Who Wants a Dual-Mode Phone? - Page 2

By James Alan Miller

April 22, 2004

Currently the voice over Wi-Fi market is limited to niche verticals such as healthcare, warehouse, manufacturing and education. But with larger scale availability by way of integration into existing mobile devices, this market will gradually become mainstream.

Nevertheless, ABI Research said many questions remain about whether cellular carriers are going to accommodate this market. But since most cellular standards are open and interoperable, carriers cannot prevent handset makers from producing handsets with voice over Wi-Fi integration.

"Initially of course carriers may see this as a threat for fear of losing service revenue when these handsets are used on the Wi-Fi network," says Solis, "but long term, as with most new developments, carriers will likely see dual mode cellular / voice-over-Wi-Fi handsets as a means to differentiate their offerings."

Wi-Fi Enabled Smartphones

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, Nokia and Motorola have each announced new smartphones that integrate Wi-Fi with cellular technology. It is also well known that HP has one in the works. In addition, T-Mobile is the first wireless carrier to announce plans to make it easy for its customers to switch between Wi-Fi and cellular networking from the same device, depending on which technology is available and the cheapest to use at a given time.

Nokia 9500 Communicator

Nokias 9500 Communicator series, the long awaited successor to the 9200 series, is a Wi-Fi enabled tri-band GSM/GPRS EDGE handset that will come in 900/1800/1900 MHz and 850/1800/1900 MHz flavors.

As for other features, the 9500 is a significant upgrade over the 9200 series. The device runs the latest version, 7.0, of the Symbian operating system, the most common operating system found in smartphones. It has two color displays that support up to 65,536 colors. The main screen, found on the top half of the mini-laptop like device, has an excellent resolution of 640x200, which would allow users to display almost a whole web page. The other screen is located on the top back of the 9500 and it has resolution of 128 x 128. A standard phone keypad is situated bellow the smaller display.

Other features of the 9500 include a large thumb-keyboard like the earlier Communicators, but it adds a VGA (640x480) digital camera, which can be used for taking snapshots, short video or MMS (multimedia) messaging. For connectivity, it integrates Bluetooth, a wireless personal area networking technology, that allows users to connect to printers, for instance, that have been Bluetooth-enabled. More importantly, 9500 users can use a wireless Bluetooth headset with the handset.

The smartphone supports the J2ME Personal Profile environment, it weighs 7.83 ounces (222 grams), and it offers USB connectivity via Nokia's Connectivity Cable DKU-2. In addition, Nokia unveiled a desk stand for charging and synchronization; Mobile Holder, which holds the 9500 in place in the car; and the Antenna Coupler, which provides a connection to an external antenna.

As for the 9500's email client, it supports IMAP4, SMTP, POP3 and SyncML. The smartphone's browser supports HTML/XHTML and JavaScript 1.3, while Nokia offers SSL/TLS and Ipsec for security. As with any handheld worth its salt, you can view documents, spreadsheet and presentations in a variety of formats.

The Nokia 9500 Communicator isn't due until the fourth quarter. It is slated to costs around 800 Euro or about $1000.

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