European Vodafone Group operators are to begin offering new 3G phones by the end of the year.

To date, Vodafone has offered two 3G models in Europe, one from Samsung Electronics, and the other from Sony Ericsson. Many of the new phones will be exclusive to Vodafone and the first could be out as soon as November, said Kazuyuki Mori, manager of Vodafone's terminal management department.

Most of the phones are WCDMA and GSM capable and use the WAP 2.0 MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) platform. And most can handle a 300KB mail attachments and 2MB file downloads, the company said.

Two of the phones are from Sharp. Its 902 model features a 2.02-megapixel CCD (charge-coupled device) mobile camera with 2x optical zoom, making it the first 2-megapixel 3G phone for the European market, according to Vodafone.

The Sony Ericsson V800 has a 1.3-megapixel CMOS camera and a 2.2-inch main screen, but with a lower resolution of 176 pixels by 220 pixels. The V800 comes with a Memory Stick Duo slot and weighs 128 grams. It too supports USB and Bluetooth connectivity and Macromedia flash, and does video telephony.

Motorola's phones offer less sophisticated features. The V980 is a palm-shaped model that has a 310,000-pixel CMOS main camera and a 100,000-pixel CMOS sub camera, a 1.9-inch LCD screen with 176 pixels by 220 pixels resolution. A 1-inch sub display has 80 pixels by 96 pixels resolution.

Different Vodafone operators will offer different lineups, meaning that not all of the phones will be available in every European country, said Matthew Nicholson, a company spokesman.

Vodafone is introducing several common functions across its new lineup, Mori said. First, Vodafone is looking to standardise menus to make it easier for buyers to handle new phones, he said. Bluetooth will become more available with more 3G phones as the company adds new models next year.

Vodafone declined to reveal how many of the phones it ordered, its sales targets and the models' prices. However, extra development costs incurred by the makers will be transferred to the customer, Sakata suggested, as the phones will sell at a premium to the company's 2G models. Prices should decrease as more models are sold, he said.

Vodafone launched its first 3G handset in Europe, the Samsung Z105, in May. The company declined to reveal its 3G subscriber numbers.