updated 02:00 pm EDT, Tue October 23, 2007
i-mate Ultimate in US
i-mate helped kick off the CTIA phone expo by releasing its Ultimate series of smartphones in the US for the first time. Each of the Windows Mobile 6-based devices includes a touchscreen for much of its control and includes quad-band GSM for calling, Wi-Fi, and tri-band HSDPA for 3G Internet access in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia; unique to the i-mate devices is a high-resolution video output that presents a 1024x768 image for presentations or displaying video clips with an on-screen interface. NVIDIA's G5500 graphics chipset provides the extra screen space and even accelerated 3D to the devices.
The range varies primarily in control scheme and only a few key pieces of hardware, i-mate says. The Ultimate 6150 is the starter model with a PDA-like design, a 2-megapixel camera and a 2.8-inch display substituting for the dialing pad and keyboard; its counterpart, the Ultimate 8150, adds a number pad without significantly changing the size. Moving to the Ultimate 8502 both switches to a fixed QWERTY keyboard and brings 3-megapixel photography as well as GPS route-finding, while the top-end Ultimate 9502 features both GPS and a Sidekick-like sliding display that reveals a lateral keyboard without adding to the overall bulk.
The two lower-end phones should be available immediately and sell for $695 and $725 as unlocked devices without carrier discounts; the 8502 and 9502 will be available before the end of the year with costs to be set later.