Vodafone 360 H1

The Vodafone 360 H1 is a touchscreen device designed by Samsung exclusively for the new "Vodafone 360" service.

Vodafone 360 aims to integrate social networking sites, email, contacts and multimedia into one place. Vodafone claim that this is "A Suite of Innovative, New Internet Services for Mobile and PC", but there is nothing particularly new here, Vodafone are just trying to keep up with other operators and manufacturers and persuade customers to be part of the Vodafone experience.. rather than Nokia's Ovi, for example. Vodafone 360 supports Facebook, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger, with Twitter and other platforms coming soon.

Vodafone say that the 360 service will be available on four Nokia smartphones at launch, but perhaps most of interest is the Vodafone 360 H1 handset itself, which is one of a pair of devices custom made for this application.

Before we do a tour of the hardware, it's perhaps worth looking at the H1's software. It's a Linux-based device, but unlike the sudden recent rush of Android handsets, the 360 H1 runs the rival LiMo operating system instead. Many customers won't be familiar with LiMo, but two well-known examples are the Motorola RAZR2 V8 and Motorola ROKR E8. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo also use a lot of LiMo-powered devices. It's a fairly mature platform with a reasonably large developer community, but LiMo has been eclipsed by the growth of rivals.. recently exemplified by Motorola's switch to Android development instead.

 Vodafone 360 H1 The hardware itself is pretty impressive. There's a large 3.5" 800 x 480 pixel AMOLED touchscreen, a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, GPS plus a navigation client, HSDPA and HSUPA support with maximum transfer speeds of 7.2 Mbps and 5.6 Mbps respectively, dual band UMTS and WiFi.

A comprehensive multimedia player can cope with MP3, AAC and WMA audio along with some other formats, plus H.263, H.264, MPEG4 and DivX video. Media can be stored internally on the H1's 8GB or 16GB of memory (depending on model) or on a microSD card. There is also an FM radio and a standard 3.5mm audio connector.

 Vodafone 360 H1 The Vodafone 360 H1 comes with the Opera web browser with support for Webkit widgets, an email client with support for push messaging and a remote lock-and-wipe capability if the phone goes missing. Of course, the H1 also supports Vodafone's 360 service out of the box, and Vodafone say that there should be 1000 applications available to download when the service goes live.

The large 1500 mAh battery provides up to 7 hours talktime and 19 days standby time, although it is not clear if these are 3G or GSM figures. Weighing 134 grams and measuring 116 x 58 x 13mm, the 360 H1 is a little narrower than the iPhone 3G S, but otherwise fairly typical for this class of device. Vodafone's publicity shots show the 360 H1 available in black and silver.

Vodafone say that the 360 H1 handset and the 360 platform itself should be available by Christmas 2009 in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Next year it will be available in France, Russia, Romania, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand through Vodafone or its partner networks. There's no word on pricing as that will probably depend on the contract you take.

Are we excited by all this? To tell the truth.. no. Although the handset and the 360 service look to be competitive, they do seem to lack a certain spark. After all, Vodafone isn't generally regarded as a "fun" network, perhaps more as a "dull but reliable" network. And we can't help but feel that a lot of these "value added" 360 services are not of much interest to typical Vodafone customers, although the 360 H1 phone itself looks to be very interesting. We will have to see if consumers beat a path to Vodafone's door.

Samsung Corby (Samsung S3650)

Many manufacturers these days like to give their phones a pet name as well as a model number, and Samsung are no exception. But with a couple of recent handsets, it appears that either Samsung are having a funny turn or perhaps someone is up to mischief.

 Samsung S3650 Corby

First there was the Samsung Preston S5600 and now there is the Samsung Corby S3650. Now, imagine that you are in a marketing department and you hit on the idea of naming your handsets after European towns and cities. You'd think that would be easy, as there must be hundreds of attractive places to choose from. Well, somehow Samsung ended up naming the S5600 after the British town of Preston, which can be pretty grim.. but at the time, we assumed that perhaps it was some other Preston.

 Samsung Corby S3650 But now, the S3650 turns up bearing the name "Corby", apparently named after another pretty grim British town. They could have called them something like "Venice" or "Prague".. but no. Unsurprisingly then, the "Preston" is generally called the S5600 in the UK, and we somehow doubt that the Corby name will stick either.

