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Object of desire: Not content with having the famous Apple iPhone in its stable of smartphones, Softbank is now bringing the HTC Desire and its Android 2.1 operating system to the local market. Also known in Japan as the X06HT, the new phone has already created waves overseas. It seeks to live up to its more interesting name by cranking up both hardware and features. The physical standout is the 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen, which with its 800 × 480 resolution looks primed for multimedia usage. Backing it up is an unusually powerful 1-GHz Snapdragon processor that promises to give the unit real power and speed, making it a viable option as a mobile Internet platform.

Backing up its credentials as a telephone the Desire operates on WCDMA and GSM systems. It also has GPS, Bluetooth, plus b and g flavors of wireless. The 5-megapixel CMOS camera includes an LED flash to go with its autofocus. The dimensions are on a par with its svelte Apple rival at 60 × 119 × 11.9 mm and it weighs a decently light 135 grams. Battery life is claimed to be around 6 1/2 hours of continuous talking. It connects via micro USB. Storage can be boosted with micro SD cards: It comes with a 2-gigabyte card included and can take cards of up to 32 gigabytes in capacity. HTC has gained plaudits for its Sense user interface as fast and intuitive and while it is no groundbreaker, the design is slick enough, with the easy to use buttons kept to a minimal six.

All in all, the Desire is an attractive piece of engineering. Softbank will start taking orders this month and, as usual with mobile phones, the actual cost depends on the nature of the plan you get. Such a smart device won’t come cheap, however, and you would really want to move up into the world of smartphones to justify the expense. Still, it is certain to be a popular choice. mb.softbankmobile.jp/mb/

Give your thumbs a break: Taking a contrasting approach to the mobile-phone concept is Toshiba with its uninspiringly named IS02 coming out in June for AU. Agreeing with the HTC model in its choice of processor, the Toshiba handset then diverges by opting for Windows 6.5.3 as the operating system. Microsoft might dominate the desktop but its software is far less popular as the brains behind the tiny screen. The IS02 also differs in having a slightly bigger 4.1-inch OLED touchscreen. The resolution stays at the same level as the Desire at 480 × 800, suggesting the picture is not quite as sharp.

The key difference between the pair is that the Toshiba device also has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Dressed in white it makes for a snazzy contrast with the black coloring of the rest of the handset. The keyboard might look like an indulgence when the touchscreen is the main means of using the phone, but for somebody who does a lot e-mail work, and is not content to wear out their thumbs, the feature might be useful. Apart from the easier input, the IS02 offers the typical in-built camera, albeit a modest 3.2-megapixel number, b and g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also connects via micro USB. The battery life is a relatively modest 220 minutes. Dimensions are a bit bigger than for the HTC, thanks to the keyboard, with measurements of 66 × 123 × 12.9 mm. The device weighs 158 grams.

The Toshiba product is less well endowed than the HTC Desire and other smartphones, but its keyboard makes it user-friendly in a different way and may allow it to carve out a place in the marketplace. As with all phones, its cost varies, so check out the plans on offer. au-is.jp/products/

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