Seems like every week the tech rumor mills unveil some new smartphone that’s supposedly going to give the iPhone a run for its money. Over the past couple years, dozens of advanced handsets have been released with much fanfare — the LG Voyager, Palm Pre, Blackberry Storm, Samsung Omnia, to name a few — but time and time again, we end up with a device that can’t hold a candle to the iPhone’s amazing browser, massive app store, and sleek multi-touch interface.
But all this could change later this year. A number of handsets are due for release on several major networks over the next few months that run on Android, Google’s open source mobile operating system. Android is currently available on only a single device, the HTC G1. It’s a decent phone, but it lacks the polish of the iPhone and is only available with a contract from T-Mobile, which lags behind Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon in terms of 3G coverage.
I’m especially excited about the Android 2.0-based Motorola “Sholes,” a great-looking phone that’s supposedly due for release in November 2009 from Verizon. If rumors pan out, the Sholes should come with a slide-out keyboard, an extremely high-res display, a 5MP camera, and all-around solid specs. Via Android and Me:
The Motorola Sholes should include:
- OMAP3430 – 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 + PowerVR SGX 530 GPU + 430MHz C64x+ DSP + ISP (Image Signal Processor)
- Dimensions 60.00 x 115.80 x 13.70 mm
- Weight 169 g
- Battery Li-ion 1400 mAh.
- Standby 450 hours, talk time 420 minutes
- 3.7-inch touch-sensitive display with a resolution of 854×480 pixels, 16 million color depth. Physical screen size is 45.72 mm by 81.34 mm.
- 512MB/256MB ROM/RAM
- microSD / microSDHC expansion slot
- Camera: 5.0 megapixel with autofocus and video recorder
- Connectivity: USB2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, Wi-Fi
- Supported audio formats: AMR-NB/WB, MP3, PCM / WAV, AAC, AAC +, eAAC +, WMA
- Supported video formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, WMV
Policymakers should take note of the coming onslaught of Android phones as a reminder that platform competition is alive and well in the U.S. wireless market — despite the claims of certain activists and academics whose definition of “consumer choice” encompasses only those devices that they deem sufficiently “open.”