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Photos: Is the Velocity 103 the UK's first decent smart phone?

If you thought that Windows Mobile phones were only conceived off in far away lands, then you'd be wrong, because a company in Kent is making them too

Few brave souls have attempted to set up a smart phone company in the UK -- who would want to compete with the likes of Taiwanese-based HTC, for example? But a group of British daredevils have taken on the challenge in the form of Velocity Mobile, a smart phone company that's making a noticeable splash in the mobile world.

Yesterday we met the Velocity team and got to grips with what exactly it plans on doing and took a look at the new Velocity 103 handset. The company works alongside Inventec, a Taiwanese company that also produces laptops. All the phone designs, software and marketing are worked on in Britain, while Inventec manufactures the phones.

What we like about Velocity is that it's a very small team full of experience in customising Windows Mobile phones. It has been set up to move quickly as it's largely free up from the standard corporate bureaucracy. The way the company is planning to enhance the standard Windows Mobile software is particularly impressive and distinguishes it from many other manufacturers.

One clever plan it has is to update the phone software over the air, which means no wires. It might sound like a small detail, but it's a big deal for a Windows Mobile phone -- the VOTA app Velocity has written checks for software updates and downloads the latest version.

We're also taken by Velocity's design ethos. As you'll see in our exclusive pictures on the next few pages, the 103 is very simple, but functional.

The unlocked Velocity 103 is available for pre-order online now through Expansys for £325 and will ship by the end of September.

The Velocity 103 is a touchscreen candybar smart phone that runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and comes with Velocity's own Odyssey interface that gives you quick access to applications, which you can customise depending on your needs.

On the back there's a bog standard 2-megapixel camera with no flash or auto-focus. It's not exactly the Samsung I8510 but Velocity assured us that future models will come with much better cameras.

Right at the top of the Velocity 103 you'll find a toggle switch that allows you to power on the device or lock it, which is useful if you don't want to turn it on by mistake when it's in your pocket.

To navigate around the Velocity 103 you can use the touchscreen and scroll ball that's similar to the one found on the BlackBerry Bold. The Velocity 103 charges using a standard USB cable, although to our dismay the headphone jack is 2.5mm and not a 3.5mm version, which means you will need to use an adapter if you want to use standard headphones. -Andrew Lim