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O2, a carrier in Europe, has begun to show off the Cocoon. It is a simple clamshell phone that was designed by a team of trend spotters and a custom manufacturer instead of by a large phone company or ODM. And even though it is just a clamshell phone, it is not a clamshell phone like all the rest. It looks more like something that came out of AU’s design series than yet another RAZR knockoff.

The Cocoon looks like a curved white bundle of ribbon with flat black plastic sides. On one side is external playback controls, on the other is a scroll wheel. And hidden under the curved white front is a huge OLED matrix that can display the time, incoming callers or track names.

Instead of O2 going to a manufacturer with a laundry list of new technologies they wanted, they contacted a firm who asked cool people they know. and what sort of features did these people come up with? It’s not video streaming or a laptop replacement or anything bleeding edge. It’s simple stuff that would enhance how most people use their phones day to day. The Cocoon comes with 2 GB of memory in addition to a MicroSD card slot, so there’s plenty of room for music and pictures even before users purchase a memory card. It comes with software that lets it sync music from Window Media Player or iTunes.

But memory is just the start. The designers looked at how these users wanted to make the most of their phone and took this into account. With full playback controls and an external display users don’t need to open the phone to use it as a music player. They took advantage of this to create a charging dock that holds the Cocool sideways so the controls are exposed on top. When in the stand, the phone displays the time in a large font and can be used as an alarm clock or mini stereo thanks to a 3.5mm speaker jack in the back of the dock. The camera is only 2 megapixels, but is auto-focus and has an automatic flash as well, so it is still capabble of taking decent features. And of course the Cocoon has a custom designed OS with lots of rich graphics.

Nothing about the Cocoon is high tech. It doesn’t have any newer features than the Sony EricssonĀ  W800 launched 18 months ago except for 3G calling. But it still feels new and exciting, simply because they listened to people and not companies when designing it.