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The best products 2003. Mobile-Review.com version

Following traditions we perform an awarding ceremony of mobile phones, which were available last year in the shops on the market. About 140 models were tested in our laboratory last year. So, our choice is based not just on official specifications of the manufacturers but on real field tests, our impressions from the phone and expert assessments.

Awards structure was changed. We refused to award a many products. On the one hand, there is a large variety of products on the market, on the other – there are not so many interesting devices. We tried to avoid the situation when each manufacturer received an award. It’s not right and cheapens the fact of awarding. We think that we should reward only the those models which really deserve a reward.

All rewards differ in colors, models taken the second and the third places receive incentive prizes (silver and white icons). They only show which models were the main pretenders to take the first place. Real rewards receive only the leaders. The main and unique reward is marked by yellow. The nomination is written on the awarding icon as well.

Several models that impressed and disappointed us are out of play but we mentioned them in this article. You can see joyful and sad faces near them.

While creating nominations we tried to proceed from common things that common man is worried about. The idea of Bestseller came automatically. It is easy to estimate phones – candidates for this premium: just look on the data of sales in each segment and choose the most advanced functionality of the handset. Users voted when bought this phone and we just announce it. We didn’t take into account low-end models; they have the highest sales compared to the phones of the other price segments. We tried to view all parameters: how the phone was taken on the market (reviews in the mass media, users opinions, an expectation of the model), how its sales were changed after launching.

It seems that the bestseller means ideal ratio of the price and quality and it is the main reason why users purchase these phones. But market laws allow this reasoning to be in force only in the narrow frames. Very often many models are not so widely represented, as they deserve, because sometimes manufacturers have lack of productive capacity. On the other hand, these models have a brilliant ratio of the price and quality. They do not become bestsellers only due to weak marketing policy. But their functionality is very interesting for the phones of their class. So, we decided to make the nomination Price/Quality.

For cheaper models, which we didn’t nominate as Bestsellers, we made the following nomination: Mass and Innovative. On the one hand, we examined what novelty one or another model brought to market (our estimation of technologies) and compared our estimation with the phones sales on the market. On the contrast to the first nomination, our estimation of the attractiveness of the new features prevailed over the market analyses, although the mass character was provided by the latter component.

The last nomination is Fashion. The most attractive fashion phones were estimated in this category. These models help its owners to stand out in the crowd and determine his/her social status.

Speaking about segments we could divide our nominations in the following way:

  • Bestseller – the business segment, the most advanced functionality
  • Price/Quality – the middle segment, balanced functionality
  • Mass and Innovative – innovations in their classes, which occupy an intermediate position between low-end and middle price segments.
  • Fashion – fashion phones

The other models, which we were impressed by, are marked by smiles. It can be joyful or sad depending on our estimation. Again we didn’t make a special award for smartphones. The number of these devices was increased but it is still a niche segment. The users could choose only between two or three models. It is not interesting to choose the best one in this small list.

Now let’s turn from nominations to awards.


Practically the choice had no alternatives. Sony Ericsson T610 left behind all rivals. The manufacturer couldn’t expect such success of this product and as a result it was shortage of this handset in many countries. Wholesale prices went down but retail price was stable high. The phone has an impressive functionality; all features that the user could dream about (we talk about phones) present in this model

One of the rivals of this product was Siemens S55. It was a cheaper alternative of T610. It takes the second incentive place. Other manufacturers didn’t have similar models, almost all models didn’t support bluetooth.

Nokia successfully decrease prices for Nokia 6610 in the beginning of the year. For many of the users this phone became the first one with such functions (color screen, IrDA, GPRS, radio). And we award it the third place. During the year success of Nokia 6610 has increased interest to the 40-th platform and products based on it.

This category didn’t include new phones from Motorola (v500, v600) because their launching was constantly postponed, massively they will be available only in 2004. Sony Ericsson Z600 is a full copy of T610 but has the other form-factor, also it didn’t take part in the awardness.


The list of models accessed to this nomination was not very long. Surprisingly two phones from Alcatel – Alcatel OT 535/735 became competitors here.

The most interesting model from Motorola became Motorola E365. Besides we couldn’t miss Samsung C100. This phone became one of the most popular products in its segment. For the first time it offered 65K color screen and 40-tones polyphony in the phone of this class.

In the beginning of the year the most demanded model was Ericsson T39. This model was leaving the market. It has maximum set of functions and minimum price in its segment. We marked this model but it didn’t get into the final list because it was available only in small quantities on the market (massive sales were only in 2002, it was necessary to award it that time).

