Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My thoughts on MWC 2009’s crop of Handsets

February 25, 2009 by · 9 Comments 

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 11: Billie Jean King ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Last week I attended MWC in Barcelona. Part of my ‘pilgrimage’ there involves checking out all the new phones that are released as part of the conference, and this quick post is to summarize my thoughts on a few devices and services.

Nokia –

Nokia’s new E series devices included a thin double-letter-per-key phone (E55) that reminded me of an E50 with the screen size of an E70. For the record, the keys did work well in ‘sure-type’ form, but other than the OS update to the latest version of Series 60 and the thinness, I can’t say it really rocked my boat. Likewise with their enterprise landscape keyboard slider (E75), which I found to be good for landscape typing, but the keys were a bit lacking in definition to ‘fast’ type ala Blackberry. Additionally, its lack of touch didn’t win it any points in my book.

The Nokia phone that DID catch my attention, though, and big time, was the N97. This phone looks and felt like a power house. It has all the features of a landscape slider (nice large screen) with the new features of the Series 60 5th edition OS (touch) + the ability to do a lot of customization on the standby screens. I got to play with the device to know that it has lots of potential as the evolving face of the Series 60 platform: integrating both touch and keyboard entry.

In addition to these phones, Nokia’s aggregated ‘mobile me like’ service, OVI, is coming into its own. I saw some very cool demos of Ovi Contacts, and other services (mostly available) that lead me to believe that Nokia is at least evolving with the times. I’ll have to give the service a try.

Samsung –

Samsung has traditionally had some very good looking phones, but they are generally tied to their closed platform (other than the few WinMo devices they carry). This discourages application innovation and relegates the phones to non-smartphone status.

Their new Omnia HD, however, running the Series 60 5th edition (touch) platform, is definitively lust-worthy. A beautiful screen and expandability in functionality once it is rolled out, will put it on my short list of phones. From a performance perspective, it felt like a very refined Nokia 5800.

LG –

From LG, the gadget that caught my attention was the watch phone. This concept has been around for at least 4 years now, but hasn’t really made it to market because of either cost or interface/battery-life issues. However, I had a chance to play with the real-deal courtesy of a friendly Orange rep, and I must admit it looks pretty cool. I’d get one (provided they don’t cost an arm and a leg, I mean.. it’s A WATCH PHONE!). The SIM tucks away in the back under a disk, and it can be recharged similar to the Garmin 405 GPS watch.

Motorola –

Motorola’s new Aura phone is hot. Althoug it flies in the other direction of current iphone-esque trends it still manages to draw your attention. It reverts back to a previous design that Motorola innovated in the mid 2000’s (yes, we can almost say it that way). The swivel phone taken to the luxuriuous extreme, the Aura impresses with its great craftsmanship and materials. The screen and sapphire crystal are impressive. The visible gearing of the swivel on the back is cool. However, I must admit I’m disappointed that from an interface perspective, they did not maintain the circular theme. Once open, the ‘circular directional keypad’ for browsing through the menu, is only up, down, left, right. Everyone that I saw try the phone, wanted to also rotate the keypad as with the original iPod.  Anyway you slice and dice it, though, this thing is a looker.

Sony Ericsson –

Sony Ericssons’ booth highlighted their media focus. Their Walkman phones dominated the majority of models on display, and their 12 Megapixel phone was highlighted in the center. I liked all their phones, but I can’t say I was particularly driven to give up my iPhone for any of them.

However, the highlight of the show for me was the Palm Pre.

Palm, almost entirely written off by yours truly as short as 2 months ago, came back swinging big time with their new Pre. Although I covered why I think the Pre is a game changer on a previous article, seeing it in person, and seeing some of the demos live really affirmed my belief that the future is in platforms and software, and less on pixels and hardware doo-dads.

After seeing things like the integrated Address Book with social networks + the internet-subscription enable calendaring, I felt like when I was first introduced to the mobile web on a phone. It just made all phones without these features seem so… 1999. I look forward to trying it out more than just the few screen swipes I was able to do (the UI is fast).

Palm Pre

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