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SonyEricsson Expanding HSDPA Line, Plans 8.1-MP Camera Phone

As many as six cellular phones with high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology could be available from SonyEricsson in the United States by year’s end, including the company’s most advanced camera phone to date with 8.1-megapixel resolution.

All operate in frequency bands making them suitable for sale in the United States. Most of the devices are triband 850/1,900/2,100MHz HSDPA models, with 2,100MHz operation intended for roaming in European networks. The devices are also quadband GSM/EDGE phones. One previously announced model, the Xperia X1, adds high-speed uplink packet access (HSUPA) technology. In HDSPA and HSUPA modes the X1 operates in four U.S. bands: 850/1,700/1,900/2,100MHz.

The 8.1-megapixel camera phone, the Cyber-shot C905, is the company’s first slider under the Cyber-shot sub-brand and the company’s highest-resolution camera phone. The company expects to make it available in the United States in the fourth quarter as part of a worldwide launch, making it “one of the first, if not the first, cameraphone [in U.S. distribution] with more than 8 megapixels,” a spokesman said. Camera phones sold in the United States currently max out at 5 megapixels, including a SonyEricsson model, added Jon Mulder, product marketing manager for SonyEricsson North America.

Another new HSDPA phone, the clamshell Z780, is due in the United States in the fourth quarter and is positioned as an affordable HSDPA model, Mulder said.

The C905 and Z780 would join the company’s first U.S. HDSPA phone, the Z750, which became available through AT&T Mobility at the end of April at $79.

Another HSDPA phone, the W760, was announced at January’s International CES for U.S. availability in the fourth quarter, and it could be joined by the previously announced Xperia X1, the company’s first Windows Mobile PDA phone.

A sixth phone, definitely intended for U.S. sales, will be announced later this year, the company said.

The 8.1-megapixel C905 is the company’s first camera phone with face detection and smile shutter, and it features autofocus and the Xenon-type flash used in traditional digital still cameras. Most cameraphones lack autofocus, which appears in all SonyEricsson Cyber-shot cameraphones, Mulder said. The C905 also comes with embedded software to auto correct color, and it features “smart contrast,” which lightens up dark areas in high-contrast scenes without overexposing the brighter areas, he added.

The gap between cameraphone and digital camera capabilities “is quickly diminishing,” Mulder noted. Smile shutter, for example, has been available only in Sony’s Cyber-shot line of digital cameras to snap a shot automatically when the subject is smiling.

The C905 will be available in three worldphone versions: The C905 is a quadband GSM/EDGE model, which is intended for global markets and operates in the 850/1,900MHz U.S. bands and foreign 900/1,900MHz bands. The C905c is a quadband GSM/EDGE model for China. The C905a, intended for the United States, adds triband HSDPA operation in the U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands and foreign 2,100MHz bands. The high-tier HSDPA version would likely retail between $249 to $299 if sold through carriers and about $499 if sold unlocked, Mulder said.

Other C905 features include assisted GPS, 2.4-inch scratch-resistant glass display and included 2GB Memory Stick Micro memory card. Using the C905’s DLNA-certified Wi-Fi, users can send photos wirelessly to DLNA-certified PCs, TVs and other devices. Other features include stereo Bluetooth and Sony’s BestPic to quickly select the best of multiple pictures taken in rapid succession.

The Z780 clamshell, slated for fourth-quarter U.S. availability, features assisted GPS and Google Maps for Mobile, which delivers turn-by-turn driving instructions, provides satellite views of the local area, and delivers listing of restaurants, hotels and other venues along with any reviews or ratings available. The device also supports Web mail access and Exchange ActiveSync. The company hasn’t announced whether the phone will be available through carrier channels or as an unlocked phone.

Likewise, SonyEricsson hasn’t said whether the W760 slider would be sold through carriers or unlocked when it ships in the United States in the fourth quarter, but it will be the company’s first Walkman-branded 3G phone for the North American market (see TWICE, Jan. 21, p. 4).

The Xperia X1 slider, equipped with touchscreen and arc-sliding QWERTY keyboard, will be the company’s first PDA phone based on a Windows Mobile OS. (See TWICE, Feb. 25). The 3-inch VGA touchscreen displays either the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional desktop or nine user-configurable desktop panels to launch specific applications. It also features DLNA-certified Wi-Fi and 3.2-megapixel camera.