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Sony Ericsson, Saab Partner For In-Car Experience

Along with hands-free calling, users will be able to lock car doors, turn off lights, and control seats from the Xperia X1 handset.

Sony Ericsson and Saab will team up to improve in-car communication and controls.

The Xperia X1 is Sony Ericsson's upcoming flagship smartphone. It will be powered by Windows Mobile 6.1, has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and features a 3-inch touch screen. One of the most interesting features of the X1 is that the home screen will have configurable panels that can be used to access the Web, as well launch multimedia players and applications.

The partnership with Saab will utilize these on-screen panels for the Saab 9-X Air. Customers will be able to control ambient lighting, lock the car, control seating, switch the lights on and off, and open the rear compartment from the X1 handset.

Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last week, the 9-X Air is an open-air vehicle that has a fabric top and runs on E85 fuel. Saab already has several models that feature Sony Ericsson car accessories or have integrated Bluetooth systems. As more states like California implement laws requiring hands-free cell phone use, the demand for vehicles with built-in Bluetooth systems is expected to increase.

For Sony Ericsson, the Saab partnership is a way to show off the versatility of the X1's panel interface. The cell phone manufacturer is actively courting developers to create multiple panel applications for the X1.

Sony Ericsson, the world's fifth-largest cell phone manufacturer, has a lot riding on the X1, which was introduced in February. The company reported a 97% drop in profits for the second quarter and recently said it expects tough business conditions to extend into next year.

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