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HTC HD2: First Windows Mobile with capacitive touchscreen

The HTC HD2 promises to make Windows Mobile 6.5 more user-friendly with a new phone with an epic 109mm capacitive screen, social-networking features and multi-touch

Like a princess smooching a frog and turning it into a prince, HTC has given Windows Mobile 6.5 a capacitive kiss and turned it into something crave-worthy with the HTC HD2.

HTC has done a decent job covering up the hideous tiny, dated-looking icons of WinMo in the past with its TouchFLO user interface, but we really saw what it could do when it brought useful, lovely social-networking widgets and multi-touch zoom to Google's Android OS on the HTC Hero, with a skin HTC calls Sense.

Now HTC is giving the Sense treatment to Android's ugly step-sister, Windows Mobile. The HTC HD2, announced today, is the first phone running Windows Mobile to have a capacitive touchscreen instead of a resistive one. That means you can operate it with the swipe of a finger rather than having to apply the needle-sharp pressure of a fingernail or stylus.

Styluses offer the accuracy needed by delivery men and traffic wardens, but we think the gentle swoop of a fingertip is a more pleasurable and user-friendly way to play, with the iPhone being the prime example. Now people forced to use Windows Mobile phones by their IT departments, and those keen to edit Microsoft Excel files on the go, can join in on the good times thanks to the HD2.

The HD2 will also be the first WinMo phone with multi-touch, which means that you can do things like pinch two fingers on the screen to zoom in and out of photos, Web pages and maps -- an intuitive feature we love. HTC hasn't been able to confirm if multi-touch will work in all the phone's applications, or whether it will only work in specific places, like on the HTC Hero.

The HD2 will use the latest version of Windows Mobile, 6.5, which improves many of our favourite bugbears that made previous versions so tough to use on a touchscreen. The list of tiny options in the start menu has been replaced by a honeycomb of large, finger-friendly icons, for example.

The HD2 also features a eyeball-popping 109mm (4.3-inch) screen, and Qualcomm's powerful 1GHz Snapdragon mobile processor. At only 11mm thick it sounds like it could have the looks of a Toshiba TG01 without the sadness of its underwhelming user interface.

HTC also promises some more of the social-networking goodness it brought to the Hero, including an address book that pulls in your Facebook contacts. There will also be an optional car kit so you can use the HD2 as a sat-nav, although HTC hasn't confirmed whether it will boost the phone's GPS mojo.

Could this be the phone that lets us love WinMo again? We'll be taking it for a test drive as soon as we can to find out. HTC says the HD2 will be available later this month, so we won't have to wait long.