Las Vegas - Kyocera's first Android-based smartphone, the Zio M6000, will be among the first smartphones offered by prepaid carrier Leap Wireless, which plans to launch Zio sometime this year, the carrier told TWICE.
The phone will operate in 3G CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A mode in Leap's Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) 1.7/2.1GHz bands as well as in 3G mode in the 800/1900MHz bands. Kyocera previously said the phone operated in 3G mode only in the 800/1900MHz bands.
Because of the phone's additional bands, Kyocera will be able to target the phone to more carriers than previously thought. Potential 800/1900MHz carriers include Verizon Wireless and Sprint, and potential AWS-band carriers include MetroPCS.
Leap Wireless currently offers no smartphones but will offer the Kyocera smartphone and a BlackBerry smartphone sometime this year, a Leap spokesperson told TWICE. The Zio could become the first Android smartphone offered in the U.S. with a prepaid plan, Leap noted.
In another Leap development, the carrier said it has added roaming agreements to enable its subscribers to use its service in all 50 states, up from the current 35. The company also announced new service and rate plans to go with the footprint expansion.
Previously, the carrier operated its network in 65 to 70 markets and used roaming agreements to enable customers to roam throughout 35 states. The roaming footprint now covers all 50 states in markets with a total population of 277 million, up from 190 million.
The Zio marks Kyocera's return to the smartphone market after an absence of about five years, having previously marketed Palm-OS smartphones.
The full-touchscreen phone with virtual QWERTY keyboard features the Android 1.6 (Donut) OS, 600MHz processor, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, 3.5-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen, front-panel trackball navigation, 3.2-megapixel camera/camcorder with autofocus, microSD slot supporting 32GB cards, stereo Bluetooth version 2.1 + EDR and 1130mAh battery offering 6.2 hours of talktime. Kyocera plans to offer an upgrade to the Android 2.x OS sometime in the future.
Kyocera is promoting the 105-gram phone as the lightest Android phone compared to all other Android models currently on the U.S. market.
Because it uses Android 1.6, compared with the 1.5 OS used by all other Android models but two, the Zio offers multiple upgrades, such as free Google Maps Navigation service, VPN capability and faster camera response times, a spokesman said.