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  5. Special report: Green tech and touchscreens dominate MWC

Special report: Green tech and touchscreens dominate MWC

More touchscreen operated handsets and greater use of green technology have been the key trends to emerge from the ongoing Mobile World Congress.

The expo, held this year in Barcelona, is the foremost showcase for the mobile phone industry and has been the site of a glut of product launches.

This year has seen the unveiling of Sony Ericsson’s envelope-pushing Idou S60 handset, which houses a 12 megapixel camera that technology experts predict could make digital cameras obsolete.

Also grabbing headlines is the LG 910 handset, which has garnered admiring glances for its revolutionary approach to handset design and navigation. The phone takes the form of a watch, with owners using a Bluetooth headset for making and receiving calls.

Meanwhile, no little press attention has focussed on the Samsung Beat phones, which employ a wheel so that would-be DJs can scratch along to music played on the phones,

However, most stands at the show have been dominated by touchscreen handsets, as major manufacturers look to challenge the supremacy of the iPhone. These include the new Samsung Omnia HD, whose USP is that it is the first phone capable of recording 720 HD video. Also employing a touchscreen is the LG GD900, which stands out for its innovative translucent keypad, Nokia’s flagship phone for 2009 the N97 and the forthcoming second Googlephone, using the Android platform, from Vodafone.

Perhaps the key trend at the MWC, though, is mobile phone manufacturers’ response to consumer concerns over the environment. This is evident in the form of new solar powered phones from Samsung, whose offering is dubbed the Blue Earth, and LG, whose entrant to the green market harnesses solar power.

But more indicative of how the green agenda is taking great prominence is manufacturers’ pledge to use a universal charger. Under the terms of the agreement, which was announced by the GSM Association, mobile phone companies have promised that the majority of their handsets will be compatible with a single, industry standard charger by 2012. They have also agreed that the charger will use 50 per cent less energy when in standby mode compared with current rechargers.

Firms which have signalled their compliance with the directive include Nokia, Motorola, LG, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, Orange, AT&T and Vodafone, with the sole notable exception being Apple.

Nokia are deemed to be leading the way in green matters, with the GSMA awarding the Finnish company the award for Outstanding Environmental Contribution at the MWC. In particular, the company was singled out for innovative measures such as cutting charger no-load energy by 90 per cent and employing up to 80 per cent recyclable materials in some of its handsets.

However, LG attempted to steal a march on the Finnish giant by confirming that as of next year all of its handsets will feature green packaging. The company also pledged to eliminate the use of brominated flame retardants, chlorinated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride in its mobile phones.

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