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Handset Vendors Segment The Market

3/27/2007 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Orlando, Fla. — Attendees looking for the lowdown on new handsets will find models targeted to active outdoor users, heavy texters, music aficionados, and frugal people who want to look fashionable.

Here’s a sampling of what attendees will find at select booths:

Casio: The company is expanding its G’zOne (Jeez-Wun) lineup of ruggedized phones with the Type S, which is smaller and more stylish than the original Type V but still promoted as being shock-, dust-, and water-resistant. It also resists scratch and vibration, and it is resistant to humidity, salt fog, and solar radiation. It will be on display in the booth of UTStarcom, which will distribute it in the U.S.

Two versions of the CDMA 1x phone will be available, one with push-to-talk (PTT) and the other without. Both add Bluetooth to the series and replace a stub antenna with an antenna embedded inside a handle at top. The series also gets PTT for the first time. Like their predecessor, both models are digital dual-mode 800/1900MHz models with GPS, speakerphone, built-in camera and a lantern.

As part of Casio’s G-Shock family, the phones’ exterior screen looks like the face of a watch and features stopwatch and countdown timer.

Motorola: Products on display include multiple models shown at the 3GSM World Congress, but at press time, the company wouldn’t say whether any would be offered in the U.S. market.

The phones include the first HSDPA- and GSM/EDGE-equipped Q smartphones, joining their CDMA 1x EV-DO predecessors. The HSDPA-equipped q9 and EDGE-equipped Q gsm feature QWERTY keyboards, and they add the latest version of Microsoft’s smartphone OS, called Windows Mobile 6. The q9 ships in the second quarter, followed in the second half by the Q gsm.

Also new: the Motorizr Z8 multimedia phone, which is the company’s first kickslider. It slides open in a curve that matches the contours of a person’s face. Due in April, it features GSM/EDGE and W-CDMA, video playback up to 30fps, 2-megapixel camera, music player, dedicated side camera key, 4GB microSD slot, and stereo Bluetooth.

The Motokrzr K3, due in the first quarter, features two integrated cameras, one with VGA resolution for placing video calls in an HSDPA network. The other camera is used for snapping 2-megapixel photos.

The company hasn’t said whether any of these phones are targeted for the U.S., but the quad-band GSM/EDGE Q gsm looks like a good bet because it operates in U.S. 850 and 1900MHz networks. It wasn’t certain whether the HSDPA model operates in HSDPA mode in U.S. bands.

Nokia: The E61i and E90 five-band smartphones are on display, but their U.S. availability hadn’t been announced at press time. They would be the company’s first W-CDMA E-series phones in the U.S. and could become the brand’s first W-CDMA smartphones for the U.S. depending on their ship dates.

The two, however, operate in W-CDMA mode only in the 2.1GHz band, which isn’t available for cellular networks in the U.S.

Both are Wi-Fi-equipped GSM/EDGE/W-CDMA phones, and the E90 adds HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) for faster cellular-data downloads. Both operate in the 850/1900MHz bands in the U.S. and in the 900/1800MHz and 2.1GHz bands in other countries. Both are based on the Symbian 9.1 OS with S60 third-edition user interface.

The E61i is wide and flat like Nokia’s quad-band E62 GSM/EDGE smartphone, which is available through Cingular, and it offers hard QWERTY keyboard like the E62. The E61i, however, adds Wi-Fi and W-CDMA.

The E90 Communicator with HSDPA looks like a bar phone when closed with dialing keypad and display on front. When folded open on a hinge running down the left side, it reveals a QWERTY keyboard and wide display screen. Features include 3.2-megapixel camera and Bluetooth 2.0.

Samsung: The company plans to announce U.S. availability of its M620 Ultra Music Bar through Sprint, whose over-the-air music-download service is compatible with the 0.37-inch dual-sided bar phone. The company is also showing multiple products in its Ultra II and Ultra Special lines for the first time in the U.S., although the company isn’t announcing U.S. availability.

The music-focused M620, a CDMA 1x EV-DO model, looks like a phone on one side and a media player on the other. Each side has separate control buttons and display. It features stereo Bluetooth, 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder, stereo headphone-jack adapter for connecting standard portable headphones, and included 64MB microSD memory card, which can be swapped for optional 2GB microSD cards.

The 2.57-ounce phone is 1.73x4.07x0.37 inches in size.

Other Ultra series phones include the Ultra Smart F700 multimedia phone, which features “tender touch” touchscreen-only user interface on a 2.8-inch front display. It offers fingertip drag-and-drop menu capability. The screen reorients into landscape mode when users slide the QWERTY keyboard out from one side.

Other features include music and video player, 5-megapixel camera, full HTML browser, and 7.2Mbps W-CDMA high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology. It operates in GSM/EDGE mode in foreign 900/1800MHz bands and in the U.S. 1900MHz band. It operates in HSDPA mode only in foreign 2.1GHz bands.

SonyEricsson: April availability in the U.S. is planned for the W880 Walkman-brand music phone, followed by second-quarter availability of the W610 Walkman phone. Both are the first Walkman phones with Bluetooth stereo and Memory Stick Micro slots.

The W880, the company’s slimmest Walkman phone at 0.37 inches, is also the company’s first HSDPA Walkman phone, but it operates in HSDPA mode only in the overseas 2.1GHz band. In the U.S., it operates in GSM/EDGE mode only in the 1900MHz band, so it will be available only in Sony Styles stores with included 1GB Memory Stick Micro card.

Wider availability in the second quarter is planned for the quad-band GSM/EDGE W610, whose shipments start in mid-April with included 512MB Memory Stick Micro card. It will be sold through carriers.

Two other new phones were to be announced, but details were unavailable at press time.

UTStarcom: The entry-level CDM7026 and CDM7076 CMDA 1x phones are positioned as basic but stylish. The clamshell CDM7026 and the CDM7076 camera phone feature internal antennas and larger main displays. The dual-band CDM7026 and the CDM7076 weigh 3.1 ounces and measure 3.7x1.9x0.7 inches. Both are equipped with GPSOne assisted-GPS capability and 1.8-inch 65K color main display screen.

Both phones support multiple ringtone audio formats and feature voice-activated dialing, built-in speakerphone, polyphonic ringtones, a 500-entry phone book, text messaging capability with a T9 dictionary, and two pre-loaded games.

The company’s first CDMA 1x EV-DO PC Card will also be on display along with two handsets originally shown at January’s CES. The Rev. A card is available from Verizon on promotion at $99.99 and for free after mail-in rebate from Sprint. The handsets aren’t yet available through a carrier.