It’s that 3GSM time of year again folks, a three day event designed to showcase the latest and greatest in upcoming mobile technology. It serves to make us all feel dissatisfied with our current handsets and anything we may upgrade to in the next three months. It’s also a time when I get sick to death of saying the terms ‘megapixel’, ‘tri-band’, ‘3G’ and ‘talk time’, but we’ll soldier on.
Now let me make one thing clear. From today until Wednesday there will be a lot of new phones released, and I mean a lot - you may have already seen a few circling the web (Samsung alone, released around 30 models last year). So our aim will not be to bring you news of every single release, but to skim off the cream: those handsets that innovate and push boundaries. Anyway, on with the show!
The first manufacturer to catch the eye this year is the aforementioned Samsung, which is probably not surprising given the technological leaps and bounds it has made in all product areas in the last 18 months.
A true gem is the SGH-i320. This Motorola Q-esque model has a full thumbboard (as they’re increasingly being dubbed), tri-band GSM with EDGE support, 1.3 megapixel camera, QVGA landscape screen, MicroSD memory expansion slot and Bluetooth. Like the Q it also runs Windows Mobile 5.0, but is even thinner (11.5mm to 12mm), much lighter (95g to 115g) and has more onboard memory (120MB). Oh yes, 3GSM has kicked off with a bang my friends!
Sharing the Samsung headlines with equal style is the SGH-Z710, the company’s first 3.2 megapixel camera phone for the European market. While the clamshell format handset is primarily promoted for this ability, it still manages to pack 3G connectivity, an FM radio, audio and video media player, and an internal 2.15in 262k colour display. This screen can also be rotated 180 degrees and folded back into the phone when in camera mode. There’s 128MB of onboard memory, a microSD slot, USB connectivity, Bluetooth, Microsoft Office document viewer and it only weighs 107g.
Impressing for different reasons is the SGH-Z560 (above). This handset uses HSDPA, the successor to UMTS (which is used for running 3G here in Europe) and offers lightening fast mobile data rates of 1.8Mbps, that’s a whopping six times faster than 3G. In theory, this could download an audio file to your handset in less than 10 seconds. A two megapixel camera with autofocus is integrated alongside a music player, memory expansion slot and 30MB of onboard memory. The clamshell design hides away a massive 2.3in screen running at full 320 x 240 resolution in 262K.
Rounding off a truly stunning opening flurry from the Korea giant is the SGH-Z150. This is a modestly featured (1.9in screen and dual 0.3 megapixel cameras) but super thin (9.9mm) and light (89g) candybar handset. It does manage to squeeze in 3G and Bluetooth connectivity, a memory expansion slot, music player and 50MB of onboard storage however and it will include Outlook synchronisation so we’re still impressed.
As for prices and arrival dates, we know nothing as yet about the i320 or Z560, with the Z710 coming this summer at an unknown cost and the Z150 appearing in Q2 for around 400 euros. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet to your competitors…