updated 02:15 pm EDT, Wed September 10, 2008
PCD Shuttle at Virgin
Virgin Mobile today bore the first fruits of its takeover of Helio by introducing the Personal Communication Devices (formerly UTStarCom) Shuttle. The device is Virgin's first 3G phone and uses the faster EVDO network for several features that are either borrowed from Helio or were previously inaccessible to Virgin's phones, including quick access to multiple social networks as well as Buddy Beacon for finding friends and YouTube for web video.
The budget focus of Virgin puts the Shuttle only slightly below what's typically offered with other Helio phones: a 1.3-megapixel camera with video capture, a built-in media player with microSD storage and Bluetooth with stereo audio. Virgin delivers the phone to Best Buy stores on September 28th and expects pricing to be under $100, though it doesn't say whether this supports a prepaid plan or requires a contract.
Virgin's launch is timed with the introduction of newer data plans for both prepaid and subscription users. Pay-as-you-go users can pay $5 per month for 5MB of data, $10 for 10MB and unlimited access to content from the VirginXL deck, or $20 for 50MB plus the deck. Monthly users can opt for the 20MB and 50MB plans for half as much.