A smartphone originally built for the British military and which unfolds to three panels - the screen, a full QWERTY typing pad and a game pad with multiple triggers - is set to be launched commercially next year.

The Icephone, which is being dubbed 'the Swiss Army Knife of Handsets', is a 3G gadget with a 3in touchscreen that's described as a phone, netbook, gaming device and satnav by Graham Gilmour, from Edinburgh-based developer The Medical Phone.

"The phone changes shape to suit the task at hand," said Gilmour, who demonstrating the Icephone at November's 3GSM Asia exhibition in Macau.


The Windows Mobile 6.0-based phone, which has a rubbery, ruggedised casing, features an 'ICE button' just below the typing pad. Users can hit button to notify emergency services, operate the satnav, or even obtain their complete digital medical records, identification and other data.

The Medical Phone plans to launch the handset in Q2 2009, when it will sell for under $1,000 (£680).