Britons should see working mulitmedia phones that don't look like bricks by the end of the year. BT Wireless, currently a division of BT, and electronics firm Sharp will ship the first multimedia mobile devices for BT Cellnet networks.

The first product to emerge from the venture will be a Japanese-style camera-phone, named Cyclops. The phone, already available in Japan, will be modified for European GSM and GPRS (general packet radio services) mobile phone networks.

"The new phone will let users take pictures and then send them right from their handsets," said a spokesperson for BT Cellnet. The Cyclops is expected to hit the UK market at the end of this year.

BT said the venture was not exclusive and partnerships with other companies would be considered in the future.

But BT will have strong competition from Japanese giant Sony, which yesterday announced it would be focusing its energies on mobile technologies and the creation of a new mobile handset division.