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Looks like the mobile phone wars are starting to heat up in earnest, with the announcement of the new Sony Ericsson P800 handset. This handset – which is due out nearer the end of the year – is a direct competitor to Nokia’s upcoming 7650 phone, with a few similarities and a few differences.

The P800 will have 16MB of user available RAM compared to 2MB for the Nokia, will sport a slightly bigger colour screen than the Nokia (208×320 vs 176×208) and input will be via touchscreen technology rather than a keypad. They both run the Symbian operating system, have Bluetooth and an inbuilt VGA digital camera, but the Sony Ericsson model is a tri-band – i.e. USA ready – where the Nokia is only dual band.

It also looks as though the P800 has more mobile office type features, including a fairly comprehensive calendar, the ability to read Word and Powerpoint files and an integral Web browser.

On the face of it the P800 appears to have the edge in features, but two important caveats remain. One, will the Ericsson phone be able to match the traditional build quality of Nokia handsets, and will the bigger screen cost too much in terms of battery life? No word on pricing either, although the two will probably be around about the 400 to 500 mark.

This could be a very interesting year for this kind of hybrid mobile phone, and it could spell trouble for the conventional PDA manufacturers, especially if these compact email, phone and imaging combos get the usual aggressive handset marketing push. Update: thanks to The Reg for the heads up on the software.

Update 2 – I’ve now done a hands-on mini preview here.

Red – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.

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