Before we offend any more of our readers, perhaps it is time to look at the phone itself. The S3650 is designed to be a low cost and fun touchscreen phone, retailing for between €160 to €200 SIM-free across Europe. For this, you get a fairly large 2.8" 240 x 320 pixel display, a 2 megapixel camera, microSD expandable memory, FM radio and a multimedia player.

 Samsung S3650 Samsung say that the Corby integrates with social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr via a set of "widgets", however the S3650 is a GSM-only device, so it doesn't support 3G (or WiFi) which means that uploads and downloads will be quite slow.

The Corby S3650 comes with Samsung's TouchWiz interface, but on this occasion it has been modified to give a simpler and more "cartoony" feel. The fun continues with the interchangeable back covers (or "fashion jackets") which allow the handset to be customised to the owner's taste.

Despite the large screen, the S3650 is quite lightweight at just 93 grams. Talktime is not specified, although the 960 mAh battery should provide a GSM-only device like this with enough power to be useful.

Normally we don't like touchscreen phones that lack high-speed data, but the lightweight and inexpensive S3650 certainly has its charms. It is available in some regions to buy now, with other European countries following in the next month or so.

Motorola CLIQ / Motorola DEXT

Motorola today finally announced their long-awaited first Android handset (code named "Motorola Morrison"), based on a customised version of the Android operating system which is designed to provide seamless integration with social networking sites and messaging applications.

 Motorola CLIQ / Motorola DEXT

Known as the Motorola CLIQ on T-Mobile USA, and the Motorola DEXT on Orange (in France and the UK) and Telefónica (in Spain and Latin America), it integrates very closely with Motorola's brand new MOTOBLUR service which is a combination of software and services that Motorola hope will differentiate their new offering.

This is rather more than a standard handset with a vanilla version of Android, it is very clear that Motorola have put in a significant amount of work to enhance the end-user experience. For example, a MOTOBLUR "Widget" can allow you to post status updates to several different social networking sites all at one, without having to bother with typing in all the different usernames and passwords.

 Motorola CLIQ / Motorola DEXT It's not just about social networking, the MOTOBLUR can also integrate with corporate email systems such as Microsoft Exchange, and of course it supports standard Internet protocols and SMS messaging too. The Motorola CLIQ / DEXT can pull down contacts from all the different messaging systems, with an aim to make the CLIQ / DEXT a single unified point to manage disparate services.

Of course, Motorola aren't alone in trying this unified approach. The Palm Pre and Pixi market themselves heavily on the idea of streamlining all sorts of different services into one interface, but Motorola have the advantage that they are using the open Android platform rather than Palm's proprietary webOS application.

Another innovation is the way that the Motorola CLIQ continually backs up all data to Motorola's MOTOBLUR servers. If the phone is lost, stolen or destroyed then you don't need to worry about lost data. You can also track the MOTOBLUR via GPS remotely, and initiate a remote wipe if needed.

 Motorola CLIQ / Motorola DEXT We've talked a lot about the software and services that accompany this offering, but the hardware is important too. There's a large 3.1" 320 x 480 pixel touchscreen display on the front, a fairly conventional slide-out QWERTY keyboard along the long edge of the device, a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and geo-tagging, GPS with an embedded compass, stereo Bluetooth, WiFi and tri-band UMTS plus HSDPA download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps.

The operating system is Android 1.5 ("Cupcake") and this can play back a very wide variety of media files through the standard 3.5mm audio socket, and it has a suite of Google applications plus YouTube support built in.

It's a big, quite heavy handset measuring 114 x 58 x 16mm and weighing 163 grams (or 4.49 x 2.28 x 0.62 inches and 5.6 ounces if you are American). The large 1420 mAh battery is quoted as giving up to 6 hours "usage time" and 13.5 days standby time, which is good.

Apple were perhaps the first major mobile manufacturer to really succeed in making a mobile phone more that just a piece of hardware, but Motorola's vision certainly seems to be as good as Apple's if not better.. on paper at least.

 Motorola CLIQ / Motorola DEXT This is the first of many MOTOBLUR handsets. Motorola will announce another one for 2009 launch very soon, and they intend to launch several more Android devices during 2010. T-Mobile and Motorola hope to have the CLIQ (and presumably MOTOBLUR) available by the end of November 2009, in Titanium and Winter White colour schemes.

