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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 (9/12).

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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Associated Topics

ACCESS Linux | Palm, Inc. | ACCESS/PalmSource | Smartphones | Windows Mobile

"Cingular 3125 Flip-Phone: Why Can't Palm do That?" | Login/Create an Account | 8 comments | Search Discussion
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Re: Cingular 3125 Flip-Phone: Why Can't Palm do That? (Score: 1)
by Debbie on Fri, Sep 29, 2006
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I went to Hong Kong & China this summer.  While there I searched for a phone.  My wishes are as follows: slim (Razr like), flip, Palm OS, Bluetooth, and quad band, to name a few.
I just can't believe there wouldn't be a market for a phone like this.  I came really close to buying the Dopod s300.  My hold back was the OS.  I really want Palm!  I really don't want a windows phone.  I love my T3 which is obviously several years old now. 

I'd buy the Motorola A1200 in a heartbeat, except the OS doesn't have any third party software.  What would I do without all my Palm apps? 

My PDA and cell phone are each several years old.  I've been looking for over a year, holding off, hoping that any day an announcement of a phone that I will like will be announced.  I'm at the point of picking up a Razr, like everyone else, and getting a Palm TX.

Thanks for your article.  I look forward to any news you may have on the subject.

Tired of waiting...

Re: Re: Cingular 3125 Flip-Phone: Why Can't Palm do That? (Score: 1)
by tim_palmzone (tim at palmzone dot net) on Fri, Sep 29, 2006
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Debbie, thanks for posting your comments here. I definitely share your frustration with the lack of Palm OS flip-phones. That's why I wrote this article. I didn't know if others felt the same way or everyone was just happily using their Treo's.

I had not seen the Motorola A1200 before and it is quite cool! Its not a flip-phone perse, but does have a clear flip-cover. For those that don't know, its a Linux-based phone with a full touch screen. The darn thing even has a built-in business card reader!

I do like the RAZR oh so much! Its so completely sleek and stylish and thin. I wish they would put a 1.2MPx camera in it, but other than that its great.

On a side note, why doesn't Motorola just add a few more fields to their address book and calendar apps and write a simple notepad-like app? They already have the Motorola Phone Tools v4.x that syncs the calendar and adress book, but you don't get the person's address or any notes and no notes or complex recurring appointments. It would seem SO simple for them to make this a true "feature phone", but I digress.

Also, why has Samsung seem to given up on this? They tried hard for a while coming out with some really compelling Palm OS flip-phones, but they never took off. I have no idea why, unless you and I are in the minority on wanting one.

I really do think that once the Access Linux Platform (ALP) is released that companies oversees will latch on to it and use it. I have to believe companies like HTC would quickly produce a flip-phone that uses it.

But my main question is why doesn't Palm see this as an important offering? Maybe they do, maybe they are working on one secretly right now, but most likely they are just too small of a company to be rolling out multiple different product lines at the same time. They are still busy tweaking the Treo line and getting it rol

Read the rest of this comment...


I AGREE!!! (Score: 1)
by tim_palmzone (tim at palmzone dot net) on Sat, Oct 21, 2006
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Kevin sent in the following comments:

Just finished reading your article, "Why Can't/Won't Palm Do This?"  I AGREE!!!

I've been waiting years for a Palm based "smart" flip phone that is NOT behind the technology curve.  I refuse to to be forced into using one of those 'bricks' they call TREO.  I'll continue with my (4 year old) Zire and (1 year old) Razr combo.

... just wanted you to know - If there was a Palm-based smart flip on the market today I'd go out and buy two: one for me and one for the wife.  If my kids were old enough to use a phone they'd probably get one too.  However, I'm sure that by the time a smart flip will come out the kids will probably be buying their own phones ...  I'll wait until then. 

Palm will not get any more of my money if the only smartphone option they provide is a candy bar.

