During the last two CTIA shows, Kyocera has demonstrated a talent for unveiling new cell phone with a bit of design pizzazz. Last year it was the Kyocera E5000, and this year it is the Neo E1100. Sporting an extremely minimalist design in basic black, the E1100 is a thin (0.66 inche) flip phone with a glowing blue "lightpipe" down the center of its front face. Though you may think there's no external display, there is a hidden screen that runs vertically to the left of the lightpipe. Typically we're not big fans of hidden displays, and the E1100's seems awfully small, but in this case it seems to work well with the handset's sleek design. Another unique feature is the reverse hinge, which causes the Neo's front flap to fold behind its rear face when the phone is open. We first saw a reverse hinge in the Sony Ericsson Z600. Though on that handset we complained that the hinge rubbed against our face, we've gotten used to the feature as it has shown up on more phones. Inside the Neo there's a 262,000 color display a set of flush controls navigations keys.
On the whole the Neo's feature set is respectable. You'll find voice recognition, text and multimedia messaging, Bluetooth 2.0, a speakerphone, BREW for game and application downloads, MP3 ringtones, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and personal organizer features. A micro USB port will let you connect the Neo to a PC, but we had mixed feeling about the 2.5mm headset jack. Though it's better than some obscure proprietary jack, a 3.5mm jack would be ideal. Also, it delivers only mono sound.
Availability and pricing for the CDMA phone is still to come but we sincerely hope that will actually come to market. Kyocera has its share of models that never seem to make it off the trade show floor, the E5000 is just on example, so we hope that the Neo will have better luck.