Ericsson unveils GPRS phone for the youth market

More handsets could give GPRS services the impetus they need if they are to start attracting large numbers of subscribers

Ericsson released details of a new GPRS-enabled mobile phone on Tuesday that should hit the UK market by the end of 2001.

With its "contemporary design" and "smooth, irresistible curves", Ericsson is aiming the T65 at the youth market. It will download data at speeds up to 43.2kbps over the GPRS network, which should make WAP surfing easier.

Unlike Ericsson's R380 smartphone, the T65 doesn't look very innovative, and instead resembles a standard mobile. It has a six-line display, which Ericsson insists is big enough for Internet browsing and for reading messages.

Click here to see a picture of the T65.

The device will be available in three colours -- "cosmic blue", "polar blue" and "stardust yellow".

As well as GPRS, the T65 also supports enhanced messaging -- allowing users to include animated pictures and sound in their messages, and mobile instant messaging through its mobile chat function. Emails can also be sent and received.

No pricing is available for the T65 yet.

As well as a faster data transfer rate than GSM networks, GPRS also allows a constant connection to the Internet. The launch of another GPRS-enabled handset is likely to have a positive effect on the take-up of mobile data services in Britain.

Although precise subscriber numbers are not yet available, GPRS services are thought to have been slow to take off. One reason for this is the limited number of different handsets available. When BT Cellnet (just renamed as "O2") launched its consumer GPRS service earlier this year subscribers could only use the Motorola Timeport 260. Some experts believe that an increase in the number of different handsets available is needed before GPRS takes off.

Europe's largest mobile phone retailer, Carphone Warehouse, said on Tuesday that it did not expect sales of GPRS handsets to take off until the second quarter of next year.

See the Mobile Technology News Section for full coverage.

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