Home > Reviews > Shenzhen Files 1: New Mobile Phone Formats appear – UMEOX V3 credit card size phone, and more

Shenzhen Files 1: New Mobile Phone Formats appear – UMEOX V3 credit card size phone, and more

Our experienced well weathered strategic adviser, Nebojsa Novakovic, covers here his discoveries and experiences from visits to various electronics hubs around the world. This time, his first thoughts on interesting hardware coming from Shenzhen – we start with UMEOX and its unique mobile phones. 

When you get to Shenzhen, you'll get overwhelmed by the sprawling green city of over 14 million, and thousands of gleaming skyscrapers, with a huge metro system that seems even cleaner – and less crowded yet more modern – than the one we have in Singapore. If you're an electronics or computers buff, this is probably heaven on earth for you, more so than Taipei. There are dozens of electronics malls, many of them around Huaqiang Lu's SEG Plaza, having everything under the sun from the weirdest resistors or oddball CPUs to LCD or LED panels, power supplies, drives… anything, you name it.

However, the design capability of Shenzhen's own companies has also improved dramatically, leading to many new brands appearing in the market, including the currently hot smartphone and tablet arena. Some of them even try to open up new market niches with unique models. A case in point was UMEOX, a local Shenzhen mobile phone design firm,  which uses large contractors as FOXCONN and CHANGHONG for manufacturing, besides its own assembly facility – some 6 million units last year. I saw their ultra compact phone model, V3, which may not have too many features, but is slim and basically close to credit card size.

With roughly 9 x 5 cm dimensions, and just 5.8 mm thickness, this Infineon ULC2-based unit, sold to Alcatel in France and Pearl in Germany, among others, is the first phone that I know of, that can be carried INSIDE THE WALLET. The simple low cost quad-band 2G phone, as you can see here, isn't intended for mobile Net or other fancy activities, but for what the phones were originally used for: calls and messages. I guess a touchscreen 3G version could add even those mobile surfing capabilities.

UMEOX also offers SOLO, a rugged, water/shock/dust proof design with huge back solar panel for total outdoor independence, but again it is a 2G phone, aimed at key communication functionality important when away from urban areas, rather than sophisticated Net surfing or such. It is also fine when the sun goes down, as, once the battery is charged, there is still 250 minute talk time. According to Ms Sandy Zhang in UMEOX marketing, this phone was also exported to Singapore, besides other usual global markets. Other stuff they design includes oversize button senior citizen phones with SOS buttons, as well as tracker devices. They don't seem to have a very high end 'flagship' mobile phone model, though, which is a pity as having a good flagship often benefits the sales of same vendor's lower end units, as the users have more confidence in the technological capability of the vendor itself. More on these, as well as other interesting gadgetry coming out of Shenzhen labs, on these pages soon. 

Nebojsa Novakovic
In the spare time over the past two decades, editor and writer of high-end computer hardware and design features and analysis for European and US media and analyst houses. Reviews of high end hardware are my specialty for 28 years already.

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