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Nokia's camera-free Bluetooth bet for business

A successor to the 6310i - but SE sticks to pics.

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by Bryan Betts

Nokia and SonyEricsson have both been busy launching new phones this week, but while most are all-singing models, with cameras, MP3 players and FM radios, Nokia's 6021 is a more sober offering. Yes, at long last, it's another business-class phone with no camera.

Some buyers have long complained that, for mobile phone makers, Bluetooth and cameras tend to go hand in hand, despite the fact that the former is targeted mainly at work users and the latter at consumers. The manufacturer's excuses have centred around the desire to differentiate between cheap'n'cheerful phones and feature-phones.

SonyEricsson senior product marketing man Steve Walker thinks that people who currently see cam-phones as toys will change their minds once they see what the latest models can do. It means one thing to carry, and the quality is easily good enough for printable holiday snaps, he says.

The problem is that many workplaces ban cam-phones, fearful of them being used for industrial espionage. So do health clubs, swimming pools and schools, especially in the changing rooms, court buildings where photography is illegal, and sundry other places which value a degree of privacy, such as pubs featuring 'exotic dancers'.

For anyone who doubts the capabilities of the cam-phones debuted this week, a SonyEricsson staffer proudly showed us one of the 2Megapixel K750i handsets that the company announced. He had photographed a recipe from a newspaper, and the picture - even on the phone's screen - was clear enough to use as a shopping list.

SonyEricsson did also launch a camera-free phone, but the J300i is a cute yet basic model for the style-conscious - it plays games and music, and lacks Bluetooth.

Meanwhile, the Nokia 6021 is tri-band, with Bluetooth, instant messaging and push-to-talk. It arrives alongside the 6230i, which updates the 6230 with a 1.3Mp camera and a higher-res screen, and the more basic 6030, which has a radio but no Bluetooth or camera. Nokia already has a camera-less Communicator, the 9300.

Will SonyEricsson follow suit? Company president Miles Flint is cagey: "It could be an opportunity," is all he'd say.

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