Mobile-phone trendsetters like the feel of the touchscreen theme coming next year.

Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone struck a chord with consumers and industry competitors in 2007. The sleek, big-screen $400 phone delivered as promised on a whole new, more compelling user interface, thanks largely to its multi-touch screen.

The iPhone has since become the standard to beat , say industry watchers. And all the major phone companies are gunning for Apple with a new generation of touchscreen phones.

"Slim was the big thing for phones in the past couple years; now it is touchscreens," says IAG Research's Roger Entner. "I think you will see some very good touchscreen phones by this time next year."

One of the more hotly anticipated phones is Research In Motion's ( RIMM) 9000 series BlackBerry. The phone exists in concept only at this point, and people familiar with the company say it probably won't hit the market until the second half of next year. The phone is expected to have a big touchscreen and a keyboard, but the final design has yet to be decided.

No. 1 phonemaker Nokia ( NOK) is expected to have two touchscreen phones sometime next year. At least one of the phones -- tentatively dubbed the N96 -- will have a pulsing touchscreen, a trend that started in 2007.

LG introduced the touchscreen Voyager with Verizon ( VZ) this fall. It was one of the first on the market to sport both a pulsing screen and a flip-open keyboard. LG will likely make improvements on the Voyager and is expected to introduce a sleeker touchscreen unit similar to its Prada, known as the MS25.

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