HTC has today confirmed that it will go head to head with Apple following the launch of the HTC Touch, a new touchscreen device that on the surface looks identical to the iPhone.

Two years in the making, the new model will feature a touchscreen display and will run Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 operating system.

Supposedly designed with people in mind - with the home screen offering the usual array of Windows Mobile 6 at a glance information such as appointments, email and weather.

Smaller than the iPhone, the device is controllable by one hand rather than a needing one to hold the device and one to hold the stylus.

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.

Like the iPod, interaction with the unit will be via an on-screen keyboard, with the only button being the answer hang up button at the bottom of the screen.

"We have tried to create a simple, elegant interface", said the President of the HTC at a packed event in Soho, London.

The new handset will be offered on the Orange and T-Mobile networks in the UK from today and second half of the year in America. The device will cost 449 euro without a network contract.

The HTC Touch, will not be going under a different name as HTC continue its move away from white label devices; "We will not be branding this under the SPV branding", said Orange Vice President, Yves Maitre.

When questioned on the lack of 3G connectivity, HTC suggested that the new handset wasn't geared to users who needed fast internet experience on the go.

HTC refused to be drawn into comments and questions from journalists that the device was similar to Apple's iPhone.

"I haven't seen the iPhone from Apple", confirmed the HTC president.

Specs are as follows:

• Dimensions: 99.9mm (L) x 58mm (W) x 13.9mm (T)
• Weight: 112g with battery
• 1GB microSD storage card included / 64MB RAM, 128MB ROM
• 2.8-inch LCD touch screen with backlight, 240 x 320 dots resolution with 65,536 colours
• Battery Life: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 1100 mAh
• Standby time: Up to 200 / Talk time: Up to 5 hours
• Camera: 2.0 mega-pixel CMOS colour camera
• Windows Mobile 6 Professional with Direct Push Email and HTML email support
• Wireless Connectivity: GSM/GPRS/EDGE Tri-band: 900, 1800,1900, Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth 2.0
• Choice of two colours at launch - "elegant" soft black or alluring "wasabi" green

See below for a link to HTC's site which shows an advert that gives you a better idea of how the "swipe" functionality looks.

Expect a full review later today.