i have cellphone envy. it's not that I don't have a mobile phone. I do. It's that I want a better-looking phone.Of course, this is absurd. My mobile fits nicely into my pocket, plays a snappy Astor Piazzolla-style tango when it rings and has features that I haven't tried in two years of ownership. It's just that in comparison to some of the phones other people have, it looks like one of those old mobiles you needed a lunchbox-sized transmitter for.
While it's estimated that nearly half of all Canadian households have at least one cellular phone, these phones are still relatively simple. Service providers' ads try to convince you that an FM radio in the side of your phone is a major technological advance.
Travel outside North America, though, and you see just how seriously folks in Europe, the UK and Asia take their phones. Admittedly, the WAP (wired application protocol) phenomenon that would allow for large pieces of information -- pictures, videos, music -- to be transmitted over mobile phones hasn't quite taken off yet, but that hasn't stopped developers from designing handsets that make North American phones look prehistoric by comparison.
The mobile phones below are not currently available in North America, and may well never be. Don't they look sharp, though?
How many times have you accidentally smashed your phone on the ground or dropped it in a glass of beer when someone scored at the hockey game? Ericsson was thinking of you when it developed this water-resistant and shock-proof mobile. Perfect for when you want to go swimming but can't miss that important call.
NOKIA 9210 COMMUNICATOR
Why lug around a phone and a Palm Pilot when you can combine both in one? This nifty mobile opens up and includes a full-colour screen and a keyboard. It also comes with Word, will run audio and video programs and features a port where you can plug in your digital or video camera. Your office in your pocket.
Maybe you'd like everybody to know your number but want to separate business from pleasure. This phone allows you to have two different numbers and user profiles on the same handset, as well as full Internet and e-mail access and the latest Eminem single as your ring tone.
SANYO 3G CONCEPT
Sanyo's idea of what next-generation phones will look like. Wafer thin, smaller than a cassette tape and with a miniature digital camera on the top so you can snap photos of yourself and send them, electronically, of course, to friends to remind them who they're talking to. Big in Japan.