Cellular Mix Gets W-CDMA PDA-Phone And More

By Joseph Palenchar On Nov 20 2006 - 8:00am




The first PDA phone and first smartphone to incorporate W-CDMA technology are making their debut for the holiday selling season along with more music-oriented phones, more QWERTY-keyboard phones and phones with GPS-enabled location-based services.

Cingular Wireless became the first U.S. carrier to announce availability of a W-CDMA PDA phone and W-CDMA smartphone, each incorporating high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology that accelerates downlink speeds to between 400-700Kbps with bursts to more than a 1Mbps. Uplink speeds run to 384Kbps. W-CDMA also delivers simultaneous voice and data.

The PDA phone is the HTC-made 8525, which incorporates Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 PocketPC phone edition operating system, data-only 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and touch screen. Unlike other PDA phones, it sports a hidden back-lit QWERTY keyboard that slides out from the side for creating messages. When the keyboard is visible, the touch screen reorients itself into landscape mode.

The 8525 is also Cingular's first widely available phone to offer GPS-based turn-by-turn driving and walking instructions, available through a TeleNav application and separate Bluetooth-equipped GPS receiver available from Cingular at $99.

Cingular's W-CDMA smartphone, the Samsung-made BlackJack, is a slim bar phone only 0.46 inches thick. It's based on the Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphone edition platform, so it lacks a touch screen but incorporates a QWERTY keyboard.

Advantages of the PocketPC platform over the smartphone platform include touchscreen, more processing power and ability to edit as well as view documents. Both phones can also be used as a broadband wireless modem when connected to a laptop.

Both Cingular phones are quadband models capable of operating in GSM/GPRS/EDGE markets overseas and in the United States. They operate in W-CDMA mode in Cingular's 134 W-CDMA markets in the U.S. Both models were slated to be in stores in mid-November.

The 8525 Pocket PC phone is priced as low as $399, depending on service plan, and the BlackJack is $199, and they were set be available Nov. 16 in Cingular-branded stores, select national retailers, Cingular's Web site, and Cingular's B to B direct-sales team.

Both are compatible with WMA subscription downloads transferred from a PC.

In other launches, MVNO Helio unveiled the Samsung-made Drift, a $225 CDMA 1x EV-DO slider that's the nation's first phone to deliver a GPS-enabled cellphone version of Google Maps.

Google Maps shows a user's current location on a map, delivers real-time traffic info for more than 30 major U.S. metropolitan areas, provides step-by-step directions to a specific location, shows local business locations on a map and access satellite imagery of a destination.

The phone is also the industry's first with a GPS-enabled service to display the location of the cellphones of friends on a map appearing on the handset's display, if the phones are also part of the service. The Helio service is called Buddy Beacon, and the locations of up to 25 people on a Buddy List can be displayed.

Other new phones include the Motorola iDEN-network i880 handset for Sprint Nextel. It's among the first two 2-megapixel camera phones for iDEN networks. The other is the i885 high-end Motorola music phone for Boost Mobile's prepaid service. It's a clamshell with internal and external stereo speakers, removable microSD memory card, 2-megapixel camera, GPS and iDEN-network walkie-talkie service to Boost Mobile and Nextel subscribers. The i885's suggested retail is $349.

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