Editorial: Cingular 3125 Flip-Phone: Why Can't Palm do That?
Cingular is preparing to release a 3125 Windows Mobile flip-phone. This is a super-thin smartphone manufactured by HTC that is already popular in Europe. I won't say its an exact RAZR clone, but its black, only .6" thick when closed and bears a striking resemblence. Ever since the RAZR was released, I have had the burning question of "Why can't Palm do that"?
The Cingular 3125 Windows Mobile Smartphone
Some excerpts from an article on PDA Street are as follows:
Early last month we heard that Cingular Wireless could soon start offering the Cingular 3125, a compact flip phone also known as original equipment manufacturer High Tech Computer's (HTC) Star Trek. The Windows Smartphone is already available in other parts of the world as the i-mate Smartflip, Qtek 8500, and Dopod s300.
Now comes word that the 3125 may finally be very close to release. The folks at MSMobiles.com indicated today that the smartphone it is replacing, the Cingular 2125 (another HTC-built handset), is out of stock permanently. And Mobile Gadget News says the projected ship date could be as soon as September 12th, which would make by the end of the month availability almost certain.
It appears Cingular originally aimed to release the 3125 by the middle of last month, but delayed it because of network compatibility issues when field testing didn't go exactly as planned.
The FCC only approved the Star Trek for U.S. release in July. It is supposed to be the thinnest clamshell Window smartphone yet, at only 0.6 inches thick when closed.
The quad-band GSM/EDGE Star Trek, designed to compete with the likes of Motorola's RAZR, also sports a 200 MHz TI OMAP 850 processor, Bluetooth 1.2, microSD slot, 1.3 megapixel camera, 64 MB of flash memory, a 2.2-inch 240 x 320 (QVGA) pixel resolution display, and an external color display.
Why Can't/Won't Palm Do This?
Ever since the initial release of the Motorola RAZR, I've been jealous of the slim design, large screen, and the overall style of it. Of course, I never purchased one because I'm a Palm OS fan! However, pretty much everyone else on the planet has since gotten one of these pieces of artwork that functions as a phone. Sure, I'm a big fan of the Treo as are millions of other folks, but the Treo fans are in love with the phone's capabilities, while the RAZR fans are in love with its design. See the Motorola RAZR
in our Amazon.com Store. The big downside to the RAZR, in my opinion, is that Motorola refuses to produce a full suite of usable Personal Information Management (PIM) applications.
Then along comes the Motorola Q. Thin and light with Windows Mobile 5.0. A fully functional smartphone with built-in keyboard that's almost half the thickness of the Treo. However, its still a brick-style design and definitely screams PDA, not phone. See the Motorola Q
in our Amazon.com Store.
Now comes the Cingular 3125, otherwise known as the Qtek 8500 and other brands throughout the world. Its a Windows Mobile smartphone that's a flip-phone style. Its thin and black, like the RAZR. Without a dedicated keyboard, its certainly not as easy to respond to emails, but its a fully-functional smartphone. It has a 1.2 MPx camera, email, internet, and just about everything else you'd need in a smartphone.
There have been many other Windows Mobile and Palm OS flip-phones prior to this. I don't really understand why none of them did very well. Some were only released oversees. The ones that were released here suffered from various problems. Some had poor battery life, were too big, too hard to use, had issues with poor quality, and probably other reasons.
You can see all of the previous Palm OS flip-phones here in our Smartphone Guide
. It doesn't cover all the Windows Mobile flip-phones, but the Motorola MPx220 was probably the one that had the most potential to succeed. It has major issues with quality, though, the sound system was not loud enough to be usable, and had serious software issues that caused it to crash, lock up, shut down without warning, etc. See the Motorola MPx220
in our Amazon.com Store.
I'm certainly not the only one looking for usable Palm OS flip-phone. Michael Mace, former PalmSource and Palm, Inc. executive, recently talked about how Europeans perceive the Treo. It seems that Europeans are more into design than functionality. Over there, carrying a mobile phone with a keyboard is tantamount to wearing Star Trek garb and sporting a "Communicator". See our article, Michael Mace's Thoughts on Treo's in Europe
However, there is really no point to arguing whether a flip-phone or a keyboard-phone is the better alternative. Both have their place because everyone has their personal preference. And don't forget that the masses don't even really want PDA functionality in their phone. To me, phone manufacturers need to offer at least these three basic phone configurations:
1. Brick style smartphone with a built-in keyboard, primarily for those addicted to email
2. Flip-phone style smartphone that's as thin as possible for ease of carrying
3. Flip-phone style "feature phone" that offers basic phone features, but without a full-fledged, PDA-focused operating system.
Palm, RIM, and Motorola clearly have good offerings of the brick-style smartphone, and every phone manufacturer, except for palm, has the flip-style feature-phone covered.
However, this Cingular 3125 seems to be the only real offering of a full-fledged, flip-style, fully-functional smartphone. It looks to be far from perfect, but I really like the design and features of it.
I get the feeling that Palm and Palmsource are counting on Palm OS Linux to drive the flip-style smartphone. But that begs the question of when is Palm OS Linux ever going to turn up in a phone? Recent reports on Palm OS Linux is that its pretty far along, has some nice features, and even looks like the traditional Palm OS, but where is it? See our article David Beer's PalmSource ALP First Looks
(8/22). Its likely to be at least mid-way through 2007 before we see any real phones showing up.
The CEO of Palm, Inc. has alluded to the possibility that Palm may release a Linux smartphone on their own, that doesn't run Palm OS Linux. That must indicate that they aren't happy with something--either the functionality being provided or, more likely, the speed at which development is taking place. See our article Palm, Inc. Linux Mobile Phones This Year?
(10/10/05). Obviously, this didn't happen, but the rumors of Palm, Inc. working on their own Linux OS are still circulating today.
I certainly know that both PalmSource and Palm, Inc. have limited resources. PalmSource is working as fast as they can, I'm sure. Palm, Inc.'s strategy of fully building out their Treo line both here and throughout the world is a smart business decision.
However, I still would like to ask the question as to whether Palm and PalmSource missed the boat on jumping on the flip-phone market? I certainly hope not. I don't want to give Bill Gates any more money than he already has, but I really do hope that Palm and/or PalmSource "step up their game" and release a fully-functional flip-phone as quickly as possible.
I'd love to hear your comments on this. Do people just not want flip-phone smartphones or are Palm/PalmSource just missing the boat?
Thanks to PDA Street
for the information and picture.
Posted by tim_palmzone on Tue, Sep 12, 2006
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