Although Nokia still holds a majority stake in the mobile market, it has come under serious pressure thanks to successes from Apple, Samsung and HTC at the high end. Equally, Sony Ericsson has had trouble creating a truly successful smartphone to broaden the reach of its own product range. Will recent releases be enough to kick start its businesses before the New Year?
Nokia N97 Mini
The original N97 may have had a long history of past successes, as well as an excited fan base to boost initial sales, but most responded to it with criticism or indifference. The N97 Mini manages to retain virtually all of the functionality of the larger handset whilst slimming down the previously bulky body.
The 3.2 inch touch screen is smaller than that of the full sized N97, although it uses the same resistive technology. This means that there is no multi-touch support and you will need to use a fingernail or stylus to get the best results. There is still a full QWERTY keypad hidden under the screen, though it lacks the navigational pad of the larger N97. The keys are relatively easy to type with, however the offset space bar will take some getting used to if you did not possess the original N97.
All of the same widgets and social networking functions found on the N97 are carried over to the N97 Mini. With live updates on news weather, Twitter feeds and Facebook status changes all provided directly to the home screen it retains a healthy versatility and with the Symbian S60 operating system there are plenty of applications available from the Ovi Store.
On the inside, the N97 Mini has 8GB of storage space, although you can add up to 16Gb more via the microSD card slot. On the rear is the same 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss digital camera with dual LED flash and using the GPS you can geotag your snaps or upload them to your social networking site of choice.
Although more evolutionary than revolutionary, the N97 Mini is still packed with as much modern technology that you could reasonably wish for.
Despite its low price and undoubtedly unique styling, the 6760 is an appealing slider messaging phone which essentially consists of functions borrowed from the E75. There is 3.5G networking support for high speed mobile internet access and the full QWERTY keypad which hides neatly beneath the 2.4 inch screen makes sending emails and texts simple. The Symbian S60 operating system gives the 6760 support for various email clients, Microsoft exchange and a wide range of media files.
Built in GPS and the Nokia Maps application is a welcome addition and of course there is social networking support. The 3.2 megapixel camera is a bit of a damp squib thanks to the lack of flash and the omission of autofocus, but there were obvious needs to cut corners somewhere in the design.
Sony Ericsson Jalou
Fashion phones are few and far between these days, with large touch screen interfaces limiting the potential to experiment with the design of a phone. However, the Jalou is a fashion phone through and through. Its design is multi-faceted, with the clamshell flip screen operation allowing it to resemble a rather large gemstone. There is even a special edition with the Dolce & Gabbana brand stamped all over it, although the somewhat inflated price will put most off this limited run.
The Jalou is extremely compact, designed to fit into the skinniest jeans or the tiniest handbag. This has required a 2 inch screen, small by modern standards. However, this is a 3G phone with a 3.2 megapixel camera and GPS navigation. So if you value form and function then the Jalou should be enticing.
Sony Ericsson Yari
The Yari is a bit of an oddball in the mobile world. It is one of the few phones to take gesture controls and make them completely integral to the marketing of the phone. Thanks to built in accelerometers you can use the motion of your hands and arm to control the onscreen action in a variety of pre-installed games. Sony Ericsson says that there will be more made available in the future, but new owners of the phone will be limited to sports-based titles such as Tennis.
The Yari isn’t solely focused on gaming; there is a 5 megapixel camera with flash, HSDPA and GPS built in and stereo Bluetooth to support multimedia playback. However, the obvious problem with waving the Yari around whilst you are playing a game is that the 2.4 inch screen may well spend a majority of the time away from your face. If you are of a clumsy disposition, you could end up throwing the Yari through an open window. Quirky and flawed, the Yari could only have been made by Sony Ericsson.