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BenQ-Siemens EF81: Thin 3G clamshell phone

The BenQ-Siemens EF81 is an attractive phone and it's available now. If you're looking for a 3G clamshell you should take a look

Unless you've been living in a bunker for the past few years you may have noticed that there're quite a few clamshell phones about the place. From 3G models to ones that flash pretty colours, like the spaceship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you can go into your local mobile phone shop and choose from a plethora of phones that flip.

Finding one that looks good and has enough features to keep your life organised isn't that simple, though. Most people run straight to the Motorola section and pick up a Razr, but not everyone is a Motorola fan and even though we really like the Razr V3x, it's not for everybody.

There is an alternative though, and it's made by a new kid on the block called BenQ-Siemens. We had a look at its BenQ-Siemens S88 with OLED display a while back, but then we didn't see it in the shops, so we thought that maybe it had just given up and decided mobile phones wasn't the way to go.

Then we spotted the EF81 at CeBIT and we liked what we saw. It features a casing made of magnesium, anodised aluminium and hardened sapphire glass, which makes it pretty tough. There's also a MicroSD card slot, a media player that can support almost anything you throw at it, Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera and 3G connectivity with video calling capabilities. It's also only 16mm thin, which is 4mm thinner than the V3x and only 1mm thicker than the V3. The problem was that we weren't sure if it was going to make it to the shops, so we held our breath before we got too attached to it.

Luckily it is in shops now or at least one shop, Phones4u, and it's free on a monthly contract, so you can have a look and feel to see what you think. Expect a full review soon. -AL

Update: more images and a full review of the BenQ-Siemens EF81 are now live in our Reviews channel.