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Coming soon: Hot new cellphones
Surajeet Das Gupta in New Delhi
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June 29, 2005

Convergence is the buzzword among mobile service companies. Last fortnight global mobile phone majors who descended on Communications Asia in Singapore were vying with one another to prove that mobile phones were not just about communications only.

They brandished a host of glitzy handsets, with an array of capabilities -- 3D gaming, for example. Every hand set manufacturer tried to make games look more real, faster and exciting.

Some phone makers challenged the domination of digital camera manufacturers by making it possible to shoot high quality pictures using mobile phones. And nearly every mobile phone company attempted to capture the strengths of the iconic iPod from Apple Computers on their mobiles, all offering more space to store music.

Mobile phone makers also brought out enough geegaws for executives to give the Blackberry a run for its money. Some of these phones will make their way to India, others won't. And if they don't, buy them cheaper overseas. Ice World looks at some of these hot new phones.

For game aficionados: Korean giant LG Electronics showcased the SV360 which it claims is the first phone in the world to offer 3D games with a million polygon graphics accelerator chip. So you can play the game five times faster than by using other handsets.

The key pad has been designed by studying customer behaviour. It allows two hand gaming. The 2.2 inch horizontal LCD makes it a perfect portable game player.

What is more, the phone has am embedded acceleration sensor as a result of which games can be controlled by shaking the phone back and forth or right and left without the need to use the direction keys.

Will it be hawked here? Says a senior LG Electronics executive: "We are still doing market research on the market for gaming devices. Our focus at the moment has been on music and camera phones." Translation: if you like gaming, buy the SV360 abroad.

Still, other gaming phones will be available in India soon. Sony Ericsson unveiled the S600i, a swivel phone, at Communications Asia. The phone has dedicated gaming buttons, with provide frenetic 3D action. If you run out of games you could download them from PlayNow. Gaming apart, the phone offers other features like a 1.3 mega pixel camera and an MP3 player.

While the phone's price is still to be decided, Sudhir Mathur, who heads Sony Ericsson in India, says that it will be below Rs 20,000. Says Mathur: "Our focus is on the youth and this phone fits in well with our Indian strategy."

Camera phones: If you are a digital camera freak and want great quality pictures, Samsung's SCH-V770 could be your answer. This stunning code division multiple access (CDMA) phone has a 7 mega pixel camera (most camera phones available today don't have more than 3 mega pixels) with a 3X optical zoom.

Whether the phone will be sold in India, Samsung executives say, will depend on whether mobile service companies are ready to offer it and on mobile service companies launching evolution data only (EVDO) services here.

Yet several phones with 2 mega pixel cameras (1.3 mega pixel cameras are more commonly found in the country) and a lot of storage space were on display too. Samsung executives hope to launch the SCH D600 in the next three to eight months in India.

The GPRS-enabled phone with a 2 mega pixel camera has a video recording facility and a 2-inch 262K colour display for clarity.

Not to be outdone, Sony Ericsson is offering the K750i with a red eye reduction facility, image editing PC software and a 4x digital zoom. The memory is expandable, to keep your pictures and video. If the internal memory of 32 MB is not sufficient, you can use a memory stick to take memory to an impressive 2GB, making the phone almost a mini laptop.

Panasonic showcased mobile phones too, three of which were noteworthy. The SC3 is being hawked as a stylish camera phone with a integrated VGA camera and a 65K colour TFT screen offering vibrant colour. The VS7 has a 2 mega pixel camera and a backlight compensation which ensures that every picture is breathtaking.

Its unique macromode function allows you to zoom closely on an object with absolute clarity. And the MX7 has all the features of the VS7 plus a multi shot functionality courtesy which you can capture up to 15 images at 7.5 frames per second with just the click of the button.

For music buffs: Those who have been thinking of buying the Apple iPod would be advised to wait for Sony Ericsson's legendary W800i Walkman phone. The phone will hit India August this year. Mathur says the phone will be priced below Rs 25,000 and that there already has been a huge consumer interest in the product.

As is the case with the iPod, you can store up to 150 music tracks on the phone, which has a 512MB memory stick. The phone's Disc2Phone software lets you drag and drop tracks from the personal computer (on which you have to download and store tracks), as in the case of the iPod. The phone gives you up to 30 hours of music.

Samsung's i300 too offers digital storage for music. With 3GB space, the phone can store thousands of songs in any format. The phone's scroll wheel navigation (which reminds you of the iPod) makes picking songs easier.

It also offers dual speakers and 3D sound. Best of all, you also have the option of buying the X810, a mini music slider phone which can hold over 80MB of music with built in dual speakers and a jog disc for easy access, though the phone offers less storage space than the I300.

Motorola's E680i, a palm sized phone with an expandable memory of 2GB to store complete music CDs too is worth checking out. Thanks to a real time 3D sound engine and 3D stereo speakers, the phone offers brilliant sound.

You can also customise your music via an integrated MP3 player. Percy Batlivala of Morola India says that market research is on, that the company hopes that the phone will be available in India in August or September and that its price is a secret.

For executives and the health conscious: Samsung unveiled one of the hottest new phones for executives on the move at Communications Asia. The D550 is meant for corporate e mail users for it offers Blackberry software and a unique double hinge. You get a large Qwerty keyboard, making writing notes and e mail a real pleasure.

LG, meanwhile, is flirting with nano technology which is being used by consumer electronics companies in refrigerators and airconditioners.

The F2400 is the first phone which comes with an anti-bacteria nano silver coating which keeps germs away and ensures that you remain healthy.

LG also launched a sports design phone( the 410 series) at Communications Asia. The phone looks like a trendy European sports car. The phone's highlight, however, is an embedded sensor which conducts a breath analyzer test to check your blood alcohol level. The phone was designed with the help of a sports car company and its design centre.

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