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T-Mobile MDA Compact V: HTC Touch Diamond2 goes to the dark side

T-Mobile's latest Windows Mobile handset takes the HTC Touch Diamond2 and wraps it in a shiny black livery, with some free sat-nav and a planned upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5 in the works

Haven't we met before, T-Mobile MDA Compact V? Perhaps we saw you across a crowded room, our eyes met your sleek touchscreen and an electric moment passed between us? Oh our mistake, you're just the HTC Touch Diamond2.

The brushed metal has been replaced with shiny piano black, but underneath the cosmetic surgery this is still HTC's feature-packed powerhouse. Its thin frame squeezes in the biggest possible 3.2-inch (81mm) touchscreen, which does a fantastic job of showing off video and YouTube clips. It offers an excellent mobile Web-browsing experience too, thanks to the Opera Web browser, HSDPA and Wi-Fi. There's also a 5-megapixel camera and more text-entry options than you can shake a stylus at, including handwriting recognition.

Did someone say stylus? Sadly, yes. The phone features a resistive touchscreen and the tiny icons of Windows Mobile, which is much better suited to the wee wand than our fleshy fingers. HTC's TouchFLO interface makes the home screen and some key apps more finger-friendly, but it only goes so far and many of the apps still sport the native Windows Mobile 6.1 look.

We're not alone in craving a Windows Mobile update -- Microsoft promises big improvements to the user interface in the upcoming 6.5 version. T-Mobile tells us that the upgrade will be free for MDA Compact V owners upon its release in September, which should vastly improve this handset's usability.

For now, if you can get into the stylus thing, or you've got pointy fingernails, the MDA Compact V has some handy features, including GPS. T-Mobile is also offering a seven-day trial of the excellent CoPilot sat-nav software, and from 1 June, the first 10,000 customers that sign up to an 18-month contract will get CoPilot for free for the duration.

The MDA Compact V will be available free on a £50-per-month contract from the T-Mobile Web site on 21 May. You can grab the HTC Touch Diamond2 for free from £40 per month from Orange via the Carphone Warehouse Web site, so it may come down to how keen you are on T-Mobile, the black colour and some free sat-nav.