So, the question is.. can Motorola succeed? We have to say that the CLIQ (or DEXT) looks great on paper, although we would prefer a higher resolution display (such as the Nokia N900's). The integrated software and back-end services look good, and it seems to fit in with a well defined roadmap. Plus, Motorola HAVE to make this phone and the MOTOBLUR service to work if they are to survive, as the future of Motorola as a mobile phone manufacturer depends on it.

Perhaps today will be the day that Motorola finally turns around its long years of decline, we certainly hope so!

Nokia 7705 Twist

Just occasionally, a manufacturer designs something that looks so different from everything else that you just have to stop and stare. A case in point is the new Nokia 7705 Twist, exclusive to the Verizon network in the US.
 Nokia 7705 Twist

It is called the "Twist" because of the unusual rotating design (Nokia's first since the 7373). When closed, the 7705 is almost exactly square at 2.7 x 2.7 inches (69 x 69mm). However, give it a twist and a QWERTY keyboard slides out into view.

Now, we admit that this is a pretty cool thing to do. The problem is, once you've played with the twisting keyboard a few times then the Nokia 7705 Twist beings to look a little ordinary,

One important thing that we need to get out of the way is that this is a CDMA / EVDO device, rather than a GSM / UMTS one.. so the 7705 won't work in Europe. There's no indication that there will ever be a GSM version, but it does at least show that Nokia can break out from design norms and come up with something strikingly different.

 Nokia 7705 Twist The Nokia 7705 Twist's display is a conventional 2.4" 240 x 320 pixel panel, on the back is a 3 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. The Twist supports stereo Bluetooth and microSD expandable memory, and the 7705 also has a web browser, music player and can support BREW applications.

The 7705 isn't the first off-the-wall design from Nokia. The Nokia 7600 was an early 3G phone that had a radical "teardrop" design, the Nokia 7280 and 7380 "lipstick" phones dispensed with the keypad altogether, and then there was the 7373 and 7370 rotators too. And who could forget the Nokia 7610's weirdly deformed keypad?

This is a CDMA EVDO 800 / 1900 MHz handset, inside is a smallish 860 mAh battery that can power the phone for up to 4.5 hours talktime and 13 days standby time. One slightly annoying feature is the small 2.5mm audio socket. It's not a heavy device, coming in at 3.44 ounces (98 grams). The unusual shape is quite wide, but it should fit in a pocket.

It's not a million mles away from the Nokia Surge on AT&T in terms of specification, although it is a very different looking handset. Verizon say that the Twist should be available to order from September 13th onwards at just under $100 after a $50 rebate, when taken with a 2 year contract.

Palm Pixi

The Palm Pixi is Palm's second WebOS phone, and in effect it's a stripped down version of the Palm Pre.

 Palm Pixi

Smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Pre, the Pixi still comes with a touchscreen display, a QWERTY keyboard and GPS, but it does lose quite a few features along the way.

Let's start with the keyboard - it still has the conventional layout of the Pre, although it isn't a slider. The Pixi is a little narrower than the Pre at 55mm compared with 60mm so we guess that it will feel a little more cramped. The 2.6" touchscreen display is a 320 x 400 pixel unit, where the Pre has a 3.1" 320 x 480 pixel panel. The Pixi comes with a 2 megapixel camera, compared with 3 on the Pre and the Pixi has no WiFi support.

This version of the Pixi is an EVDO device aimed at the US Sprint network, but as with the Pre we expect to see a GSM / UMTS version in the future. WiFi would be nice, but EVDO gives pretty decent data transfer rates.. if your call plan has a good enough data tariff.

Internal memory is 8GB with 7GB available to the user, which doesn't sound like much these days.. but in reality it will probably be fine for almost all potential customers. There's no microSD slot, so files need to be transferred via USB or Bluetooth.

 Palm Pixi with GPS The hardware is only half the story - the interesting thing about the Pixi (and the Pre) is the WebOS operating system itself, which allows easy multitasking and has an innovative and powerful set of applications to make managing contacts and messages as simple as possible. The Pixi is also compatible with Apple iTunes for domestic customers, and Microsoft Exchange for corporate customers. Facebook integration is included, plus support for a range of different Instant Messaging applications. The operating system can update "over the air" rather than having to rely on a PC or Mac for updates.

