Traditionally, September marks the end of the summer vacations
and the start of announcements for products that will be in the
shops for Christmas. And September 2004 and 2009 certainly brought
some interesting-looking devices to the public view.
Nokia announced several devices this month, but the most remarkable
were a trio of fashion phones. We hated the Nokia
with a passion when it came out because it was a very poor
handset underneath its very bold design, but these days it looks
much better than the bland black slabs we get. The Nokia
clamshell phone was the middle phone in the range, a rare
foray into clamshell phones for Nokia and a nice looking device
too. But the attention grabbing one was always the Nokia
"lipstick" phone. With no keyboard and a tiny
screen, the 7280 wasn't the easiest thing in the world to use..
but it looked fantastic and to a modern audience it is almost inconceivable
that the thing is actually a phone at all.
A somewhat overlooked entry into Nokia's range of Communicator
smartphones, the Nokia
distilled the essence of the much bigger 9500 into a compact
and rather elegant package. The lack of high-speed data held it
back though, and it took more than a year for a WiFi version to
come out which was much more popular.
In our view the Nokia
is one of the ugliest Nokia handsets ever made. Based on
the radical, interesting but not terribly usable Nokia 7610, the
6670 attempted to sober up the design by inserting a more conventional
keypad where the 7610 had one with swooping lines. The result is
a device that doesn't work in terms of ergonomics, or in terms of
Japanese firm Sharp were an important partner for Vodafone who
were pushing hard into the 3G marketplace. Headlining a number of
3G handsets to be announced this month was the Sharp
, which was a very Japanese-style swivelling smartphone with
a high-quality QVGA display, 2 megapixel camera with optical zoom,
expandable memory and of course 3G support. The 902 was significantly
more advanced in many respects than anything else on the market.
However the 902's modest sales were overshadowed by the cheaper
and very much non-3G Sharp
, a lightweight and stylish clamshell featuring Sharp's
ultra-sharp display which sold very well to Vodafone customers on
Sony Ericsson also leveraged some of its Japanese know-how to
come up with the Sony
, also exclusive to the Vodafone network. It was
a generation behind the Sharp 902 in terms of features, but in the
end Sony survived in the European mobile marketplace where Sharp
HTC wouldn't start selling phones under its own name until 2006,
but in September 2004 it was busy making devices for other companies.
The HTC Magician
was sold as the T-Mobile
, the HTC Blue Angel
became the O2
, and two different versions of the HTC Typhoon
were sold as the T-Mobile
SDA and SDA Music
Marketed at young children, the Siemens
was a rather cute device with animated characters,
emoticons and special sensors on the outside. Like a lot of other
Siemens products from the time, it was interesting to look at..
but not really much of a success.
(or Motorola DEXT
, depending on market) was Motorola's
first Android phone, and although it was a welcome change of direction
it wasn't quite the breakthrough device that Motorola needed.
These days all "Xperia" devices are Android smartphones,
but the Sony
Ericsson Xperia X2
(and its predecessor the X1) were both Windows
devices instead, although Sony Ericsson's experiment with Windows
turned out to be a brief one. The Xperia name was also stretched
to the strange but rather wonderful Sony
Ericsson Xperia Pureness
fashion phone, which had a transparent
monochrome display and a concierge service. It's an esoteric and
very rare device, but at the time of writing brand new ones are
still available at the cost of up to €550 or so.
LG were also in on the fashion phone act with another "Chocolate"
phone, this time the LG
, but it never reached the successes of the original
KG800. More successful was the fun LG
, a little touchscreen feature phone that sold quite
Samsung also had several touchscreen feature phones, and the
Samsung Corby S3650
was a very popular device indeed. Less popular
but remarkably odd looking was the Samsung B3310
Samsung also made the Vodafone 360 H1
, an attempt by Vodafone to
build a platform based on their own content and smartphones running
the Linux-based LiMo operating system. The H1 was a failure, but
LiMo eventually became Tizen and ended up on Samsung's smartwatches
five years later.
Nokia tweaked the original rather buggy N97 to come up with the
significantly better Nokia N97 Mini
Symbian smartphone. The Nokia
was another attractive Symbian touchscreen device, launched alongside
with the pretty but basic Nokia X3
feature phone. One weird handset
launched this month was the Nokia 7705 Twist
which had a hole in
it.. that idea didn't catch on.
And this month in 2009, Palm attempted to follow-up their moderately
successful Pre WebOS smartphone with the Palm Pixi
, which was cheaper
and had a more conventional layout. But while the Pixi was decent
enough, it couldn't compete with the iPhone and the new wave of
Android handsets that were coming to market in late 2009.