iPAQ Smartphone Approved by FCC

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.

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