We sat down this evening with Velocity Mobile to get an in-depth hands-on drive with its spankin’ new 103 and 111 series of smartphones. When I first sat down at the table, I was impressed by the clean black finish on both of the phones, and each were about as appealing and eye catching as the original photos led them to be. We have to hand it to Velocity Mobile for taking a shot at the smart phone industry which is currently being dominated by players that have been in the space for years. Like HTC, it’s also taking a stab at creating a new Windows Mobile 6.1 overlay to help improve the user experience on the 103. The 111 has the same Windows Mobile 6.1 look and feel, but offers a full QWERTY keypad that gives users the option to switch between a stylus/finger touchscreen or trackball/QWERTY combo for navigation. Let’s talk software UI first. We like the attempt so far, and we’re well aware that it’s not at its final build, but right now it’s still too slow for my tastes. When we navigated through the quick-launch icons, we could see a small delay in the phone’s reaction. We do like, however, that you can change which icons are displayed on the home screen, giving you quicker access to your most used apps. Also, the weather, like the iPhone, can be customized for your location. The devices themselves felt a bit clunky and weight a bit too much for my tastes. Now I’m not exactly the kind of guy that frequents the gym, pumps weights, or even does sit-ups on Sunday mornings, so it could just be my physique, but these devices are noticeably heavier than a BlackBerry Curve or Samsung BlackJack II. I will note, however, that our hands-on was with a first hardware build of the unit, and that future versions may or may not be lighter. So right now, I’m appreciating the attempt, but also acknowledging that Velocity Mobile has its work cut out for itself. We’ll be impressed if the user interface is super smooth and lag free, and at launch; mainly because that’s where the competition is going to be by the time these devices hit store shelves later in 2008. Also, no carriers have been announced, so the handsets will cost a bit more without the carrier 2-year contract discount.