Virgin Mobile debuted the other day the first contract 3G handset in its 2009 line up. What is particularly interesting about this is that it is the hot little new Helio Ocean 2, which will price for around $150 on February 12.

The Helio Ocean 2 is a soft-edge dual slider model sporting a larger screen than its predecessor. This 2.6-inch display is QVGA quality. The mobile sports a QWERTY keyboard for messaging and includes a 2-megapixel digital camera with video recording and a night shot mode.

Features of the Ocean 2 include stereo Bluetooth wireless support, GPS integrated, support for Microsoft Exchange, an optical sensor directional/navigational pad and one-click access to updates and alerts across multiple social networks and media sharing sites.


Sprint announced today a new pink color for its popular Instinct EVDO handset. This new Instinct is currently being priced around $100 with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate.

The new Sprint Instinct is the same as previous Instinct models except for the body color option. It offers a variety of features, including visual voicemail allowing users to listen to messages in their order of preference and manage them by tapping on-screen, stereo Bluetooth 2.0, text messaging, touch feedback and a 2-megapixel digital camera.

Sprint says the Instinct accounted for more than one-fifth of all Sprint handsets being sold during the first two weeks of availability and continued to sell like crazy through the 2008 holiday season. Instinct users also consume data at a higher rate than those with other Sprint devices.


One of Sony Ericsson’s newest Walkman mobile phones got one its first public showings at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. It is the W508 and it should be available in different global markets in the second quarter of the year.

The W508 is noted by Sony Ericsson as being customizable via eight different covers which can be interchanged on the clamshell design. It also has what is called Shake and Gesture controls, meaning one can flick their wrist while holding the phone to raise the volume mute the volume with a sweep of the palm, among other control choices.

Other features of the W508 include mood music matching, song track text searches, a 3.2-megapixel digital camera, full media player, Bluetooth, Web browsing, a speakerphone, FM radio, Internet video streaming and organizer functions.


Nokia is bringing a new unlocked messaging-style mobile to the United States in coming weeks. It is the E63 and it will cost around $280.

The Nokia E63 is a QWERTY smartphone running the open source operating system Symbian S60 3rd Edition. It runs on 3G networks and can have two home screens set for it, which can be changed quickly. Each screen is personalized with favorite applications including a digital music player, video player, camera functionality, games and corporate or personal email.

The E63 will be available in red or blue body colors. It will also be tied into an online file storage service which offers 1GB of storage to users at no cost.


One of the new phones being showcased by Nokia this week is set for a later this month debut with T-Mobile. It is the Nokia 7510.

The Nokia 7510, exclusive to to T-Mobile in the United States, is a little bit of a stylish number with lights and an external display which remain hidden until needed to show information. The 7510 is designed as well to allow users to quickly scroll and identify the various menus including messaging, address book, music player and more.

A few features of the 7510 include several front and back color choices, support for POP3/IMAP4 email, a FM radio, 2-megapixel digital camera and quad band coverage. No pricing information was mentioned.


Another new mobile unveiled by Motorola at CES this week is the Internet tablet-like MOTOSURF A3100. This touch tablet unit should be available in the first quarter of this year, including in Asia and Latin America.

The A3100 sports a fully customizable home screen which makes use of icons that can be can be personalized to give live feeds on weather, news, personal and work e-mail, messaging and calendar events. The phone runs Windows Mobile 6.1.

Features of the A3100 include an omni-directional trackball, Wi-Fi/3G connectivity, GPS support and media playback. A stylus looks like it will be included for use with the touchscreen.


HTC, often a maker of Windows Mobile devices for American cellular carriers, sometimes slips an unlocked, HTC brand specific phone into the U.S. market. Such is the case with the newly announced HTC S743, which will be available sometime in the first quarter of the year.

The HTC S743 combines a 12-keypad design with a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 and supports high-speed HSDPA (850/1900 MHz) networks. It measures around 1.7-inches wide, sporting a 2.4-inch QVGA display.

Features of this HTC smartphone include Microsoft Exchange support, support for POP3 and IMAP4 email, SMS/MMS messaging and a weight of 4.9 ounces. It should work with most major cellular carriers domestically and abroad.


The world of mobile phones got a little more rugged at the Consumer Electronics Show this week as Motorola unveiled a new tough cell phone to be made available through AT&T. It is called the Tundra and it prices around $200 when it hits retail January 13.

The Motorola Tundra is a rugged 3G clamshell mobile which meets tough military standards for drop, dust, vibration, humidity, severe temperatures and rain. It includes the ability to do push to talk communications with others and works with AT&T’s Navigator location direction service.

Other features of the Tundra include voice activation, a two-megapixel digital camera, up to 4GB of optional removable memory, Bluetooth and a multi-task operating system. AT&T feels this phone will fit the needs of contractors, outdoorsy folk and even the occasional destructive teenager.

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A new Windows Mobile smartphone which is GPS enabled is being made available from Pharos Science & Applications. This unlocked mobile – the Traveler 137 – will be available sometime in the next few months for around $600.

The Traveler 137, said Pharos, comes in a slender design and sports a 3.5-inch touchscreen display. It is said to offer full-featured navigation with voice prompts on a pay-as-you-go basis. A built-in three megapixel camera records picture and video while a second camera on the front of the handset enables users to participate in video conferences.

Other features of this smartphone include Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, GSM/3G quad band/tri band coverage, up to four hours of talk time and a hybrid navigation system which lets a user display maps, create routes and navigate door-to-door when out of a carrier coverage zone.

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Motorola bets some of its users will fall for the notion that if a mobile is made of recycled water bottle plastics it is worthy of being purchased. The mobile phone manufacturer’s eco-friendly phone is the MOTO W233 Renew.

