Hands on with the Puma Phone

The Puma Phone, developed as a partnership between Puma and Sagem, was unveiled just a couple of days ago, and from my short time with it there's only

The specs of this phone aren't bad – you've got a 2.8-inch touchscreen (pretty responsive from our time with it), a 3.2 megapixel camera with flash, Blutetooth, A-GPS, and 3G – but they aren't really what make the Puma Phone what it is all about.

It's just the little attentions to detail that really make it stand out for me, and really do make it – as its marketing campaign alludes to – different to all the other phones out there. As the team behind the phone themselves described it, they've chosen to do fewer things, but do them better.

Starting with the homescreen, which can be changed to be red or black. The bold, retro-feel icons speak for themselves without the need for text, while the battery icon is done away with completely in exchange for a status on how well your phone is doing. As you can see, it's "happy" in our shot. How lovely.

Whenever there's options in the menus, there's a small icon which unveils what they call the "red carpet", which folds back to reveal your choices, and there's also a favourite screen where you can choose 6 of your most used programs to be available to you at the swipe of a finger.

Looking a little closer at the apps on this phone, and the Puma phone has two clear sides to it – the more lifestyle side, and the sports side.

On the sports side you've got various options that will help you keep track of your fitness routine. The GPS run tracker and pedometer will count your steps, map your route on the built-in maps (provided by Navteq) and even count your calories if you enter your height and weight details.

This was another thing I really liked - check out how you change your height. You actually change the size of a stick figure (and weight you change on a set of scales), rather than just entering the numbers. It's just these small things that make you realise how much thought has been piled into this handset.

Elsewhere, the GPS bike speedo keeps you updated with how fast your little legs are peddling (while once again mapping your route as well), the stopwatch can time your laps (actually stopped and started using the touchscreen to press where you would on an actual stopwatch), and the yachting compass is a full 3D compass for you boating types.

Moving over to the lifestyle section, and there's the spin and scratch music player. The turntable can be moved backwards and forwards to scratch up the music stored on your phone - or of course you can just let it play the way the artists intended it to. We were also told that if you load album art into the phone, this would appear in place of the Puma on the deck in our snap. Nice touch.

Puma World was described at being "at the heart" of this phone, and it basically provides phone users with all the multimedia content of (such as sports RSS feeds), new apps and the ability to order Puma Phone accessories through the handset.

There's also the option to "Be Social", which takes you to a selection of social networking sites you can log on to, and of course catch up with Puma's latest goings on via these sites as well. Not sure how much the latter would appeal to many, but I'm sure that some Puma fanboys out there might fancy it.

Of course the big difference this phone has to others on the market is that it packs a solar panel on the back, allowing you to recharge your battery on the go - as long as the sun's out of course. Although Puma make it clear this isn't going to recharge your battery to full, it will give you enough juice if you're in a pickle, with an hour under the sun apparently offering approximately 1.5 hours of talktime, 35 text messages or a couple of hours of music.

Even nicer is that you can see how much of this you've racked up in the solar part of the main menu – a really easy, accessible way of understanding what solar power can do for our gadgets.

So sure. it isn't going to rival your iPhones and your BlackBerrys, but the handset has a whole lot of charm about it that some of the big names out there don't. It's not for business – Puma holds its hands up to that – but for sporty types and the youth market, I think the Puma Phone is a nice choice. It's out in April, so keep an eye out for a full review shortly.

What do you think to the Puma Phone? Let us know below.