MWC 2009: Digicel Coral-200-Solar – a phone that people actually need


While we’re all busy crying because we don’t have a 200-megapixel camera and our phones don’t support native access to the Hubble telescope, a company by the name of Digicel has gone and done something decent at MWC 2009 by announcing a phone for people who don’t have much access to electricity.

The Digicel Coral-200-Solar, as the name might suggest, is a handset with solar panels fitted…

MWC 2009: Solio Communicator – a solar-powered hands-free kit


Tucked away amongst the smaller stands at MWC 2009, slightly crowded out by the Samsungs and Nokias of this world, is a little company called “Better Energy Systems”. They have a subsidiary called Solio, who make solar-powered kit for mobile phones.

You might have heard of them – a quick browse of Solio’s site suggests that Saol – a Masai Junior Elder from IIkinye Village in Kenya – is a power user, as is Ian Davis, from the Polar Challenge expedition. Best of all is the picture of President Barack Obama looking decidedly overwhlemed when being presented with his Solio Classic.

But this post is about the Solio Communicator, which by all accounts is a rather novel product. It’s a hands-free kit, but charges with solar power, so you just stick it to your car window and never think about the battery ever again.

If you live in some Arctic climes where you don’t get sun very much for half the year, then it’s also chargable off the cigarette lighter port, a USB port or a wall adaptor. It’s compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled phones, and will retail for €80 (£70ish). Available mid 2009.

MWC 2009: the LG GD900 tasty transparent treat


You can bet that the LG GD900 doesn’t have the kind of features to make many consider it the next handset to buy, but I reckon there’s a good portion of punters that’ll just think that transparent keypad sex on Li-ion – me included.

I have a terrible sense of foreboding that the new feature will be placcy as hell rather than the stylish, sturdy material that it appears to be but I’ve got to offer LG a round of applause for

MWC 2009: All the stories as they happen


I’m going to let you into a secret, I’m not in Barcelona, neither is Duncan. In fact, none of us are but then that just means there’s no sangria hangovers or bellies full of chorizo to slow us down.

Instead, we’re scouring the web for rumours and writing up the releases from the discomfort of our own desks to bring you all things Mobile World Congress 2009 the minute it breaks, and as promised…

MWC 2009: Acer unveils its "Tempo" range of smartphones


Acer, unbeknownst to me, is actually the third largest global PC maker and lately, after the success of their netbook – the Aspire One, they’ve been announcing some smartphone ambitions. Well, those ambitions are coming to fruition in the form of the “Tempo” series of smartphones, pictured above.

First up is the M900. It’s business-focused, coming with Windows Mobile 6.1, Outlook Mobile and Office Mobile all pre-installed. There’s HSDPA, a 3.8″ WVGA touchscreen, GPS, FM radio, a 5-megapixel camera and a fingerprint scanner for security purposes. There’s also a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Nice. Next!

The F900 is more consumer-oriented, and designed for internet usage. Theres the same 3.8″ WVGA touchscreen as the M900, GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera, FM radio, HSDPA, and Wi-Fi. It’s got the new Mobile IE6, too. Unfortunately there’s no keypad – everything is done onscreen.

Then there’s the X960, which is a little lower-end. It’s got a 2.8″ VGA touchscreen, nav button, Outlook and Office mobile, GPS, and a 3.2 megapixel camera. That’s all we’ve got for specs right now – but I’m presuming there’s some 3G involved. I would hope so, anwyay.

Lastly, there’s the dual-SIM DX900. It supports both 3.5G and 2.75G SIM cards, so that you can have a business SIM and a personal SIM in one phone. On top of that there’s a 2.8″ VGA touchscreen, “3D animated icons”, a dedicated flight mode button, 3.2-megapixel camera and Outlook mobile preinstalled.

So, overall then, a varied bunch of middling-spec phones, more targeted at the business end of the market than the consumer end.No word on release dates, but my wildest guess would be Q2. No word on pricing, either, but as these are business phones, you can expect them to come with some sort of bulk discount for companies.

MWC 2009: LG's G910 "Touch Watch" and Arena phones get official


Wow, things move fast from prototype to production these days. The LG GD-910 that we saw at CES is now the LG G910 Watch Phone, and due for release later this year.

It’s got a 1.4″ touchscreen face, HSDPA, and video calling capabilities. There’s also a text-to-speech engine for reading out texts to a bluetooth headset, and voice recognition stuff too. For maximum geekiness, precede every voice command with “Computer:”.

As well as the Touch Watch, there’s also the Arena, previously written about here. We were promised specs and a release date, and by jove, we’ve got them. Or most of them, anyway.


There’s a 3″ touchscreen, running at WVGA resolution. It supposrts DivX and Xvid codecs. It can record DVD-resolution video, and video at up to 120fps for super-slo-mo playback. There’s 8GB of internal memory, and that can be expanded by another 32GB of MicroSD action.

There’s an immensely joyful 3.5mm headphone socket, and the aforementioned HSDPA, GPS and Wi-Fi. There’s a 5-megapixel camera, too, and geotagging for photos. There’s a tonne of inbuilt Google apps, too. All this is packed into a 105.9 x 55.3 x 11.95mm shell.

What’s missing? Well, I’d like a flip-out QWERTY keyboard, and maybe an upgrade on that camera, but beyond that, I can’t think of too much. The Arena seems like a very capable handset. I hope that it delivers on its promise, but I don’t think it’s topping the N97 in my “can’t wait for” phone list. How about you?

MWC 2009: Windows Mobile 6.5 unveiled by Microsoft in Barcelona


Late last week, in a small office near Holborn, Microsoft showed Tech Digest Windows Mobile 6.5, and shared its vision for smartphones that the company hopes will combat Apple’s growing appetite for the sector.

