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At CTIA, Phones Gain Bands, New Form Factors

3/27/2007 08:39:00 AM Eastern

Orlando, Fla. — Many cellular phone suppliers went public on the eve of the CTIA show, here, with new phones that include a dual-sided music phone from Samsung, new phones that will operate in the new 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz cellular bands, and more 3G W-CDMA phones incorporating high-speed High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) cellular data technology.

The new handsets also include Helio’s Ocean, dubbed by the MVNO as the first dual slider with two separate keypads.

Here’s what showgoers will find today:

Helio:

The Ocean rolls in "soon" at $295 with contract, a spokesperson said. The MVNO described the CDMA 1x EV-DO phone as the first "dual-keypad slider" in the United States, pointing to a dialing keypad that slides down vertically and a separate QWERTY keypad that slides out horizontally. The main display reorients itself into landscape mode when the QWERTY keypad is pulled out.

A competing phone that features horizontal and vertical sliding capability actually features one sliding surface that shares the dialing and QWERTY keypad, Helio said, but the Ocean’s dialing and QWERTY keypads are each embedded in separate sliding surfaces.

Helio designed the phone, which was built by Pantech.

iMate:

The marketer of unlocked GSM phones unveiled five new Windows Mobile-based phones, all quadband GSM/EDGE phones with triband HSDPA operation in three U.S. bands. Each model, the company said, will be available in two U.S. flavors: 850/1,900/2,100MHz HDSPA and 850/1,700/2,100 HSDPA. The 1,700 and 2,1000MHz bands were recently auctioned off for cellular use, with T-Mobile buying 1,700MHz spectrum and Cingular buying 2,100MHz spectrum. All models and flavors additionally offer quadbrand GSM/EDGE operation.

Various models will be available as unlocked phones in the third and fourth quarters with one model due in the first quarter of 2008. All are Windows Mobile 6-based PDA-phones with touch screen. The company also cited potential to sell the phones to carriers.

Sony Ericsson:

One of three new phones is the company’s first HSDPA phone, the Z750. It’s due in the third quarter with a suggested retail of $399 but is expected to retail for less than $100 with carrier contract. The clamshell phone operates in HSDPA mode in the foreign 2,100MHz band and in the existing 850MHz/1,900MHz U.S. bands. It operates in GSM/EDGE mode in the U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands and in the foreign 900/1,800MHz bands. It plays MP3 music stored on Memory Stick Micro cards but isn’t Walkman-branded.

Another new phone, the W580, is Walkman-branded and will be the first Walkman-branded slider for the U.S. market. It’s the company’s thinnest Walkman phone at 14mm and will support over-the-air downloads from the Napster Mobile service. It will retail for less than $99 after carrier subsidy when it ships in the third quarter.

Samsung:

The M620 dual-sided MP3 phone will be offered by Sprint during the first week of April at $149 with two-year contract. Sprint calls it the Upstage.

The dual-sided bar phone features multimedia controls and LCD display on one side and phone keypad another LCD display on the other side. It will be the U.S. market’s first dual-sided MP3 phone, Samsung said, and it will be one of 10 phones capable of downloading songs over the air from Sprint’s music store.

Sprint also dropped the price of its music downloads, effective the first week of April, to $0.99 from $2.49 for a dual download, which consists of one download over the cellular network to the phone and a separate download of the same song to a broadband-connected home PC. The pricing equals the $0.99 pricing of most other authorized download sites for a single download to a PC, and it undercuts Verizon Wireless’s $1.99 price for a dual download to phone and PC.

The Upstage is only 0.37 inches thick, but when the phone is snapped into an included wallet-type extended battery, thickness approximately doubles and music playback time is extended to more than 16 hours. Talk time goes to 6.5 hours with the "battery wallet."

Samsung said the phone offers the most talk time and music-playback time of any CDMA music phone in the United States. It’s also the first U.S. phone to offer a wallet-type extended battery and first U.S. music phone sold with included stereo headphones, which use a 3.5mm jack that plugs into an adapter, Sprint said.