North America Gets Bang & Olufsen’s Serene

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Bang & Olfusen is launching its first cell phone in the North American market: the Serene, co-developed with electronics maker Samsung. Although B&O rolled out the Serene in international markets in 2005, the move will put the sleek, tiny, pricey phone in the hands of American consumers for the first time.

“We wanted Serene to become a precious item, an item that is a personal expression of quality and convenience. The coherence to other Bang & Olufsen products is experienced through the design, and a very simple user operation,” says Bang & Olufsen CEO Torben Ballegaard Sorensen.

The Serene is tiny clamshell phone sporting an elegant aluminum hinge. By default, the LCD display and microphone are on the lower half of the shell while a circular keypad and speaker are in the upper half; a thumb-operated wheel in the middle enables access to common functions. The phone can also be flipped around for table-top use, putting the dialing ring on the bottom and the LCD display on top. The phone offers tri-band GPRS support (GSm 900/1800/1900 MHz), a 240 by 320 QVGA LC display, a VGA-resolution digital camera, SMS/EMS/MMS support plus WAP 2.0, email integration with Outlook, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. It weighs just under 4 ounces, and measures a scant 2.5 by 2.8 by 0.9 inches. The phone comes with a triangular, anodized aluminum docking station/charger—an integrated motor opens the Serene automatically when it’s in the charger and it receives an inbound call.

As with all Bang & Olufsen products, the design of the unit got special attention, from the onscreen fonts and colors, decreasing the number of user menus, and specially composed ringtones intended to “calm and attract” a user, rather than alarm them. As you might expect from a home-theatre and audio maker, B&O also paid attention to sound quality and speech clarity.

Bang & Olufsen will be offering the Serene in its North American retail outlets at a suggested price of $1,275 (yes, you read that correctly) beginning in November; the Serene will come with the docking station and travel charger.

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