Siemens MMS phone offers a helping hand

Will a digital assistant help users to download games and access their email from their multimedia device?

Siemens launched its latest high-end GPRS-enabled mobile phone, the CX65, on Wednesday.

The CX65 is a multimedia messaging (MMS) device that aims to make it easier and more rewarding for users to send pictures and video clips to each other over a mobile network.

It has a 65,536-colour screen that takes up a large proportion of the front of the phone and a built-in VGA camera with an anti-red-eye feature. But perhaps the most interesting development is that Siemens has introduced a "digital assistant" that it says will make it easier for users to download ringtones, games and logos from Siemen's Web site.

"There are features like Java to personalise the phone, a joystick to make gaming more involving, and email to check the inbox when being on the road. The trick is to make all of this complex technology simple to use, and that's why the CX65 offers an animated download assistant -- a virtual friend to help to get ringtones, logos or games easily from the Siemens Internet," Siemens explained.

Usability is a major issue with more advanced mobile devices, with some users complaining that they often struggle to master their phone's interface and access key features. If Siemen's "digital assistant" can avoid the irritation factor of Microsoft's notorious Clippy, it could help customers to get the most out of their phone.

The CX65 has 11 megabytes of memory to hold images and snippets of video, and Siemens says that the phone's battery can support five hours of talk time, or 250 hours of standby time.

The phone will go on sale in Europe in the second quarter of 2004, as well as in the Asia Pacific region and Latin America. Pricing hasn't yet been announced.

Click here to see a photo of the CX65.