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Gigaset enters smartphone fray with Me, Me Pure and Me Pro phones (hands-on)

Gigaset is a new player in the smartphone game, kicking off with three new phones.

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BERLIN -- With some people it's just me, me, me: New smartphone manufacturer Gigaset is putting itself first with three new phones, the Gigaset Me, Me Pure and Me Pro.

Gigaset is the latest in a wave of new smartphone hardware and software players looking to carve themselves a slice of the mobile market currently dominated by Apple and Android. But unlike smaller new players such as OnePlus or Wileyfox, Gigaset has the weight of an established technology giant behind it, having been born as a part of German engineering powerhouse Siemens and already producing gadgets for a global market.

The three new 4G LTE phones from Gigaset will be on sale in Europe and China this autumn, with US or Australian launches yet to be announced. The entry-level 5-inch Me Pure will cost £249 (around $390 or AU$560). The 5-inch mid-range Me will be £349 (roughly $530 or AU$750). And the 5.5-inch high-end Me Pro will set you back £399 ($620 or AU$880).

The Me and Me Pro pack Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processors with 3GB of RAM. The Me Pure meanwhile is powered by a Snapdragon 615 chip. The screens for all three are full HD 1080p displays. Aptly for phones named Me, all three phones have 8-megapixel cameras on the front for better selfies. The Pure has a 20-megapixel main camera and the other two have 13-megapixel snappers.

Gigaset boasts that the cameras on the Me phones have lightning-quick autofocus, which makes it easier to do things like grabbing in-focus snaps of moving targets, or quickly getting a photo of a laughing baby before it goes back to bawling. The phones also have a feature that lets you change what's in focus after a shot's been taken, though we'd be surprised if this is any substitute for a really thought-through, lined-up photo.

They all include a fingerprint sensor on the back, while the Me and Me Pro also have a heart-rate monitor to measure your pulse while exercising.

The three phones have space for two SIM cards so you can have two numbers in one phone. In a neat bit of engineering, the SIM card slot, which you open with a paperclip, is the same size as a single-SIM slot, but accommodates two SIMs. Another clever bit of business is that the second SIM card slot is also a memory card reader -- but the problem with that is you have to choose either a second SIM card (giving you a second number) or a memory card (and extra storage). You can't have both.

Included in the box is a powerful fast charger that will give you a 25 percent power boost in a matter of minutes -- handy for those moments when you're halfway out the door and realise you only have 15 percent left.

Solid design

They're nicely put-together phones, with sleek Gorilla glass front and rear and a metal surround. The white-framed front suffers from the all-too-common plague of looks-like-an-iPhone-itis, but so do a lot of phones. Round the back the Me has a more individual look with two swooping silvered arcs at the top and bottom. Compared to many glossy-backed phones, the Me also appears to be much less of a fingerprint trap, which makes a nice change.

While the style offers little we haven't seen before, we were impressed with the sturdiness of each phone. A metal loop surrounding the frame gives each Me model a satisfying heft, and the build quality feels -- at first blush -- a cut above what we find on many Android phones.

Having branched out from telecoms giant Siemens in 2008, Gigaset already makes traditional landline home phones. The company is not the only new name stepping into the lucrative smartphone market: UK company Wileyfox also launched new phones recently , joining new hardware players like OnePlus and software players like Ubuntu and Firefox. While those other new entrants are aiming to compete with the big names like Samsung at the budget end of the market, Gigaset is aiming a little higher.

Announcing its intention to make smartphones earlier this summer, the brand set out its store by sponsoring the UK's posh horseracing event Ascot, suggesting the type of customer it wants to attract. But the specs and prices show Gigaset has a shot at the public enclosure as well as the royal box, and the scale of its existing operation means it has a few euros to spend on marketing too.

We're at the launch of the new phones right now, so we'll be updating this story with more photos and hands-on video very soon.

For more of the best of IFA 2015, see CNET's complete coverage.

Editor's note 2 September: Added official UK prices.

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