Fujitsu has been talking about expanding its smartphone business outside of Japan for sometime, and has finally announced its first major push into the European market, although it isn’t with the type of phone we expected. Instead of a feature-packed super phone, Fujitsu will release the Stylistic S01, an Android smartphone aimed at senior users.
The Stylistic S01 is a mid-range phone with a 4-inch, 480 x 800 resolution touchscreen, powered by a single-core, 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor. An 8-megapixel camera sits on the rear of the 10.9mm thick chassis, plus there is a 0.3-megapixel video call lens above the screen. Fujitsu has added a microSD card slot to increase the standard 4GB of memory, and the phone also has GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Finally, the S01 has been certified water and dust resistant.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the operating system, but the software has been extensively reworked to make the S01 attractive to its target audience. The icons have been enlarged and now scroll vertically instead of appearing on a different screen, plus Android’s layout has been simplified and the capacitive screen itself requires more pressure before it recognizes a command. No more tapping the wrong button by mistake with the S01.
Fujitsu fills a niche
On the audio side the S01 has an intelligent volume system, where the frequency of a caller’s voice is optimized to make it easier to hear them, plus speech can be slowed down without lowering the pitch, helpful when the person on the other end of the line is gabbling away. According to Fujitsu, it has been using all this technology on some of its phones in Japan for more than 10 years, so it should work well. Other special features include an emergency call button, a Fujitsu web portal, remote assistance and an actual user manual. It’s refreshing to see a proper smartphone being adapted for this niche market, as phones designed for seniors usually means massive buttons, a two-line LCD screen and no features.
Fujitsu talked about its plans to sell smartphones and tablets in Europe during Mobile World Congress last year, just two months after calling the U.S. market a, “Priority” at CES 2012. The firm told the Financial Times it had a series of top-of-the-range Android and Windows hardware ready for launch, but since then we’ve heard nothing more.
Although it could hardly take things any slower, Fujitsu still isn’t rushing into anything with the release of the Stylistic S01, as it has initially partnered only with Orange France, through which the phone will go on sale in June. It’s an interesting strategy, as the high-end smartphone market is incredibly competitive in Europe (as rival Panasonic recently discovered), so by filling a niche Fujitsu may find success where others have struggled. Fujitsu will also be at Mobile World Congress this year, where the Stylistic S01 will be on display, and we expect to hear about the projected retail cost then.