NEC is claiming to have trumped Motorola in providing the world’s ‘thinnest’ mobile handset, a clamshell device measuring just 11.9mm in depth and weighing 96g. The product also includes a 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, MP3 capabilities and an OLED sub-display. Motorola pioneered the ‘ultra-thin’ category with its RAZR range, but NEC has a history of high-end concept phones which demonstrate its engineering prowess – including a credit card-sized handset for the Chinese market and a tiny jewellery-box clamshell.
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The NEC handset is a 2.5G GSM device and will be offered in Hong Kong, Russia and a handful of European markets. Motorola is readying its V3x, a 3G version of the RAZR, for commercial release later in the year – Vodafone has already said it will form part of its 2005 Christmas 3G handset line-up.
As a broad generalisation, Japanese manufacturers have tended to concentrate on two strengths when expanding outside their domestic market: technological innovation and their experience of working collaboratively to meet operator specifications. Sharp’s handsets for Vodafone Live are an example of this – each new release has offered category-leading photography capabilities, strong Vodafone branding and a customised Vodafone interface.
However, the same manufacturers can also draw on a strong heritage of innovative design and this NEC product is likely to be the first of several from the Far East which focus more on aesthetics than the strength of the feature list.