There's a good multimedia player too.. and if you like to listen to music then you will be pleased to know that the Pixi has a standard 3.5mm audio socket.

The Pre has been out for a little while in the US to moderate success, although Europe is still waiting to see the GSM version. Most criticisms of the new Palm platform have been down to lack of applications and poor build quality of some units, but most people have been impressed with the WebOS software.. so it makes sense to bring it to another handset.

One other twist with the Pixi is the removable back cover - so you can customise the look of your Pixi according to taste (or lack of it).

 Palm Pixi

Inside is Qualcomm's new MSM7627 chipset which Palm say should speed things up a little. There's a relatively large 1150 mAh battery, although Palm have not given an estimated talktime. Surprisingly, the Palm Pixi weighs a shade under 100 grams (3.5 ounces), overall the Pixi is taller and narrower than the Pre, which is hardly surprising.

Palm say that the Pixi should be available on the Sprint network in time for the US "holidays", which should mean that it will be out by late November. Our guess is that Europe might see a version after Q2 2010, but nothing at all has been announced on that front.

Palm Pixi at a glance

Available: Q4 2009

Network: CDMA 2000 / EVDO

Data: EVDO

Screen: 2.6" 320 x 400 pixels, 262k colours

Camera: 2 megapixels

Size: Large monoblock
111 x 55 x 11mm (4.37 x 2.17 x 0.43 inches) / 99.5 grams (3.51 ounces)

Bluetooth: Yes

Memory card: No

Infra-red: No

Polyphonic: Yes

Java: Yes

GPS: Yes

OS: webOS

Battery life: Not specified

HTC Tattoo

The HTC Tattoo is HTC's latest Android handset, designed to bring the Android platform to a wider market with a lower cost device than previous HTC Android smartphones.

 HTC Tattoo

Think of the Tattoo as being very similar to the HTC Touch 3G, but running Android instead of Windows and you'll be pretty close in terms of specifications. The HTC Tattoo has a 2.8" 240 x 320 pixel touchscreen display, a 3.2 megapixel camera, built-in GPS and a digital compass, 3.5G support, WiFi and microSD expandable memory.

The Tattoo's media player can cope with most major formats including MP3, AAC, MPEG4 and Windows Media. As with some other recent HTC phones, the Tattoo comes with a 3.5mm audio socket which is a huge improvement over the old USB-based headphone arrangement. There's a built-in FM radio as well.

 HTC Tattoo HTC have taken the standard Android package and have worked their magic on it, giving it a unified way of tracking communications with contacts, and a version of the TouchFLO interface on top. There's all sorts of Google software included as well, including Google Maps.

It's not a particularly bulky device - measuring 106 x 55 x 14mm and weighing 113 grams, it's certainly more compact than a lot of other Android smartphones. The 1100 mAh battery is quoted as being good for 5 hours 40 minutes talktime on 3G and 21 days standby time, which will probably make it a practical phone for all-day use.

Inside is the usual Qualcomm MSM7225 528 MHz processor, coupled with 256 MB of RAM which is a similar arrangement to most other comparable phones.

HTC say that the Tattoo should be available in Europe in October with other regions following later, possibly with different UMTS frequencies. We have no word on cost, but the HTC Touch 3G retails for about €350 SIM-free, so expect something broadly similar for the Tattoo.

There are quite a few Android handsets about now.. the question is, is there actually a "mass market" for this type of mass market Android phone? We will just have to wait and see..

HTC Tattoo at a glance

Available: October 2009

Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 900 / 2100 (Europe / Asia)

Data: GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA + WiFi

Screen: 2.8" 240 x 320 pixels

Camera: 3.2 megapixels

Size: Compact Touchscreen
106 x 55 x 14mm / 113 grams

Bluetooth: Yes

Memory card: MicroSD

Infra-red: No

Polyphonic: Yes

Java: Yes

GPS: Yes

OS: Android

Battery life:

5.7 hours talk / 21 days standby (3G)
6.5 hours talk / 14 days standby (GSM)

Nokia Mural (Nokia 6750)

In what appears to be a slight upgrade to the Nokia 6650, the new Nokia Mural (also called the Nokia 6750) is a midrange 3.5G clamshell phone with GPS, exclusive to the AT&T network in the US.
 Nokia Mural 6750

Of course, it doesn't just look like the 6650.. the Nokia Mural is also visually very similar to the Motorola RAZR and in fact it is almost identical in terms of capabilities to last year's AT&T exclusive RAZR2 V9x.. but the glossy outside and semi-hidden external display makes it a much more fashionable looking handset.

