A world awash with smartphones has another brand to put on the sales shelf marked 'interesting'. Velocity Mobile, a UK-based venture backed by Taiwanese laptop maker Inventec, has announced its first Windows Mobile smartphones, the Velocity 103 and 111.
Although unlikely to topple the BlackBerry, the new models come with an impressive feature set for a launch outfit. Both are based on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and have much the same specification, but the 103 is designed to be a pure smartphone, while the 111's Qwerty keypad marks it out as more of a messaging device in a Blackberry or Palm mould.
The full US specification includes GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900 UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA 850, 1900 (1700), 2100, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, built-in GPS, 256MB ROM (128MB RAM), all based around Qualcomm ARM-based chipsets. The 103 has a 2.8 inch, 640 x 480 touchscreen to the 111's smaller 2.5 inch, 320x240 screen, the latter restricted to accommodate the keyboard.
Both models also feature 2.0 megapixel camera phones - 0.3 megapixel of which can be used for rudimentary videoconferencing - video out for "TV or VGA", and SD Card storage expansion.
"People want more from their mobile phones, but they still point to price, design, and performance as their top priorities when they walk into the store," said Velocity Mobile's president, David Hayes, perhaps hinting that the smartphones won't in this case cost as much as the average laptop.
"When it comes to building mobile devices that really engage and excite consumers, however, compromise in any of these three crucial areas is a major turn-off. Velocity Mobile was created with the goal to finally eliminate these tradeoffs, and bring leading-edge smartphones to the mass consumer market."
Perhaps the biggest draw for the new smartphones isn't the technical specification but their slick, UK-derived design. Although conventional in some respects, by the tired standards of many Windows Mobile devices the 103 and 111 look like contenders as long as they can find a decent sales channel.
It's all good competition for rumoured smartphone entrant, Dell, which is said to be looking at the market for phone-like devices after killing the Axim PDA last year.
Prices have not yet been confirmed, but the company did say that the 103 would be on sale from Q2 2008, and the 111 from Q3 2008 on a standalone basis without ties to a specific mobile network.