BenQ to launch Symbian-based smart phone in Q3

Hoping to cash in on expected growth in demand for mobile data services, Taiwanese electronics maker BenQ plans to release in the third quarter a smart phone based on Symbian's operating system.

The smart phone will incorporate a user interface developed by Symbian subsidiary UIQ Technology AB, which designed the interface for Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB's Symbian-based P800 smart phone, the company said. The smart phone will be the first Symbian-based product released by BenQ following the licensing agreement for the Symbian OS it signed with Symbian on Jan. 30.

While few details of BenQ's smart phone have been made public, the company has said the phone will be intended for 2.5G (advanced second-generation) networks and hinted at the inclusion of a touch-sensitive color LCD (liquid crystal display) screen, much like that offered by the P800. The phone will also include a built-in digital camera, a Mini USB port and support for Bluetooth, according to BenQ spokeswoman Tiffany Wu.

While the smart phone that will be introduced during the third quarter will support GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, BenQ in the future may also develop 3G (third-generation) handsets based on the Symbian OS, the company said.

Symbian OS offers a range of features, including support for MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), POP (Post Office Protocol) e-mail, an Internet browser, and support for Unicode text.

BenQ would be the first Taiwanese handset maker to produce a smart phone based on Symbian OS that will be sold under its own brand. Two other Taiwanese companies, High Tech Computer and Compal Electronics, have developed smart phones that run Microsoft's Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 software but those phones are made on a contract basis for other companies, such as Orange SA.

In addition to BenQ and Sony Ericsson, other companies that have licensed the Symbian OS include Nokia, Samsung, Fujitsu and Sendo Holdings.

Australian pricing and availability is yet to be announced.

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