HTC launched its latest generation Touch phone at a London event today. Called the Touch Diamond, the device is clearly aimed at broadening the consumer appeal of HTC’s previously business-centric handsets.

The new handset boasts HSDPA/3G as well as EDGE/GPRS and a 3D version of the company’s TouchFlo tech running on a 2.8-inch screen. And like the Touch, Touch Diamond runs Windows Mobile. Indeed, it will be the first featuring Windows Mobile 6.1.

There's also a 3.2megapixel auto-focus camera plus 4GB of internal storage. GPS is also supported for use with established mapping software compatible with Windows Mobile.

The year of the mobile internet

"2008 will be the year of usable mobile internet," said Peter Chow, president of HTC. He added that more than three million HTC Touches have been sold. "2007 was about touch. 2008 and 9 are beyond touch…when we make mobile content usable. I’m super excited to be unveiling our new flagship. We’ve been working on this since HTC Touch last year."

"Today we mark a new era in mobile phone evolution, an era where beauty and size integrate with uncompromising innovation at broadband speeds," added Chou. "The HTC Touch Diamond will make browsing the web and using web-enabled applications just as practical and easy to use as making calls.

"Transforming the website experience made for a PC is very challenging," he said. Of HTC's near decade-long partnership with Orange, Chow added: "We screwed up sometimes, but we learnt from that." Orange's treatment of the Diamond includes a Orange-themed user-interface plus a music and games download store and photo portal.

"HTC Touch Diamond is a breakthrough device," said Horance Luke, chief innovation officer. "We challenged everything. It's the world’s most advanced phone in one of the smallest form factors." He demonstrated the phone in action - which we'll get our hands on later. Among the apps on the phone is the well-worn YouTube app - cheekily Luke dubbed it "the best YouTube experience on a mobile device."

Andy Lees, head of the Mobile Communications Business Microsoft said that Windows Mobile was now available on 140 devices and 11 million were shipped last year. "This year we’re on track to sell more than 20 million units," he added.

Lees added that Windows Mobile was now aimed not only at business users, but is suited to "work, home and play scenarios". Only Microsoft could talk about such things in terms of ‘scenarios’ rather than the actual user experience.

The HTC Touch Diamond will be available from June, through all mobile networks.