The HTC Touch Diamond2 is possibly the best touchscreen phone since the Apple iPhone 3G, and in many respects it pushes the Apple handset close for title of 'best smartphone of them all'.

The original HTC Touch Diamond first appeared last summer and was widely touted as the closest any Windows Mobile device had yet come to an iPhone killer.

And for the most part, it lived up to the hype, with its compact size, distinctive TouchFLO interface, easy email, exemplary browser, impressive touch screen, loads of potential apps thanks to its Windows Mobile base.

Even the camera vied with the iPhone's for crappiness. But what now for the new version? We have a closer look:

Look and feel

The latest incarnation, the not terribly originally named HTC Touch Diamond2, is slightly bigger and heavier with a larger touch screen and upgrades the camera to 5 megapixels.

The build quality of the case has also improved, and there are also a few tweaks to the interface, a new zoom bar which works for both pictures and web, upgraded applications and improved battery life.

It doesn't exactly break the mould of the original Diamond but it offers a very creditable upgrade with improvements in almost every area.

Screen

The Diamond2's extended screen is a beautiful thing – it's a large 3.2in TFT LCD touch-sensitive one offering 800x480 pixel WVGA resolution (that's VGA, but wide).

It's sharp, bright and clear and acquits itself well for display purposes. In terms of sensitivity it strikes a good balance between accessing icons and doing the glide thing where you slide your thumb over the screen to scroll through menus or move pictures around.

Unfortunately, there's no way to adjust the touch sensitivity, so you may find that you have to get used to using the right amount of pressure to brush through menus and access applications.

The screen's size emphasises just how vulnerable it could be, and fortunately the handset comes with a thinnish leather-look cover which goes some way to protecting it.

Casing


The HTC Touch Diamond2 is slightly bigger than its predecessor at 108x53x14mm and 118g (the original was 102x51x11mm and 108g) with the extra size being used almost entirely to deliver its extended screen – 3.2-inches rather than 2.8-inches, and covering most of the front of the phone.

The plasticky D-pad beneath the screen has gone and been replaced with a thin line of buttons – call start and stop, Windows menu and a back button. Just above this is a zoom bar for use when browsing or viewing pictures.

The Diamond2 feels sturdier than the original Diamond, due in part to the new metal edging. The plastic back too feels stronger than the flimsy material of the original, and it's lost the rather pointless crystal-shaped back, which only served to give the Diamond its name while offering no practical purpose.

It didn't look terribly good either and HTC claims it has listened to suggestions from its users and got rid of it, replacing it with a plain black plastic back, with only a triangular metal surround for the lens of the 5 megapixel camera as a reminder.

The sides feature minimal fuss with just a volume rocker and loudspeaker, plus a slot for the stylus (it comes with a spare), a mini USB charging/headphone slot on the bottom and power button on top.