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An expanded slate of U.S.-market Siemens phones includes the company's first Bluetooth-equipped model, first two with color screens, and first to accept an add-on digital still camera, touted as the industry's first with integrated flash.
The products expand the company's selection from two models to eight as part of an effort to expand U.S. market share.
The company also unveiled its first 3G WCDMA handset, a hybrid model that incorporates GSM/GPRS for backward compatibility with existing networks. The device, called the U10, was developed in cooperation with Motorola and will be available in December for select European carriers testing WCDMA networks. It operates in European 900/1,800MHz bands and in the U.S. 1,900MHz band.
The U10 incorporates color screen, Java to download applications over the air, integrated video camera/still camera that rotates 180 degrees, WAP 2.0 browser, and ability to stream and download audio and video up to 384kbps, wirelessly transmit videos taken with the integrated camera, and make videophone calls. It supports MPEG-4 video streaming and MP3 and AAC audio streaming. Internal 2MB memory is expandable through a MultiMediaCard slot.
For current-generation networks in the U.S., the company expanded its portfolio to reflect what senior executive Rudi Lamprecht said is growing demand for low- and high-end phones, whereas sales of midprice phones currently dominate. Lamprecht, board president at Siemens Information and Communications Mobile Group, said the low end will be predominantly voice-centric, with "price the deciding factor and design playing an important role." The high end will be "rich in applications," and design "will be of equal importance."
Group president Peter Zapf said the phones also reflect an industry moving to "better gaming, e-mail and organizational software" on phones.
Siemens didn't indicate what price points the new models would hit, but North American senior VP/GM Bernt Klen cited five volume price-point ranges in the U.S.: up to $49, up to $99, $199, $220 and $220-plus. Sales at prices above $99 are growing, he said. These are "feature-rich devices that carriers are moving consumers to in order to provide more [airtime-generating] services. TDMA carriers also need the feature-rich GSM/GPRS phones, combined with GPRS data services, to give consumers a good reason to move off TDMA networks, he explained.
Though most of the new phones are based on global platforms, all were designed specifically for the U.S. market, reflected in some models' dual-band 850/1,900MHz or single-band 1,900MHz designs for U.S. frequencies.
The new lineup starts with the A56 entry-level phone, then steps up to the M46, C56/CT56, S56, and at the top, the SX56 PocketPC-phone, which AT&T Wireless prices at $549.
Here's what they offer:
A56: The 3-ounce, 4 by 1.7 by 0.8-inch 850/1,900MHz phone delivers up to five hours of talk time or 250 standby hours. Due in the fourth quarter, it features interchangeable front and back color covers, Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) to send and receive text messages with sounds and animated graphics, downloadable monophonic ring tones and animated screensavers, black-and-white screen, WAP microbrowser, games and integrated antennas. Consumers will also be able to create covers using their own digital images or images on a Siemens web site.
Users can also tie images and ring tones to caller ID service. It will be available in December through an unnamed carrier.
M46: The step-up 1900MHz model, due through T-Mobile beginning Nov. 1, adds GPRS, J2ME, AOL instant messaging, built-in data/fax modem, up to 250 phone book entries, T9 predictive keypad, vibrating alert, and optional MP3 player headset with 32MB MultiMediaCard. It delivers up to three talk-time hours or up to 200 standby hours.
C56/CT56: The CT56 is a customized version for Cingular Wireless, which began offering it in October. Both versions share the same size, weight and talk/standby times as the entry-level model and share key entry-level-model features, including EMS, WAP 1.2.1 microbrowser, and integrated antenna. To the entry-level model, the C56/CT56 adds GPRS, polyphonic ring tones, Java, speakerphone, voice dialing and modem.
The C56 further adds interchangeable front and back covers and the ability to record voices and noises as ring tones. It's due in December through an unnamed carrier.
S56: Due in the first quarter, the 850/1,900MHz phone adds 256-color LCD screen, built-in Bluetooth, picture caller ID, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) to send and receive messages with attached digital pictures as well as sound and animated graphics, add digital pictures and optional attachable flash camera, which is expected to retail for less than $100. It's the same size and weight as the entry-level model, but talk time goes to six hours, and standby time goes to 300 hours.
Other features include WAP 1.2.1 browser, games, polyphonic sound, voice dialing, Java (to download ringtones, images, and applications) and faster GPRS throughput at up to 82kbps peak download rates.
SX56: The 900/1,900MHz PocketPC-based world PDA-phone is available at $549 through AT&T Wireless (see TWICE, Oct. 14, p. 30). Select features include 4,096-color touchscreen, virtual keyboard, handwriting recognition, Pocket versions of Microsoft Office applications, text messaging to any e-mail address, and SD/MMC slot of extra memory. It also features desktop-PC e-mail redirection, HTML Web browsing, MP3 player, and lithium ion battery delivering 3.5 hours of talk time, 150 hours of standby time, or 15 hours of PDA time.
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