At the opening of Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the company’s new mobile OS to the world. The new features are split 50:50 between interface and usability.

Let’s talk usability first. Microsoft’s stated goal with Windows Mobile is to make things take fewer clicks to do. Instead of clicking five times from a locked handset to reading your email, the company wants to minimise the hassle.

The next version of Windows Mobile will feature a brand new home screen, lock screen and a fresh look to the interface that echoes Vista and Windows 7. The home screen looks remarkably Zune-y, which is unsurprising given the praise heaped upon Microsoft’s MP3 player’s interface, and the recent integration of the Zune team into Windows Mobile.


The phone-is-locked screen will now allow you to unlock straight to specific applications, allowing you to move from a locked phone straight to email, text messages, voicemail, calendar and missed calls with one movement.

The look and feel of the software has been upgraded too. There’s more colour scattered around, and the scroll bars match the feel of the desktop version of the OS, rather than echoing Windows 3.1 as they did previously.

Lastly there’s a redesigned start menu – instead of a drop-down list, you now get a honeycomb of different applications. Microsoft claims that a series of hexagons makes the best use of the space, but I rather suspect that the redesign is more about making the product more visually distinct – something that Windows Mobile has always struggled with.

So how about new features? Well, there’s the previously-talked about “Skymarket”, which is now called Windows Marketplace. That will bring the 20,000 applications developed for Windows Mobile into one central place to better combat Apple’s App Store.

Microsoft told Tech Digest that it won’t exercise as much editorial control over the contents of its app store. Applications that aren’t permitted in Apples store because they compete with things that Apple itself is trying to do, like browsers, will be welcomed with open arms into Windows Marketplace. Microsoft says that the bar for entry will be based on the quality of the code, not the content.

There’s also a new version of Internet Explorer – IE Mobile 6. This will feature increased performance and better rendering of desktop-sized pages. Microsoft says that having one of the oldest browsers on the market means that they’ve learnt a lot about how to make a browser. I think it’ll be interesting to see how it compares with Fennec and Opera.

Lastly, Microsoft’s unveiled a service called “My Phone” that will act as a cloud backup of your contacts, photos, calendar items, mail and documents. It may launch sooner than the main OS, and grant a rather measly 200MB of data initially.

It’ll be free, but Microsoft suggested that more storage might be available at a price, for syncing music collections and the like. Needless to say, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether your data package is adequate for syncing photos and music, but anyone should be able to sync contacts and other text-based data.

The handset where we saw all this in action – an HTC Touch Pro, not a slow phone – crawled in the demonstration, so it looks like Microsoft still has a lot of optimisation to do before Windows Mobile 6.5 is ready for primetime. The OS is due in Q4 2009, so there’s still time, but let’s hope that Microsoft applies some of its learnings from Vista to Windows Mobile, and doesn’t release a product that’s too weighty for its own good.

MWC 2009: O2 to pay customers to test apps on its app store

O2 announced this morning on the forum of its application store – Litmus – that it would soon be paying customers to test out applications, thanks to a partnership with a company called Mob4Hire.

O2 has 19 million customers, and the ones eligible for the Litmus project will be invited to participate in testing out applications. Customers who help to test an application will receive a free copy once it becomes commercially available, but they’ll also have the opportunity to earn hard cash.

It’s a bit of a complex system that involves bidding for applications. You put a figure on what you think your time is worth, and developers decide whether they think you’re worth it, and if both sides agree, then trialists get paid the pre-agreed amount.

Frequent and helpful testers will increase their “O2 Litmus tester reputation”, though it’s unclear if that’s going to be some sort of rating system, or just a more traditional, ethereal, reputation based on those things we used to have called “feelings”. Remember them?

O2 Litmus is available on the Motorola V3, Nokia N95, O2 Xda Orbit II, Samsung U600 and the Sony Ericsson W910, among others. Nearly 150 apps are available, and you can sign up at the O2 Litmus website.

MWC 2009: Nokia takes the wraps off the 6710 Navigator and 6720 Classic


This is the Nokia 6710 Navigator, newly announced at MWC 2009 in Barcelona. It’s almost more of a satnav than a handset, because it’s packed with all sorts of mapping technology.

It comes with ‘drive and walk’ navigation, as well as full regional maps, a dedicated navigator button on the front of the phone, a touch area for zooming in and out, and a large display tuned to daylight viewing conditions.

Maps with Ovi will allow users to plan a journey on their PC and then sync it with their device, and the inclusion of a compass will mean that you won’t get lost when you fly south for the winter. In the box comes a car holder, and there’s also a car-mounted speakerphone available.


As for the 6720 Classic, it’s got noise cancellation and a curved design that Nokia claims will significantly improve call quality. Good battery life, “high-speed” internet, which I’m presuming means HSDPA, and TV-out capability.

No more specs than that yet, I’m afraid, but we do have prices and release dates.The 6720 Classic will show up in Q2 at an estimated price of €245 (£220) and the 6710 Navigator will appear shortly after in Q3 for not much more – just €300 (£270).

MWC 2009: Nokia unboxes the E55 and E75 – two new QWERTY mobiles for business people


The big selling point about the E55 and E75 is, according to Nokia, that both phones come pre-installed with the company’s new email front end and Nokia Messaging. Both applications allow business people to do business better and quicker.

That deal will be clinched, thanks to the efficient E75!

Nokia tells us the E75 is an upgrade of the (spirit of the) famed Nokia 9300 Communicator, keeping its slide-out QWERTY keyboard and focus on email and messaging. The new email client supports HTML mails, better sorting options and expandable views, as if the lack of that has previously been a deal-breaker…