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New Year Sees New Phones

New York — The first cellular phones introduced in 2009 include PDA phones, a PND phone, a military-spec ruggedized phone and the first phone made from recycled plastic bottles.

The new Pharos PND phone and the new HTC PDA phone will be sold unlocked outside carrier channels. Motorola’s new PDA phone, ruggedized phone and water-bottle model will be sold through carrier channels.

A second-generation dual-slider Ocean from Virgin Mobile’s Helio postpaid service is also due in February, press reports indicate, but the carrier wouldn’t comment.

Here’s what companies have announced:

HTC: The supplier revealed first-quarter availability of its unlocked S743 PDA phone, built on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Smartphone OS. It will be available through retail outlets that will include and Pricing still wasn’t disclosed at press time, but its estimated retail is between $500 to $600.

 The S743 features quadband GSM/EDGE operation and 850/1900MHz W-CDMA/HSDPA operation up to 7.2Mbps peak to the phone. The phone lacks touchscreen and features front dialing keypad and slide-from-the side QWERTY keyboard. The 2.4-inch QVGA display automatically rotates from portrait to landscape mode when the phone is rotated to use the keyboard. The device also features 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, assisted GPS, fixed-focus 3.2-megapixel camera and MicroSD card slot. It supports POP3 and IMAP4 email and Exchange email.

Motorola: A trio of phones announced after CES include the W233 Renew, an entry-level bar phone made of recycled water bottles. The 850/1900MHz GSM/GPRS phone will be available in the first quarter through T-Mobile USA.

The company’s latest PDA phone, the Motosurf A31000, is based on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS and is due in the first quarter. The 3G W-CDMA phone comes with a 2.8-inch touchscreen, assisted GPS,

quadband EDGE data, and triband 850/1900/2100MHz HSDPA/HSUPA data. In HSDPA mode, it downloads data at peak rates of 7.1Mbps. Other features include widget-based homescreen, WiFi, and 3-megapixel camera. Distribution channels and pricing weren’t announced, but the HSDPA bands indicate AT&T is the target customer.

The military-spec Tundra VA76r, available since Jan. 13 through AT&T, is a 3G clamshell model featuring 850/1900MHz HSDPA 3.6Mbps peak-download speeds. Other features include quadband EDGE data, push-to-talk capability, AV playback, Bluetooth stereo, 2-megapixel camera, HTML Web browser, assisted GPS, and ability to add enterprise applications such as TeleNav Track and Xora Mobile Workforce Management.

Pharos: The Torrance, Calif.-based PND maker expanded its selection of unlocked PDA phones that double as Internet-connected PNDs.

The $599 Traveler 137 will be available in the first quarter to join the $529 Traveler 117 and $529 Traveler

127, both available since December and also unlocked. All three models are based on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS and thus feature touchscreen, but the 127 adds hard QWERTY keyboard.

The 117, 127 and 137 feature assisted GPS and Pharos’s Smart Navigator “hybrid” navigation service, promoted as more reliable than carrier-provided navigations services. In contrast with carrier-provided navigation services, Pharos explained, maps and route-calculation software reside on the Pharos phones, not on a cellular-connected server. With a carrier’s navigation service, consumers lose their map and directions if their phone loses its connection, but the Pharos phones can’t lose the data because the data reside on the phone. With maps residing on the device, Pharos added, consumers can also zoom in and out of the maps, Pharos added.

Initially, Pharos is providing U.S. maps as a free over-the-air download. Maps of Canada, Western Europe and Eastern Europe are available for rent on a pay-as-you-go basis. When renting a map, consumers will be able to download a corridor map for their specific route, a regional map, or the map of a country for a day, week, month, or year. Access to the maps would expire after the paid-for period expires. Prices are $1.99 for one day of access, $4.99 for a week, $6.99 for a month or $49.99 for a year.

 As Internet-connected PNDs, the devices also receive real-time traffic updates, map updates, updated points-of-interest (POI) data and Follow Me service, making it possible for people to view the GPS location of Pharos users through their own Windows Mobile device on through an Internet-connected PC. All of these services are free for one year with the new models.

The 137, 117, and 127 are quadband EDGE models with triband W-CDMA HSPDA/HSUPA operation. The 117 and 127 operate in HSDPA/HSUPA mode in the 850/1900/2100MHz bands, optimizing them for use in AT&T’s network. The new 137 operates in HSDPA/HSUPA mode in the 1700/1900/2100MHz bands, optimizing them for use in T-Mobile USA’s new 3G network. The 619 is a quadband EDGE model optimized for either network.

In HSDPA/HSUPA mode, all three download data at peak speeds up to 7.2Mbps peaks and upload data at up to 2Mbps peaks in networks supporting those speeds. All three models also feature 802.11 b/g WiFi.

The $599 137 features 3.5-inch touchscreen and lacks hard QWERTY keyboard and hard dialing keypad. The $529 127 features 2.5-inch touchscreen and hard QWERTY keyboard/keypad, and the $529 117 features a 2.8-inch touchscreen and no hard QWERTY keyboard/keypad.

The recently launched $199 Traveler 619 ships without Pharos’s navigation software but comes with embedded GPS and preloaded Microsoft Live Search, so consumers can access location-based web services such as weather, traffic and directions. It is based on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS and adds a QWERTY keyboard.

An older Pharos 600 remains in the line with an earlier version of Pharos’s navigation software.