ATLANTA—In our first installment, we explored trends and new handsets from the “S” vendors—Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Siemens. In Part Two, we analyze the newest phones from middle-of-the-alphabet vendors and look at a few other interesting devices being shown this week at the CTIA Wireless trade show here.
Its not the sexiest phone in the world, but Nokia was still inordinately proud of its new flip phone. The 6255 supports CDMA2000 1X and includes a built-in MP3/AAC player and FM radio. This tri-mode phone supports CDMA 800, 1900 and AMPS. It also includes a VGA camera and captures video as well. The phone includes integrated Bluetooth and will work as a data modem over the CDMA2000 network. The 6255 will be available in the fourth quarter of 2004.
But I was more impressed with Nokias latest attempt to crack the smartphone market. Earlier communicators were big, bulky and poorly designed. The latest refresh, the 9500, fixes many of those problems. Nokia shaved a few ounces off the unit, and it feels smaller and sleeker.
The 9500 also surfs the Web quite well. The 640×200 screen, which makes reading Web pages almost pleasant, is much better than that of any other smartphone on the market.
The 9500 runs the Symbian operating system, so its likely to be less integrated with Outlook and other Windows applications than Microsoft Corp.s smartphones. But if youre looking for a single device to replace your PC or to do e-mail and browsing on the road, this is the device for you.
When folded up, the 9500 looks like a real phone, albeit a large one. Its not for your pocket, but it is an attractive computer replacement. Itll be out by the end of the year at about $1,000.
This funky, stylish phone from Nokia includes the companys first megapixel camera. In addition to the camera, the 7610 includes Bluetooth and the ability to create as many as 10 minutes of video, but only at QCIF (176×144) and below. It includes 72 megabytes of RAM, an Internet browser and MP3/AAC playback capability. It also will operate as a GPRS modem for data connectivity and will sync up to Outlook and other applications on your PC. The tri-band GSM phone will be available worldwide in the second quarter of 2004.
Hands-free car kits abounded at CTIA, but Nokia put the most oomph behind its new offering, putting a bright-orange VW Beetle convertible on the show floor.
The Advanced Car Kit CK-7W supports more than just Nokia phones. The company claims that the kit supports more than 100 phones, with more on the way. The unit features both a standard cradle and wire and a Bluetooth receiver. It sits between a cars stereo and speakers and plays phone audio over the cars stereo.
That round button in the center of the dash is the remote control for the device, which gives easy access to answering and hanging up a call. The unit will be available in the third quarter of this year for about $200. The company recommends professional installation.
Motorola Smartphones Offer Twist
My favorite device from a design perspective has to be Motorolas new MPX smartphone. Built around Microsofts phone operating system, its a hybrid with twist.
Use it in normal phone mode and its your basic, albeit overlarge, clamshell phone.
But when you close it and press a button on the side of the unit, the phone does a Dr. Jekyll switch and turns into a clamshell PDA, complete with keyboard.
Alas, I was very unimpressed with the prototype keyboard.
The keys are not raised enough for easy thumb typing, which means a slow and arduous hunt and peck process. Motorola says its working on making the keyboard more usable, so well just have to wait and see how it ends up when the product ships later this year.
But its undoubtedly cool, and it captured the enthusiasm and excitement of show-goers. It even glows in the dark!
Motorolas new a845 phone, the companys first 3G/UMTS handset, will support two-way video conferencing, which is pretty cool. Its big, though—too big for most users, in my opinion. It also includes support for assisted GPS, a feature that combines cell-net location information with GPS satellite data to help users find stores, restaurants and addresses. It will launch in the second half of 2004, when AT&T Wireless rolls out its UMTS/WCDMA network.
Motorola also introduced a phone with a megapixel digital camera. The V710 includes a 1.2 megapixel CCD, with a built-in flash and MPEG4 video support as well. It will sync with PC desktop applications and works as a data modem, too.
Although I didnt see it at CTIA, the Motorola a760 offers an interesting take on the smartphone—but its only available in China now. I like it, small and lightweight with a good-looking screen. Maybe itll come to the United States soon.
I was also fascinated by the range of Bluetooth devices at the show. Motorola plans to release a Bluetooth speakerphone, which if it works is actually a pretty good idea.
LG Phones Missing Appeal
LGs new advertising campaign, equating phones with fashion, festooned all of Atlanta. It was odd, though—the company made a lot of noise, but it didnt have a lot of sexy phones.
The VX8000 was the only one to get me excited, and it wont be available until the end of the year. Even worse, the phone wasnt even powered up in the booth.
The 8000 marks LGs first foray into EvDO (Evolution Data Only), the high-speed network Verizon is rolling out across the United States. It includes a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, video-streaming capability and as many as 15 seconds of non-real-time video messaging.
Heres LGs press picture, which makes the phone look a little bit better. LG calls it a “visual entertainment phone” because you can use it to stream audio and video to the phone for playback. It also offers high-speed data access to let your PC or notebook surf the Web.
Kyocera Offers Unique
Kyocera had a small booth, but much more exciting designs. I was particularly taken by the Koi, a twist phone.
I just love the idea of a phone that folds out, like a Swiss army knife or a pocket magnifying glass.
The Koi is another megapixel camera phone, with a 1.2 megapixel CCD. It also allows for MPEG4 video recording and includes 16 MB of internal storage. Its tri-band CDMA- and CDMA2000-compatible. The Koi, set to ship by June, will come in two colors: silver/metallic and blue/satin.
I was also impressed by the slimness of Kyoceras KZ860. Its no thicker than a few business cards, which will make it very portable. Alas, itll only be toted around by users in China.