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Cellular Christmas Brings Music, Color, And GPS

11/10/2006 12:54:00 PM Eastern

New York – Colorful cell phones, more music phones, and handsets with GPS-enabled location-based services are in store for holiday sales.

Here’s a sampling of products hitting the market:

Kyocera: The company’s Cyclops phone, available in November through Virgin Mobile, is the industry’s first to offer music-based incoming-text alerts and voice instant messaging, called TXT Tones and Virgin Mobile Audio Messaging (VAM), respectively.

The $99-suggested prepaid phone lets users assign a $1.50 downloaded music clip to alert them to an incoming text message. Different clips can be assigned to different names in the phone’s address book.

VAM works like this: On their phone, users create a VAM buddy list that shows what other VAM users have their phones turned on and ready to accept a voice instant message. The recipient can instantly respond. If the recipient isn’t online, the message will be stored for later retrieval.

Motorola: The i835 flip phone for prepaid carrier Boost Mobile is a “girlie phone” the company said. It is available in two colors: purple with a floral design and feminine wallpapers, and white with alternating frost and ice candy bar stripes. The screen’s light pulses to the beat of a MIDI ringtone. It delivers real-time audible and visual driving instructions via an optional service operated by TeleNav. The suggested retail is $129.

In another launch, the Motorola iDEN-network i880 handset for Sprint Nextel is one of the first two 2-megapixel camera phones for iDEN networks. It features MP3 player, Bluetooth, a MicroSD slot, dual front stereo speakers, and walkie-talkie service, including off-network walkie-talkie service.

The other 2-megapixel Motorola iDEN-network handset 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, GPS, and iDEN-network walkie-talkie service to Boost Mobile and Nextel subscribers. The suggested retail is $349.

Samsung: The Samsung-made Drift, a CDMA 1x EV-DO slider, is available exclusively to MVNO Helio and, at $225, is the country’s first phone to offer aGPS-enabled cellular version of Google Maps. It also offers a Buddy Beacon feature that lets users find their friends on a map displayed on the device.

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 can access satellite imagery of a destination.

Buddy Beacon uses GPS to broadcast a user’s location to friends on a Buddy List of up to 25 buddies.

The Drift features stereo Bluetooth, 128MB internal memory expandable via microSD, 2-megapixel camera and playback of MP3 and MPEG-4 files. It’s available in gunmetal black or frost white.