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Cells Like Nobody’s Business

Kanika Goswami features some of the hottest ‘business cell phones’ in the market...

Consider a businessman named Mr X. The time is somewhere in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80 or even the early ’90s. Mr X is on an Indian Airlines aircraft on his way to a conference but unknown to him there is a crisis in the office. A client is threatening to cancel the largest order that the firm has ever received unless granted an immediate one-on-one with Mr X. It’s a small misunderstanding, easily rectified with some easy communication. But Mr X is inaccessible. Unpleasant consequences follow…

Same scene today – Mr X has a small sleek black box on him. The crisis erupts, the box starts ringing or vibrating, Mr X is immediately connected to the office and then the client, he checks the black box to clear the issue on which the misunderstanding has arisen, talks to the client, the issue is resolved. Mr X then picks a Thank You card from the Internet and sends it to his client over the same black box, the latter responds by sending signed images of the agreement.

Discounting the small element of melodrama in the above example, the point is that mobile phones are today the office of the businessman-on-the-move, his virtual workplace. Through these instruments, he/she can design presentations, send and receive business data in real time, ask for inputs from a colleague in another continent, connect to a client on yet another continent, and after the hard work is done, recline and listen to a number from his favourite FM channel.

In the Indian context, from fishermen in Kerala to soya bean farmers in Madhya Pradesh, mobile phones have found ready acceptance. We shall however restrict ourselves with that subset called ‘business phones’ within the cell phone bracket. And since business phones need necessarily to have international roaming capability, our review of phones will have be only those running on Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communications. GSM technology gives consumers standardised same number ‘contactability’ in more than 170 countries.

Of the cellphone players in India, the ‘connecting people’ people, Nokia have a large part of the market captured and most new models launched in the last few months have come from this stable. Close contenders are Samsung and Sony Ericsson, with Motorola not far behind. These are the major brands currently available in the Indian market.

One of the most impressive handset is the Nokia 9210i Communicator (Price: 37,599), a phone cum personal digital assistant (PDA). At 244 grams it is almost obese compared to other PDAs but it has an awesome range of features. The company bills it as a portable office which includes phone, fax, e-mail, calendar, contacts, Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation viewer, WAP, WWW. You can edit and send Word Processor and spreadsheet documents, view MS PowerPoint slides in full colour.

It has a high quality 4,096 colour screen. Photos can be transferred from a compatible digital camera, viewed and then forwarded by fax or e-mail. You can also view streaming videos on the Internet and flash animations
There is however a snag, Worksheets can be created on it but the presentation tools can only view previously loaded PowerPoint slides. As if to make up for these, there is the streaming software from Real Networks (audio and video player) to view internet media content. The 9210i Communicator effectively serves as an office in your pocket.

Another latest in the Indian market is the Nokia 6610 (Price: Rs 16,399). One of its main features is the multimedia messaging service (MMS) which allows users to incorporate sound, images, and other rich content into their messages. The model also has an integrated FM radio. Its triband GSM access means ability to connect anywhere in the world, anytime. Plus there’s pre-installed Java applications on the Nokia 6610 which include a Converter (for currencies, temperature, weight and other measures) and a Portfolio Manager (to track stocks and other securities). The calendar notes can take up to 250 entries and the Phonebook Memory (phone + SIM) up to 300 entries.

Another model selling well in the Indian market is the Nokia 7250 (Price: Rs 26,299). It has an integrated digital camera allowing you to capture, store and share pictures. Plus there’s MMS, triband GSM, an integrated stereo FM radio, downloadable personal applications via Java technology, WAP 1.2.1 Browser. Memorywise, the phone book supports up to 300 entries, SMS up to 150 text messages and calendar notes up to 250 entries. Thanks to an ultra thin battery, the Nokia 6100 (Price: Rs 20,099) is one of the slimmest full featured phones on display in Indian shops. Features include MMS, downloadable Java games, WAP 1.2.1 browser, delightful polyphonic ring tones, triband GSM support. The 6100 even has an electronic wallet, though it will be some time before people start using this feature in India. The 6100 sports a 4,096-colour, 128x128 pixels resolution screen and its large display is handy, whether you are typing SMS messages or viewing an MMS message.

The Nokia 3650 (Price: Rs 23,399) is equipped with an integrated video player and a RealOne Player to download video clips. Also, its integrated digital camera can capture images at 640 x 480 resolution and the phone display can be used as a viewfinder. It has high-end features like Bluetooth9 and Infrared capabilities which allows wireless connectivity to your PC and laptop. You can download new Java games and applications. Data transfer can be as fast as 43.2 kilobits per second.

