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Cellular Standouts: Some Cool Phones

The iPhone is going to be delayed –Oops, no it’s not!…
Disney-TV Coming Soon to a Theater Sprint Mobile…
Motorola’s playing Napster’s Music…
Next Generation Phones Unveiled at Motorola.


This week, tech headlines allocated an unusually high amount of space to mobile phones and mobile entertainment media.  I’ve been lumping mobile entertainment into categories for music or movies, but starting today, articles and news directly related to mobile entertainment (and their role in the converging world of Media Entertainment and Technology)  will have their own category on Metue.

Though I will reorganize older content to include the category as appropriate, I want to start it off right. So to do that, here’s a nod to gadget lust;  a look at a few of the über-cool phones out there including both concepts and production models. (As always on Metue, if you’re looking for images, click the pictures for larger displays ).

The Concept Phones:


Alloy Polygon (Concept Phone – may never be manufactured)
hp Alloy gets the award for the “coolest phone that may never be made.” The phone, which was designed by well known UK based product design firm Alloy Total Product Design  turns heads with its unique style.  Sporting a clamshell design, the phone, like the Pantech IM-R200 discussed below, forgoes a keypad for 2 screens.  On the Alloy model, both screens are touch sensitive and can be controlled with a finger tip or a stylus.  Like the Nintendo DS Game system, one of the screens is primarily for navigation, the other for viewing but the screens can be adjusted for portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) viewing. Turned sideways, one of the screens can be used for viewing TV or Movie content.

Nokia 111 (Concept phone)
bd The prize winner for the second coolest phone that may never be made. The Nokia 111 model was the winning design in a Design College Contest Nokia ran last year.  It’s another concept phone thay may never be made but it has the promise of being something original. The phone’s innovation is a twist on a candy-bar style phone – literally. The phone has a pivot mechanism that allows it to sit “L” Shaped on a table or flat surface.  The Back is a screen so when sitting, it can function (theoretically) as a video-phone or display video content.  Technologically, the phone isn’t real…and probably won’t ever be.

The Production Phones:

Mobiado Professional EM (GSM Tri-band)
Mobbiado is to cell phones what Suissa is to computers (see here for info on Suissa)– a blending of old and new that yields a unique, ultra-lux result.  The EM has a style that is so unique that it’s bound to be polarizing. Some will think it’s cool and others are sure not to like it at all.  This is a device that will cause design-geeks and passerby’s alike to battle about “form versus function” and debate the intricacies of material choices.

aph The EM (which stands for Executive Model) is sold in two variants, a standard model and a Limited Edition (200 numbered models made).  Technologically, the phone packages all the features expected on a mid to high end phone available today: still/video camera, music player, GPRS/Edge etc.  Where the Mobiado phones break tradition is materials. The phones include exotic woods (Rosewood , Cocobolo or Ebony) mixed with aluminum steel and acrylic.  Buttons on the phone are stainless steel or titanium.  But again, part of the phone is wood – a truly unique styling choice.  

Nokia N92 (GSM)
n92 The 92 is Nokia’s offer to the ultimate media freak and gadget hound. It’s been on the market for over a year, but it’s not outdated yet (though many of its features make it more of an impractical novelty than a must-have design).  The phone has a bi-directional screen flip which in translation means: the screen can be viewed in a landscape or portrait format.  To give the screen purpose, the phone has the capacity to receive DVB-H signals (DVB-H is a form of European over-air HD TV broadcast for bringing TV to handheld devices) and record them as if the phone were a DVR. The phone can also play video’s stored in its memory, or music, or take pictures with its on–board camera.  And to load, upload, or use it’s browser, the phone has an integrated 802.11b/g wireless connection so its fortunate owners can connect online over any wireless hot–spot or via a home wireless network.

Pantech IM-R200  (CDMA, likely)
In the US, Pantech isn’t a widely known brand name.  Pantech’s most visible product was probably the Hero handset offered through MVNO provider Helio (most of Pantech’s US handsets aren’t head turners).   But the number two Korean phone maker has been developing sleeker phones over the past decade in Asia and their latest offering, the IM-R200 which was unveiled earlier this month should impress any gadget-fiend. 

a The phone is a slider phone but unlike anything else yet on the market, it has a dual screen setup where one of the screens is touch sensitive and acts as a keypad.  It’s an LCD-virtual keypad in place of buttons. To give the illusion of real buttons the screen also  provides subtle vibration feedback when pressed.

Among its features the phone has both a 2.0Mega Pixel camera and a VGA camera.  Both function with a facial-recognition program that recognizes the shape of a face and adjusts the camera settings to try and yield the best image result.  The phone also includes a document viewing feature to allow scrolling through documents (though on it’s larger 2in screen, any substantial document is going to take a lot of scrolling).

There’s no timeline for the phone to come to the US, if ever, though it’s possible (thanks to SK-Telecom’s partnership with Earthlink on Helio) that the phone could be made available later this year for that service if it passes FCC approval. (There is no word that it’s even requested review).  If it does come stateside, the phone will likely be CDMA and not available for GSM Networks.

Helio Ocean (CDMA)
Released to the US Market just last Friday, the Ocean is Helio’s effort to capture the hearts and minds of the MySpace generation. The phone features a two-way sliding design:  move it one direction, and a full QWERTY keyboard is revealed.  Move it the other and numeric keypad appears.

In additional to music and video functionality, the phone comes preset with a MySpace Mobile integration, and full internet access abilities including ready-to-run IM access for AIM and Yahoo instant Messenger.  For novelty that on–board camera also has GPS location tagging, and Helio bundles the phone with Google Maps for Mobile.

(Helio is not a phone manufacturer but rather a service. The service  a partnership between broadband Internet company Earthlink and Korea’s SK Telecom.  They are what’s called an MVNO which means they don’t own a network but instead licenses network access from an existing carrier, in their case Sprint.  The phones available for the Helio Network are, thus far, licensed from other companies exclusively for use on Helio.  More info on Helio is at Wikipedia here)


Personally, I like tech-toys and each of these phones catches my eye for one reason or another, but truth be told, when it comes to cell phones – I’d much prefer less features in volume, and more features in quality.  In other words, I wish for a phone that does less, but does better.  Give me WiFi (which most US phones don’t yet include), a good, intelligent interface, a keypad that looks good and is easy to use (a keyboard that I can use without needing a backpack to carry the phone would be nice too if it doesn’t fit in my pocket, it’s too big), good sound quality, an intelligent screen design.  Spare me the MP3 players and video toys.  I’ll use a good quality camera for fun, but the other features – they’re fun for a minute….but the headache that comes when things don’t function the way they should (because too much energy went into developing some features and not enough others) lasts much longer.

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