3GSM: Samsung's mobile treats

[intro]3GSM is a truly exhausting place to be and I have never seen so many new phones in all my days. Let start off with Samsung's newbies[/intr

Ah, Barcelona. It's a balmy 18 degrees in what is arguably Europe's most beautiful city, and I get to soak it all up here in this stunning, natural light-free exhibition centre. Surrounded by besuited geeks and businessman.

I have never seen so many phones in all my days. 3GSM is truly an exhausting place to be – 60,000 mobile phone enthusiasts stand slaver over the latest handsets from every manufacturer you've heard of plus a hundred more you haven't, and more new acronyms (especially HSDPA) fly through the air than you can shake an OED at. I've spent a full day on the ground, and will be distilling all of the show's fineries for you whenever I get the opportunity.

Let's kick off with Samsung. It's the most prolific manufacturer here, showcasing 11 new handsets, most of which are rather good. I got a hands-on with the new Ultra Edition IIs – Samsung's line of super-duper-skinny mobiles - and can confirm that the new U100 is stupidly thin (see below). In fact, at 5.9mm it almost doesn't exist. Only its 3.2MP autofocus camera gives it any bulk at all.

Another highlight is the 'Ultra Special' edition F700. It's a compact, glossy, full-touchscreen iPhone-baiter, offering 7.2Mbps HSDPA and a 5MP snapper. It also has a full QWERTY 'board, which should make it ideal for blogging. The interface looked lovely in the videos I saw, but unfortunately Samsung cruelly encased it in a perspex box, so I couldn't finger it.

More Ultra Specialness came in the form of the F500 and F300. The former is the 'Ultra Video', which has a 2.4in display with native DivX playback and a unique side hinging system, which allows the touch-sensitive control system to act as a mini stand. Nifty. The latter is a very classy metal-encased music phone with B&O amplification and the same touch-sensitive control system dedicated to media playback. So far, so hmmm – until you flip each round. You see, on one side they're full-on media players, and on the other they're full-on mobile phones. It's a whole new kind of convergence.