|Produced from :||2006 - Present|
|Designed by :||David Lewis / Samsung Electronics|
Following on from the association with Bang & Olufsen and Ericsson in the 1990s for their range of BeoCom 9000 mobile telephones, the company allied themselves with the South Korean electronics, Samsung, in creating the Serene. The hardware was provided by the Far East electronics’ giant while the overall design of the telephone as well as the ‘feel’ of the software, was created by Bang & Olufsen. The phone in Samsung circles was known as the Samsung SGH-E910.
In its publicity, Bang & Olufsen stated that the mobile phone “broke with conventional thinking, creating new standards in design and performance [being] the embodiment of innovation, style and technology”
Sound reproduction and speech recognition was about the best that was around at the time, said the company, and linked to features such as SMS, MMS from the built-in camera as well as email, their phone offered all the basic features that were necessary for a purchaser to consider when upgrading an existing telephone.
It certainly looked and behaved differently with its ‘clamshell’ looks which opened very gracefully through its built-in motor when any pressure was applied to the body. Covered in its ’soft-touch’ black coating with a central highly-crafted aluminium hinge the first thing that one noticed was that it had, unconventionally, a keypad in its upper half with a large, square screen and microphone at its bottom. The phone’s loudspeakers were out of sight behind the keypad. The keypad itself was circular - in the form of the control that was found in both the BeoCom 6000 and BeoCom 4 - which was again easy to use. The screen was positioned beneath in order to both look different and to help stop greasy finger marks spoiling its looks, said the company. When on a table-top the display rotated 180° in order to facilitate text input.
In practice, although the wheel really was easy to use, the whole system felt a little clumsy, and the philosophy of keeping greasy fingermarks off the screen fell a little flat with the arrival of touch-screens representing the only interface open to users inputting data (like with the iPhone, for example).
However, a great benefit for an existing Bang & Olufsen purchaser in acquiring the Serene, especially if a BeoCom 6000 or BeoCom 2 was already owned, was Serene’s tour de force -through its triangular-shaped table-top docking station/charger- in being able to recognise and import telephone numbers from their existing landline telephone. Further, the mobile phone could import contact details and calendar events from a home computer via Bluetooth. So, whilst the Serene performed beautifully in this respect, there unfortunately was no arrangement whereby the Serene could act as DECT/GAP phone internally and so the mobile phone remained just that… as a mobile phone. A chance wasted perhaps, but a facility which may be included in a future Bang & Olufsen model? Time will tell.
Technology moves on at a pace, so they say, and another chance was missed by Bang & Olufsen right from the start in that the onboard camera was only fitted with 300,000 pixels. For the would-be purchaser then, it did suggest that built-in obsolescence was included right from the start and with so many higher specified cameras around from other manufacturers, this would have no-doubt deterred many a would-be purchaser from jumping in with the Bang & Olufsen crowd. The camera was also oddly positioned - on the Serene’s side - which made the possibility of taking a half-decent shot anything less than easy.
A selection of ring tones was included within the software although there was no way of customising your own. When placed in its included docking station, Serene opened up automatically whenever an incoming call or text message was received.
There were early problems with both hardware and software which again deterred many a would-be purchaser from buying one, especially as news of products’ shortcomings travels around the world all too quickly nowadays with instant product reviews on the Internet.
The Serene therefore was a lovely phone to look at, not too bad to use, and once initial problems had been ironed out, became a relatively sturdy piece of hardware. However, because technology - especially with mobile phones - lasts no longer than but a few months, Serene developed the problems that plagued its earlier cousins from the 1990s in that all too quickly, top-of-the-range models become very expensive bottom-tier models.
A car charger and travel charger could be purchased as an optional extra as well as EarSet 2 for making Bluetooth-enabled calls. EarSet 1 Mobile could also be used and there was a range of expensive leather wallets available to protect the phone while in use.