2006 in Review: The Good, The Bad and
2006 was a year in which we saw many
more "good" handsets than "bad"
ones.. and ugly ones were in short supply to. However,
this is our pick of the best, worst and ugliest handsets
of 2006. Enjoy!
There were a lot candidates in
this category, and most of them deserve a mention..
so before we get to the top 3, we'd like to go through
some of the handsets that didn't quite make it.
Ericsson P990i smartphone eventually turned up very
late in 2006, and it's an impressive piece of kit..
when it works properly. Closely related to the P990i
is the Sony
Ericsson M600i which is a somewhat simpler device,
that seems more reliable too. Currently Sony Ericsson
are the only real competitors to Nokia in the Symbian
marketplace, and both these devices are promising, and
hopefully software updates will make them more stable.
Nokia had some problems with software
too, particularly in smartphones. But several phones
stand out in terms of features and design. You can't
miss the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Nokia
N93 which admittedly is too much for most people.
E50 and Nokia
6131 turned out to be good business phones.. and
the 6131 is one we didn't like the look of at launch,
and now it's one of our favourites. The Nokia
5500 Sport shows an innovative way to leverage smartphone
technologies in a practical package, and the Nokia
5300 is shaping up to be a big-end-of-year hit because
of a good combination of multimedia capabilities and
looks. And even though it's not a phone, we've been
impressed with the Nokia
770 Internet Tablet with the 2006
OS as being a refreshing alternative to big-as-a-brick
One of the stars of 2006 was the LG
KG800 "Chocolate" phone, which showed
that there was more than one way to design a fashion
phone.. but Motorola demonstrated that there was still
some life in the old RAZR concept by releasing the Motorola
KRZR K1. Samsung demonstrated a third way of doing
it with the Samsung
X830, and this is probably the most practical phone
of its type we've seen so far.
2006 demonstrated that serious messaging
devices were popular. The BlackBerry
Pearl is the first consumer-orientated BlackBerry
and the combination of style, a brilliant screen and
BlackBerry's practical design make a very attractive
handset. In the business world, the BlackBerry
8707v added 3G to the already successful 8700 platform.
In the Windows world, the HTC
TyTN added more features than ever before, and is
one of the first HSDPA handsets to market.
In our view, Nokia haven't
quite gotten all of the bugs out of
N73, but it's a huge improvement
in almost every way over the older Nokia
N70. The N73's great camera and screen,
combined with an improved keyboard,
multimedia and smartphone capabilities
make this the high-end (but compact)
3G phone that the competition wants
Nokia call these N-series
phones "multimedia computers"..
and it's not surprising given that they
can do pretty much anything. And they
can even make phone calls! And because
the N73 is a Symbian smartphone, it
has been chosen as one of 3's
Motorola FONE F3
At the other end of
the scale from the Nokia N73 is the
FONE F3. The FONE goes to show that
low cost handsets don't have to be primitive.
This is the first mobile phone on the
market to feature an electronic paper
display, and it's also designed to be
resilient, have a long battery life,
stylish and inexpensive.
We thing that the FONE
F3 is the best low cost handset of 2006,
and it's likely to be a huge seller
Winner - Best Phone of 2006
Sony Ericsson K800i
A direct rival to the
Nokia N73, the Sony
Ericsson K800i is a much more polished
device that shows great attention to
detail. As a consumer device, it's just
that bit better than the N73 and we
understand that it's selling in huge
The big advantage that
Sony Ericsson has is the access to Sony's
popular sub-brands such as Walkman and
Cybershot. This is an excellent camera
phone and surely deserves to carry the
Cybershot name.. but it's also a great
multimedia device too.
Unlike the N73, this
isn't a smartphone.. but most consumers
aren't really interested in smartphone
capabilities at the moment.