Apart from GPS, the Nokia Mural 6750 isn't the most exciting phone in the world. Inside is a 2.2" 240 x 320 pixel display, there's a basic 2 megapixel camera, multimedia player, stereo Bluetooth and microSD expandable memory.

The flat keyboard does at least appear to have proper keys, a step up from the RAZR. But Nokia have again copied the characteristic "kick" at the bottom of the keypad and the whole thing just screams "Motorola" rather than "Nokia".

It's a quad-band GSM phone with tri-band UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz, so it will work in Europe as well as the US. Although this is being punted as an AT&T handset, it's quite possible that it will end up with other carriers as well, especially considering that the older 6650 was exclusive to T-Mobile in Europe before it ended up with AT&T in the US, and the AT&T Nokia Surge morphed into the Nokia 6760 slide in Europe.

The Nokia Mural uses AT&T's Navigator application for turn-by-turn navigation, if it ends up with other carriers then it will use another solution. Neither Nokia nor AT&T have confirmed this, but it looks like a standard Series 40 phone rather than an S60 smartphone (which the 6650 is), and if this is the case then frankly it's a step backwards.

It's not the most exciting phone in the world, except for the fact that there are precious few clamshell phones around with GPS. So, if you're a clamshell fan then the Mural (or 6750) might well be worth seeking out, if you're looking for something fairly inexpensive.

Talking about how much it costs, AT&T quote the "no commitment" price of the Mural as being about $250, but when taken with a 2-year contract and with the $50 mail-in rebate it can be had for about $100. The Mural is available to order now in the US, its status in Europe and elsewhere is unknown.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pureness Preview

Presumably announced to a fanfare of whale song and the whiff of joss-sticks, this preview of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pureness shows an intriguing device combining classic Sony Ericsson design with transparent panels to make a very distinctive looking phone.
 Sony Ericsson Xperia Pureness

The full horror of the press release can really only be experience by reading the full thing:

    Today at a business update meeting, Sony Ericsson showed the new Xperia™ Pureness, a simple design phone which brings together beautiful craftsmanship and the concept of “talk, text, time - a holiday from technology”. The Xperia™ Pureness will be officially launched in November 2009 through selected retail distribution channels in key cities around the world.

    The handset was shown to media attending an event to launch Sony Ericsson’s new brand direction where the company also confirmed its alignment under the Sony make.believe brand message.

    Xperia™ Pureness approaches the mobile phone as a work of art rather than technology. The company’s designers aimed to sculpt an object of design that reflected the purity of water and a sense of calmness when not in use.

    More details on Xperia™ Pureness will be available when the phone launches in November 2009.

Pretty silly stuff, we think. But the phone looks nice.. although we have a feeling that this will be really very expensive, whenever it does actually reach the shops.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2

The follow-up to last year's X1, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 adds more features than ever before as Sony Ericsson try to regain a foothold in the smartphone market.

The original X1 was a class-leading device when it was first announced, but it took so long to come to market that other competitors caught up. With the XPERIA X2, Sony Ericsson say that it should be available during early Q4 - so the X2 could be just weeks away from being in the shops.

This is a Windows Mobile 6.5 device, one of only a small number of handsets on the market that will have version 6.5 preloaded, although some others have it as an upgrade that can be installed later. But one thing that sets the X1 and this new XPERIA X2 apart from other Windows Mobile handsets is the concept of "Panels", which is a unique Sony Ericsson approach to improve the user's experience. With the X2, Sony Ericsson are making a big push to help developers create "Panels" applications, including a utility that will help convert pre-existing apps to this format.

