Six Phones to See in Barcelona

It’s day three of Mobile World Congress, and I thought I’d highlight a few of the devices on display. If you’re in Barcelona, you might want to go and take a look at them. For everyone else, we’ve produced short video clips of the products.

I’ve seen plenty of interesting phones from the big names, including the Palm Pre, Nokia’s 6303, 6700, E55, E75 and N86 8MP, Sony Ericsson’s W995 and Idou, the Samsung Ultra Touch, HTC Touch Diamond2 and LG Arena. But for me, the phone that’s stolen the show so far is Samsung’s Omnia HD.

Unveiled on Monday, the Omnia HD seems to have grabbed everyone’s attention with its stunning screen. The video below doesn’t really do it justice. Beyond the screen, the choice of S60 5th edition was a big surprise, and the presence of another flagship Symbian phone could put extra pressure on Nokia’s N97 team.

Then there’s the Alcatel OT-800 (video below) and Vodafone’s 1231 (picture only, I’m afraid). They’re good examples of the slew of low-cost qwerty devices we predicted would appear at the show. Phones with full keypads used to be the preserve of business users, but the rise of social networking sites has meant more people want them. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two phones emerge with retail prices of less than €100.

Vodafone 1231 qwerty phone

GSmart’s S1200 is the next phone on my list — not for its hardware, but the user interface. The phone cleverly layers an Adobe Flash interface on top of Windows Mobile, allowing you to swipe toward the edges of the screen and bring up more applications. Similar to the mouse gestures of Mac OS, it’s a great way to get more out of a touch-screen interface. GSmart may well apply it to other platforms, and I predict we’ll see similar features appearing on more touch-screen devices.

The BeatDJ from Samsung also has a notable touch-screen interface, but it tends toward what I call “UI bling”. The phone’s ability to let users scratch and mix music tracks using their fingers is almost just a gimmick, but it’ll attract potential buyers, and it’s certainly been a talking point at the show. I hope we’ll see more manufacturers using touch interfaces in such innovative ways.

The nuvifone G60 from Garmin-Asus is a Linux-based device with a slick proprietary interface that shows how far the iPhone’s influence extends. Garmin has drawn on its heritage of making navigation devices for cars and has produced a phone with a matt screen, unlike nearly all the other touch devices on show in Barcelona.

There’s plenty more on offer at Mobile World Congress, but these six devices are good examples of the show’s main themes. We’ll cover the show in more depth in a special report for our clients next week.