It's not often that Nokia brings out a product that trounces the competition these days -- but one of its newest smartphones, the C2-03, has a great feature: the ability to use two SIM cards at once.
That means a traveller can keep their Australian telco SIM in the phone to receive text messages on their normal phone number, while using a local prepaid SIM from a foreign mobile network (or a special roaming SIM card) for outgoing calls and data.
The SIM cards are "hot-swappable", too: you can open a slot on the side of the phone and can change them over without needing to power down or reboot the phone. This will be particularly useful for travellers moving between countries on the same day.
However, the C2-03 is more of a standard mobile phone than a smartphone. It runs Nokia's older "Series 40" software which is not really geared around app downloads; it only has a standard multi-tap phone keyboard, not a QWERTY one, and although it has a touchscreen, it's a resistive (pressure-sensitive) one, which means fast typing is out of the question.
Also, it works only on slower 2G mobile networks, which means data access won't be snappy (however it can use "EDGE/2.5G" networks which can be quite fast depending on where you are in the world.)
It does have a good batch of basic built-in apps, though, including email, Nokia maps, Facebook, Twitter and a music player with 2GB storage included, and the ability to be expanded to 32GB with a micro-SD card.
The web browser works similarly to the Onavo service we reported on recently; every page you request is passed through Nokia's servers and compressed before being sent on to your phone, saving up to 90% of data transfer. This saves you money in data costs, as well as making web pages much faster to load, Nokia claims.
Standby time is also impressive -- a throwback to the Nokia phones of old -- up to 400 hours.
Nokia says it won't be sold through any telcos in Australia, but will be available via "distribution channels" (online retailers, independent phone shops, etc) in the next couple of months.
Given its specifications are fairly basic, we expect this phone to be quite affordable -- probably in the sub $200 price-range, which will make it an affordable travel gadget for use over a number of international trips.
In the meantime, we're waiting for a proper smartphone –– a serious tool for the business traveller -- which has two SIM card slots. How about it HTC, Samsung, BlackBerry, anybody..?