Live in the UK and can't wait for the iPhone to come out later this year? No problem, HTC has announced its answer to the Apple phone even though, according to its President, he's never seen it.

Two years in the making, rather than just the 6 months its been since Steve Jobs' keynote speech at Macworld, the HTC Touch as it is to be known, is a smartphone that, wait for it, has a focus on touching the screen rather than using keys.

Considerably smaller in size than the iPhone, the new Touch design is dominated by that 2.8-inch LCD touchscreen with backlight, 240 x 320 dots resolution with 65K colour screen and only has room for three buttons on the front - a call, a hang up and d-pad for moving around should your finger gliding skills desert you.

Fitting in the palm of your hand and certainly having a nice build quality feel to it, the only other element to adorn the design is the 2 megapixel camera on the rear of the device.

Inside and the device runs Windows Mobile 6 this is Microsoft's (with the help of HTC) answer to the iPhone.

You'll be forgiven for seeing the Touch as a long lost brother to the iPhone; they are both controlled by touchscreen, they both have opted for just Tri-band GSM with Wi-Fi rather than 3G and both require you to slide your finger across the screen to activate certain features.

In use and over the last 24 hours with the phone we've been equally impressed and frustrated at the same time. Supposedly designed with people in mind, the home screen offering the usual array of Windows Mobile 6 at a glance information such as appointments, email and weather, however it did take us some time to get to grips with the scrolling swiping element - but I think this was more to our finger starting in the wrong place than with an issue with the design.

In a similar interface to the iPhone, the user will be able to swipe their thumb across the screen to move around the menu system using HTC's "TouchFLO" technology.

One thing to note however is that you'll still need the stylus, tucked away at the back to work the device. HTC say that you won't, but trying to use the QWERTY keyboard without fingernails (hey we are manly) was virtually impossible even if you do swap to the landscape mode.

This is a smartphone that will let you reply to messages, but to be honest is more of a check to see what messages have come through rather than suggesting you write lengthy replies - that's what HTC's Ameo is for.

Other features worth mentioning are the 1GB microSD storage card included in addition to the 64MB RAM, 128MB ROM and two colours to choose from including professional black or a rather lured "wasabi" green.

Verdict

So should you invest? Well if you really like the idea of the iPhone but either can't wait or would prefer a Windows Mobile 6 interface instead, this is going to be the phone for you.

However if like just you still want a keyboard, then the BlackBerry Curve is only slightly bigger and you get that full QWERTY keyboard.

Perhaps the simplest answer is that you get a Bluetooth keyboard and that will solve all your problems.

A good strong offering from HTC and one that will certainly give Apple and its yet to be released (the HTC Touch is due this week in the UK) iPhone a run for its money.