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Sprint has introduced a touchscreen phone, similar to the iPhone, called The Touch. It will go on sale Nov. 4 for $250 with a two-year contract. Sprint’s HTC Touch lacks WiFi and a keyboard, but still has a stylus. A version has been on sale in Europe since this summer.

The Touch runs Windows Mobile 6, which exists in two versions: one that’s controlled by a stylus, and another that’s controlled by a keypad. HTC, the Taiwanese manufacturer, has modified the stylus-oriented version of the software to make it more usable with fingers alone.

It doesn’t have a large amount of built-in flash memory, relying instead on expansion cards. It’s smaller and lighter than the iPhone, with a screen measuring 2.8 inches diagonally compared with the iPhone’s 3.5 inches.

The Touch uses Sprint’s PowerVision EVDO Rev A data network, rather than the iPhone’s combination of a relatively slow EDGE network supplemented by Wi-Fi. The European Touch’s Wi-Fi capability did not make it into Sprint’s version.

Sprint is now the third mobile carrier to introduce a cell phone with a large touch screen designed to be controlled with fingers rather than a stylus.

AT&T introduced Apple’s iPhone this summer, while Verizon Wireless will introduce the LG Voyager (right) around Thanksgiving. The Voyager phone uses Verizon’s V CAST EVDO network – including V CAST Mobile TV and V CAST Music.

In other news, Steve Jobs announced Wednesday morning that third-party applications are coming to the iPhone. Apple’s CEO posted his open letter on Apple’s Hot News section of its Web site, confirming reports that a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone will be released in Februrary.

The holiday season is always the most critical time of the year for the nation’s carriers.

RCR News summarizes the new phones; “American consumers, who have loved sleek, clamshell phones offered by the carriers at price points from “free” to $50, now face a bewildering array of attractive, highly functional handsets that deliver music, messaging, the Web, mobile TV and personal information management and personalization options”.

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