You can keep your dual-core processors and your 8 million forms of connectivity. This is Style Week on Pocket-lint and we’re interested in technology that’s looking smooth. For day one, we're looking at the gadget that simply everyone owns, the mobile phone.
Yes, mobiles have been around for over 20 years now and, although there was little choice to shape them any other way than the classic brick when it all kicked off, it’s been a different story since the 21st century began. So, which are the best looking mobile phones ever to grace our ears and finger tips? This is the Top 10 according to Pocket-lint. Let us know which we’ve missed in the comments below.
iPhone 4/4S (from £319)
Come on. Let’s get this one out of the way first. The iPhone 4 or 4S looks great whether the entire population of the planet seems to have one or not. All iPhones have looked great since the moment they were announced and it made little difference that the chassis of the latest one was accidentally launched in a bar in Redmond, USA. It's still been a storming fashion success.
Jonathan Ive has been doing a sterling job on Apple’s industrial design for years now. The stainless steel band wrapping around the phone; the sheer, flat back panel; the Apple logo on the rear - you name it, there’s a lot to like about the current iPhone design. The only hard part is whether you want one in black or white.
Nokia Lumia 800
The latest handset to try to stop the rot at Nokia is the colourful Nokia Lumia 800. With Microsoft taking care of the OS, it’s been down to Nokia to come up with the goods as far as external appeal goes and, my, have the boys from Finland done a job.
Hewn from a single piece of polycarbonate with a matte finish that shrugs off fingerprints so that you won’t be forever polishing it, the Lumia 800 has a beautiful tactile feeling to it. Light but reassuringly heavy, it comes in three colours but if you go for the black rather than the cyan or magenta you’re missing the point. If you want to stand out from the crowd right now but still have a cracking piece of cutting edge kit, this is the only place to be.
Ericsson T28s (£35ish)
From the new school to the old. Sure you can walk around with a smartphone in your hand and look good. Any fool can do that. But dare to be different enough to walk around with a handset from the last millennia and you’ll be the absolute bad boy.
The Ericsson T28s - note “Ericsson”, not Sony Ericsson - was one of the most popular phones about when it hit the scene in 1999. Featuring that decade's favourite style, a flap, and a wonderfully flat stubby, solid, rubber aerial, it’s a fantastic statement in robust industrial chic - even if you can’t use it to send a text message. They also happen to still be available and will work quite happily with your SIM. Go on. We dare you.
John’s Phone (£65)
Of course, you can still get that backward experience from a modern day handset if you're willing to give John’s Phone a go. We managed it for a week. Developed by Dutch studio John Doe Amsterdam, it’s actually a bit better on the eye than it is on the hand, unfortunately, but we will guarantee you at least two conversations with strangers started by it per day, around one date per month and probably a friend for life if you can manage for more than half a year without a screen.
There are several design jokes including a stylus which is actually a biro, a phone book which turns out to be a paper pamphlet that sits on the back of the device and some games which are, in fact, some blank noughts and crosses grids in the back few pages. They come in white, black, brown, pink, olive and even gold. Yours for £65 and, again, no SMS possible.
Samsung X830 (from £60ish)
Slightly more function friendly than the two above is the Samsung X830 lipstick phone and you can pretty much guess from the name that it’s not designed for everyone. That doesn’t stop it being stylish. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder and Samsung certainly found enough of them to make this handset a hit.
The elongated shape and host of colours it came in are obviously what made it stylistic success but, for us, it’s the schwip noise of the phone when you open it that’s utterly compelling. There’s something of ninja weaponry about it - particularly if you go for the black one. You can still pick the X830 up on eBay here and there and it will play MP3s which was one of the big selling points at the time.
LG Chocolate BL40 (£150ish)
Thinner still than the lipstick phone and a hell of a lot classier is the second generation of Chocolate phones from LG. In fairness, we could have picked pretty much any of the Chocolate handsets. They’re all stunners, but the one that really stands out from the crowd is the long, thing, super dark and super smooth LG Chocolate BL40.
Sadly, this utterly unique device never really got the traction it deserved, coming out at an awkward time when the cashed-up public ceased to be interested in feature phones no matter the shape or form. All the same, if you can stomach the LG software, and find one, those red and black colours and super wide screen action are just incredible.
HTC Legend (£230)
For us, the modern minimal candybar smartphone look was perfected when HTC launched the HTC Legend Android phone into the market. The more stylish answer to the more spec-orientated HTC Desire, which was announced at the same time, the Legend was unibody joy for those who didn’t fancy joining Jobs’s cohorts at least on the mobile front.
Interestingly, the Legend pretty much matched the MacBook for brushed aluminium and black keys on the rear of the handset and, as for the HTC Sense software, well, the colour scheme of the OS somehow just set off the the design of the body even more. A true great, dare we say it, legend of mobile phonery and still available for a cut-price £230. Seriously tempting.
HTC Hero (£235)
Speaking of HTC, there was also a precurser to the Legend which makes our list as one of the best looking phones there’s ever been. You could argue that it’s really an evolutionary step on the way to HTC’s design perfection, the Legend, but this Homo Erectus of a handset has a beauty in its ergonomics which has not since been matched by any phone anywhere.
Picture an HTC Legend with boxier looks, a less protracted chin than the T-Mobile G1 (possibly the least attractive phone ever in existence) and cover it in teflon and you’ve got the Hero. In reality, it’s the teflon that makes it. It just feels lovely, indestructible, bullet-proof and you know that, in a scrape, you could fry an egg on it. Despite it’s 2009 launch date, the HTC Hero still isn’t cheap but, if you like, you can pick one up for around £235.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc/Arc S
Whether it’s the virtually edge to edge and top to bottom screen, the silver band around the rim, the sculpted curve or the fact that it comes in white is hard to tell but there’s something very smart indeed about the body of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Arc S. The bow in the middle makes it seem thinner and lighter than it actually is and, combined with the smooth plastic finish, it also feel lovely in your hand.
Face on, it’s also a treat which is lucky because that’s the part you’ll be looking at 99 per cent of the time. With the glass virtually spanning the entire width of the handset, the illusion is that you’re getting more screen, even if that’s not strictly true. The final bonus is that, unlike many of the handsets on this list, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S isn’t actually dated yet.
Motorola Aura Celestial Edition (£1,505)
Yes, there is a more expensive, more blinged up version of Motorola’s style phone available in the shape of the £3,500 Motorola Aura Diamond Edition but anyone with a sense of class would rather opt for this one launched in 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landings and the fact that all the communications between the mission and Houston were over a Motorola radio.
On top of the usual Aura sapphire crystal glass, stainless steel housing and Swiss clockwork mechanism with 130 precision ball bearings, the Celestial Edition includes original NASA content from the moon landing, including video footage, stills, and sound files of such immortal lines as "the eagle has landed" and "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". In addition, there's the laser etched quote "Motorola AURA Celestial Edition, Honouring the Apollo 11 mission, 20th July 1969", oh, and nine postcards. Quite a chunk of cheese for something with a 1.55-inch screen and no 3G.
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Ultra Responsive. Ultra Sleek. Ultrabook ™ - www.intel.co.uk/ultrabook