The Sony Ericsson Xperia Pureness is a fashion phone that hopes to disappear into your fabulous life. Its transparent screen and minimalist design scream "look at me" at a tasteful, reduced volume.
The Pureness hopes to tempt the fashionistas by including a year's subscription to the Quintessentially concierge service -- also a feature on the even pricier Nokia Vertu -- which helps moderately rich people feel like very rich people by buying their theatre tickets for them. The service is free for the first year, then an annual £750 fee kicks in.
That helps offset the £650 price -- but there's no network chipping in, since the Pureness is only available SIM-free at Selfridges in Manchester, Birmingham and London, from the first week in December.
Where the first phone with rampant see-through bits, the LG GD900 Crystal, was covered in bells and whistles, such as a touch-sensitive keypad, the Pureness sticks to making calls and text messages. There's Microsoft Exchange support so you can access your work emails, and 3G connectivity should keep things rolling smoothly, but there's no Wi-Fi on board.
The screen is the crowning glory of the Pureness, and it's an equal mixture of beauty and oddness -- something like the stunningly round but pointless Motorola Aura. Click 'Continue' for our hands-on impressions of a phone that chucks aside the boring convention of having a colour screen you can actually see.
Look closely and you can see the familiar grid of menu items, flitting like ghosts across the monochrome transparent screen. This is with the brightness cranked up to 100 per cent in a moderately lit room, so this is not the phone for people with impaired vision.
The Pureness includes a basic Web browser and a music player that shows your cover art collection, but we can't imagine surfing the Web in any meaningful way on the 43mm (1.8-inch) screen.
Despite its blinging screen, the Pureness is otherwise a straightforward phone to use, with a typical five-way function key, two context-sensitive keys under the screen, and call and end buttons. The volume buttons are split up, however, with up on one side of the phone and down on the other side.
Although there's a media player and an FM radio on board, the Pureness doesn't have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, it has a combined USB and headphone port, so you'll have to use the included headphones or adaptor.