Nokia have been accused of some rather dull designs over the past year, whilst Sony Ericsson and Motorola have pushed ahead with fashionable handsets packed with smartphone features.
To combat this, Nokia have just unveiled their new range – five handsets, three of which are clamshell designs. Nokia have steered clear of the clamshell phone format up until now, whilst other manufacturers have embraced it and made it popular. Nokia’s dull phone portfolio may have earned it that drop in market share reported by Gartner: down to 28.9% in Q1 2004, from 34.6% in Q1 2003.
“We have now sharpened our product portfolio in key areas, bringing new phones to the market in the mid-range, and adding more clamshells to our offering,” said Nokia chief executive officer Jorma Ollila.
The three main phones are aimed at business and leisure users, with a further two “affordable”, entry-level models with less features. Having said that, “less features” still manages to include colour displays and some rather nice styling.
The first of the main phones is the 6630, a smartphone based on the Series 60 operating system, and is the first dual-mode tri-band phone for 3G networks. Nokia also claim that it’s the World’s smallest 3G phone. Somehow, they’ve managed to get a megapixel camera and an MP3 player in there too.
For business customers, the 6260 incorporates push to talk technology and a VGA camera into its fold design. Nokia describe it thus: “it is more than just a clamshell, it’s a fold with a twist!” Just stick to designing phones, guys.
The 6170 is another clamshell camera phone, in stainless steel no less, with push to talk and the usual five hundred or so features.
These phones are all interesting because it looks like Nokia are finally starting to listen to the criticism they’ve faced over the last 18 months and are innovating – also what is now classed as an entry-level phone has a level of sophistication unthinkable just two years ago. After network providers accused phone manufacturers of not having suitable handsets available, 3G phones are finally moving into the mass-market.
For my money, Nokia’s new keyboard gadget is a winner. Remember those chat boards that were popular a few years ago for keying in text messages on your mobile? Nokia have a Bluetooth wireless keyboard for all that now, and it even folds up. When GPRS means that email is on the move is much more usable these days, this keyboard will save lots of fingers and eyesight. Just as well, considering how tiny the phones are now.