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Proliferating PDA-Phones Get Wi-Fi, Megapixel Cameras

Cannes, France — The selection of smartphones and PDA phones grew here at the 3GSM World Congress trade show, where Motorola expanded its selection of Microsoft OS-based phones, and Nokia unveiled its latest Symbian OS-based Communicator. All are GSM phones.

Two of the companies’ models will be among the industry’s first Wi-Fi-equipped phones, allowing for high-speed LAN connectivity in public hot spots and wireless LANs at home and in the office.

Motorola also showed two new 3G phones incorporating W-CDMA technology, the third-generation technology that U.S. GSM carriers plan to adopt.

In PDA-phones, Motorola said it plans second-half availability of the MPx, a triband GSM/GPRS model that is the company’s first phone built on the Microsoft PocketPC Phone Edition platform. With dual sets of hinges, the MPx can be opened like a traditional clamshell phone or in a landscape configuration, which places the 240-by-320-pixel color display above a horizontal QWERTY keyboard to simplify typing. In clamshell configuration, data could be entered via a stylus on the phone’s handwriting-recognition color touch screen.

The MPx runs Java and PocketPC programs, including PocketPC versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and Internet Explorer. It also features integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared connectivity. The phone’s infrared technology can be used for data exchange or for controlling home A/V and home automation products. Other MPx features include 1.3-megapixel camera with flash and SD/MMC slot for memory cards with up to 1GB capacity.

Motorola’s candy-bar-style MPx100 is a triband GSM/GPRS phone using Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Smartphone software. It will be the company’s second phone to use Microsoft’s Smartphone platform when it ships in the second half.

The MPx100 features a large color screen, 1.3-megapixel camera with flash, integrated MP3 player, integrated Bluetooth, 512MB of memory expandable and optional QWERTY keyboard. Applications include MSN Messenger instant messaging, Pocket Internet Explorer and the ability to read Microsoft Word and Excel files.

Carriers will determine the three bands that the two Motorola phones will operate in, the company said. They’ll be available to U.S. carriers in the second half.

For its PDA-phone introduction, Nokia unveiled the 9500 Communicator, a GSM tri-band PDA-phone due in the fourth quarter with the Symbian 7.0 OS. It’s the company’s first phone with integrated Wi-Fi for wireless LAN connectivity. Unlike the current circuit-switched Communicator, it uses GPRS and EDGE packet-data technology for wireless WAN connectivity.

The 9500’s dialing keypad, microphone and speaker are on the outside, but when the device folds open, it reveals a horizontal QWERTY keyboard with horizontal color display.

Other upgrades to the 7.83-ounce 9550 include integrated Bluetooth, USB 2.0, video streaming, camera and included VPN client. Like before, its PDA applications are compatible with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. It also features Web browser with HTML and XHTML compatibility, PIM applications, VGA camera and Java compatibility. It plays AAC, MP3 and WAV music.

The current Communicator, the 9290, retails for about $500-$600 and has been available via enterprise-oriented integrators, Nokia’s Web site and CompUSA.

In W-CDMA introductions, Motorola unveiled a pair of triband 900/1,800/1,900MHz phones that will use W-CDMA’s high-speed data capability to deliver videophone service. They also operate in GSM/GPRS networks. Both feature a 1.2-megapixel camera with video-capture capability but without push-to-stream capability.

The A1000, due in the fourth quarter for business professionals, lets users display Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and PDF documents. It also features simultaneous Web browsing and voice calling, MPEG-4 camcorder, VPN, integrated Bluetooth and 4x camera zoom.

Motorola’s E1000, due in the second half for entertainment-oriented consumers, features push-to-talk (PTT) function, built-in MP3 player, 8x camera zoom and MPEG-4 video playback.