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Sprint Adding PDA Phones, New Interface

9/15/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Seven cellphones introduced by Sprint include two Windows Mobile 6.1-based touchscreen phones from HTC, the first three phones with the carrier's new OneClick user interface and the first iDEN-network BlackBerry with built-in Wi-Fi.

The OneClick interface is said to deliver the ease of use previously available only on high-tier phones and smartphones.

The announcements, made here at the CTIA convention last week, also included another military-spec phone from Motorola.

Here's what Sprint revealed:

Windows Mobile 6.1: Two phones incorporating the Professional touchscreen version of the OS are the HTC Touch Diamond and HTC Touch Pro. Sprint will be the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer them.

The HTC Touch Diamond features HTC's new TouchFLO 3-D motion user interface, an upgraded version of the TouchFLO interface launched last year on the original Touch. The previous version delivered 3-D touch access to applications, but the new version extends the 3-D capability to the use of individual applications. Music, for example, can be selected by sweeping a finger right or left across the display to "flip" through album art.

Like before, the user interface allows for finger-touch Web browsing and finger-touch scrolling of documents, messages and contact lists. The HTC touchscreens lack haptic feedback.

It will be available early this month at $249 with a two-year contract and after $100 mail-in rebate.

Consumers dial via the 2.8-inch VGA touchscreen, and some features can be accessed from the front-panel touchpad. When the phone is turned sideways, the display reorients itself into landscape mode.

Other features include 3.2-megapixel camera; 3Mbps Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR; assisted GPS to deliver turn-by-turn driving instructions; and full HTML Web browsing with one-handed zoom, making it unnecessary to scroll left and right to view Web content. It also delivers Sprint's music and video services, including over-the-air music downloads and on-demand and live TV.

The HTC Touch Pro offers the Diamond's features plus five-row, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, expandable storage capabilities with a microSD card slot (1GB card included), and a business card scanner application that captures business-card info via its 3.2-megapixel camera and adds the data to the user's contact list. The device will be available Oct. 19 at $299 with a two-year contract after a $100 mail-in rebate.

OneClick Trio: The user interface, whose carousel menu delivers one-click access to key features, will appear on the LG Lotus, Samsung Rant and Samsung Highnote. Sprint also plans to offer One Click on additional phones in the future, including the current Sanyo Katana Eclipse but in two new colors.

"One Click brings the simplicity, customization and easy navigation commonly found on smartphones and high-end wireless devices to Sprint's mid-tier devices," the carrier claimed. One Click lets users personalize their home screen's carousel menu to display shortcuts to their most important applications, including Google Search and other Web sites.

Scrolling through the customizable carousel-style menu also displays information related to each feature. A customer scrolling to the text-messaging application, for example, sees the number of new messages received. A single click then takes the user directly to the application.

The first three OneClick phones include the LG Lotus, due in October at $149 with a two-year contract. The flip phone features full QWERTY keyboard, a square shape and two color options: textured purple or satin black. It also features stereo Bluetooth, 2-megapixel camera and wireless backup of contact lists.

The Samsung Highnote, a OneClick dual slider, is due Oct. 19 at $99.99 with a two-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. Highnote slides up to reveal a dial pad and slides down to reveal stereo speakers. It's available in red or blue with 2-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, expandable memory up to 16GB and speaker-independent voice recognition.

The OnceClick Samsung Rant, due in October at $49.99 with a two-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate, is a horizontal slider with full QWERTY keyboard. Additional features include a 2-megapixel camera/camcorder, stereo Bluetooth, expandable memory up to 16GB and speaker-independent voice recognition. It will be available in red or black, with Best Buy offering an exclusive purple option.

Wi-Fi BlackBerry: The latest iDEN-network BlackBerry is the BlackBerry Curve 8350i, which is the first iDEN-network BlackBerry with built-in Wi-Fi for Web browsing and email. It will also be the first BlackBerry to offer Sprint's Group Connect feature, which enables a Nextel Direct Connect push-to-talk phone to set up group conversations with up to 20 other people.

The phone, equipped with 2-megapixel camera and stereo Bluetooth, is due by year's end at a price that wasn't disclosed.

Military Spec: Also coming from Sprint is the iDEN-network military-spec Motorola i576, which meets military specs for dust, shock and vibration. The clamshell, which features sub-second Nextel Direct Connect PTT setup time, is due Oct. 19 at $69.99 for business accounts with a two-year service contract. Features include Bluetooth and GPS navigation.

The phone joins the recently launched military-spec iDEN-network Motorola i365 at $89.