Nokia has shown a prototype of a GPRS/EDGE device, the 7700, due to go on sale in May, but it clearly has work to do on the software. The company has also announced a new version of its brick-shaped Communicator at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes.
Soap-bar shaped, the 7700 prototype available to play with at the news conference proved difficult to hold and was rather buggy, seizing up four times during a five-minute exploration of basic functions such as its media player, address book and filing system. Some crashes were cured by simply relaunching an application; others required removal of the battery and a cold reboot of the system.
Based on the Symbian operating system which Nokia now controls, the phone joins Nokia's existing 3G phone, the 7600 in trying to grab the new super-media phones. it is not 3G however, so will not help alleviate the shortage of 3G phones,which Orange blamed for the delayed launch of its 3G service, and Vodafone gave as the reason for launching a data-only 3G service.
The next Communicator, due towards the end of 2004, will cost around €800, and is not a 3G device. Instead it will roam between EDGE, GPRS and Wi-Fi networks. It will have a large color display, photo messaging, synchronisation with a PC, Web browsing, e-mail, VPN support and integration with enterprise software from IBM, Oracle and SAP.
For a longer round-up of 3GSM announcements, see our extended feature.