Siemens lifts lid on Symbian smartphone

20 Feb 2003

CANNES – The world’s fourth largest mobile handset seller, Siemens, unveiled its latest model at the 3GSM World Congress yesterday. The SX1 is a move away from the miniaturisation of handsets seen from other vendors in recent months – its size being somewhere between a personal digital assistant (PDA) and an average mobile phone.

The reason for the bigger size is that Siemens has packed a lot of computing power into what is in effect a smartphone that combines regular phone features with business applications and games.

The device includes a built-in video player, camcorder, music player, FM radio and gaming, plus a full set of business applications as featured on normal PDAs, including local and wireless synch.

The SX1 has strips of keys built in to each side of the phone, instead of an ordinary keypad. This shifts the large, 64K color high-resolution screen into the centre of the device.

Built on the open source Symbian platform, the SX1 features a tailored Siemens mobile version of the Series 60 interface and application platform. This allows consumers to personalise their phones with a huge choice of downloadable content and applications.
Peter Zapf, president of mobile phones within the Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group, said: “We believe the SX1 will build on the huge success of the SL45i, our breakthrough mobile MP3 phone. The SX1 is for consumers who want to make the most of 2.5G services like video MMS and over-the-air [OTA] downloads of applications and content. It is the new standard for next generation phones.”

The SX1 will be available throughout Europe and Asia within the first half of 2003.

Also at the congress, Siemens paraded a new line of fashion phones (pictured) which it hopes will inject life into markets that are reaching saturation point. Based on the Swatch concept of turning functional items into fashion accessories, Siemens’ Xelebri range is aimed at young fashion-conscious consumers whom the phone maker hopes to persuade to collect new phones as they do shoes or CDs. The first four phones are due for launch in the main European and Asian markets in April, followed by another batch of four phones in November. The first batch will be ‘retired’ the following April in the hope that the phones become collector’s items.

The phones, which are some of the smallest on the market, feature basic voice and text messaging and are expecting to retail at between €199 and €399. In keeping with the fashion concept, the handsets will be distributed through large department stores and clothes chains rather than conventional mobile outlets.

Explaining the thinking behind the launch, a Siemens spokesperson told “The network operators are not interested in increasing the number of handsets in the market, they just want to sell new contracts and boost revenues per user. With our new range of fashion phones, we believe that consumers will want to own multiple phones that they simply switch their SIM card between.”

By Brian Skelly