‘Cocoon’ Hatched By O2

Straightforward specs, but thoughtful design.

Quite often the most disappointing aspect of mobile phone news coverage is that to write a news story a spec sheet is often all that is required – there are no surprises, just incremental hardware improvements. Which, thankfully, is the exact opposite of the Cocoon…

Reading down its feature set nothing really sets pulses racing: 2.1in QVGA LCD, 2MP camera, MP3 player functionality, alarm clock, Bluetooth with A2DP, microSD slot, 3G, external LED display, FM radio, external speakers, 2GB onboard memory… sure it’s pretty decent, but with chunky 94 x 49 x 21mm measurements, a heavy-ish 114g weight and plasticy look I was thinking ”meh”…

On closer inspection however what stands out about the Cocoon is the ”thought” which has gone into it. Built by Pantech but designed from the ground up by Swedish firm Syntes Studio, it has clearly been a labour of love. The reason I say this is because it features most of things we look for when buying a new phone then rarely use – yet in the case of the Cocoon they have actually been made useful.

Take the music player for example, tracks are sensibly added through drag and drop (on Windows PC or Mac) and arranged via their file tags in iPodian Artist, Album, Track, Genre, etc. They can then be played through an intuitive interface which includes album art and songs can be set to automatically pause or reduce their volume when a call comes in. As for playtime it is a cracking 15 hours (also good for five hours talk time) and common sense measures like a 3.5mm jack extension (neglected by some) and a decent pair of isolation earphones are included. Furthermore, the phone’s 2GB capacity is recognised as a driverless mass storage device so you can use it to carry around files instead of a memory key.

Another example: the alarm clock. O2 said research told it many of us use our mobiles as our alarm clocks (especially when away) – I know I do. Consequently the mobile can be laid sideways (or put into its cradle, which O2 calls a ‘nest’) and it will display the time on the external LED and the music playing soft keys along the top can be used as snooze buttons – very clever.

Furthermore, while the outside does indeed feel ‘plasticy’ it is hard wearing (O2 execs even encouraged me to drop the phone!) and the LED can display not only the time but also incoming calls, text messages and even customisable welcome messages. In short then – perhaps like the iPod to which O2 so frequently referenced – the Cocoon may not have the highest level of features, but it has some of the best thought out.

Available in August, the Cocoon will cost nothing on a £35pm contract or around £50 on a £25pm deal meaning it isn’t bad value either. O2 will be making the Cocoon available on pre-pay but for a more sobering £299. Welcome to the mad mobile market Cocoon, your anti-RAZR/Shine/Prada superficiality is extremely welcome…


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