BenQ launches first BenQ-Siemens handsets

Pledges aggressive 3G, multimedia product strategy

BenQ-Siemens EF81

BenQ Mobile today said it will focus on 3G and multimedia as its ships new handsets this year under the BenQ-Siemens brand. The first three devices to carry the new name will be the EF81, S68 and S88, the company said. The EF81, in particular, demonstrates the company's conception of its future direction, it added.

In which case, it wants to be Motorola. The EF81 is an "ultra-thin" - it's 1.6cm thick - 3G clamshell with a RAZR-like keypad. The casing is a mix of magnesium, stainless steel and aluminium, with sapphire glass - favoured by watchmakers - should prevent the external 1.3in, 120 x 160 colour screen from scratches, BenQ claimed.

The main display is a 2.2in, 240 x 320, 262,144-colour job. There's a two-megapixel swivelling camera with 5x digital zoom. There's an on-board media player with MP3, AAC+, MPEG 4, RealVideo 8 and 9, h.263, and 3GPP support. The phone has 64MB of RAM on board and a MicroSD slot for more.

A 950mAh battery provides 3.5 hours' 3G talk time, 4.5 hours' GSM talk time and up to 300 hours' on stand-by, BenQ said.

The S68 "premium-class" phone is a slim 1.3cm and kitted out with brushed aluminium and a black soft-touch coating. Not "overloaded with a huge variety of unnecessary capabilities" and "superfluous gadgets", the S68 lacks both a camera and video playback facilities. It sports a 1.8in, 132 x 176, 262,144-colour display, dual speakers and a 64-voice polyphonic ringtone engine.

Pitched at business users, the handset supports personal information synchronisation via Bluetooth or USB with Outlook or Lotus Notes. There's 8MB of user-available memory. It's got a tri-band GSM/GPRS (900/1800/1900MHz) radio with EDGE support. The 660mAh battery provides up to 300 minutes' talk time and 300 hours on stand-by, BenQ claimed.

The S88 does have a camera, a two-megapixel unit with 16x digital zoom and an LED light, and is pitched as an alternative to a dedicated digital camera. There's a 2in, 176 x 220, 262,144-colour OLED screen, but just 16MB of on-board memory for pictures, though you can add more storage courtesy of the MicroSD slot. Photos can be printed directly using PictBridge, and beamed by Bluetooth.

The phone supports the usual array of music formats, backed by a surround sound facility which, with the bundled stereo headset, "lusciously pampers the ears", according to BenQ. It also boasts an equaliser to further tweak the sound.

The S88's 920mAh battery yields up to 450 minutes' talk time and up to 200 hours in stand-by mode, BenQ said. The phone has a tri-band GSM/GPRS (900/1800/1900MHz) radio.

Beyond these three, BenQ would only say that one in three of all further phones launched this year will support 3G, whiled three out of four new launches will sport either a music player or an FM radio. Every second phone will have at least a 1.3-megapixel camera.

The S68 will ship at the end of February, BenQ said, followed by the EF81 in March. The S88 is simply down for a Q1 2006 release. Prices will vary according to local market conditions - ie. network subsidy - the company added. ®

BenQ-Siemens S88 and S68
BenQ-Siemens' S88 (left), S68 and EF81 (below)

BenQ-Siemens EF81

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