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Emblaze Mobile First ELSE

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 First ELSE Cancelled
25th November 2009, Updated 1st July 2010.

The First ELSE is a powerful smartphone from Emblaze Mobile, a company we first looked at a few years ago. At that time Emblaze were manufacturing low cost feature phones that sold fairly modestly. However, Emblaze was also working on a secret project called "Monolith" in conjunction with the Japanese company ACCESS. Now it appears that the "Monolith" has arrived in all its black slabby glory, with a nod to the movie 2001 along the way.

ACCESS are probably best known for their NetFront web browser, but they also make the ACCESS Linux Platform which is used by several manufacturers worldwide. As an aside, ACCESS also make the Garnet OS which is derived from PalmOS. In other words, ACCESS are a pretty established player in mobile technologies, and this looks like a good strategic partnership.

This collaboration has produced an operating environment called ELSE INTUITION which is based on ACCESS's Linux and browser technologies. But what really sets ELSE INTUITION apart from some other platforms is the work that has gone into the user interface. Users control the software on the First ELSE primarily through gestures, typically though a scrolling action using the thumb which rotates through the possible menu options. You can also create gesture shortcuts for common actions, so the end result is a user interface that is refreshingly not just a clone of the iPhone.

The software includes all the usual features such as a web browser, email client and a multimedia player. One feature is that data objects such as contacts and messages are available within every application on the phone rather than just dedicated applet. You can see more of this interface and the software on their web site at

 First ELSE Although the software is probably the thing that sets the First ELSE aside from the competition, the hardware is also very impressive. There's a large 3.5" 480 x 854 pixel capacitive touchscreen display, 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and image stabilisation, 3.5G data, WiFi, GPS, tilt and proximity sensors, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity plus a 3.5mm audio socket. As standard, the First ELSE seems to come with 16GB of internal Flash memory although a 32GB version may also be available, however this does not seem to be expandable.

Inside is a TI OMAP 3430 processor, as found on the Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola DROID and Nokia N900. As it happens, those three handsets are probably the First ELSE's main competition too. The handset also comes with 256MB of RAM which should be plenty. All this means that this particular smartphone should have enough power to run the snazzy interface that it promises, and there's a large 1450 mAh battery too which is definitely needed in the current generation of high-end smartphones.

We've said before that we don't think that the world needs another mobile operating platform, but underneath this is a LiMo compliant operating system (like the Vodafone 360 H1) which should aid with application development. We have also said that the world doesn't need any more black slabby smartphones, but the First ELSE does at least look quite good despite its monolithness (yes, we did just make the word "monolithness" up).

As part of this product launch, Emblaze Mobile are changing their name to ELSE Ltd which would give this handset the rather unwieldy moniker of "ELSE First ELSE".

There are three crucial challenges when it comes to trying to make the First ELSE a success - firstly: it has to work properly. It will help that ACCESS are a very experienced technology company, and also that Emblaze have some real-world familiarity with making and selling mobile phones, but the ELSE platform is still very much unproven. The second problem is that competition is fierce between the iPhone, Android handsets, Windows Mobile, Maemo and even Palm's WebOS. Finally, Emblaze has a very low market profile and it will need to work hard to get distributors, networks and retailers to pick up the First ELSE.

All these problems aside, we have to admit that we very much like the look of the First ELSE and it would be great to see it succeed when it hits the market probably in the first half of 2010.

UPDATE: unfortunately development of the First ELSE has been cancelled as of July 2010. Click here for more information.

First ELSE Promo Video

This very cool promo video tells us almost nothing about the First ELSE, but it is very cool!

First ELSE at a glance




GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100




3.5" 480 x 854 pixels, 262k colours


5 megapixels


PDA-style device
116 x 57 x 13mm



Memory card:

No (16GB internal)











Battery life:

Not specified

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