HTC, the largest maker of handsets that use Microsoft software, has launched four smartphones, including one that's designed to rival the BlackBerry.

The HTC S620, formerly code-named Excalibur, is a slender 12.8mm thick and weighs 130g. It's designed to promote the push email function of Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 software and to compete with Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry device.

The phone has a navigation bar below the screen that provides easy access to Outlook Mobile, Word Mobile, Powerpoint Mobile and a PDF viewer. It has a 2.4in colour screen, a full qwerty keypad and a host of wireless functions, including quad-band GPRS (general packet radio service) and Edge (enhanced data GSM environment), WLAN (wireless LAN) and Bluetooth.

The S620 is due to be offered by phone operators throughout Europe in October, when prices will be announced. Some models will be customised for certain network operators.

The other phones also run Windows Mobile 5.0, and all four of them come with a mobile version of Microsoft Office that includes most of the applications but not Excel. All of the phones are being offered initially in Europe, with the US and possibly Asia to follow.

The HTC P3300 is a smartphone that combines the functions of a PDA with a GPS (global positioning system) device. It marks the start of a new partnership for HTC, which teamed up with TomTom, an Amsterdam-based maker of personal navigation products.

The P3300 comes with TomTom's Navigator 6.0 software and a 2.8in colour screen to view a set of preinstalled maps for western Europe. The handset runs Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and other Microsoft applications.

HTC and TomTom will probably work together on other devices in the future, they said.

For users who want a 3G smartphone with high-speed internet connectivity, HTC developed the P3600. The handset, which also uses Windows Mobile 5.0, features email, calendar and word-processing software. It also has a 2Mp (megapixel) camera and comes ready to run on HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) networks. It's due to be available in Europe from September.

The last of the new handsets, the HTC S310, is a small, chocolate-bar-style quad-band mobile phone designed primarily for messaging. It also runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 and will be available throughout Europe in September.

HTC has already lined up some major European mobile phone operators to sell the devices. For example, T-Mobile plans to launch a customised version of the HTC P3300 in several European markets, HTC said.