BARCELONA, Spain-Mobile handset maker LG did its best to steal the show on the first day of Mobile World Congress here, announcing, among other products, the world's first "market-ready" 3G wristwatch phone, the world's first "transparent design" phone and environmentally friendly (green) initiatives.
In addition to the sort of James Bond-style handsets used mainly for show, the company unveiled the GM730 smartphone and the Arena, a multimedia mobile phone. While the GM730, available in the first half of 2009 on Windows Mobile 6.1 and on Windows Mobile 6.5 in the second half of 2009, may seem the most practical of the products, nothing captures the imagination like a handset you can hardly see or a touch-screen phone you can wear on your wrist.
The Touch Watch Phone, as it is officially (and rather unimaginatively) called, officially debuted in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as a follow-up to a prototype the company introduced in 2008. This time around, the phone will be available for purchase, although not until the end of the year, and only in Europe.
The Watch Phone, which features 7.2M-bps 3G HSPDA compatibility, has a built-in camera and, according to LG, can handle video phone calls and text messages (as well as keep accurate time). Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition features as well as text-to-speech (TTS) technology ensures you won't strain your eyes squinting at the phone's 1.43-inch screen.
Not content to build the world's smallest 3G phone, LG also debuted a transparent phone, the GD900. Although the entire phone isn't exactly Invisible Man-level clear, the sliding keypad, which illuminates when opened, is certainly see-through. Aside from the appeal of a transparent keypad (if there is one), the handset also includes a dedicated Bluetooth headset and "advanced features" that LG is withholding until the phone comes to market in the second quarter of 2009.
The company is also jumping onto the bandwagon of environmental responsibility, highlighting on Monday green initiatives, including an eco-friendly mobile phone equipped with a solar panel battery cover. Samsung offers a similar technology in its Blue Earth handset. By pointing the panel at natural light, the solar cells convert the sun's energy into electricity without needing to plug the phone in. LG claims 10 minutes of exposure to the sun gives it enough power to make a 3-minute call. LG says in an emergency situation this would be an ideal escape hatch.
The solar panel can absorb enough sunlight, as long as it's left out long enough, to create enough standby power to power the phone without any charging device. The phone is due to enter the European market at the end of the year.
LG is also taking a step toward helping out the environment by reducing the use of hazardous substances in its products and replacing them with sustainable substances. The company points to adherence to the European Union's RoHS requirements, which strictly limit the level of toxic substances, such as lead or mercury, used in the production process. The company said it plans to make all handsets antimony-free by 2012.