 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 The main physical feature of the X2 is the large 3.2" 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen display, underneath this is a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that is angled slightly for a better typing position. At a first look, the keyboard seems to be pretty good with a conventional layout, and the keycaps have a space around them to help prevent multiple keys being pressed at the same time.

Turn it over, and there's an 8.1 megapixel camera with autofocus and what appears to be a basic flash. We know that the X2 supports geotagging, but we don't currently know what the handset's video recording capabilities are. It will probably be one of the highest resolution cameras available in any Windows Mobile phone at launch.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 supports GPS, and because this is a Windows Mobile device, then there are a wide range of SatNav applications available to go with it. Of course, there are a wide range of other Windows Mobile applications too, either through Sony Ericsson's PlayNow Arena marketplace or from independent vendors.

 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 As we said, this is a Windows Mobile 6.5 device, and although this is the newest version of the software, it comes with some pretty familiar features such as "pocket" versions of Microsoft Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer and Windows Media player.

Memory is expandable using microSD cards and there is a 4GB card in the standard sales package. There's a TV out port, so videos and photos can be played back on a compatible TV, although we don't know for sure what type of audio output the X2 has. The X2 supports stereo Bluetooth and USB connectivity too, plus 3.5G data and WiFi.

It's not as heavy as you might expect - the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 weighs 115 grams and measures 110 x 54 x 16mm, making it much lighter than the X1. Talktime is quoted as being up to 6 hours on 3G with an impressive 26 days standby time.

On paper, the X2 is an impressive looking device. But many previous Sony Ericsson smartphones have either been late, buggy or both.. Sony Ericsson really need to get this to market on time and working properly if they hope to make an impact.

There's no word on pricing, but we would guess that the XPERIA X2 will retail for something around €600 SIM-free when it becomes available.

Nokia X3

The Nokia X3 is one of a pair of "X Series" devices announced by Nokia, along with the X6. This new series designation is for multimedia entertainment phones, and it seems to be roughly equivalent to the old "XpressMusic" name. Curiously, both phones are also named the same as large BMWs, and we think that Nokia have painted themselves into a corner a little bit when it comes to squeezing new phones into the range.

Unlike most other recent announcements from Nokia, the Nokia X3 is a pretty inexpensive device priced at about €115 SIM-free, presumably before tax. For this you get a pretty straightforward GSM-only device with a 2.2" 240 x 320 pixel display, a fairly basic 3.2 megapixel camera, dedicated media playback keys, microSD expandable memory, an FM radio and stereo Bluetooth.

 Nokia X3 Nokia are pushing this as a multimedia phone, and it is also the first S40 device that can talk to the Ovi Store directly. The music player copes with most major formats and there's a 3.5mm audio socket or you can use the stereo speakers for playback. One neat thing with the FM radio is that the antenna is already built into the phone, so you don't need to plug headphones in to get a signal.

There's a web browser and email client, and you can upload images to Flickr and Ovi if you are prepared to put up with a 2G connection that is. We'd like this phone a lot more if it had 3G.. but it doesn't.

One interesting side note is that the X3 has been designed to be highly recyclable - up to 80% of the components can be recycled, and it also uses a high proportion of recycled material in its packaging. Nokia have also reduce the number of toxic chemicals used in the X3's manufacture and the charger reminds you to unplug it from the phone when the battery is full.

The standard sales package includes a 2GB microSD card to get you started, plus a stereo wired headset and a USB cable.

If you're looking for an attractive GSM-only music phone that isn't too expensive, then the Nokia X3 seems to offer everything you need in the box. Nokia say that the X3 should be available during Q4 2009 in Red/Black and Blue/Silver colour combinations.. it may well make an ideal Christmas gift for someone!

Nokia X6

One of a pair of "X Series" phones to be announced by Nokia, the Nokia X6 is a step up from the existing Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.

Sleeker than the 5800, the X6 has a very similar 3.2" 640 x 360 pixel display (the same panel that is in the N97 Mini) but it now has a 5 megapixel camera on the back which addresses one key weakness of the 5800.

The "X" designation seems to be Nokia's new version of "XpressMusic", and the X6 comes in both a normal version and a "Comes with Music" variant allowing unlimited music downloads. Perhaps Nokia think that the shorter name will be more memorable when the X6 faces off against the iPhone.

