HTC HD2 hands-on and picture gallery

Waaaaay back in June HTC announced it would be bringing the Sense UI to Windows Mobile. And now that Windows Mobile 6.5 is on the horizon we're beginn

Waaaaay back in June HTC announced it would be bringing the Sense UI to Windows Mobile. And now that Windows Mobile 6.5 is on the horizon we're beginning to see the first of what is likely to be many Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets, including this good looking offering from HTC.

Obvious comparisons aside, HTC's latest handset dubbed the HTC HD2 has a mahoosive WVGA screen estate at a whopping 4.3-inches - designed to make your internet experience as pleasurable as possible. Coupled with multi-touch or what HTC calls pinch and zoom, the HD2 provides a capacious not to mention eye-boggling browsing experience. Throw in the super speedy Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon processor and you're looking at a phone that not only has a lot of finger room but is speedy as well.

As well as a full QWERTY keyboard, there are a selection of 5 hard keys to assist you including the Windows homepage. Unlike some Windows handsets, the style of the Windows homepage doesn't differ drastically from the rest of the phone's layout and this was a conscious decision made by HTC in a bid to win over some of you Windows Mobile hating folk who are more than fed up with Windows' computer-esque layout.

Moving onto the HTC Sense user interface, which we first saw in the Hero a while back and the HD2 is a great platform for it. It continues to showcase its easy-to-use and customisable nature and the large screen only serves to make this experience more enjoyable.

There are three strands to the HTC Sense UI ethos. Firstly, it's all about 'making it mine'. So the home page features a fully customisable 3x3 grid, giving you the freedom to decide what apps and widgets go onto each of the 13 homescreens - yes, 13 homescreens. You don't need to have them all, so if 13 is a bit too much, take it down to whatever suits you.

Secondly, it's all about 'staying close' and the HD2 reinforces the idea that communication is not just about applications, emails, messages et al - it's about people. With that in mind, the HD2 has a 'favourites' option, allowing you to aggregate your contact's details in one place, not to mention being a great tool for conference calls.

Lastly, it's all about 'expecting the unexpected' and the HD2 has a few cool tricks up its sleeves. For example, when your phone rings it will detect when you pick up your handset and automatically lower the ringtone volume. Its backlight will automatically adjust to suit its surroundings as will go to sleep when you're nattering away to prevent unknowingly hanging up while you're on the phone to your mum and of course saving some juice in the process.

There are a couple of clever apps that are worth a mention: firstly, the weather app that will automatically change the time zone and weather based on where you are. Secondly is its WiFi Anywhere app. Trawling the streets for the closest WiFi hotspot is never fun, so what this clever application does is turn the HD2 into a personal WiFi point for your computer or other devices so you don't need to rely on Starbucks and get roped into buying a coffee along the way.

Other features include integrated FM radio, a 5-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Based on what we saw, it's simple and intuitive with great usability. The touchscreen is also responsive and quick, paving the way for a hassle free and fantastic mobile experience.

Shipping begins at the end of the month, so expect to see it in a retailer near you around the beginning of November.

And if accessories get you more excited than your average, expect a range of accessories available shortly after the phone's arrival, including a very slick looking car cradle that will automatically go into navigation and speaker mode when the phone is placed in its grasp.

Keep those eyes peeled for a hands-on video very soon.