Call-rounders

Modern mobile phones prove it's good to talk...as well as e-mail, surf the net, download music, take photos and organise your life, says David Phelan
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The Independent Online

Remember when a mobile could only make calls? Nowadays, they can stand in for a digital camera, an MP3 player, a personal organiser, or even a computer for surfing the internet or checking your e-mail. Meanwhile, users who don't need all these add-ons can opt for ever-smaller phones, including some of the most stylish models on the market.

Remember when a mobile could only make calls? Nowadays, they can stand in for a digital camera, an MP3 player, a personal organiser, or even a computer for surfing the internet or checking your e-mail. Meanwhile, users who don't need all these add-ons can opt for ever-smaller phones, including some of the most stylish models on the market.

Last month, at M3 (no, not the motorway, but the Miami Music and Multimedia conference), manufacturer Motorola was due to talk about a new product that's become known as the iTunes phone. In the end, it didn't launch the handset, apparently because its project partner, Apple, likes to announce its products just before they hit the shops. The phone's due to arrive between now and June and, from what is already known, it will let users download music to the handset directly from the iTunes website, thus allowing you to increase your music library on the move. However, it's also possible that UK networks won't support the handset. The networks already have systems in place to download music from their own sites, so why would they encourage you to buy it elsewhere?

Motorola did launch its new advertising technology, which lets you point a mobile at special spots on posters containing hidden transmitters which then send your phone more information. If the poster is about a rock tour, for example, your phone will receive all the concert dates and link you to a site where you can buy tickets or ringtones related to the band.

Motorola E1000

While we wait for the iTunes phones, Motorola already has several music-friendly handsets available, including the E1000, a snazzy 3G phone which has a decent camera, a great screen and an MP3 player which sounds fantastic whether you play it through headphones or the phone's built-in speakers. Only 16Mb of memory is included in the phone, but a tiny TransFlash storage card the size of a child's fingernail can be added to increase capacity.

From free with contract, tel: 08000 151 151, www.motorola.com/uk

Samsung E720

If MP3 appeals but you don't want a 3G phone thank you very much, then the new Samsung E720, out in the next couple of weeks, might be for you. The clamshell phone is a small, tidy and highly specced phone. It has an external screen that uses OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology, which is effective and not very energy-hungry. The built-in 88Mb memory is big enough for a few albums, but if you don't want to listen to music then this space can be used to store photos taken on the one-megapixel camera.

From free with contract at Carphone Warehouse, tel: 0800 925 925, www.carphonewarehouse.com

BlackBerry 7290

If you want a business phone, then you'll probably want to be able to use it to check your e-mails as well. A lot of mobile phones can do this now, but the gold-standard is still the BlackBerry. Recent models that were more traditionally phone-shaped didn't have the Qwerty keyboard which is the unit's greatest strength. You won't want to use it to write a novel, but it's unbeatably good for short e-mails. It also offers you the ability to turn the aerial off so that you can write e-mails on an aeroplane without getting told off, and then send them as soon as you land. The new 7290 model has a much brighter backlight (the dim screen was an Achilles' heel of earlier versions). It's available on the T-Mobile network, which also has a useful tariff available: if you don't plan to use it to make calls you can opt for a data only set-up where you can send and receive e-mails and surf the net for £17 a month. The handset costs £169 with this contract.

T-Mobile, tel: 0845 412 5000; www.t-mobile.co.uk

Siemens SK65

There's another BlackBerry option if you want a more conventional-shaped phone. The smart Siemens SK65 comes with BlackBerry software and a cunning twist-out keyboard. The phone is blessed with the intuitive Siemens user interface but there's no camera (as some companies are banning camera phones from their premises).

From free with contract, tel: 0845 7400 700, www.siemensmobile.com

Sharp 902

This phone's 2-megapixel camera takes excellent photographs, and its Bluetooth wireless connection means you can transfer the large images you create quickly and easily to a PC. It's quite big, but it's tremendous for pictures.

From £99.99 with contract, tel: 08700 700 191, www.vodafone.com.

RAZR V3

Finally, Motorola still has the best-looking phone around with its RAZR V3. It's thin, tough and cute. And now, as well as the dazzling silver model, there's also a new black version that's exclusive to the T-Mobile network. These are similar to the ones that were given to Academy Award nominees in February but now, it seems, anyone can have one.

From free with contract, Motorola as before

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