Nokia has officially announced its first dual-mode W-CDMA/GSM handset, the 6650. Trial shipments of the product will begin in Q4 2002, with commercial shipments timed to coincide with Western European 3G network rollouts in H1 2003.
The handset has a 4096 colour screen, integrated digital video camera, Bluetooth, infrared, PC connectivity and audio capabilities. There is also support for MMS, WAP 1.2.1 and Java MIDP 1.0. The 6650 will operate over W-CDMA at 128 Kbs downlink and 64 Kbs uplink, GPRS and HSCSD.
Nokia has focused on the video messaging capabilities of the handset, incorporating a system for the simultaneous capture of audio and video for the first time. Users can record audio visual clips of up to 20 seconds. These can be stored on the handset, sent as MMS, e-mailed to any standard internet address or exchanged with a desktop PC. Nokia also includes editing and management tools, enabling users to stitch together movie playlists on a PC.
Weight is comparable with existing 2.5G handsets at 141g. The handset is a little larger than its existing 6000 series products and has an external antena. Battery life is quoted as around two and half hours talk time and up to 14 days standby.
The 6650 was unveiled at a joint event with Sonera, which will use the handset as part of its commercial 3G trials. Sonera said a few weeks ago that it would offer 3G-style services over its existing GPRS network while it completed testing of its W-CDMA infrastructure.
It was always going to be difficult for Nokia to avoid a sense of anti-climax given the weight of expectations ahead of its 3G handset launch. The 6650 is a solid, if unimaginitive product. It will provide European operators with an easy-to-use handset for demonstrating 3G capabilities from a recognised brand name.
If analysts are dissappointed Nokia did not unveil something more flashy, the networks have at least as much to answer for as the Finnish manufacturer. There is little point in Nokia ramping up commercial volumes of a DoCoMo-style handset capable of multi-participant video conferencing when most European operators expect to introduce 3G networks at about 64 Kbs average transmission speed and rely extensively on 2.5G infrastructure.
There is a complex trade-off equation between bandwidth, battery life, dual mode support and multimedia capabilities. DoCoMo’s decision to launch with single mode W-CDMA handsets with more advanced multimedia features and a limited coverage area has backfired. This initial product from Nokia may be utilitarian in appearance, but it should provide a better starting point for the introduction of 3G services.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.