Monday, November 05, 2007

Verizon Picks Up Smartphone Trio

By James Alan Miller
March 31, 2008

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Verizon Wireless expanded its already substantive portfolio of smartphones today, announcing plans to soon carry the BlackBerry Curve, HTC Touch, and the Motorola Q9. America's second largest wireless carrier made these announcements as the technology world focuses its gaze on Las Vegas, where the giant spring edition of the CTIA Wireless trade show and conference gears up to get started tomorrow.

Like AT&T's BlackBerry Curve, Verizon's version, called the BlackBerry 8330, integrates GPS to support location-based services, such as the operator's own VZ Navigator mapping service. It also sports a QWERTY thumb-keyboard, a 2 megapixel camera, QVGA screen, and Bluetooth 2.0. High-capacity SDHC memory cards and Verizon's 3G cellular-wireless data network are also supported.

Due in May, Verizon plans to sell the BlackBerry for $270 with a two-year agreement and after a $50 mail-in rebate. When you sign up for a qualifying voice and data plan the price drops $100 further.

The Motorola Q9c is essentially the same as the Q9m Verizon launched last summer, QWERTY keyboard and all. It integrates GPS, supports EV-DO and runs on Windows Mobile 6 Standard, which means the new Q, like all other Qs, doesn't have a touch screen.

The Q9c’s software bundle directs it more toward the business user than the earlier Q model, which placed more of a premium on multimedia. It is colored a bright a cheery lime-green, however.

When the Q9c ships next month, expect it to go for $250 with a two-year agreement and after a rebate. In addition to Verizon, Alltel and U.S. Cellular just picked up the Q9c as well.

Already available from Sprint and Alltel, Verizon is the third carrier-home HTC has found for the Touch in the U.S. Verizon is not calling it by that name, however, preferring the moniker XV6900 instead. And, unlike the other carriers, Verizon has chosen to enable the Touch’s GPS receiver to support its VZ Navigator service.

Otherwise, the Windows Mobile 6-run XV6900 seems to be nearly identical to the other Touches, with its 2 megapixel camera and similar - if not exactly the same – specifications.

As with the iPhone, the chief means of interaction between a Touch and a user is through the smartphone's touch screen and the user's fingers through HTC's proprietary TouchFLO technology, which essentially grafts an advanced touch interface onto the Windows Mobile user interface.

Due in April, Verizon expects to sell the XV6900 for $350 after a $50 mail-in rebate and if you sign up for two years—par for the course these days, it seems.

Although Apple sold twice as many iPhones, hitting the 4 million mark, last year, HTC moved a couple million Touches, not a shabby number by any means.

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