Sony Ericsson slows launch of first 3G handset

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications has pushed back the launch of its first 3G (third generation) mobile broadband phone in Europe and Asia by several weeks to early January as the Japanese-Swedish joint venture continues interoperability tests with wireless operators.

"The initial plan was to introduce our first 3G phone, the Z1010, in the fourth quarter of 2003 but because of very complex interoperability tests with around 15 mobile phone operators, we've decided to push back the launch date by a few weeks," said Sony Ericsson spokesman Peter Bodor. "We've always said we don't have to be the first to offer a 3G phone. What's important is that the product meets our customers' requirements."

Sony Ericsson has yet to announce the price of the Z1010, which the company announced at the 3GSM World Conference in Cannes, France, earlier this year, Bodor said. "This is a high-end terminal, and the price will reflect that but it's not going to be astronomical," he said.

The clam-shell designed Z1010 has two displays and two cameras. The main display is a full-graphic 65,536-color display, while the second is a four-level gray scale status display located on the front panel of the phone for easy access to information when the phone is closed. Customers can use the integrated camera to snap pictures or record video, which they can send as an MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) text. A second "video call camera" below the main display allows the user to view the party at the other end of the call.

The Z1010 will support 2G (second generation) GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technologies, as well as the new 3G mobile broadband networks based on WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiplex Access) technology.

Customers can upload data at speeds of up to 64K bps (bits per second) and download at speeds up of to 384K bps.

Last week, Nokia announced the availability of its second 3G phone, the 7600, which like its predecessor, the 6650, offers no video telephony function.

But unlike Nokia, Sony Ericsson views video telephony as a key way for new 3G operators, such as Hutchison 3G UK, to differentiate themselves, according to Bodor. "Video telephony is a main feature of 3G phones," he said. "That features really shows users why they need a high-speed broadband handset."

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