Puma phone has been a hit at the Mobile World Congress back in February, and now, the French phone company announced that the Puma would hit European stores in the first half of May via Vodafone and Orange. Jérôme Nadel, executive VP of marketing and user experience at Sagem Wireless, described some of the company’s negotiations with Vodafone, where the carrier was concerned that the Puma services could clash with their own Vodafone 360 service. It seems that Sagem suggested that in fact theirs would be the first device to carry the brand.
Sagem Wireless’ latest version of their Puma phone has gone through several software refreshes since MWC. What is interesting, it runs a custom OS and houses a solar panel on the rear for topping up the battery. Navigation is via touch and gestures on a 2.8-inch 240 x 320 capacitive touchscreen, and there’s 3G, GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash and Bluetooth. The UI is split into three icon-led homescreen panes: activities on the left, a shortcut page in the center and more regular phone functionality on the right, which you can swipe between. Default on-screen controls are minimal, but you can swipe up from the bottom right-hand corner to reveal a contextual menu with more options. It is targeted at the sports/lifestyle customers and Jérôme Nadel described the Puma phone as an “active” device. It offers the usual pack of touchscreen functionality, but with the added benefit of sporting functions that include a pedometer and bike speedometer, which also uses GPS to track your course and can later show you where you ran or rode, together with a nautical compass that handily works on land as well as at sea.
The phone will go on sale with a suggested retail of £329.99 SIM-free ($501 when it will be released in North America in the first half of the year).
In addition, Sagem are looking to Android for their next-gen Puma phone, as Jérôme Nadel confirmed that Sagem are considering an entry-level version of the sports/lifestyle themed device that would run Android. Little is confirmed about the upcoming device but it seems that like the original, Puma 2 will still have access to the Sagem-developed cloud infrastructure of news, social networking and shopping (an online store where you can buy phone accessories and sportswear from Puma’s line), a feature that Sagem would reportedly like to re-brand and offer to “different niche customers”.
Puma 2 is expected to arrive no sooner than “sometime in 2011” and it won’t be the only Sagem handset to run Android.