Picture this - Designer David Lewis goes for a long walk by the sea on a scenic day. He picks up a pebble that was washed ashore, holds it in his hand and is inspired to express the curves of said pebble as a mobile phone design concept. A fitting story, we say, of how the Bang & Olufsen Serenata came to be.
With a unique form factor and a quirky scroll wheel, the earlier collaboration between Korean giant Samsung and Danish audio heavyweights Bang & Olufsen - the Serene, didn't quite catch on. Fast forward two years and these two companies are back to capture the hearts of socialites with the Serenata, a successor that comes well-prepared to the dance with its high-end B&O slide-up speaker and a design that's out of this world.
Clad in soft-touch black rubber and inlaid with chrome, the Serenata's screen is located at the bottom while right above it is a scroll wheel with buttons for functions such as making and ending calls, Cancel and Back, with the center being the selection button.
The Serenata feels like your first mobile phone experience after ditching your pager. There are many things to adjust to, like its navigation wheel that is the only way to dial, text or view menus due to the absence of a keypad. Prior experience with an iPod definitely comes in handy. Secondly, when it comes to text, you'll have to scroll through groups of letters to select each one individually. Sure, there's predictive text input functionality, but that only made the texting experience tolerable. You'll most probably end up doing a voice call instead.
To compensate for the lack of a keypad, the Serenata comes with limited touch screen functionality and this certainly showed when we tried to activate the phone and music menus. As only the top corners and bottom bar are touch sensitive, precise finger coordination is required.
While the phone and SMS functions may not be the most user-friendly, the music capabilities are the complete opposite. With 4GB worth of internal flash memory storage, as well as a slide-out speaker, this baby screams quality. There is even an earphone jack for the B&O Earset3 earphones that's included in the box. For once, you won't be picking up any third-party earphones. Interestingly enough, you would assume that they'd think of including a digital camera onto the Serenata like most mobile phones nowadays, but this was surprisingly left out.
While B&O has included its Beoplayer software to transfer your music files onto the Serenata, we favored the simpler drag and drop method which works when the phone is connected to your PC in USB mode.
Obviously, as with any other B&O product, the Serenata doesn't come cheap. Retailing at S$2,500 (we hope you were seated while reading this), we imagine that the average consumer would blanch at the price tag, even for such an admittedly unique design. That said, the Serenata should fit in well with the Beemer-loving, champagne-toasting socialite crowd where name recognition is everything.