Is the economy forcing the smartphone market to move closer to the masses? With the launch of O2's 'Xda Zest' that certainly seems the case as it represents the first time the network has made any of its Xda line available to pre-pay customers.
Sporting a "sleek finger-friendly touch interface" the consequently no doubt heavily optimised Windows Mobile 6.1 based handset offers a 2.8in touchscreen and backs it up with some serious connectivity including HSDPA, WiFi and GPS. The last of these is fully exploited too with the excellent CoPilot satellite navigation software pre-installed (though on a two week free trial).
A three megapixel camera and FM are also featured and are pretty much par for the course (unless your *cough* Apple) while full editing of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents is available.
"Our established O2 Xda range has proven very popular with experienced PDA users but we are now pleased to also offer early entrants to the market a Pay&Go handset without an overcomplicated user interface," explained Erik Staaf, O2's Head of Own Branded Devices (surely 'Self Branded' is a tidier way of saying that?).
The O2 Xda Zest goes on sale from 17 November for £249.99, though non-contract-a-phobics will be chuffed to learn it will also come to a number of 12 and 18 month deals.
An viable option to upgrade during a recession - thanks very much O2...
Update: Interesting titbit, I've been contacted by Asus who informs us it made the Xda Zest. This is fairly significant since it shows the notebook wizard is gaining momentum in the European smartphone market. We have already reviewed the likes of the P320 and P526 and found them to be very good, so here's to ever growing competition in this exciting sector...