My friend said I was mean for posting this. “Why would you torture people? Showing them stuff they can’t get here in the U.S. — that’s just cruel.” Well… it’s because… well, um… Okay. Fine. I have no response for that. Maybe it is mean. And still, I can’t help myself.
When PC World posted its “8 Cool Phones You Can't Get Here (Yet),” my eyes were riveted. Like a masochist, I deliberately parsed through the list looking for something that would make me green with envy. I can’t be alone. If there were no other cool hunters, lists like this wouldn’t exist. So here you go — a handset collection handpicked to make you want to hop the first flight out of here and become an expate.
Interestingly, four out of the eight phones are made by LG, which makes sense, given its design chops and worldwide popularity. But in truth, of the whole list, there are only 2 here that I really covet. Can you spot ‘em? Actually, forget my favs — which ones are yours?
The BL40 LG Chocolate
I posted a video preview of this sleek device before. (To underscore its sexiness, the promo even featured runway models, no less.) Some PD readers wrote it off as too big, but others — you know who you are — fell for the 4” super widescreen display. It is quite a beauty, with a glass coating and 21:9 aspect ratio. In addition to the humongous screen, the phone packs a 5 MP camera, Wifi, GPS, a 3.5mm jack, FM transmitter and 7.2-mbps UMTS/HSDPA connectivity. That means the brave among you could feasibly grab this while away on vacation (for $650), and then use it back at home on AT&T or T-Mobile. Sadly that’s the only way, since LG is only bringing the BL40 to Europe and Canada.
How about a non smartphone with pushed social networking status updates and profile pics in your contacts list? Okay, that’s nice, but not exactly droolworthy. But how about a feature phone that makes unlimited free Skype calls, all without Wifi? Okay, that’s a little more interesting. The INQ1 from INQ Mobile has been letting UK callers make free unlimited Skype calls via 3G (which is something US carriers will allow right around the time when pigs start flying). Chatterboxes obsessed with calling would never have to restrain themselves again with this inexpensive slider. The only limitation with this is its limited battery life. That’s just as well. There’d be no prying some people off it otherwise.
LG-GD910 Watch Phone
The Kempler & Strauss Watchphone at CTIA was an interesting concept, but wasn’t the most usable out of the box. This one, from LG, looks a big step up. All those James Bond wannabes in Britain will be able to get their fix from this handsome GSM device, but they’ll pay dearly for it — to the tune of $825. For the money, users will get a handmade device that features stereo Bluetooth, voice-activated features and on-screen keyboard for texting. What’s not clear from PC World’s editorial is how people are supposed to text on a tiny 1.43” wide display. But hey, with a watchphone that supports a cool feature like video calling (via VGA camera) from the wrist, who cares? If I had the extra money to burn, I’d take two — you know, so I have someone to video call.
LG Crystal GD900
I’d feel like I was from the future, packing this phone. See that thing under the 3” multi-touch display? That’s an all-glass slide-out keypad. I neither know nor care about the tech that makes this possible; I just know that I am compelled to fly to the UK to get it. That was even before I found out about the Dolby-enabled speakers, 8 MP camera (with autofocus and LED flash), FM radio and secondary video call camera. I hear the UI’s not nearly as polished as the iPhone or any of the Android handsets, but I don’t care. For me, looks totally trump personality this time.
This phone’s 3” display, 3 MP camera and Bluetooth functionality are getting pretty run-of-the-mill these days. The real juice is in the built-in digital terrestrial DMB TV receiver. Imagine: Watching TV shows in real-time without paying extra carrier fees or internet streaming. In my native South Korea, mobile life is seriously focused on TV, so this kind of receiver is commonplace (in fact, practically all of the recent models have it). Not so here in the States, at least not yet. *Sigh* Maybe my grandkids will get to enjoy this.
Samsung Galaxy I7500
Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away… Okay, that’s totally corny. What’s totally not is the Samsung Galaxy I7500. The Europeans have had this since May, but we Americans only have our picture posts and specs to wax poetic about. This is like Android on steroids — Google syncing, GPS, Wifi, 5 MP cam, 8GB storage (with microSD slot for up to 32GB), 7.2-mbps HSDPA compatibility and a luscious OLED touchscreen. Future Android handsets will boast some of these specs (hello, Dragon? Rachael?), but so far, there’s nothing here that compares.
LG-GW620 Android handset
The GW620 may bear a slight resemblance to the Moto Cliq, but what it doesn’t have is MotoBlur or, for that matter, the Motorola lineage. Some experts are expecting it to land on U.S. shores sometime next year, but for now, LG’s one and only Android phone will only be released in Europe and Canada. (Side note: Word has it that the previously WinMo-focused phone maker has some top-notch Android units in development. So if you like 1 GHz Snapdragon processors, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for company news.)
In all honesty, I’m not sure how this iPhone knock-off got on the list. Is it because sales are actually strong for this China-only device? Who knows, but what’s interesting isn’t its similarity to the Apple handset, but its difference: This phone actually runs a customized version of Windows CE 6.0 under the hood. Not only that, but it features a bargain basement price tag of $293 unlocked.
So what do you think of the list: Hot or not? Frankly, it didn't leave me shaking in my shoes, jonesing for most of these. But it did make me want to go out there and look for more worthy candidates.
Do you know of another sexy overseas device that’s missing from the list? Weigh in below.
(Thanks, angelwr24 and printmag!)