Bic, best known as a supplier of pens, razors and cigarette lighters, is launching a mobile phone in France, targeting those who need quick access to a fully charged handset.

The Bic-branded mobile, which will go on sale in French supermarkets next month for €49 (£39), will be ready to make calls immediately, since it will ship with a charged battery an hour's free calls. Users will then be able to top up the Bic Phone's airtime by buying Mobicarte pre-pay cards.

Available in citrus orange and lime green, and with "innovative packaging", the Bic Phone ships with a SIM card already in place, while its phone number will be included in the pack.

But Bic was quick to point out that the new handset is not a challenger to Apple's 3G iPhone in terms of features and usability – it'll only be suitable for phone calls and text messages.

"It also meets specific phoning requirements, serving as a back-up phone if needed (e.g. a second line when advertising the sale of an apartment, a car ... which leaves the main phone line free)," the company says.

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