MANILA, DECEMBER 17, 2007 (STAR) By Manny de los Reyes - (First of two parts) “Music” and “imaging.” Those are the two operative words when it comes to the crème de la crème of mobile phones this year (not that they weren’t last year).

But while music-playing and photo- and video-taking capabilities of cellphones were decidedly inferior to dedicated music players and digital cameras just last year, 2007 brought along the big numbers: five-megapixel cameras and whopping 8GB memories to the gadget none of us can live without.

But that’s not all. The user interface is undergoing a revolutionary change as well. And this is led by the touch-screen interface. And for that we have one phone to blame. That phone, of course, is the…

Apple iPhone

Only Steve Jobs can pull off the seemingly impossible feat of creating such insatiable worldwide demand for a product that his company has never — ever — even churned out in its history.

But after making his mark in the world of computers, and then absolutely dominating the market for MP3 players with his iconic iPod, Jobs has now focused his genius on cellphones.

The Apple iPhone does it all: it’s an iPod, a camera, a video player, a computer with Web browser (via Safari, natch!), and, yes, a phone. It allows you to text, listen to music, watch videos, take photos, check your e-mail, and call your friend. It’s quad-band and boasts an 8GB memory. Another thing that it does is make you drool. Just look at that gorgeous 3.5-inch touch-screen display. But that’s nothing until you start playing with its wonderful multi-touch interface. No wonder the iPhone is the apple of everybody’s eyes.

Motorola RAZR2 V8, V9

You’ve probably seen the TV commercial for the new RAZR2 and are dying to get your hands on one. Sure, those were professional actors and the TVC may be a wee bit exaggerated, but that doesn’t erase the fact that the RAZR2 is still one sharp-looking device.

The RAZR2 is available in two models, the V8 and V9 (the latter adding 3G capability to RAZR2’s lengthy list of features). And as if it’s hard enough to cram more features in its already slim form factor, Motorola managed to slice off two millimeters with the new RAZR.

The crowning glory of its new design is its gorgeous two-inch external screen with dedicated touch-sensitive (there’s that word again!) music keys. Both phones are home to a two-megapixel camera, a 2.2-inch main display, plus CrystalTalk technology, which automatically adjusts audio to match ambient sound. The V9 is HSDPA-ready and has a 45MB onboard memory that can be upgraded via microSD card. The quad-band V8 comes in either 420MB or 2GB variants.

MyPhone dual-SIM

MyPhone is the creation of David Lim, president and CEO of Solid Group, the company that now owns MyDestiny cable and Internet. The Chinese-made MyPhones currently have three models, which include the much talked about T22 Duo Dual Active SIM phone.

The first of its kind to be sold officially in the country, its “Dual Active” capability allows two SIM cards, even from different networks, to function at the same time. Basically, this means you can make or receive calls and text messages from both of your SIM cards at all times.

The T22 Duo comes with a two-megapixel camera, a 2.4-inch touch-screen display, music player, two surround sound stereo speakers, and a microSD expansion slot.

Nokia 5310, 5610 XpressMusic

It’s hard not to like music phones. It’s even harder not to like Nokia’s XpressMusic handsets. The monoblock 5310 and 5610 slider are spiritual successors to the 5300 and 5700 music phones.

They both sport head-turning black-and-red (or black-and-blue) aluminum exteriors and, needless to say, dedicated music and volume buttons. The P16,000 5610 enhances the music-listening experience with its special DAC33 surround sound audio chip and its unique Music Slider key which takes you to your playlist with a single slide of the user interface. It also lets you watch videos on its 2.2-inch, 16-million-color screen at 30 fps.

The P13,000 5310 also has a special audio chip for crystal-clear surround sound and one-touch controls for easy navigation through your playlist.

Nokia N81

Here’s another 8GB whopper. But aside from the full-featured music- and video-playing abilities implied by its huge flash-based memory, the N81 slider handset is also a superb gaming phone.

The N81 lets you play the new-generation N-gage games in portrait or landscape modes using dedicated gaming and volume keys. It even allows player-to-player gaming via Bluetooth or WLAN.

On the music-playing front, it sports a cool Navi wheel interface as well as a multimedia menu to load and sync songs easily. Its 8GB of memory should allow you to load as much as 6,000 songs while its 3.5-mm jacks will enable you to connect the N81 with your favorite headphone.

Samsung F300, F500

Samsung joins in on the “multi-tasking phone” bandwagon with the dual-faced F300 and F500. The F300 Ultra Music is a phone on one side and a music player on the other.

Sounds simple? Perhaps. But whoever has both a phone and a separate MP3 player would appreciate how the F300 neatly combines the two without compromising its functionality. Just ask Beyonce.

The F500 Ultra Video is part F300, part Transformer — the bottom part swivels so you can rest it on your desktop, allowing you to watch movies on landscape. The large 2.4-inch color TFT display comes with the world-first DivX video codec support so the video designation is no coincidence.

Sony Ericsson P1i

Following the footsteps of its highly regarded predecessor, the P990i, Sony Ericsson’s P1i packs more features and more powerful apps in a package that’s 25 percent smaller.

It features a dual-function keyboard that combines full alphanumeric text input with one-hand usability. It has a large 2.6-inch transflective screen that lets you read the display even under bright sunlight.

The P1i boasts business-like features such as push e-mail, wireless LAN, and VoIP, and even lets you view and edit Office (MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint) documents on the go. The P1i offers users a 3.2-megapixel camera equipped with a business card scanner, a media player, and an expansion slot.

Aside from high-speed connectivity, the 3G-capable P1i also lets users make video calls using the secondary VGA camera. Best of all, the P1i retails for a surprisingly reasonable P26,990.

Sony Ericsson W910i Walkman

The P20,500 W910i is an HSDPA Walkman phone designed for entertainment in the forms of music, 3D games, video, or high-speed Web access. Select Shake control and just flick the phone to control games or skip and shuffle between tracks. Or choose SensMe and create playlists based on tempo and style rather than artist or album.

The new Media Manager PC program lets you organize your music, photos and podcasts on your PC and transfer them via USB to your phone. You can even search and select music on your computer or audio CDs and convert the tracks to mobile-compatible formats before the transfer takes place, thus saving time as well as your phone’s resources.

The W910i has room for over 900 songs with a 1GB Memory Stick Micro provided. This slider phone also boasts a two-megapixel camera, picture and video blogging, RSS feeds, e-mail and Web browsing.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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