Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nokia Prism

Nokia is eschewing the curves which they arguably brought to mobile phones in the first place and going all angular.

The Nokia Prism was unveiled at a fashion show in China. Yes, a fashion show, not a technology conference as might be expected. To be honest, the technology under the surface of this handset really isn't anything to write home (or a blog entry) about: Bluetooth, USB 2.0 (I like), EDGE, GPRS and Tri-Band.

But the design is rather original, no? I love it when visions of the future from decades gone by actually come to be realised, rather like this lovely slab.

I do, however, have one concern about the angles and this is:

Every pair of jeans that I own has a white line around the lefthand pocket where my phone has sat. It makes me all nostalgic, looking at an old pair of 501s which no longer do up to see the outline of my first ever mobile - a Siemens S8 - which this page informs us has such groundbreaking features as a "large 4 line display" and "99 name phonebook".

Look at those sharp edges on the new Nokia! A recipe for denim disaster, no?

Some more about the Prism:
From the Mobile Gazette
From the Register
and finally, for those of you who dabble in Mandarin, from Nokia

Friday, July 06, 2007

Is this the best looking phone ever?

The Nokia Aeon is a lovely new concept phone from the Finnish giants:

I was a little slow on the uptake with this one but what a phone! Nokia have taken the touch screen to another level... the phone consists of two separate screens held together in the middle by a fuel cell. You can apparently assign the two screens to do whatever you want.

The review says it should be wipe-down. Couldn't agree more when it looks that good.

Concept phones are all well and good, but there are some real beauties out on the market already. Check out the LG Chocolate Black Label, for example:

It's stylish, yes, but I still prefer Scandinavian phones. They just seem to make more sense and have less frivolous features. It's like putting an Audi next to a Lexus, y'know?

So here's something a bit tasty and Scandinavian:

I really wanted to show a good looking Ericsson handset but... ermmm... here's the Nokia 8600 Luna anyway. It's very much like the 8600 Sirocco Gold, but more understated. Lovely huh?

Friday, June 29, 2007

New Sony Ericsson handsets

Sony Ericsson has recently revealed a raft of new handsets which are causing something of a stir.

The K530i is my personal favourite.

Looking remarkably similar to the K510, this is a lightweight 3G phone with a QVGA display, 2 megapixel camera and expandable memory. It is the first Sony Ericsson handset to work with the HGE-100 GPS Enabler, which is an exciting development.

As you have probably gathered, I am a big fan of 3G technology and firmly believe that the public should be more aware of its usefulness. Tied in with the GPS enabler, phones like the K530i are nudging us towards locally targetted mobile internet services, which is where we will see the next great breakthrough in mobile technology.

Another new handset revealed by Sony Ericsson is the impressive W960i.

A walkman phone, the W960i has 8GB of memory and features a touch-screen display which is sure to set hearts racing. Another model aimed at crossing the boundaries between electronic devices, this handset offers TV quality video playback and a 3.2 megapixel camera to boot.

This is a straight upgrade to the W950i and is surprisingly feature laden, while not compromising on style.

Friday, May 25, 2007

iPhone is popular (no surprises there then)

Apple´s iPhone has caused the biggest fuss of any new mobile for as long as anyone can remember. In the wake of iPodmania, it should be unsurprising that the world is waiting with bated breath to see what the computer manufacturer can add to the already huge range of phones available. After all, the iPod revolutionised the world of mobile music players more than any single product since the original Sony Walkman. It was all a matter of usability, much as it will be with the new phone.

A phenomenal amount of free publicity has been given to the phone, from such unlikely sources as the BBC, which ran repeated features on the phone on television news bulletins and online. Similarly, newspapers around the world have been gripped by the progress of the device, again providing incalculable free coverage for the multinational. Clever stuff, no?

In the States, the iPod starts shipping next month and has already recieved, wait for it... one million enquiries from customers who wish to receive information when it is released. On AT&T alone.

Apple hope to sell 10 million iPhones and it seems their canny approach to marketing is doing the job nicely. Basically, they are saying nothing very much and letting the buzz build to phemonenal pre-release levels. No other mobile phone manufacter has the power to reach the mainstream media in this way, which probably sticks in the throat of Nokia and Sony Ericsson, who have been producing truly innovative handsets for years.

Now, all we can do is wait and see if it lives up to the hype.

My guess is yes.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Following on nicely: Nokia 8800 Sirocco Bling... sorry... Gold

Picture yourself as the posessor of fantastic wealth. Come on... we've all done it at some point. Personally, I walk along the seafront in Brighton and choose which of the mansion houses I would purchase. I would then buy a load of property all over the world and become a benevolent 21st century Rackman figure.

Someone, somewhere, would rather spend their wealth on owning a golden phone. Yes, that's right, a golden phone. Or at least this must be the case because the usually astute bods at Nokia have released the wonder that is the 8800 Sirocco Gold.

