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CeBIT: the handset fan's heaven

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CeBIT: Mobile handset fans must get a real kick out of CeBIT. Seems like everyone saves up their new kit to launch at the show, and then they throw in a few extra bells and whistles for good measure.

Witness O2: BT's old cellular arm has lanched two new handsets under its own brand: the X2 and the X3. The X2 will be available from May in the UK and costs £149 with a PAYG or is free with a monthly contract. The X3 will be in the shops in 'early summer'. Pricing is yet to be decided although O2 promises faithfully that it will be at the conservative end of the spectrum.

The X2 is a neat little clamshell camera-phone with shiny silver bits galore. If you are a dedicated Nokia user, this will not be of any interest, but if you have a little more flexibilitiy about the kind of phone you want to use, this is quite a nice one.

O2 says it is going for the "pub factor" with this phone, ie. all your friends will want one when they see it in the pub, and it is easy to see what they mean. The standard silver clamshell has an extra-shiny layer on its surface. When you shut the device, the light behind the clock switches on and the cover turns out to be translucent. Neat.

The X3 is still something of a work in progress. Its major claim to fame is that it has a 1.3 megapixel camera in it. Take that, Nokia.

Camera phones still have some way to go before they are truly sleek, and this shows more in the clamshell design than in a candy bar shape. Although these ones are by no means large or blocky, they are still a little chunky. If we were in Marketing we'd probably call it "rugged", which may explain why we're not...

UK manufacturer Sendo has also stacked up a couple of announcements: it launches its new S600 handset and the M570 today.

The s600 is Sendo's first camera phone, which looks like being a bit late to the party, but Sendo insists it means they have been able to use consumer feedback what has already been launched: "We have a habit of launching just as a market reaches tipping point," a company spokesman told El Reg today. "When you take a picture, the first option is gives you is 'send'," he explained. "On other handsets it can take up to 11 clicks to get to that which is a bit of a hassle when you have a funny picture you want to share with a friend."

The M570 is the updated version of the M550 clamshell, Vodafone's best-selling handset at Christmas 2003. Its shape is a little rounder, and its antenna is fully integrated. It is not a camera phone, but users can send, receive and display pictures on its 65k colour screen. ®

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