Retailers and e-tailers are awash in new cellphones to merchandise and promote, including prepaid-service phones, locked and unlocked models, and portable navigation device (PND) phones and PDA phones.
- the long-awaited June 6 launch of the Palm Pre PDA phone through Sprint (see TWICE, June 1, p. 44).
- the availability of the first Pharos PND phone to operate in 3G mode in both the T-Mobile and AT&T networks.
- a 3G SonyEricsson phone that uses Wi-Fi and 3G to stream content from a home's PlayStation3 game console;
- the next generation of LG's enV-series keyboard-equipped phones, including the first touchscreen-equipped enV;
- SonyEricsson's unlocked W995a multimedia phone, due July 6 with 8.1-megapixel camera and Walkman music-player features at about $600;
- Nokia's N-series flagship N97, available in the U.S. as an unlocked phone at $699;
- the first QWERTY-equipped keyboard phone from Boost Mobile, the prepaid division of carrier Sprint Nextel (it's made by Motorola); and
- GreatCall's next-generation Jitterbug prepaid phone, marking Jitterbug's first major update since October 2006.
Here's a brand-by-brand look at some of the phones:
LG: Verizon Wireless launched two next-generation LG-made enV phones. Like their predecessors, both are dual-face clamshell models that flip open horizontally to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and color screen.
The Touch, besides being the first enV touch-screen phone, is also the first enV phone to incorporate the Rev. A version of CDMA 1x EV-DO high-speed data technology.
When the enV3 is closed, it displays a vertically oriented external dialing keypad. When the enV Touch is closed, an external touchscreen with haptic feedback is available for dialing, accessing applications and viewing content.
The enV3 became available in late May at $129, while the Touch was scheduled for June availability at $149, through all of the carrier's distribution channels. The prices are with two-year service agreement and after $50 mail-in rebate.
Compared to previous enV models, they add threaded text messages; support for 16GB MicroSD cards; and ability to play music in the background while sending texts, managing calendars and the like.
Compared to the enV2, the enV3 is slightly smaller with slightly larger screens and stepped-up camera features, including 3- vs. 2-megapixel resolution, face detection, panorama picture taking, smile shot and advanced photo-editing features.
The Touch features 3-inch external and internal screens and a 3.2-megapixel camera/camcorder. First-time enV-series features include 3.5mm headset jack and ability to read MicroSD documents in such file formats as DOC, XLS, PPT and PDF. Also new is Dolby Mobile.
Motorola: Boost Mobile's first phone with QWERTY keyboard is the Motorola-made iDEN-network Clutch i465. It's available at www.boostmobile.com with free shipping at $129. Distribution was to be expanded in June through other Boost Mobile retail and distribution channels, the division said.
Nokia: The company confirmed a $699 suggested retail on its previously announced flagship N97, a 3G HSDPA phone available now in the U.S. and sold unlocked in the U.S.
The N97is the company's first N-series device equipped with both a touchscreen and hard QWERTY keyboard. It is compatible in the U.S. with Nokia's newly launched Ovi application store, Nokia Maps navigation service and N-Gage game downloads. Nokia's music-download service is not available in the United States.
The N97 features 3.5-inch 16:9 touchscreen with virtual dialing keypad.
Pharos: An expanded portfolio of unlocked PND phones is on tap from Pharos with the launch of its first model to operate in 3G mode in both the T-Mobile and AT&T networks.
Current models operate in 3G mode only in AT&T's network.
The touchscreen-equipped Traveler 137, which doubles as a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional PDA phone, is available from Amazon.com, Dell.com, Expansys.com and Newegg.com at a suggested $599. Consumers who buy direct from Pharos with a two-year T-Mobile contract pay a discounted $349. No subsidy is offered with an AT&T contract.
As 3G phones that double as Internet-connected PNDs, the 137 and existing 117 and 127 feature assisted GPS and Pharos's Smart Navigator “hybrid” navigation service. Unlike carriers' navigation services, maps and route-calculation software reside on the Pharos phones, not on a cellular-connected server, Pharos explained. With a carrier's navigation service, consumers lose their maps and directions if their phone loses its connection, but the Pharos phones won't lose their maps or data when they are out of cellular range.