The Nokia 8910 (Price: Rs 35,499) is heavy on looks with a titanium casing and chrome finish keys. Activating the side triggers sets the phone in motion, rising from the handgrip cover to put the many phone functions at your fingertips. Features include Voice Commands, Bluetooth wireless connectivity to other compatible devices, mobile Internet connectivity, Organiser and To-Do lists, on top of your pre-requisite phone functions.

Nokia 7650 (Price: Rs 26,999) is a phone and colour camera rolled into one with MMS capabilities. It has 3.6 MB of memory to store files and applications. The 7650 comes with only a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) browser, limiting you to text-based content. It has infrared and Bluetooth capabilities for connecting to PDAs and notebook computers.

Samsung is a close contender in the Indian market. One of the brand’s better sellers is the ‘Think Slim’ Samsung SGH-N200 (Price: Rs 11,000). It is sleek and light, more on the lines of the Nokia 8250, with an antenna and a backlight. The N200 has voice activated WAP which means no need to hit the function key for internet access. The slim width however makes using the keypad awkward at times. The phone is a dual-band phone, and business travellers won’t be able to use this in many cities in the US. The 650mA lithium-ion battery powers the phone over a weekend’s use comfortably, and is rated at 90 hours of standby time and three hours of talk-time.

Motorola, is the third major player in the Indian cellphone market. The Motorola Mysticmoto T 720 (Price: Rs 15,995) has been so termed, because of its dazzling, large 4,096 colour screen. In addition to fun and games, the phone can be used to download business applications like stock updates and even financial tools using the J2ME wireless technology. In the Motorola stable, the cutting edge-tech comes from the sleek but loaded Motorola V66 (Price: Rs 10,495). This small and lightweight instrument combines chic with tech. Features include rapid network connections for fast web and email access, global roaming capabilities and a built-in micro browser to access news, weather, stocks and more. It also has voice memo and voice dial.

A similar model, selling well, is the Motorola C350 (Price: Rs 9,795). It has polyphonic ring tones, a colour display in addition to a compact camera. The C350 comes with a 4,000-colour LCD screen and internet surfing is convenient. The only significant missing feature is MMS support.

Another model, Motorola T 720i (Price: Rs 19,995) offers all this and more. It has a digital camera and triband connectivity. It is the first model in Motorola to boast of these features.

The Sony Ericsson T 800 (Price: Rs 40,000) is a sleek phone with a tri-band, MMS, GPRS-enabled cell phone cum PDA with handwriting recognition. It is also a digital camera, features an MP3 and MPEG4 player, a GameBoy console and a voice recorder. The phone can automatically synchronise contacts with Microsoft Outlook via Bluetooth link. The only problem with this model is that it needs to be fine tuned and the manual has to be consulted at every step. The phone, therefore, while being a boon for the IT-savvy, is a bumpy ride for the uninitiated. Another tech-loaded gizmo is the Sony Ericsson T68i (Price: Rs 18,000). It has a digital talk time of up to 780 minutes. Features include wireless web access.

Another sell-well model is the T 300 (Priced: Rs 13,995). It has a camera accessory and provision to e-mail images. However the drawback here is the 256-bit screen, seriously threatened by the 4096-colour screens of most competitors.

On A National Footing
If the market bleeds saffron, white and green, then VK Munoth is the winner. As the first Indian brand, the models launched by the company have no local contenders, its USP being the zippy ‘desi’ image. The company is an alliance between the Munoth Industries Ltd., with strongholds in finance and investment, and VK Corporation, a leading technology firm with its headquarters in Hong Kong. VK is also the innovator of the lithium polymer battery - the lightest battery for mobile phones. The models launched by the VK Munoth include: VG 107, CG 107 (Both priced at Rs 12,900) and the VG 207 (Priced at Rs 18, 500), all available in a range of colours. Not content with being India’s first branded mobile, the VG 207 also holds the honour of being the world’s smallest colour mobile. Touted as the phone for a younger age bracket ( 20 to 35 years), the phone is a technical fashion accessory. The phone operates on dual band GSM 900/ 1800, single key access to voice mail and a built-in speed dial function. The VG 207 has a range of polyphonic ringer tones ,the 7-colour LED indicator lets you categorise your calls, the personal information manager is exhaustive . It also supports a WAP Browser 1.2.1 for high-speed Internet connectivity. The phone weighs a mere 70 gm. The standard pack comes with both slim and standard batteries, a desktop charger and a travel adapter for the business executive on the move. Service for the VK Munoth is provided by Accel Ltd., the leading mobile phone service in the country. The current models available at more than 2,500 retail outlets across the country .
– Susan George, Chennai
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