By James Alan Miller
June 17, 2004
Hewlett-Packard’s first smartphone, the iPAQ h6300, has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for release in the United States. This confirms months of speculation about the upcoming handheld, which integrates GSM/GPRS with 802.11b Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 1.1 wireless networking. The h6300 should be the first consumer model smartphone with all three wireless technologies in one package.
For the h6300, HP has gone with a 200 MHz TI OMAP 1510 processor rather than one of the new, and much more powerful, XScale models from Intel. By going with a less powerful processor, the new smartphone gets all the juice it needs for communications, while at the same time maximizing the life of its 1800 mAh battery.
Interestingly, the new iPAQs won’t ship with Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, but rather with the previous Phone Edition of Windows Mobile 2003. This probably has to do with reliability, as Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition is still pretty new. We wouldn’t be surprised if an upgrade to Second Edition is available sometime after the h6300’s release. Without Second Edition, users won’t be able to switch between portrait and landscape mode unless HP bundles its own app to do so.
In the case of cellular communications, it looks like the h6300 will be a Quad-Band (850/900/1800/1900) GSM/GPRS device for worldwide compatibility. The smartphone is slated to measure 4.7 x 3.0 x 0.7 inches and weigh 6.7 ounces, making it larger than earlier reported size estimations, which placed it at about the same size as the iPAQ h2200 series. It’ll have an antenna.
The smartphone will include 64MB of RAM (55 MB available to the user), 64MB of ROM memory, and a 3.5-inch transflective display that supports 16-bit or 65,536 colors and a 240 x 320-pixel resolution. As much as 20 MB of ROM will be available as iPAQ File Store. Think of this as a Secure Digital card within the device. It also has an actual SDIO-enabled Secure Digital card slot for memory and peripheral expansion.
There are rumored to be two versions of the h6300. One version should integrate a VGA (640 x 480 pixel) digital camera and another, business orientated model, won’t have one. Some businesses simply don’t want their employees to have a device with a digital camera for security reasons. Just recently, Sprint and palmOne announced a new version of the Treo 600, the most popular smartphone in the U.S., without a camera for just that reason.
There is also a rumored thumb-keyboard for the h6300 that attaches at the bottom of the unit. It is not known whether this would be an option or would come in the package. The device may also come with an email client for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which would allow businesses to roll the iPAQ smartphone out along with RIM BlackBerry devices and still enable users to get the same push email solution that they get with BlackBerry handhelds. The h6300 may also come with a flip cover.
Early rumors said the h6300 would be coming from T-Mobile in May for around $600. Of course, this timeframe has come and gone. But since the FCC has approved the device, it should hit the market within the next few months.
Why a Smartphone
By entering the smartphone market, HP would be joining its competitors, such as palmOne, the best-selling PDA vendor, and its Treo series in moving into the mobile area with the best potential for growth over the next few years.
While PDA sales are expected to continue to stagnate, ARCchart forecasts, for instance, that smartphone handsets will constitute 40% of the total handset market by 2008. This would mean nearly 300 million handsets, dwarfing the current PDA market. IDC reported in January that last year the handheld market decreased to 10.4 million units; a drop of 17.9% from the previous year’s shipments of 12.6 million units.