Sony Ericsson Adds Phones And New Xperia Sub-Brand

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SonyEricsson launched its first phone under the new premium Xperia sub-brand here at the Mobile World Congress, where it also showed three new models under the Walkman and Cyber-shot sub-brands.

The Xperia X1, a W-CDMA HDSPA/HSUPA worldphone with WiFi, is due in North America in the second half. Two camera-optimized Cyber-shot phones are due in mid-2008, and the music-optimized 8GB Walkman W980 is due in the third quarter.

The models are designed specifically for the North American market as part of an effort to build market share, the company said. As part of that effort, the company also unveiled its first ExpressCard-form wireless modems, which incorporate W-CDMA HSDPA/HSUPA high-speed wireless data for North American carriers.

SonyEricsson didn't say which carriers would offer the phones or data cards or whether they would be available in unlocked form outside carrier channels.

The Xperia X1 slider, equipped with touchscreen and arc-sliding QWERTY keyboard, is the company's first PDA phone based on a Windows Mobile OS, joining models available outside the U.S. with the Symbian OS. It's the first of multiple planned phones in the new premium sub-brand, which is designated for phones that seamlessly integrate multimedia entertainment and web communications, the company said. The Cyber-shot and Walkman brands, in contrast, are used for "single-focus products," a spokeswoman said.

The X1 features a stainless-steel finish in silver or black and a touchscreen that's optimized for finger-touch control. The 3-inch VGA touchscreen displays either the Windows Mobile 6 Professional desktop or nine user-configurable desktop panels to launch specific applications. In HSDPA/HSUPA mode (high-speed downlink packet access/high-speed uplink packet access), the phone is capable of downloading at cellular speeds up to 7.2Mbps if enabled by a carrier's network, with upload speeds up to 2Mbps.

The X1, which is only 0.66 inches thick when closed, operates in GSM/EDGE mode in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands and in GSM/EDGE modes in the 900/1800MHz bands in other countries. It also operates in HSDPA/HSUPA modes in the U.S. 850/1700/1900/2100MHz bands, making it suitable for AT&T Wireless, which owns 2100MHz spectrum, and T-Mobile, which owns 1700MHz spectrum.

Other key features include 30 fps video playback, stereo Bluetooth, 3.5mm headphone jack in lieu of the company's proprietary connector, and assisted GPS, which AT&T is rolling out. It also features 3.2-megapixel camera, handwriting recognition, MicroSD card slot and 400MB of embedded memory. The company offers one other phone, the K850, that uses MicroSD cards, but it also accepts Sony-developed Memory Stick Micro (M2) cards.

Under the Walkman moniker, Sony Ericsson plans third-quarter shipments of the clamshell W980, which features 8GB of embedded memory, making it the second Walkman phone in the United States with that much memory. It also features music controls and menu on the outside, stereo speakers, FM transmitter to play music through any FM stereo and FM tuner with RDS (Radio Data System).

The W980 Walkman phone is a quadband GSM/EDGE phone that also operates in HSDPA mode in the foreign 2.1GHz band. Other features include assisted GPS, wired hands-free stereo headset, 3.2-megapixel camera, PictBridge printing, Shake Control and SensMe.

SensMe and Shake Control appear on the company's most recent Walkman phones. SensMe analyzes stored songs' metadata to let users select a mood and then have the phone play back songs according to that mood. Shake Control uses a built-in accelerometer to let users skip tracks and change volume without having to unlock the phone's keys or open the Walkman player.

The two new quadband GSM/Edge Cyber-shot cameraphones include the 5-megapixel C902, which features active lens cover, face detection, photo flash instead of photo light, picture blogging, image and video stabilizer, media player, FM radio, Bluetooth stereo, PictBridge, up to 160MB embedded memory and Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot.

The 3.2-megapixel Cyber-shot C702 also features 160MB of memory, M2 slot, FM radio, active lens cover, Bluetooth stereo, face detection and picture blogging but adds assisted GPS for geo-tagging photos, Google Maps for Mobile to provide turn-by-turn driving instructions and BestPic, which lets users take nine photos in quick succession and choose only the best for storage.

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