Touchscreen titans: HTC Touch Diamond vs 3G iPhone vs Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 vs Garmin nuvifone

If the Chinese calendar used tech instead of animals, this would definitely be the year of the touchscreen phone. But before you go off to celebrate, make sure you get the right one

If you thought you'd heard too much about the iPhone, be prepared to hear even more. Rumour has it the 3G iPhone is coming soon, but this year it won't be alone. Other manufacturers have poured water on the touchscreen Gremlin and produced all kinds of wacky phones.

You won't be able to move this summer without someone whipping out a touchscreen phone and loudly discussing the merits of theirs over someone else's. But which ones are going to be worth your finger's precious time -- and make you feel warm on the inside and smug on the outside?

We've put together a list of four touchtastic phones set to launch this year that we think might tickle your tech bone -- but they're all pretty different, so make sure to investigate each one thoroughly before you make your final decision. Click on the next page to find out more. -Andrew Lim

Update: Read our full HTC Touch Diamond review

HTC Touch Diamond
The HTC Touch Diamond isn't, as the name suggests, a mystic gem -- but it is a rather fancy phone that takes Windows Mobile to the next level of touchscreen goodness. Rather than settle for the stodgy old Windows Mobile 6.1 interface, HTC decided to add its own finger-friendly interface.

Almost everything can be done by just using your digits and there certainly is plenty to do. GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA mean that staying connected and on the right path is a cinch. It's compact, so you won't need extra-large pockets and it doesn't look bad at all, so you won't need to hide it when you meet your mates at the pub.

Pros aside, when we first used it the interface seemed rather slow at times, but this was perhaps because it was a prototype model. Another issue we had is that the screen requires more pressure on it than the iPhone does. There's no built-in 3.5mm headphone jack either, so you have to use an adaptor or the provided headphones.

It's due out in June on all the major networks. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we imagine that it will cost over £300 SIM-free and most likely be free on a contract.

3G iPhone
Since it hasn't been officially announced, there's little we can say about the 3G iPhone, but according to the rumour-mill, the 3G iPhone will pack a larger case, a front-facing camera for video calls and obviously let you access data at higher speeds than EDGE currently allows. But does that make it much better than the current iPhone?

Your pocket space will be reduced if it's made larger to accommodate a longer-lasting battery, but 3G is a known battery hog. It's also much faster than EDGE, however -- being able to connect to the Internet over 3G means that the Web experience is going to be faster, which is a wonderful thing.

It will also make downloading YouTube videos, for example, much faster and also more widely available, as O2's 3G network covers much more of the UK than its EDGE network. On paper, the iPhone doesn't compete with the HTC Touch Diamond, but it's not always what you've got, it's how you use it.

While we don't think the 3G iPhone will be perfect, there's no denying that the iPhone's interface is very responsive. You only have to touch the screen lightly and something happens, which can't be said for all touchscreen phones. The 3G iPhone will possibly come out in the nest few weeks. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Update: The iPhone 3G has been launched , and UK prices and details are now available. Read our full Apple iPhone 3G preview here.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1
The 3G iPhone might be on its way, but many tech heads are getting hot and bothered about the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1. Set to be Sony Ericsson's first Windows Mobile handset, this touchscreen beauty has the potential to be a best seller and even make Apple sweat.

The X1 is no pay as you go puppy: this silver surfer boasts GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA. But that's not all -- hidden beneath the large screen is a slide-out Qwerty keypad that lets you tap out long emails with relative ease, a feature not even the HTC Touch Diamond or iPhone has.

But the dream phone may be just that -- Sony Ericsson has had a long line of problems with past smart phones and the X1 could find itself laden with issues too. Early reports suggest the interface isn't particularly smooth and feels clunky at times. Hopefully these are just initial prototype problems that will be ironed out soon.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 is set to come out some time after June. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we assume it will come free with a monthly contract. If you'd like to get a better look, check out our video from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, or have a look at these close-up pics .

Update: Read our full Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 preview

Garmin nuvifone
Definitely one of the more unusual entries into the touchscreen market, the Garmin nuvifone is more of a sat-nav with a built-in phone -- as you would expect from a previously sat-nav-only company. We got a glimpse of this navigation-centric phone out at MWC and it's set to come out sometime this year.

Similar to the Diamond and Xperia, the nuvifone boasts GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA. It's rather chunky, but the screen is nice and large. The model we saw was only a prototype and the interface didn't work, so we can't comment on how good it is.

What we can say, though, is that the nuvifone lacks the styling of its competitors. We also noticed that on the prototype model there's only a 2.5mm headphone jack, so again you'll either need to use the provided headphones, buy an adaptor, or buy a pair of 2.5mm cans such as these from Sennheiser .

On the plus side, Garmin is famed for its sat-nav technology, which could bring a lot to the touchscreen table. Having a GPS receiver is one thing, but integrating the technology into a phone with a slick software interface isn't always easy. If you're looking for a straightforward GPS phone, this could very well be it.

 

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