HTC, a Taiwanese PDA and handset manufacturer, has officially unveiled a dual-mode mobile WiMAX/GSM handset to add to its ‘Touch’ range of devices using Windows Mobile OS.

The HTC MAX 4G integrated handset, heralded as the world’s first commercial device of its kind, will become available on 26th November to customers of Scartel, which is building out a mobile WiMAX network in Moscow and St Petersburg under the ‘Yota’ service brand name.

“Yota was established to provide a unique set of mobile communication services to millions of people in Russia and today we have launched the first device and services to realise its full potential,” says Denis Sverdlov, general director, Scartel. “We really believe that these innovative services, high-speed internet and stylish HTC MAX 4G will completely change the communications industry, just as the introduction of cellular communications did many years ago.”

One of the multimedia services Scartel will launch is ‘Yota Video’, a video-on-demand (VOD) service broadcasting 14 free channels to begin with and 23 channels by the end of 2008, The 3.8 inch touch-screen of the HTC MAX 4G can display up to nine TV channels simultaneously, which, says Scartel, allows for easier navigation between the TV channels.

A ‘Yota Music’ service offers an online music catalogue of more than 50,000 titles, including a wide range of music from both international and independent music labels. Users can choose to either play the tracks direct from the online catalogue, or download them to the HTC MAX 4G’s 8GB of onboard flash memory.

For voice, HTC MAX 4G users will be able to  make and receive GSM calls with any Russian mobile phone network operator; when both callers are Yota subscribers, calls will be routed as VoIP on the Scartel’s mobile WiMAX network.

“The introduction of the HTC MAX 4G represents the culmination of a close partnership between HTC and Yota to develop the world’s first integrated mobile GSM/WIMAX handset,” says Peter Chou, HTC CEO. “Russia is a key strategic market for HTC and Yota’s mobile WiMAX network sets a new global benchmark for next-generation mobile services.” Pricing details of the HTC MAX 4G handset, as well as tariff plans for the Yota services, have yet to be released.