prism-esque rear design. HTC has also dressed up the new Windows 6.1 OS with a funky front-end UI to obviously distance itself from its starchy business rep. There are still clues to its Windows heritage but the new graphics make it far more approachable and fun to use.

Festival of features

The Diamond is also tanked up with top features from its Touch Cruise cousin that make the iPhone positively anaemic. This includes built-in GPS, rapido HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 3.2megapixel camera. HTC has also squeezed in a healthy 4GB dollop of internal memory, accelerometer motion sensors and a stunning VGA-quality 2.8in screen.

And this pin-sharp hi-res screen contributes massively to the Touch Diamond’s slick internet surfing exploits. The peerless Opera Mini web browsing easily gets the nod over Internet Explorer and web pages load swiftly over 7.2Mbps-flavoured HSDPA and even faster over Wi-Fi

This smartie may not have multi-touch pinching talents for zooming in and out of web pages but a concealed touch sensitive navi-wheel circling the centre button expertly handles prowling duties.

Crude camera

Although far from being a disaster, the 3.2MP snapper with autofocus isn’t the sharpest we’ve seen but it still delivers decent photos. Thankfully, its navigation performance was far better with Google Maps on board and a GPS receiver, abetted by A-GPS, is able to sniff out a sputnik fix in double-quick time.

The HTC Touch Diamond's only major flaw is that it lacks that extra sensitivity that makes the iPhone such a pleasure to fondle. Indeed, the processor makes it sluggish to operate.

But its mouth-watering feature set make these niggles easier to forgive and, with the competition closing in fast, the 3G iPhone needs to pull out all the stops.


Stuff says... 

HTC Touch Diamond review

The sexiest Windows Mobile phone yet. Only the sluggish menus and camera let it down