Ericsson upgrades Symbian smartphone

Eriscsson releases an upgrade to the R380, which aims to fix some of the smartphone's reported problems

Ericsson has released an update to one of the first "smartphones" on the market, the R380 series, which was first released last year. The new model aims to fix two of the main problems users found with the phone: short battery life and slow operating speed.

The new R380e keeps the form factor of its predecessor, looking like an ordinary, if slightly chunky, handset. The keypad folds out to reveal a monochrome touch-screen that takes up most of the phone's surface.

Like the older version, the new phone includes communications software like a WAP browser, and email and SMS clients, as well as standard personal organiser features like an address book and a calendar. When closed, the phone functions as a normal handset. Like an organiser, the phone synchronises with any PC via a USB cable.

Two complaints about R380, however, were its short battery life compared to an ordinary handset, and sluggishness when scrolling through long lists of names or emails. The 380e should improve the situation somewhat with a 25 percent improvement in battery capacity and faster operations, according to Ericsson.

The new phone also improves SIM card management, supporting the SIM AT standard, which lets network operators update subscribers' SIM cards and send users new services. It includes an application called Ink Notes that lets users write and store handwritten messages, and an additional game.

The R380e will be released in the UK next month, but there are no plans to release it in the US. Pricing will be roughly £300 without a contract, or £99 with a contract.

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