The choice was not hard. The most functional phone is Alcatel OT 535. The choice of the younger model is reasonable because the elder one is only a copy of this model with added digital camera. It won’t be correct but we can say that we award the platform powered these models.

The second place occupies Samsung C100 and

the third one belongs to Motorola E365.

Mass and Innovative

There were a lot of candidates for the leading place in this nomination. Many models equipped with a color screen and polyphony began to appear in 2003. The first place we gave to Motorola C350 – the first massive phone with a color screen and polyphony. Due to this model many users experienced the color screen on the mobile phones, began to use GPRS on PC (mini-USB).

The second place belongs to Nokia 3510i. It is the typical product from Nokia, which has a color screen, pleasant polyphony, Java support, youth design and not high price. These factors made this model demanded on the market. It attracted attention by its features.

Sony Ericsson T310 occupies the third place. It is a successor of T300, which has slight functional changes and the other design. Again the main reason to choose this phone was a color screen and a possibility to download Mophun games. This game platform became popular in 2003 and was a real competitor to other game platforms.


Estimating these nominations we tried to estimate mostly the design of the handsets, their attractiveness for users. The phone’s appearance and melodies are the most important features. Of course, Samsung became a leader in this field. In our opinion there were two interesting fashion phones from this manufacturer – Samsung E700 and Samsung T500. It’s necessary to add that most products of this company, which have clamshell form-factor, are related to the fashion class. Chosen model concentrated all elaborations of the company in this field.

Form-factor of the model, materials used in its construction often determines the fashion factor. Our experts didn’t miss Nokia 8910(i). This model attracted many customers because of slider and titan case.

Slider was know-how for the massive market in 2003. The same construction was applied in Siemens SL55. This phone became demanded by users when it fell in price. In the beginning of its launching it didn’t have high sales. So, Siemens SL55 stands in the class of not expensive fashion solutions.

There were no doubts what manufacturer occupied the leading position in this nomination. Samsung became a synonym of the fashion attractive phone during the last year. We decided to give the first place to Samsung E700 which combines interesting design and innovative features (external OLED display, photo on the external screen in the shooting mode, using of different materials in the case). T500 is interesting by jewelry encrustation, but it has simpler functions if to take into account all criteria.

The second place belongs to Nokia 8910(i) due to construction and materials of the case.

Siemens SL55 occupies the third place.

Let’s turn to the other events which also deserve our attention. The greatest disappointment of 2003 became the absence of NeoNode N1 launching. As we’ve already talked about this smartphone remained on paper, its production was not started. It was just a PR-action of the company. One year earlier NeoNode showed a similar smartphone targeted for children but that device was failed. So, only disappointments and nothing else.

Speaking about smartphones, we want to mark two events of the last year which deserve your attention. Nokia introduced youth smartphone at a reasonable price – Nokia 3650. The phone makes this class of devices available for massive customer.

Sony Ericson also showed its new smartphone – P900. It became the most functional model on the market. This positive event is worth your attention.

Unfortunately Siemens couldn’t begin shipments of SX1 in the announced period. Constant postponements of this model affected expectations of many potential users – the same as postponement of Sony Ericson P800 launching. First phones shipped in December 2003 had very raw firmware. New version appeared only in January, it corrected some bugs but not all. The full working version is expected only in the second half of February (version 7). It’s a petty that the company couldn’t realize the potential which originally laid in the device. Comparing with Sony Ericsson P800 we can say that the phone will find its customers, occupies its niched but it won’t become a dominated model and bestseller.

Now let’s turn to common models. Nokia – the leader of the market disappointed many users introducing its low-end phone, Nokia 1100. The phone had a high price and no functional peculiarities (flash is not taken into account).

Nokia 3200 was a successive solution of the company. It is a good youth handset that brings new functions in this segment. On the whole it is necessary to indicate successful strategy of the company that makes most of its models on the one technological platform.

Others companies of the first echelon were described above in the nominations, and we won’t speal about them in further details. Unfortunately, Panasonic X70 became one more disappointment. This phone was very expected and had all chances to be one of the most demanded fashion models. But its launching was postponed and at last its specifications were changes (absence of Java). As a result this model became a disappointment of the last year.

Sharp GX20 became a good fashion phone on the European market. This phone is equipped by wonderful display, one of the best on the market. In our opinion it is a great achievement.

Now let us finish short excursus in the last year, we mentioned the brightest models which we were impressed by. We didn’t speak about all events, tried to choose only the most interesting ones. We hope that the year 2004 will bring us more new attractive models and you will have a choice.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Sennikova (maria@mobile-review.com)

Published — 12 January 2004

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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