Low-tech features taking mainstream mobiles into the future

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The Independent Tech

Consumer electronics companies are busy racing forward, embracing new technology and trying to develop gadgets with the latest and greatest features, but recently a couple of mobile phone makers have changed their tactics, introducing high-tech phones with, what many might consider, outdated features.

In a world where everyone is fighting to invent the next iPhone killer, companies such as Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM) have decided to "make the familiar new," opting to transform the older-styled 12-button keypad into a desirable smartphone feature.

On August 17 Nokia announced it would introduce its first "Touch and Type" device while hinting at a new category of phones that embrace both the future and the past.

Nokia's first Touch and Type device, the X3, bridges the gap between smartphone and feature phone, combining smartphone features such as a touchscreen, and 3G and WiFi connectivity with "the most used mobile interface on the planet."

The device gently eases users who feel comfortable using the traditional mobile phone keypad into the world of smartphones.

"Our research tells us consumers who have invested years in becoming fast one-handed, one-thumb texters want to maintain their speedy edge for SMS, chat and instant messaging - yet enjoy the benefits of touch as well," said Mary McDowell, Executive Vice President of Mobile Phones at Nokia.

It is a strategy that RIM - a mobile maker which has become synonymous with smartphones - also employed with their recently released Pearl 9100 3G handset.

Nokia's diminutive X3 phone comes with a 5 megapixel, 4x digital zoom camera for both video and stills, dedicated music and messaging keys, access to Nokia's Ovi Store, 3G and WiFi connectivity, email, social networking, FM radio, and Bluetooth2.1.

The X3 is priced at €125 and is due to go on sale in China, Ireland & UK, Russia, Australia & New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, Spain & Portugal, France, Mexico and Saudi & Yemen this quarter with additional markets due to follow shortly.