I usually do not prefer to write about mobile phones since it is anyway a quite popular topic. So I played around with few topics for the March edition of “diGIT” for sometime. But in the end, the World Mobile Congress (WMC) which was held in Barcelona in February 2009 made my choice for this edition. Many big names in the industry gather each year at MWC to show off their new mobile devices to be launched during the year. This year too was not any different from the previous years. When we analyze the WMC 2009 it is very clear that this time it is very much a Microsoft party. With no real appearance of a solid “Android” (mobile platform developed by Google) based device, Microsoft is parading around its platform in many new mobile devices. The most anticipated announcement was “Windows Mobile 6.5” which is the latest mobile operating system by Microsoft. Let’s see what we would be looking forward to during this year.
It’s errr…. Windows Mobile 6.5
Although the announcement of “Window Mobile 6.5” was very much looked forward to by the tech enthusiasts, we were able to get some sneak peaks few months earlier. Clearly the user interface has gone through some major changes. The operating system is now much more touch-friendly compared to its older versions. The traditional grid menu has been replaced by a honeycomb style layout that is easier to finger. The Internet Explorer Mobile has gone though a facelift and some touchups with touchable zoom slider and frequently-used commands. Microsoft also has introduced two new services “My Phone” and “Windows Marketplace for Mobile”. Microsoft’s “My Phone” is a service that allows the users to synchronize text messages, photos, videos, contacts and many more with a previously created internet account. “Windows Marketplace for Mobile” will provide mobile applications that can be accessed directly from the phone or through the internet. So is it all new underneath the 6.5 platform? I’m not very sure. If you currently own a Windows Mobile 6 mobile device, I’m sorry Microsoft would not be giving Mobile 6.5 as an update. Devices with Windows Mobile 6.5 should be in the market by the fourth quarter this year according to Microsoft.
HTC Touch Diamond 2
From my point of view, this is the star of the show. From the looks of it, the HTC Touch Diamond 2 has improved much from its earlier predecessor. The device is much sleeker in its design and carries a good specification. The display is larger with 3.2 inches instead of 2.8 in the earlier version.
The battery cover is flat which I like and it is a welcome change from the jagged uneven cover of its previous version. It carries a 5 mega pixel camera which is gives no additional “wow” effect but rather gives an “is that all” effect. The device would run on Windows Mobile 6.1 when it comes out but it will be upgradable to Windows Mobile 6.5.
I’m not sure how much you are familiar with Samsung Omnia but it was a huge hit in the recent mobile phone market due to its elegance and features. Samsung has come up with its next version the Samsung OmniaHD which will be released in the second quarter of this year. The most eye grabbing feature is its 3.7 inch touch screen with 16 million colors. But there is more. It has an 8 mega pixel camera with a 720p HD video feature. From the terms of connectivity it boasts of Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi, microUSB port, and a HDMI port for a high quality TV out. This is the ideal phone for all you “point and shoot” people out there.
Samsung Omnia HD
Still strong, still connecting people
It is not only Microsoft who came into the convention with all guns blazing. Nokia introduced a number of mobile devices in many of it popular phone ranges. It should be noted that Nokia is the only player who still manages not to be intimidated by Microsoft mobile and keep introducing mobile devices in Symbian and its own platform. Among them, Nokia E75 shows a lot of promise for a slider phone with a QWERTY keyboard. It is surprisingly thin (just 14.4mm) but has a very user friendly keyboard. People may agree or disagree on the design of the phone as a whole but its features are nothing new except the “Nseries” image gallery which was confined to the “N” series all this time.
Nokia too unveiled a phone equipped with an 8 mega pixel camera (N86) in the Mobile World Congress. N86 has 28mm lens, with a mechanical shutter (impressing ha?). Other goodies coming along with the phone are 8GB internal memory, microSDHC card slot, FM transmitter, Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity. All this for; yes it is 375 Euros.
From microwaves to mobile phones
LG may not be on the top of your best mobile phone brands but they definitely managed to impress the crowd during this convention. Although the designs were far from original the devices the features are quite satisfactory.
LG GM730 LG GD910 LG KM900
Like many others, LG GM730 has tried to mimic the Samsung Omina user interface. It handles very well and with a 3 inch touch screen, it has nice thumbable interface. Furthermore it has a dedicated graphics accelerator which should make its response time much faster.
The LG KM900 Arena deserves a better round of applause. Its interface response time is so snappy and fluid compared to it counterparts thanks to its dedicated graphics accelerator. Similar to GM730 it also is equipped with a 3 inch touch screen but its user experience is much different and exciting. LG KM900 is definitely a phone that you would enjoy. But my favorite is LG G910, a watch phone. For all you “Star Trek” and “Knight Rider” fans the time where you will wear your phone is not very far away. Yes it has a touch screen. It also has a built-in handsfree, speech recognition, mp3 player and it is water resistant. What more can you ask from a watch phone?
LG also unveiled its solar cell phone that generates enough power for emergency calls and LG KP108E that is made entirely of bio plastic.
12 Mega Pixels in my phone camera?
Even the point and shoot I own has only 8MP. Song Ericsson’s newest baby, “Sony Ericsson Idou” indeed has a 12 mega pixel camera but it packs way more than that. This mobile device would be the very first mobile phone to run the latest open source Symbian user interface which is still being developed by the Symbian foundation. Sony Ericsson has been very bold during the last few years taking very brave decisions in introducing new mobile devices. Idou, which is the code name for the device is nowhere complete. It would not be possible to see these devices in the market until the 4th quarter this year (Remember how long it took to get XPERIA in the market?).
So the bright year ahead…
Looking at the mobile devices at the Barcelona convention the direction of the mobile market is clearly visible. Your future mobile phone would be flat, wide with a big screen on which you will be leaving thousands of thumbprints as you will no longer have any buttons. Another hint is that it would be quite a while till there would be a huge response to the “Android” platform. But there is a lot of promise out there and will be looking forward to few more devices in the “Android” platform. Windows mobile 7 is bit far off but whether it is going to be a complete overhaul of the old platform is a question. Despite all of these it is very unpredictable how the market will respond during these hard times. The consumers are looking for value in the item they buy and it would be a tough sell for all unless they take less from wallets of the consumer. How the devices will fair in the market, time will tell us.