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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 16:47 GMT
Mobile hardware goes on show
Chris Long
By Chris Long
Click Producer

Despite everything the mobile industry has thrown at us, the actual handset has not really changed much in the last few years. Will 3GSM's wealth of unusual kit and sexy new shapes show us something new?

Mobile handset
Handsets have not changed much over recent years
Generally speaking, when you have seen one phone you have seen them all.

Similarly, when you have seen one lightweight camcorder you have also seen them all.

I have to say, though, that rarely have I seen a mobile phone camcorder, such as the one coming out in April.

As ever with trade shows, the wild and wacky rubbed shoulders with the considered and demur.

Sitting between them (wildly demure?) is HSDPA, which was big at this year's 3GSM show in Barcelona.

Some call it 3.5G, others what 3G should have been in the first place, but whatever you call it, it finally brings high-speed data transfer to the handset.

It promises to revolutionise the mobile data industry and is the mobile industry's first serious contender to Wifi and Wimax. It also leaves traditional 3G in the shade.

According to the companies at 3GSM the service will offer connection speeds of up to 600Kbps. If they actually achieve this then home-based ADSL had better watch out.

Powered up

We have seen many battery solutions over the years but something really quite clever premiered at the show. It mixes lithium ion technology with standard AA batteries.

The manufacturers are also trying to popularise the very small AAAA batteries as part of the solution.

It is in prototype form at the moment, but a newly unveiled emergency phone charger will be on the market soon.

It uses a single battery and a new power management system that "talks" to the handset and gets the most charge out of the battery.

If you have a full battery and high speed video data reception you can watch your pictures on new video glasses from Orange, which connect to your mobile and play the pictures on mini screens inside the lenses.

Shrinking technology

Talking about video, we saw DVDs transferred to a mobile phone. It finally looks like the graphics on these phones are starting to take on normal television.

To get those graphics you need a very powerful graphics engine. More importantly, it has to be very small.

The new Sony Ericsson chip comes from Nvidia, which we would traditionally expect to see inside PCs, and the shrinking of the technology is simply phenomenal.

The show gives the people who build these devices an opportunity to pitch their latest kit to the big network operators.

This usually happens behind closed doors but luckily handset manufacturer HTC let us see prototypes that will be out later this year.

And guess what... they looked just like ordinary phones.

"I think the form factor is not a major concern any more", Peter Chou, HTC's president told Click.

"I believe usability is still the most important area. I think the smaller, low cost forms have a huge market, but the innovation sector will be increasing dramatically as well."

There you have it: the man responsible for an awful lot of the phones we will be using in the next 18 months says their shape is not a major concern.

Only time will tell if that is true, but we can be sure that pictures and data speed are.

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