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Best of the Best 2007: Personal Electronics: Bang & Olufsen Serene Cell Phone

Bang & Olufsen Serene Cell Phone

Few technology products  are used as frequently as the cell phone—but few also are so drab and disposable. Manufacturers put most of their efforts into incorporating the latest features. Design is usually an afterthought, because most phones are discarded after 18 months of use.

From this bleak scenario, a beautiful product finally has emerged: Bang & Olufsen’s Serene cell phone. The appearance alone of the $1,275 Serene sets it apart; it displays the subtle curves and tapers that are characteristic of classic Danish design. A nudge to the edge of the phone cues an internal motor to open it for you. When the Serene sits in its charger, it opens automatically whenever it receives a call.

On the inside upper half, a keypad encircles a control wheel that provides access to the phone’s various features. The circular keypad takes some getting used to, but the control wheel makes scrolling through options as easy as it is with an iPod. The display is positioned on the lower half of the phone, a configuration that seems logical but differs from the typical flip phone, which has its display on the top. The sound quality is exceptional, as one might expect from a company known for innovation in home audio.

The optional EarSet 2 Bluetooth earpiece ($350) is just as distinctive as the Serene. Its adjustable, curved ear clip—a design borrowed from B&O’s A8 earphones—keeps the EarSet comfortably in place and positions the speaker element for the best sound quality.

The Serene is no technological showpiece; it does not double as a web browser, personal digital assistant, or camcorder, and its side-mounted internal camera produces relatively low-resolution, 0.3-megapixel images. If you are someone who chases every last technical doodad, the Serene might not appeal to you. It is intended more for those who appreciate great design and want to carry it with them everywhere they go.

Bang & Olufsen



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