There were few truly bad handsets in
2006, but there were several that didn't live up to
expectations. Chief amongst these was the bug-ridden
Ericsson P990i - yes, this is a handset with real
good and bad points. But the P990i wasn't
the only promising phone that had a serious flaw. The
"Chocolate" looks great, but the heat-sensitive
buttons have a nasty habit of deleting all your contacts.
On a different track, the Motorola
KRZR K1 was Motorola's most significant release
of 2006, but ultimately it's just another bloody RAZR
phone of which there are far too many already.. including
the pointlessly redundant Motorola
V1100 HSDPA phone.
Two long-anticipated phones turned out
to be disappointments. The Sharp
GX40 had been expected for two years and a damp
squib. The Motorola
ROKR E2 fixed most of the problems with the original
ROKR, but it sank without trace. In most of the world,
the ROKR brand is completely dead.
And the most pathetic handset of 2006
in our view is the BenQ-Siemens
A38, which is just a hideous relic from the past.
Runners up (or Runners down?)
Good looking in a "blingy"
sort of way, the problems with the Nokia
6080 are under the surface, and
it goes to prove that you can't make
a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
It's a really basic
and outdate handset underneath, and
to us the Nokia 6080 appears to be an
attempt to cobble together a "Chocolate"
style phone from a pile of cheap parts
lying around the Nokia factory.
Note to Nokia: if you're
going to design a phone that's this
good looking, please make sure that
the beauty is more than scan deep!
6151 is a horribly crippled 3G phone
that comes with the worst quality display
we've ever seen in a 3G device, rendering
it pretty useless for more 3G applications.
Uniquely designed not
to appeal to either consumer or businesses,
the Nokia 6151 is just a mishmash of
poorly matching features.
On the plus side, it's
a relatively lightweight and cheap device,
and it does come with expandable memory,
an MP3 player and FM radio.
Worst Phone of 2006
Possibly the phone that
BenQ-Siemens, the BenQ-Siemens
EF91 looked good on paper, but when
it was submitted to the carriers for
testing, it was so poor that no
carrier was prepared to certify it for
The EF91 sums up BenQ-Siemens
in a nutshell - here is a device that
cost a considerable amount of money
to develop, but was so poorly implemented
that it proved to be a disaster. Indeed,
the EF91 set a pattern for many other
BenQ-Siemens devices in 2006.
..and the Ugly
Only their mothers would love their
Ugly phones are not necessarily bad phones..
in fact, some of those listed here are very innovative
in their own way.
i600 is a very promising looking Windows smartphone,
but it just looks like someone has chucked a load
of keys on the front more-or-less at random. An equally
promising Windows device, the i-mate
JAQ really just looks plain wrong.. oddly
it reminds us of a high-tech Japanese toilet. And the
Discus Dualphone DP L10 is a clever combination
of GSM and VOIP in one device, but it has a much style
as a tyre iron.
Caution: may curdle milk
A rare combination of
bad and ugly, the BenQ-Siemens
A38 is a device with no redeeming
features that somehow survived from
prehistoric times.. well, 2003.. and
has come back to life as a deeply ugly
and very low-tech phone.
In many ways the antithesis
to the excellent Motorola FONE F3, the
A38 is another good example of why BenQ-Siemens
The first 5 megapixel
phone we've seen in Europe, the LG
KG920 can either be described as
"exciting and chunky" or "pug
It's actually a pretty
sophisticated handset with quite a lot
of features, hence the large number
of buttons.. and at least LG weren't
slaves to convention either. You'll
either love or hate the looks.. but
you certainly can't ignore them.
It must have a lovely personality
Virgin Lobster 700TV / HTC Monet
Lobster 700TV (also known as the
HTC Monet) is another clever phone with
That lump on the side
is there because this particular device
has a free-to-air digital TV receiver
in it. On top of that, it runs Windows,
has a good size screen, a decent camera
and a good multimedia player. It just
looks like it has an unfortunate growth.
So in fact the Lobster
700TV does have a lovely
personality.. which probably accounts
for the strangely mis-shapen looks.
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