Windows Mobile doesn’t support capacitive touchscreens, the better-looking, easier-to-use kind of screen used on the iPhone, for instance. But HTC has rewritten core Windows Mobile applications to make it work, and the result is a big-screened, multimedia phone with a cool HTC overlay that makes Windows Mobile its most usable yet.

What we like
It’s very nippy. The speedy processor means that the touchscreen is very responsive, whether you’re typing a text using the HTC virtual keyboard (with its excellent predictive text features) or surfing the internet. Video plays back well and looks great on this huge (4.3-inch) display.

HTC’s Sense overlay is eye-catching and enjoyable, from the windscreen wipers which tell you it’s raining outside to the easily configurable homescreen. It’s easy to put an application shortcut on the homepage, for instance, which turns the phone into a wireless hotspot so you can tether your computer to it.

There’s a touch-sensitive carousel of programs like contacts, calendar and Twitter accessible at the bottom of the screen. Viewing photos is neat – turn the phone and the photos reformat to fill the screen but each snap moves independently in a very cool way.

Plus, if you must, there’s Windows Mobile lurking underneath with its new wonders like Microsoft My Phone to synchronise your contacts, calendar and more with a remote server so you’ve always backed up. It’s a big handset, but very slim and sleek – it feels good in the hand.

What we don’t like
It doesn’t feel quite so good next to your face – it’s noticeably bigger than most phones and you may feel slightly self-conscious holding it up to your head. HTC has exceptionally good taste, so most of the other failings are down to Windows Mobile and its foibles. This latest version, 6.5 and called Windows Phone to make it sound more friendly, is a quantum leap forward but it still doesn’t solve all the problems.

When you use the Windows programs the phone seems to slow down, or perhaps it doesn’t like Windows Mobile any more than the rest of us. You only have to compare the humdrum Windows Outlook calendar with the stylish HTC one on board here to see that Microsoft has a long way to go still.  

Conclusion
This is a very stylish and successful handset with lots to recommend it, even if you’re not a fan of Windows Mobile. The screen looks great and the hardware is very neatly designed – if you don’t mind holding such a large piece of metal to your ear.