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Check out the best smartphones in the market
Priyanka Joshi | October 07, 2006
Most smartphone users follow a simple daily routine. They enter their offices or even homes, zip out their smartphones where a message pops up: "Do you want to join the wireless network (wi-fi)?"
A single click on "Yes", and off they go to Internet land. Millions of smartphone users check their email every minute, browse the Net for hours, download music and gaming applications every week and all this is through mobile phones.
Exchanging images, ringtones and contacts over bluetooth connections has also become a favourite office activity nowadays.
Smartphones are best described as phones with standard phone keypad for input (as against PDA-based devices that have a touch-screen for pen input).
Compared to standard phones, smartphones usually have larger displays and run on powerful processors. The mobile handset market can be broadly divided into three key classes, the basic vanilla phones (that the majority of us carry), the multimedia-capable feature phone (smartphones begin to stem from this category), and the application-extensible smartphones and PDAs.
Sudhin Mathur, general manager, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (India) calculates, "Based on the number of operating-system licenses sold, we can say that 31.5 million smartphones were sold globally in 2005, a 70 per cent increase over the 18 million in 2004." His prediction, by 2009 smartphone shipments can be expected to increase nearly fourfold to 115 million (globally).
However, a few industry insiders wonder if there lurks a chance that these devices will just remain classified as "very expensive feature phones".
Alex Lambeek, VP mobile phones, sales and market operations, APAC, voices his concern, "The problem is that existing sales channels are reasonably effective in getting smartphones into the hands of users but then many do not download multimedia applications which a smartphone is capable of, once they leave the store."
Nokia, apparently, is high on smartphones. The company not only leads when it comes to the number of smartphones in the market but also announced the launch of N95, another addition in its N-series.
The phone comes with inbuilt GPS capabilities, dedicated music features, a 5-megapixel camera and can be upgraded up to 2 GB, which can take care of a user's multimedia demands.
The phone will be launched in India in the first quarter of 2007 and is priced at Euro 550 (or approximately Rs 45,000). Not to be left behind, Sony Ericsson has unveiled the P990i in India.
The smartphone is wi-fi enabled, has a 2-megapixel camera and promises an internet experience with full HTML pages. At Rs 33,000, the P990i supports push mail and comes with an internal memory of 80 MB (expandable upto 4GB).
Manufacturers are only buoyed by encouraging forecasts that predict smartphone market to garner around 40 per cent of the total handset market (globally) by 2008, which at present is approximately 25 per cent.
"Smartphones are fast gaining traction among businesses, which see the devices as enhancing productivity, particularly among sales staff and other remote workers," says Lambeek.
But he predicts that the "phone's vanity" can be expected to open doors for style savvy consumers in the near future. That explains why Nokia has some of the most chic-looking smartphones like the N91 (an enhanced version with 8 GB memory is expected to hit markets next year), N80, N70 and N73.
A smartphone, underline industry maestros, is designed to allow the mobile worker to stay connected while away from the office. "Smartphones also have the ability to gain time in one's day by allowing them to do work while travelling, instead of waiting to get to a laptop or desktop," they argue.
Driving on the consumer's desire to carry fewer devices, a feat that can only be accomplished by a smartphone's multiple capabilities, Samsung has launched SGH-i320 and i750 smartphones.
"The i320 is perfect for users who want to have all of the advanced features of a smartphone in a light and slim package for convenience and style," claims the company.
The phone comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera, operates with Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone OS and comes with an internal memory of 120 MB.
Noticeably, push email and the ability to browse the Internet remain the most important features in a smartphone, with manufacturers striving to outdo each other in the same arena.
The wi-fi facility that incorporates the possibility of accessing data from any location, is the next big thing to happen to smartphones, predicts Jawahar Kanjilal, director (multimedia), APAC.
"The importance of accessing email from corporate servers on to smartphones will also be one of the key drivers in this segment," he says.So, if you are a young executive and your company tells you to remain accessible while away from office, not forgetting the fact that you will need to email every once and a while, you ought to be considering a smartphone.