Apart from the camera and smarter design, the differences between this and the 5800 are few and far between. One major one is that the X6 comes with 32GB of non-expandable memory, and of course in the year since the 5800 was launched, the X6 will have picked up several software updates including better support for social networking sites.

This is a 3G phone with tri-band UMTS and support for HSDPA downloads at a maximum of 6 Mbps. It also has quad-band GSM and WiFi, although Chinese and South American versions are different.

Nokia are promoting the X6 as a media player, and it can cope with almost all major audio and video formats. Usefully, the X6 comes with a TV-out port and can take a standard 3.5mm audio plug. You can also play back through stereo Bluetooth or the X6's built-in stereo speakers. There's an FM radio for good measure, and the internal memory should be enough for plenty of music or quite a few videos.

 Nokia X6 We mentioned the camera, and this is the familiar 5 megapixel unit with autofocus, Carl Zeiss optics and a dual-LED flash that we have seen a lot of lately. Video recording is up to 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second which is certainly good enough for TV playback or YouTube. The Nokia X6 also has a built-in photo and video editor, and pictures can be shared through Ovi.

There's a web browser with Flash Lite support and an email client that supports standard protocols and Microsoft Exchange. Although this is very much a device aimed at consumers, the mail support may attract corporate customers who may otherwise be considering the iPhone.

Because this is an S60 smartphone, new applications can be added at a later date, but there a quite a lot of applications preloaded.. including a version of Spore. S60 still lacks the polish of Apple's offering, but it keeps getting better and it is certainly very usable.

It's all very nice, and you might expect that the X6 is the straight replacement for the 5800 until you see the price tag. Nokia are pitching the X6 at €450 before tax and subsidy, compared with just €250 before tax for a SIM-free 5800. This is the same price as the N97 Mini, and really we think that is too expensive for what is quite a modest upgrade in specifications.

Nokia say that the X6 should be available during Q4 2009 in White/Blue and Black/Red colour combinations.

Samsung S3650 Corby now official, live photos inside

The Samsung S3650 Corby just got official and it's dressed to impress with its Fashion Jackets and ready for a night out, partying in social networks. With a price tag of 150 euro and attractive design, Corby aims to be affordable and appealing to the young audience.

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The basic specs are reminiscent of the Samsung S5230 Star, but Corby maintains its own identity very well. Starting off with the physical dimension of the S3650, it's 103 x 56.5 x 12.0 mm big and weighs 93 grams. Packed in that compact shell are a 2.8" QVGA capacitive touchscreen (yes, capacitive) and a 2-megapixel camera.

MP3 player, microSD card slot for cards up to 8GB and a FM radio with RDS keep the S3650 rocking, and the WMV support is a really nice touch. A USB port and Bluetooth 2.1 will aid in loading up the phone with music from your computer, but unfortunately, the USB port is the proprietary Samsung one.

The Samsung S3650 is a globetrotter with its quad-band GSM and EDGE support, thought it's not the speediest one - it's 2G only. The 960-mAh battery should give it good standby and talk time numbers though nothing official was quoted.

On the social side, Samsung Corby offers Facebook, MySpace and Twitter integration and the list goes on. YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket are Corby's playground as well. You can update your status on the various social networking sites and receive updates from your friends via a simple pop-up notification feature.

The Samsung S3650 also incorporates a lot of the know-how that went into the likes of the Samsung Jet, like one finger zoom, smart unlock and as with any recent touch-based phone from Samsung - TouchWiz user interface and a great deal of widgets. It also offers something called Cartoon UI, which is described as "a highly stylised graphical menu and wallpaper that adapts according to handset functionality".

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One of the main things that Samsung hopes will attract people to the Corby (aside from its bargain price point) is the interchangeable back covers. The S3650 is available in bright colors, Jamaican Yellow, Cupid Pink, Minimal White, and Festival Orange (with more to come in the future), but can get fancy too. Included in the box will be two additional back covers - the Fashion Jackets.

Corby's front is black, and it's the back that receives the vivid color treatment. One of the Fashion Jackets is black, making the entire phone black (and black is elegant, right?), while the other one is more interesting - a unique pattern design color.

The Samsung S3650 Corby will be available in Europe from mid-September for about 150 euro (215 US dollars). No word on its availability outside Europe just yet.

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