sprint_touchThanks to Michael Reyes at Hardware Geeks I was able to spend a few minutes with the Sprint Touch last week. It’s a Windows Mobile phone with an iPhone-esque touch screen interface that supports gestures.

The Sprint Touch is widely rumored to be available from Sprint November 4th for $249, after $100 mail-in rebate.

The original HTC Touch met with mixed reviews. Most complaints involved sluggish performance, and lack of a full-screen keyboard. Like the iPhone, the Touch lacks a physical keyboard. Sprint seems to have met both of these concerns head-on. The processor speed has been doubled from 200mhz to 400mhz, and they’ve included new full-screen keyboards that can be used without a stylus.

I gotta say, I was blown away by this phone. The form-factor is simple amazing. At 4.0″ x 2.4″ x 0.6″ and weighing just 4 ounces. It’s roughly the same size as a Motorola Razr (with the clamshell closed). Other than GPS, they’ve managed to squeeze everything I want into a very pocketable phone. There’s a large and bright 2.8″ touch screen with 320×240 resolution, a 2 megapixel camera, stereo bluetooth, EVDO, microSD expansion, voice dialing, Windows Mobile 6 with Outlook Mobile, Office Mobile, and Windows Live.

I think the major complaint regarding this phone is going to be that it’s not an iPhone. Yes, the iPhone is terrific, however it’s not perfect for everyone. For example, I live in an area without AT&T coverage, and can’t even purchase it. A tremendous amount of third party software is also readily available for Windows Mobile. The next complaint will be the lack of a physical keyboard. However, a keyboard requires a trade-off in size, and I think they made the right choice. If you’re a heavy texter, or send a lot of email, consider the Mogul.

I’ve carried a smart phone for a couple of years. A Verizon XV6700. It had Windows Mobile 5.0, and a slide-out keyboard. However, the keyboard was almost impossible to use with one hand, and the size made it too large to carry as a primary phone. So, I carried a smaller cell phone every day, and relegated the smart phone for use when traveling. The Sprint Touch should allow me to carry only one phone again.

I use my smart phone primarily to read email (IMAP), and browse the Internet. I mostly reply to emails using my desktop, and I don’t text very often. I was able to use the full screen keyboard using my fingertips, while not resorting to the built-in stylus or tips of my thumbnails. The screen required more pressure than I would have liked, but I think you’d quickly become accustomed to it. The TouchFLO interface is a unique twist on the Windows Mobile interface and works intuitively. However, Windows Mobile was not designed to be a touch operating system, and it can use improvement.

I didn’t get a chance to test the phone features, but Mike said the Sprint network offered better coverage than T-Mobile in New York City, and that the signal and voice quality were excellent.

If you are considering the Sprint Touch, you should also consider Sprint’s SERO plan. SERO is a heavily discounted plan for friends and family of Sprint employees, available to anyone.

Update: Just announced, Touch Cruise, or the Touch with GPS and TomTom software! Let’s hope Sprint picks it up.