After detailing the best looking handsets, it seems only right that Nokia should deliver something so gloriously heinous as this.

Looking rather like something that might drop out of King Midas' rear end, this handset is arguably the most bling thing you could possibly have in your handbag. Before you can say 'footballers wives', it is worth noting that the handset is basically just a normal 8800, with all of the inherrent problems that have always plagued Nokia's top-end poseur package, such as a small memory (for the price) and a bad talk time, although this has been improved since the first 8800 was released.

The downside to having a golden phone is that it is heavier than equivalent handsets and would probably be quite attractive to a criminal, should he see it sitting on the table at the local Rat & Parrot.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Best Looking Handsets

In the early years of mobile telephony, handset manufacturers were clambering over each other to load on as much technology as possible. Handset design was generally 'functional' to say the least, which lead to phones like my old favourite, the Motorola Graphite. Mmmm... retro.

Nokia were the first to really crack the concept that a cute-looking mobile with features such as snake and an genuinely intuitive menu system - pictures, anyone?

Nowadays, ugly handsets are the exception rather than the rule. True beauty, on the other hand, is rare. I have recently highlighted the Apple and Prada phones: two shining (and shiny) examples of handsome handsets.

Here are a couple of other lookers currently doing the rounds.

LG Chocolate (Black Label daaaahling)

So stylish it can only be carried in £1000+ handbags by supermodels, the LG Chocolate Black Label is half 2001 A Space Oddessy and half the way Silk Cut adverts used to look before those meanies banned fun ads from telly. LG's populist Chocolate is a big seller and a particularly handsome handset. The Black Label editions are something a little special to look at. The pictured handset is a Black Label Platinum, which glows with sexy red buttons when it gets the signal or you touch it right. Phwoar.

Sony Ericsson z750

One for the Americans, this is. A hot little number from the Swedish/Japanese partnership, the Z750 is superbly understated and rather reminiscent of a post-surgery Motorola Pebble. It is heavy on technology too, with great compatability (it offers 3G service in the States and the rest of the world). The thinking man's crumpet.

Nokia 8800 Sirocco

Nokia have come up with this little beauty. While the original 8800 was a handsome, high end handset, it was rather limited by its terrible battery life. It was similar to a Lambourghini Diablo if you like - more status symbol than practical tool. The Sirocco edition, on the other hand, is more Audi S6 - stylish and powerful. The steel slider is a beauty when closed up, which wouldn't look at all out of place on the passenger seat of a supercar as it whipped along the Monte Carlo coastline to the casino.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Polymer Vision Readius

Kicking back, cup of tea in hand, around December time in 2005, a feature on Channel 5's rather wonderful 'Gadget Show' caught my attention. The presenters were at a technology convention (can't remember which, through the foggy haze of time) and had a representative of Philips keen to show off a brand new development. The Dutch tinkermeisters had a working model of an almost paper-thin screen which could be used with mobile phones. It operated using 'electronic ink' and could fold in on itself, making it very space-efficient. The disadvantage, if I remember rightly, was that the screen was not backlit and couldn't deal with much in the way of detail.

Fast forward a year (and a bit) and the mobile phone market is dominated by Apple's vision of a touchscreen handset. To my mind, the fuss about the iPhone and similar Prada Phone overshadows the most influential portable electronic device released this year, which is the Polymer Vision Readius. Don't get me wrong, the Apple will sell thousands of times as many units as the Polymer Vision device, but this little beauty represents the future.

The device is not a phone (although it is EDGE and UMTS compatible) but this technology is bound to transfer into the mobile market in coming years. The screen is also not up to the demands of the modern mobile consumer, but this very new technology can't be expected to match the image quality of its clunkier bretheren just yet. The screen is slow to update and cannot handle moving images. Yet.

The prospect of folding screens is a fascinating one. In years to come, how would you feel about reading an electronic newspaper that folded out from your mobile phone, or perhaps watching the football on a decent sized-screen which weighed less than a pair of shinpads?

Interesting developments indeed...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fujitsu F703i - a waterproof phone

There are not many gimmicks which haven't been explored in the world of mobile phones. We have had the drunk-proof handset. We have had an ungodly selection of pink phones, including Hello Kitty phones.

We have business phones, designer-branded handsets, cheap, almost desposible phones for the developing markets and hundreds of mid-market options.

What more could we possibly need?

What can be done that has never been done before.

Fujitsu think answer is a waterproof mobile phone.

Yes, that's right. The Fujitsu F703i can survive being under 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, if the claims of the manufacturer are to be believed. This raises some (reasonably obvious) questions, first and foremost... why?

Now, with only a relatively poor grasp of human biology, as conferred upon me by the English state education system and its fine GSCE double science qualification, I am in no position to comment upon what the human body is capable of, but talking underwater seems like a stretch. I mean really, most things in life are considerably more difficult when attempted underwater, which is probably why we evolved from sea creatures over many millions of years (I learnt that from a Guiness advert).

