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New Year Sees New PND And PDA Phones

The first cellular phones introduced in 2009 include PDA phones, a portable navigation device (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 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 850/1,900MHz 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.

Motorola: A trio of phones announced after CES include the W233 Renew, an entry-level bar phone made of recycled water bottles. The 850/1,900MHz 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 2.8-inch touchscreen, assisted GPS, quadband EDGE data and triband 850/1,900/2,100MHz HSDPA/HSUPA data. 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 850/1,900MHz HSDPA 3.6Mbps peak-download speeds. Other features include push-to-talk capability, Bluetooth stereo, assisted GPS, and ability to add enterprise applications.

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.

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 and updated points-of-interest data.

The 137, 117 and 127 are quadband EDGE models with triband HSPDA/HSUPA operation. The 117 and 127 operate in HSDPA/HSUPA mode in the 850/1,900/2,100MHz bands, optimizing them for use in AT&T’s network. The new 137 operates in HSDPA/HSUPA mode in the 1,700/1,900/2,100MHz bands, optimizing them for use in T-Mobile USA’s new 3G network. All three models also feature 802.11b/g Wi-Fi.