Starting off the MWC 2009 hectic week, the Sony Ericsson press conference went to a nice start, though this year saw Sony Ericsson shrink the announcements to only a couple of handsets. No there was no XPERIA X2 this year, but as Sony Ericsson's Head of marketing Lennard Hoornik shared, there will be a next XPERIA, but only when they find the right product.
The new Sony Ericsson Idou will probably create as much hype as the original XPERIA. Not only is it the first 12 megapixel GSM cameraphone, but it's also the first device presented to ever run on the brand new open source Symbian user interface that's still being developed by the Symbian Foundation. The 3.5-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 360 x 640 pixels, GPS and Wi-Fi and the relatively compact size are just an added bonus to that already impressive novel package.
The Sony Ericsson Idou is nowhere near complete - they haven't even come up with a marketing model name yet as Idou is still code name for the device. The show-off devices that the Sony Ericsson staff had at the event varied from graphically rich dummy phones to basic early-stage prototypes. Amazingly though the new user interface is perhaps faster and more fluid than everything else that we have seen (including iPhone). We really hope that the final product will be as responsive as the units showed today.
Check out how it looks on video:
Interestingly enough, the Idou uses microSD card slot (visible on the side), which hints that the manufacturer of the device is not Sony Ericsson themselves - much like with the XPERIA X1.
Much like XPERIA X1 last year, it would take Sony Ericsson at least half a year to get the device rolling into production. Actually, we bet it won't be before October or November that we see an actual retail Idou.
The only commitment regarding the Idou availability that Sony Ericsson are taking right now is second half of 2009. Well, guess what - they said exactly the same thing about XPERIA X1 last February and it took them 8 months to push it to the market. Just don't hold your breath just yet.
The Sony Ericsson Idou might have stolen the spotlight off the Sony Ericsson W995 but the truth is that the W995 is one of the most well equipped feature phones of the company.
At their press conference Sony Ericsson announced their strategic plans to converge their separate product lines such as Walkman and Cyber-shot into single powerful high-end products so that users will no longer have to choose between enhanced music or imaging capabilities. Lower range phones may still get some kind of specialization - be it Walkman or Cyber-shot, but that would be more of an added bonus feature than anything else.
As we already mentioned, the Sony Ericsson W995 (previously codenamed Hikaru)combines both music and imaging prowess and additionally it takes a shot at a field Sony Ericsson have never turned attention to - video playback.
The neat kickstand on the back of the W995 is used for watching videos, while the device is in landscape position on your desk for example.
Unfortunately, the W995 2.6-inch display (the largest on a SE feature phone to-date) doesn't have a widescreen aspect ratio. The handset doesn't even have DivX or XviD support - that's a certainly a downside for a product with ambitions in video playback. So all in all, the only specialized video feature of the W995 remains its kick stand - not quite enough to qualify for a portable video player.
An additional disappointment is that SE have not done anything serious to pump up the video recording capabilities of the W995. While their competition is going for 720p HD video recording, the best that Sony Ericsson can offer with their top multimedia device W995 is 30fps video in WQVGA resolution.
Having said all that, we still favor the W995 since its feature package seems rather well balanced. The relatively large screen is coupled with Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity, there's a standard 3.5mm audio jack, and most of all the device is quite compact.
The Sony Ericsson W995 will be the first phone to support the new Sony Ericsson MediaGo multimedia management sync service that should allow for seamless transfer of data between Sony Ericsson phones and a computer over USB cable. The key feature of the service is that it will transcode all data on-the-go so that it can run on the mobile phone.
MediaGo will also allow automatic syncing of multimedia files such as updating of the music library, transferring of newly downloaded podcast episodes, etc.
MediaGo will launch with Sony Ericsson W995 and will be available in 15 languages.
Sony Ericsson also announced that they are planning of hitting the video playback from various angles by not only focusing W995 on video, but by providing unlimited movies downloads via the PlayNow Arena Movies service, which would require a monthly subscription.