Re: I AGREE!!! (Score: 1)
by tim_palmzone (tim at palmzone dot net) on Sat, Oct 21, 2006
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Kevin, Thanks for taking the time to send this. Palm did manage to make the Treo 680 just slightly thinner than the other Treo's, but it is still quite thick compared to the Motorola Q and the new Samsung i600. http://www.slashgear.com/samsung-sgh-i600-051456.php.


Samsung i500 Palm OS Flip-Phone (Score: 1)
by tim_palmzone (tim at palmzone dot net) on Sat, Oct 21, 2006
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Luthor sent these comments in:

Hi Tim - Didn't know if you were aware of it but Palm took a stab at the flip phone market with the Samsung i500. It was a great phone. I only gave it up because the OS wasn't upgradable (Palm OS 4.0) and, as nice of a screen as it had, it was too hard to read small print. I had it for about 2 years & after Sprint decided not to relase any other Palm OS flip phones, I changed to a standard cell phone & seperate PDA.

I just wanted to let you know that it was around, but unfortunately must not have caught on. Too bad since the Palm OS is perfect for cell phones.

Re: Samsung i500 Palm OS Flip-Phone (Score: 1)
by tim_palmzone (tim at palmzone dot net) on Sat, Oct 21, 2006
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Luther, Thanks for sending this. I was aware of the Samsung i500. One of my co-workers had one. It was a cool phone, but you are right... the screen was really small. It also had pretty poor battery life, at least with the slim battery.

There was also the Samsung i539 that was very cool. It ran OS 5 and a 1 Mpx camera. However, it was never released in the U.S. The PiTech Qool QDA-700  was also very nice. It had a very sleek-looking design, but also was never released here. There was a GSPDA Onyx and some other ones that weren't released here.

I know that brick-style "keyboard" phones are really popular right now, but I really want a small, sleeker looking flip phone.


Re: Cingular 3125 Flip-Phone: Why Can't Palm do That? (Score: 1)
by kiault on Thu, Oct 26, 2006
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I totally agree! I have both a Motorola Razr and a Treo 650. Love both of them, but if I could only merge the two: a thin PDA flip phone just like the Razr in size (no thicker), but with all the features of the Treo 650.

The technology is there to do this. If Motorola can make the Razr and the Q, then it could make a flip-Q without much more effort. And if Motorola can do this, then Palm should be able to also!

Another example is the Kyocera 7135. This was a PalmOS PDA flip phone that came out almost 4 years ago! Though this product was too thick, it was definitely on the right track.  With technology advances over the past 4 years there's no reason that a thinner product couldn't be produced now.

There has to be a demand for a product like this - where are they?

Thanks for the great post Tim.

Switching to a QDA-700 for now. (Score: 1)
by ewedel on Wed, Mar 21, 2007
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Yes this is rather annoying. I've finally broken down and am ordering a QDA-700 (accessories from Singapore, phone from Germany where it appears to be common). For some reason, it simply doesn't seem to be available in the states.

Why? Was speaking with a T-Mobile guy who seemed to know what he's about. On the question of smartphones in general, he relayed a comment from a Nokia rep, iirc, to the effect that US customers by and large don't want smartphones. So Nokia (and presumably most manufacturers) don't have much incentive to qualify their higher end products for US sale.

Within the minority that do prefer smartphones, I don't know whether more prefer flips. I certainly do -- am using an SPH-i500 now, but getting a little tired of Palm OS 4 and especially CDMA.

Hopefully something interesting will appear in the Alp arena. Right now, all I could find in a GSM Palm OS flip are the QDA-700 and the Xplore M98. By most accounts the M98's hinge is prone to early failure, so that leaves the Qool. With any luck it will tide me over until something nice and Alp-like emerges from the labs.

As it happens I don't use Bluetooth, so its lack in the Qool doesn't bother me. But I can see where that would further impede its sales. Which leaves us with not many options at present. *sigh*

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Cingular 3125 Flip-Phone: Why Can't Palm do That?

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