Back in the early noughties a parade of companies including Motorola and Samsung (with its SPH-WP10) unveiled what they saw as the future of the phone – the wearable wrist watch style handset. Inevitably the tech writers who got to play with the prototypes made crap jokes about Dick Tracey and generally pooh-poed any chance of watchphones ever going on sale in the UK properly.
Well over the past year or so an array of watchphones, like the Swap, have started arriving in the UK from the Far East where they apparently becoming a real cult. The new breed of handsets aren’t just feature-packed, they are easy to use providing your fingers are diddy enough to cope with their small, but perfectly formed touch screens.
And now the battle is set for the first mainstream manufacturer to claim the watch phone crown. Korean phone makers Samsung and LG have recently unveiled models and both will go on sale in the UK in the next month or so.
The LG GD910 is the prettier of the two and it had been snapped up exclusively by Orange. The model has a good range of features voice recognition, text-to-speech functionality, Bluetooth, an MP3 player and a 1.4in touch-sensitive screen. According to our sources it is apparently fairly simple to use too.
It will go on sale in France for €399 which is much less than the originally touted price of around £1000, so a UK price should be around the £300 mark.
Meanwhile LG’s big rivals Samsung is rumoured to be launching its S9110 watch phone in the UK by the end of the month. Its headline feature is that at 11.98mm thick it is skinnier than any other watch phone currently on sale. Other goodies include a 1.76inch (slightly bigger than the LG) full touch screen, email via Outlook, an MP3 player, voice recognition, a built in speaker and Bluetooth. It sells in France for €450, so it could come in at around £350 in the UK.
The one big difference between the two is that Samsung’s phone works on GPRS network, while the LG handset is 3G with data speeds of up to 7.2Mbps.
The fundamental problem though with all watch phones is that, unless you wear a Bluetooth headsets all day, every time the phone rings you will be sharing your conversation with anyone else in the vicinity. Still there’s quite clearly a growing market for them among gadget lovers.