Interestingly, this handset manages to cling on to stylistic sensibilities. Check out the lovely 'chequered' effect, for example, and the futuristic clock facade. This is a departure from previous 'gimmick' phones which have always placed function over form and have looked rather rough as a result. On the other hand, who is going to see you when you are making calls underwater?

The mind boggles...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nokia E90

I've always admired the Nokia Communicator series from afar, waiting for the right time to switch up to the beasts. As I see it, there are two necessary requirements for owning one of these phones. Firstly, you have some need to check your emails on the go - maybe you travel away from your computer a lot - and secondly you need to wear a suit for work. For some reason these phones just seem perfect to fit into a suit pocket.

Sadly it doesn't seem as though I will be fitting either of these criteria in the near future. The umbilical link between myself and my laptop shows no sign of being severed any time soon and I work in shorts and a tee-shirt. Woo hoo! The joys of working at home.

The latest installment - the E90 - is one of the most advanced, feature-packed mobile phones ever released. Interestingly, the phone uses a Symbian S60 operating system as opposed to the S80 used on the 9500 and 9300. This may seem like an unusual step, but S60 offers E90 users access to a much wider range of applications. A quick straw poll suggests that S60 is every bit as easy to use as the newer system and ultimately more flexible. Good work Nokia.

This is a business phone. Smart features include onboard GPS and a high-resolution screen. The system can handle PDF files and read documents in Microsoft office. Unlike the previous generation of Communicator, the E90 comes fully-loaded with 3G, which can only be good news.

Features which you may be surprised to find on this phone include an FM radio and 3.2 Megpixel camera. Many businesses do not like to have cameras onboard business phones (however employees generally love them). I imagine the phone is there for those long, dull train journeys from London Euston to the Midlands to meet clients. Hmm... maybe that's fair enough.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Prada Phone - LG KE850

After mentioning the LG KE850 in my last post, I thought it silly not to give you some information about this handsome beast.

First off... a word on the looks. Prada is known for understatement and this continues into the design of the new phone. While the iPhone is pretty tasteful itself, Prada's creation, with it's technochiaroscuro, is very subtle indeed. There are none of Apple's 'garish' colours - just black and white. LG have also released a non-Pradafied version of the phone, which will undoubtedly carry a far more reasonable price tag but isn't so chic.

You could be forgiven for thinking the LG KE850 is a knock-off of the iPhone but that would be incorrect. The two phones have been in development simultaneously and both manufacturers clearly shared a desire to push mobile design forward, removing the need for the wands which have always come with touchscreen handsets (and generally gone missing at an inopportune moment).

For me, the most attractive thing about the KE850 is the onboard camera - a Schneider Kreuznach lens ensures high-quality optics (they make Kodak's lenses). In addition to the fancy-sounding lens, the KE850 has an LED flash, making it possible to take high-quality photos late at night. Tabloid gossip columns are said to be delighted.

Other good news is that the handset weighs just 85 grams - 50 grams less than the iPhone. The KE850 measures 99 x 54 x 12mm which is a bit smaller than Apple's offering.

Unsurprisingly for such a compact, stylish handset, some features have had the chop - namely 3G (of which I am a huge fan) and wi-fi (which is also pretty damn useful).

All in all, this is one of the most desirable handsets on the market in 2007. Now start saving!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Apple's iPhone and friends - chic

Not since the News of the World's sensational Ashley Cole 'revelations' has a mobile phone caused such a stir as the new Apple iPhone. It's not hard to understand why. Sharing the wonderful design principles that made the iPod the definitive MP3 player, it is extremely easy on the eyes. Anyone who has used an iPod will also be well aware of their user-friendly nature. This also looks set to cross over into the new mobile phone, with a rather lovely, touchscreen interface.

Of course, a touchscreen interface is nothing new. And it's certainly nothing unique to Apple - other manufacturers, notably blackberry and Nokia, have been using this technology for years. What is great about Apple's phone is that the traditional need for a 'magic wand' has gone, to be replaced by an interface suitable for even the clunkiest fingers. Interestingly, days after the annoucement of the iPhone, Prada and LG announced the arrival of this little beauty.

Quite possibly the most desirable phone since, well, since the iPhone, Prada have waved their magic wand over LG's already stylish design - remember the chocolate - and, well, removed all bells and baubles and left a futuristic slab of Italo-Asian style. On a semi-related topic, I spent last night in a restaurant called Asia de Cuba, in Buenos Aires' swish Puerto Madero region. Sitting in an Asian restaurant (in Argentina), with a Norwegian and a Canadian, chomping on American sushi, we were more than a little surprised when a belly dancer started up at one in the morning. The world is shrinking!

It would not be at all surprising to see Apple dominating the mobile phone market in ten years time. If they can make the iPhone as user-friendly as the iPod - and, let's face it, they probably will - it is time for the other manufacturers to get themselves together and make some real progress in phone design. These are exciting times indeed!