As 2006 prepares to depart in a flurry of booze-fuelled sunsets, 2007 is grinning on the horizon, readying itself for its entrance onto a brave, if hungover, new world. And with a new year, all manner of mental mobile phones will make their appearance too, each vying to outcompete the other, offering fantastic features in ridiculously thin gadgets for the ever-hungry consumer.

So what can we expect from our mobile phones in 2007? Well brace yourselves, as 2007 will transform the phone and everything else we use, like no other year before. So here, then, is my list of the ten hottest technologies coming to mobile phones in 2007.

1. Sony Ericsson

In no particular order, we’ll kick off with Sony Ericsson. The company had a successful, if somewhat low-key 2006, with great phones that clearly worked, but which lacked the wow factor that Nokia and Samsung managed to give us. Highlight of the year was Sony Ericsson’s CyberShot phones, which although offered nothing new in terms of features (‘only’ coming with a 3.2 megapixel camera for the Sony Ericsson K800i), they nonetheless took the best pictures of all camera phones on the market. The Cybershots are clear evidence of Sony’s technological process in all types of gadgets feeding through the company’s mobile phone joint venture with Ericsson.

For 2007, we can expect similar convergence of high quality gadgetry, but this time the wow factor will most certainly be there. Rumours persist of a Sony Ericsson mobile TV phone, possibly called the Sony Ercisson Bravia or Wega (both being Sony TV brands). Although a mobile TV phone is not new, Sony’s quality should make these phones a cutr above existing models.

Sony Ericsson Mobile TV phones

Sony Ericsson W44S Bravia mobile phone
Rumours of a Sony Ericsson Wega phone first surfaced back in September, with Sony Ericsson’s senior vice president of Product and Application Planning, Rikko Sakaguchi, admitting that there are plans to use Sony’s WEGA branding that it uses for its high end TVs on new Sony Ericsson mobile TV phones. Since then, however, attention has shifted to its Bravia brand (although this is more likely speculation from the blogosphere), with the company releasing the fantastic looking Sony Ericsson W44S Bravia mobile TV phone in Japan (see pic above). This phone demonstrates that Sony Ericsson clearly has the technology to develop a mobile TV phone – it just remains to be seen whether we’ll see one outside of Japan in 2007. I’d rate this a certainty, though, as a technological leader such as Sony Ericsson can’t be seen to be getting left behind by its competitors, all of whom (except Motorola) now have mobile TV phones on sale.

Sony Ericsson Handycam phone

Other Sony Ericsson rumours speculate on a Sony Ericsson HandyCam video phone and a Sony Ericsson Playstation phone. The rumours obviously derive from people wrapping the words “Sony Ericsson” and “phone” around Sony’s long-established brands, but regardless of whether the company chooses to use these brand names, a video phone of some form to take on Nokia’s N93 video phone looks likely. Current rumours suggest it’ll be based on the Sony Ericsson M600 smartphone.

Sony Ericsson Playstation or PSP phone

Almost as likely is the PlayStation phone, which was also fuelled by Sakaguchi, who claimed that the company “is working on something” (related to the PlayStation phone), but that “the surprise must be kept for the future.”

The current rumours speculate that the PSP phone will be more than just a gaming phone, and will incorporate wireless game transfer functionality. Expect WiFi support on this one when it arrives (though it may not come with the Playstation or PSP branding).

Sony Ericsson CyberShot phones

Sony Ericsson W880i, or the Sony Ericsson Ai as it's currenltly known
Of course, one thing that is a certainty is more Sony Ericsson CyberShot phones. Not only is the Sony Ericsson W880i Cybershot phone confirmed (currently called the Sony Ericsson Ai – see pic above), we’ve also seen pictures of the thing – and it’s a thing of beauty as well! It’s expected to come with a 2″ screen, 3G and HSDPA, and be announced at the 3GSM conference in February 2007.

We should also see in 2007 a 5 megapixel CyberShot phone expected to be called the Sony Ericsson K850i (currently codenamed the Sofia). Coming with xenon flash and QVGA recording, it’s expected to have a 2.2″ screen, EDGE and UMTS. The Sony Ericsson K850i release date is expected in Quarter 2 2007 at the latest.

Other Sony Ericsson phones

Sony Ericsson have also got a huge raft of devices planned for 2007 that fit between its existing range and these new products as the company seeks to extend its portfolio while maintaining its technical excellence. You can see a full list of the currently-expected devices over at Esato

Sony Ericsson Summary

2007 will see Sony Ericsson consolidate its line up, with new camera phones averaging 3.2 megapixels and extending up to 5 megapixel, and other features such as storage and data transfer rates also pushing up (expect 1GB and widespread use of HSDPA respectively). The “wow phones” will come from tie-ins with existing Sony brands, with the Bravia or Wega phones, Handycam phone and Playstation/PSP phone the ones to watch out for. Expect more at the 3GSM 2007 conference in February.