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Cellphone Update: New Features, Lower Android Prices Arrive For Holidays


New features are hitting the cellphone
market at the same time that the first entry-level Android
smartphones are making their debut.

Features that are firsts for the U.S market include a
scrolling ticker, which appears on the Samsung-made
Android 2.1 Continuum, and an E Ink keyboard, which
appears on the Samsung-made Zeal and displays a
QWERTY keypad when opened in landscape mode
and a numeric keypad when flipped open in portrait
mode. Both phones debuted on the Verizon

Another U.S. first is ZTE’s Sprint-network Peel, a
battery-powered cradle that adds 3G data capability
to second- and third-generation iPod Touches.

In entry-level Android smartphones, Motorola
rolled out the $49.99 Citrus for the Verizon network,
and LG introduced the $79.99 Vortex, also
for Verizon. The Citrus and Vortex join four low-cost
Android phones from T-Mobile at $9.99 to $99.99
and two Sprint-network Androids at $49.99 and

Also at the high end, Motorola launched its enterprise-
ready $179 Droid Pro through Verizon.

Here are the details on most of the new models:

LG Vortex:

The $79.99 LG-made Vortex
became available Nov. 18 through the carrier’s
stores and website. It’s targeted to first-time
smartphone users and features Android 2.2 OS,
3.2-inch touchscreen with virtual QWERTY keyboard,
Wi-Fi hot spot capability, Bluetooth 2.1 with stereo, Bing
Search and Bing Maps, Google’s Mobile Services, preinstalled
LG apps such as Twitter and Facebook access,
five to seven customizable home screens, and Skype mobile
capability. Other features include visual
voice mail, Verizon’s cloud-based VZ Navigator
navigation service, and 3.2-megapixel
autofocus camera/camcorder with flash.

The Vortex’s $79.99 price through Verizon’s
direct channels is after $100 mail-in
rebate, which takes the form of a debit card.

As with other Verizon smartphones, purchasers
must subscribe to a voice plan
starting at $39.99/month and an email and
web plan starting at $15/month for 150MB
of data usage.

Motorola Citrus:

The $49.99 Citrus,
available on the Verizon network, is a
touchscreen-only model that operates on
Verizon’s slower 1x EV-DO Rev. 0 data network
and features Android 2.1, full touchscreen,
528MHz processor and Backtrack
touchpanel, already available on several
Motorola phones. The Backtrack touchpanel
on the back of the phone lets users navigate
websites, home screens, emails, music and
more without placing fingers on the LCD

Motorola Droid Pro:

Promoted as the first Android
smartphone optimized for business use, the Droid Pro
retails in Verizon stores at $179.99 after a $100 mail-in
rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.

The Droid Pro is a bar-style phone with hard QWERTY
keyboard and ability to operates in 3G mode in Verizon’s
U.S. 3G network and in overseas 3G W-CDMA
HSPA networks in the 850/1900/2100MHz bands. Other
features include touchscreen, 1GHz processor, latest
Android 2.2 OS, Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for displaying
web video and 3.1-inch display.

Samsung Continuum:

The Android 2.1 smartphone
features the industry’s first scrolling ticker to display live
RSS news feeds, incoming text messages and emails,
social-network updates and missed calls. The information
appears on an LCD screen below the phone’s primary

The Galaxy-S class phone, which became
available Nov. 18 at
$199, features 3.4-inch
full touchscreen with
no hard keyboard. The
primary screen is complemented by a 1.8-inch
Super-AMOLED LCD screen that displays the
ticker and is about a quarter-inch in height. Both
displays are capacitive touchscreens.

Users set the ticker to display one of the following
feeds at a time or a mix of feeds: RSS
feeds, social-network feeds, voice mail indicator,
the sender and subject line of emails, the first
few words of a text message with the sender’s
name, the phone number of missed calls, weather
alerts, and Google Talk chats. On the ticker display,
users can press an RSS-feed headline, an
email, a text message and the like to open up the
full RSS story, email or text message on the phone’s
primary screen.

Samsung Zeal:

The Verizon-network phone is a
dual-hinge clamshell Zeal. Its E Ink keyboard displays
a QWERTY keypad when opened in landscape mode
and a numeric keypad when flipped open in portrait
mode. The messaging phone’s vertical numeric
keypad can be switched by the user
to an alpha-only keypad, and the landscape
QWERTY keyboard can be switched to a
numeric keypad with symbols.

The Zeal is available for $79.99 after
a $50 mail-in rebate two-year customer

ZTE Peel:

Second- and third-generation
iPod Touches got 3G cellular-data capability
with Sprint’s launch of ZTE’s Peel, a
battery-powered cradle with embedded Wi-
Fi and 3G.

The $79.99 Peel communicates to the
Touch via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, enabling the
Touch to access Sprint’s 3G network via
the Peel’s embedded CDMA 1X EV-DO
Rev. 0 modem. The Peel is packaged with a
$29.99 monthly service plan, allowing up to
1GB of 3G data usage with no annual contract.

The cradle doesn’t grip the first-generation
or fourth-generation Touches because they
are slimmer than the models in the other generations,
but first- and fourth-gen Touches will access Sprint’s 3G
network as long as they are within 20 feet of the cradle,
a spokesperson told TWICE.

At the high end, a trio of Microsoft Windows Phone 7
phones launched through AT&T and T-Mobile, with AT&T
offering the LG Quantum, Samsung Focus, and HTC
Surround at $199 each and T-Mobile offering the HTC
HD7 at $199.