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Palm, Symbian, PocketPC Phones Gain

The selection of PDA-phones using the Palm, Symbian and PocketPC operating systems grew during Wireless 2003, where Sprint PCS and Verizon announced plans to quickly expand their selections of PDA phones.

During the show (see additional coverage on p. 1), Siemens unveiled its first Symbian PDA-phone, complementing a PocketPC model. For its part, Samsung unveiled its second CDMA 1X Palm phone and its first PocketPC phone, also operating on CDMA 1X networks.

Siemens’ Symbian phone features built-in camera and camcorder to capture still images and short video clips, RealOne audio/video player and Bluetooth.

Samsung’s second 1X Palm phone, the i500, is the company’s first Palm flip phone. It’s smaller than its non-flip counterpart. Samsung estimated the retail at about $600.

Samsung’s SPH-i700 PocketPC phone features built-in VGA camera and touch-screen dialing keypad at an expected $600-$700.

Later this year, Samsung plans to offer GSM/GPRS versions of the two PDA phones.

Among the carriers, Sprint PCS outlined plans to expand its PDA-phone selection in the second quarter with two PocketPC-based PDA-phones: the Samsung SPH-i700 and Hitachi G1000, said to be the first PocketPC PDA with QWERTY keyboard. Both feature embedded VGA camera. Pricing wasn’t revealed. They will be available through direct and indirect channels, and purchasers will be able to download e-mail redirection software for their desktop PCs. They will join Sprint’s current PocketPC phone, the Toshiba 2032.

For its part, Verizon said it will package desktop-PC e-mail redirection software with three new CDMA 1X PDA-phones, each incorporating redirection client software. They are the Palm-based Kyocera 7135, Samsung’s PocketPC-based i700, and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry 6750. They will be available through direct and indirect channels to SoHo users and enterprises, with optional server-based redirection solution for enterprises. Device pricing wasn’t revealed.

Verizon currently offers a Palm-based 2G Kyocera phone and Audiovox’s 1X Thera PocketPC phone, but neither is packaged with redirection software.

In other PDA-phone developments, Motorola didn’t announce a target date for U.S. sales of what would be the first Linux-based PDA phone in the country. The quad-band device, due in Asia in the second half, operates on U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands and foreign 900/1,800MHz bands.

It features Java, built-in camera, MP3 player, 65K color screen and sub-VGA picture resolution.

Nokia said it has already begun shipments to Cingular of its 900/1,800/1,900MHz Symbian-based 3650 PDA/camera-phone. An 850/1,900MHz version, the 3600, will be available in the second half to another U.S. carrier. The expected retail is less than $400 for both versions.