The MOTO W233 Renew is the world’s first mobile made out of the water bottles people once drank out of. The casing of the phone, said Motorola, is fully recyclable. The packaging of the phone is reduced in size and the printed materials are printed from post-consumer recycled paper.

Motorola also purchases carbon offsets for each one of these phones manufactured. Greenies wanting a phone like this will be able to turn to T-Mobile sometime in the first quarter of the year.


Altec Lansing has on its hands a couple of new Bluetooth stereo headphones for use with music-enabled mobiles. They are part of its Backbeat series – the Backbeat 906, pricing around $130 with an included Bluetooth adapter for devices which do not have Bluetooth built-in, and the Backbeat 903, pricing around $100.

The Backbeat headphones provide wireless stereo music listening and calls in a light, flexible, behind-the-neck wearing style. They combine audio and voice technologies from Altec Lansing and Plantronics and offer a safety feature whereby a user can hear their surroundings without removing the headphones.

Features include dual microphones to isolate voice signals, automatic sound adjustment when talking with a caller, an in-ear design, integration with Bluetooth v2.1 with EDR and talk time of up to eight hours. They will be available in February.


This was supposed to be the point of an open-source OS: more makers could get their hats into the ring and produce phones. Well, that is defintely getting a test with this story.

The first official Google Android phone was the HTC Dream G1, a handset which became known as the T-Mobile G1. Now we we’re looking to a firm called Kogan for the next official Android phone.

Who the heck is Kogan? Have no idea really. While we figure that out, what you see in the pic here is the Kogan Agora Pro, the next major Google Android smartphone. As you can see, this phone borrows its look from the sleek Blackjack line, and has a whole different design approach than the G1 did. This style may be more suitable for the general businessman.

The Kogan Agora Pro gets the full compliment of Android goodies, include Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Talk, and Google Calendar. Other specs: a 2.5-inch QVGA flat touchscreen display, backlit QWERTY keyboard, GPS navigation, Blueooth 2.0+EDR, Wi-Fi, a 2MP camera, music player, microSD slot, quad-band GSM, and tri-band UMTS/HSDPA.

The phone is slated to launch in Australia in late January, the Kogan Agora Pro will retail for $399AU (about on par with the Blackjack). For something a little cheaper, you can opt for the regular Kogan Agora for $299. The design and overall styling is the same, but the regular Agora removes Wi-Fi and GPS (3G is still there though). No word on when the Agora will make it past down under, but assuming it does well, no reason why it shouldn’t at some point.


It’s easy to see that AT&T would love it if every phone used one OS, and so would some other phone companies. But the power of being able to choose your own poison (so to speak) should outweigh most every other consideration in this case, and it probably will here too.

Speaking at the Symbian Partner Event in San Francisco, AT&T’s Roger Smith, bigwig of new ideas and product brainstorming in a fashion, reportedly stated that he wanted to “standardize on a single operating system for AT&T-branded smartphones as part of a dramatic consolidation of its mobile platforms over the next few years.”

Given the location of the speech, it’s not shocking that Symbian was named “a very credible and likely candidate” to be that very OS, and for those questioning the iPhone, he stated that that Apple’s device is “simply a third-party device tapping into AT&T’s technologies”. If I were Apple, I wouldn’t appreciate this broad characterization.

Is AT&T going to push away RIM and Microsoft to embrace some open-source OS as their guiding light for all their phone lines? It’s probably not going to happen, but the thought is an interesting one. Would a central OS make the cell phone world a better one?


Not Good: AT&T to cut 12,000 jobs

by Derek on December 4, 2008

This isn’t news for any segment of the industry you want to hear, but it could impact the mobile industry a bit: AT&T today announced it would slash 12,000 jobs (or about 4 percent of its total workforce) to cope with an economic downturn that has hurt the industry at large. According to their published numbers, in fact, their mobile business is what’s keeping them afloat, honestly.

AT&T said it will cut the jobs in December and throughout the first half of 2009, and take a hit of about $600 million in this year’s fourth quarter for severance pay. Ouch.

The carrier company attributed the job cuts to economic pressures, a changing business mix and a more streamlined organizational structure. The last part: Good. Too many companies drown in inefficiency and managerial fat. The other parts are probably a smoke screen for just trimming the aforementioned fat.

AT&T said it would provide details on this whole mess in late January.

Who knows how service and other aspects will be impacted as far as the mobile side of things go, but this kind of cut is a pretty scary thing, especially around this time of year.


It shouldn’t be a shock that Samsung’s previous forays into luxury phones and “weird” designs hasn’t gone very well. The combination of odd design and high price won’t be a popular one in this economy, but it seems with the introduction of the Ego, Samsung has learned their lesson well.

Today the Samsung Ego GT-S9402 has been launched officially, and its lessons are evident on first glance. Samsung has decided to not bother with a fancy design with its Ego phone and opted for a classical candybar form factor, and for some interesting advanced materials. According to the official PR the body of the Samsung Ego phone is made of “liquidmetal” alloy developed by Caltech, which is (quote from the PR hype) “3 times stronger, can withstand 1.8 times the pressure, is 1.6 time more flexible, has 3 times better vibration absorbption and  100% lower termal conductivity then titanium“. Sounds pretty neat, but does a cellphone need materials like this really?

Specs: GSM/EDGE, 1GB of memory with room for 2 SIM cards and up to 8GB of MicroSD memory, 5MP camera, and Bluetooth. It’s expected to compete with models like the Motorola Aura and the like, and it could very well do just that.

Price is expected to be around 1200 EUR or so, and release should be in the next week or so.