ED#72 : Mobile Phones - The Year 2007 & Beyond!
2007 has been a very fine year for the mobile phone industry. We’ve seen some ground-breaking phones being released throughout 2007, first and foremost being the iPhone from Apple.
The Apple iPhone
When Apple released their iPhones in June, 2007; it took the world by storm. This was and still is an amazing achievement for a company that has virtually no experience in telecommunications, much less mobile phones.
However, its incredible success was quite well-earned. While Windows Mobile devices have been using touch screens for over a decade now, they remained very dependent on the stylus.
Then the Apple iPhone came and did what Windows Mobile failed to do after a decade of development - do away with the need for a stylus. By providing a simple, finger-only screen navigation system, Apple completely revolutionized the smart phone.
To fight the iPhone craze, many mobile phone manufacturers came up with their own strokes of touch screen systems. For example, HTC created the TouchFLO user interface for their HTC Touch and similar devices. It mimics iPhone’s interface although it is nowhere close to what the iPhone’s touch navigation is capable of. Other phones with touch screen navigation include the LG Prada KE850 and LG Viewty KU990.
HTC TyTN II
In 2007, we started to see GPS modules being implemented in many mobile phone models, particularly those from Nokia and Windows-based devices from HTC and ASUS. Although Nokia is still the world leader in mobile phones, Taiwan-based HTC is the current leader of Windows Mobile devices.
They have consistently been at the forefront of technology, producing top-notch phones with the latest features. For example, their flagship, the HTC TyTN II is an all-in-one device incorporating everything from GPS navigation and a full QWERTY keyboard to 3G and WiFi connectivity, a 3 megapixel camera and TouchFLO touch screen navigation.
The Nokia N95 was also noteworthy. In the N95, Nokia managed to deliver everything any user could want in their mobile phone, from a 5 megapixel camera with VGA video recording capability, a large display and a GPS navigation system. Nokia’s marketing slogan for the N95 was ‘This is what computers have become’ and we couldn’t agree more. For those that can afford it, the Nokia N95 was really ‘the’ phone to buy.
Nokia N95 8GB
Of course, no phone is without its share of problems. The Nokia N95 was afflicted by poor battery life and a poor slider mechanism. However, these problems were rectified in the newer Nokia N95 8GB edition which also featured a larger screen. It was released in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Sony Ericsson P1i
2007 was not a really good year for Sony Ericsson They did not come out with any prominent models. The Sony Ericsson P1i, successor to the Sony Ericsson P990i, was no doubt a good phone. However, it was limited by Sony Ericsson's use of their own Symbian UIQ 3 operating system. Consumers also hesitated picking up the Sony Ericsson P1i smartphone after its predecessor, the P990i, turned out to be a dud after all the media hype.
There was no major update of the Sony Ericsson series of Walkman phones. What's more, the Sony Ericsson Cybershot K850i 5 megapixel phone came out too late in 2007 for anyone to notice. It was rendered even more unattractive by the fact that the Nokia N95 had dropped enough in price that it only cost about as much as the Cybershot K850i at launch.
2007 was the year which saw major releases of 5 megapixel camera phones from most mobile phone manufacturers. These phones include the Nokia N95, Nokia N82, Sony Ericsson K850i, LG Viewty KU990 and Samsung G600.
With the use of high-resolution sensors, the line between a camera phone and a point & shoot digital camera is much less distinct. Convergence will become more common place, if only because it is more convenient to carry a mobile phone that can take photos, than a separate digital camera.
Of course, even these high-resolution camera phones cannot match picture quality of digital cameras. There are two barriers to achieving the same level of quality - the size of the camera sensor and the lens. Due to size constraints, it would be impossible to fit the same lens and sensor used in a real digital camera into a mobile phone. Hence, digital cameras will always have a picture quality advantage, even if they have the same resolution (megapixels) as the camera phone.
Due to the limited size of mobile phones, the sensor used in current mobile phones could already reach their practical limit, at least for the immediate future. In fact, a higher resolution sensor does not necessarily improve picture quality. If anything, it could reduce its quality as the smaller pixel site is much more susceptible to noise. Even noise reduction algorithms employed to correct this may smudge the image if it is excessive. This is evident in some 5 megapixel camera phones which show degraded image quality when pictures are taken at their full 5 megapixel resolution.