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Cellular Loses Voice

Barcelona, Spain — Navigation, music, PC applications and high-speed data were on the minds of cellular handset suppliers here at the 3GSM World Congress as carriers and handset vendors try to raise their revenues with sophisticated non-voice features and services.

High Tech Computer (HTC) unveiled a trio of Microsoft Windows Mobile-based smartphones and PDA phones, including a laptop-style PDA phone that can be placed on a tabletop and used like a mini PC. SonyEricsson and Motorola introduced new music phones, and Hewlett Packard launched a smartphone with built-in Wi-Fi.

For its part, RIM introduced its first GPS-equipped BlackBerry for the Cingular network, Motorola launched coin-sized GPS receivers to turn Bluetooth-equipped cellphones into personal navigation devices, and multiple suppliers introduced the first smartphones based on the new Windows Mobile Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6 smartphone platform. Those suppliers include Motorola, HTC and Hewlett Packard.

Other show highlights include:

·Samsung’s Ultra Smart F700, which features “tender touch” touch-screen-only user interface on its large 2.8-inch front display with fingertip drag-and-drop menu capability. It also features pull-out QWERTY keyboard.

·The first two keyboard-equipped Motorola Q smartphones for GSM networks, one of which is also the company’s first Q phone with third-generation W-CDMA voice/data capability and high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA). They use Windows Mobile 6 OS.

·The industry’s first “kickslider,” Motorola’s W-CDMA HSDPA Motorizr Z8. It glides open in a curve to match the contour of the user’s face.

Many of the phones launched at 3GSM were tri- and quadband models banded optimally for overseas markets. Many of those models, however, incorporate at least one U.S. band, 1900MHz, and could be available in limited quantities in the U.S. Other phones were banded expressly for the U.S. market.

Here’s what various suppliers unveiled:

HTC: A trio of Windows Mobile-based quadband GSM/EDGE phones, all banded for the U.S. market, are due in the first quarter.

The laptop-style Advantage X7500, incorporating Windows Mobile PocketPC 5.0 OS, features fold-open QWERTY keyboard that’s detachable, 5-inch touch screen, 8GB hard drive, Wi-Fi for data, GPS, 3-megapixel camera and TV output.

A second phone with PocketPC 5.0, the P3350, features a more traditional PDA style and lack Wi-Fi.

The company’s first Windows Mobile smartphone edition phone is the S710 with QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard slides out from the side, and the front-panel display goes into widescreen landscape mode. It features Windows Mobile 6 OS and Wi-Fi for data.

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

The company did not provide details on whether this and other phones shown at 3GSM are optimized for U.S. networks, but it seems likely that the quadband GSM/EDGE Q GSM operates in U.S. 850 and 1900MHz networks. It and the Q q9 are Windows Mobile 6-based smartphones with QWERTY keyboard, like the current CDMA Q phone. The q9 adds HSDPA up to 3.6Mbps, but it’s not clear whether the phone’s HDSPA function operates in U.S. bands.

The new Q phones are the first two keyboard-equipped Motorola Q smartphones for GSM networks. The q9 ships in the second quarter, followed in the second half by the Q gsm.

The Motorizr Z6 is the company’s first Linux-Java software phone with Windows Media technology to play protected-music downloads transferred from a PC. It features dedicated music key and stereo Bluetooth.

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

RIM: The BlackBerry 8800 quadband GSM/EDGE phone, RIM’s thinnest to date at 0.55 inches, is the first GSM/GPRS/EDGE BlackBerry with integrated GPS. It will also be the first BlackBerry on the Cingular network to offer assisted-GPS. The carrier will light up its assisted-GPS service later this year, enabling the phone’s TeleNav service to deliver turn-by-turn driving and walking instructions and 3D maps for an additional monthly fee up to $9.99/month for unlimited use.

The multimedia-capable phone with microSD card slot, new trackball navigation system, QWERTY keyboard and BlackBerry email service goes on sale February 21 through Cingular channels at $299 with two-year contract after rebate.

Samsung: The Ultra Smart F700 multimedia phone features a “tender touch” touch-screen-only user interface on its large 2.8-inch front display with fingertip drag-and-drop menu capability. The screen reorients into landscape mode when users slide the QWERTY keyboard out from the side. Other features include music and video player, 5-megapixel camera, full HTML browser, and 7.2Mbps W-CDMA HSDPA technology, which when implemented by carriers at its full data rate would enable users to download a song over the air in 4.4 seconds.

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.

A U.S.-oriented phone is the quadband GSM/EDGE U600 in the Ultra Edition II series. Over the original Ultra series, this series extends talk time and battery capacity by 10 percent and power saving by 30 percent, the company said. The U600 features 2.2-inch screen, 3.2-megapixel camera, microSD slot and audio/video playback.

Multiple other new models operate in multiple foreign bands and in the U.S. 1900MHz band. They include dual-face models with phone keys and display on one side and music and/or camera buttons on the other side along with a second display. One of them is the F520, which also features “tender touch” screen control and slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

SonyEricsson: With the launch of the W880 and W610 music phones, the company’s Walkman-branded line gets models with Bluetooth stereo and Memory Stick Micro slots. They play music in multiple formats, including eAAC+, eAAC, AAC and MP3, but not WMA. Both feature 2-megapixel cameras, FM radio and RDS (radio Data System) to display station call letters and song titles.

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. It also operates in GSM/EDGE mode in foreign bands and one U.S. band at 1900MHz. As a result, it will be available only in Sony Styles stores in the first quarter with included 1GB Memory Stick Micro card.

Wider availability in the second quarter is planned for the quadband GSM/EDGE W610, shipping with included 512MB Memory Stick Micro card. It will be sold through carriers.

A pair of other quadbanded entry-level phones with VGA cameras were also shown, one with GPRS data and one without.