THE SHAPE OF RINGS TO COME
Spring colors abound, music is in the air, and picture perfect mobile phones are on the way.
By PETER LEWIS

(FORTUNE Magazine) – WHAT WILL BE this year's must-have cellphone? Last year Motorola's ultrathin Razr was the star of the CTIA Wireless trade show (where companies preview their models for the coming year), and it went on to become America's most popular fashion phone. Which one will everyone be talking about (and talking on) this year? The following are my top picks from this year's show.

FOR MUSIC LOVERS: The round click-wheel on the lid looks suspiciously similar to that of a certain popular portable music player, but no, the new LG550 phone from South Korea's LG is not the long-rumored Apple iPhone. As one might guess from the iPod-like looks, however, the LG550 is a mobile music monster. It comes with a micro-SD card slot for storing 64 megabytes of MP3 files (optional cards can store up to a gigabyte--several hundred songs), and it can beam the music wirelessly to a Bluetooth stereo headset or to your car's stereo system. Other features include EV-DO high-speed wireless data, speech-activated dialing, and a built-in 1.3-megapixel digital camera. LG says the phone can be customized with interchangeable faceplates and software that allows the user to record a custom ringtone by humming a tune into the phone's microphone. LG did not say when the phone would be available or how much it would cost, but I'm guessing summer from Sprint or Verizon.

FOR PHOTO FANATICS: Here's a news flash--Sony Ericsson has made a camera phone with a really good camera. The K790 Cyber-shot phone is an EDGE (enhanced data for global evolution) handset, offering relatively speedy web browsing and e-mail on the GSM network. But flip it over and it becomes a 3.2-megapixel Sony Cyber-shot digital camera with autofocus, a xenon flash, and a particularly clever feature called BestPic, which blasts a series of nine rapid-fire shots when you press the shutter button. Somewhere in the series, surely, is a shot in which no one is blinking. The pictures can then be e-mailed to your personal blog on blogger.com, or transferred to a printer via Bluetooth or USB. To keep you amused while waiting for the next phone call or photo op, the K790 also includes a music player and an FM radio. Extra tunes can be stored on a Memory Stick Micro expansion card. Pricing and carrier have not been announced, but Cingular and T-Mobile are the leading EDGE networks. Look for it later this summer.

FOR MOTOROLA LOYALISTS: Motorola just unveiled a music-enhanced version of its wildly popular Razr, the V3m, which includes a micro-SD expansion card slot for storing extra tunes. It rocks. The Motorola Pebl U6, meanwhile, a well-rounded (oval, actually) clamshell phone with the feel and heft of a smooth river rock, now comes in colors, including green, blue, orange, and pink. T-Mobile will offer them for $300 with a contract. Motorola also showed off the Miniblue, which appears to be the world's smallest Bluetooth headset. The earpiece of the bottlecap-sized gizmo fits in the ear canal and picks up your voice without the need for a microphone boom. Look for it this summer.

SPECS

LG550 music phone

• Price: TBA

• Available: Summer 2006

• www.us.lge.com

K790 Cyber-shot

• Price: TBA

• Available: Summer 2006

• www.sonyericsson.com

Pebl U6

• Price: $300 with contract

• Available: Now

• www.motorola.com