updated 10:25 am EDT, Mon March 22, 2010
AT&T sticks to Palm despite financial woes
AT&T used the prelude to CTIA to reveal three of its promised smartphones, including crucial news for Palm. Both the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus are the first GSM webOS phones in the US and the only ones that can handle simultaneous voice and data. While they switch to HSPA for 3G, the two otherwise share the upgrades that were launched early this year: the Pre Plus has double the RAM and 16GB of internal storage, while the Pixi Plus adds Wi-Fi to the existing 8GB, entry-level phone.
The two phones only have a release due in "coming months," but AT&T is willing to commit to a $150 on-contract price for the Pre Plus and $50 for the Pixi Plus.
The carrier's second Android phone is also part of the mix. The Dell Aero (link active soon) is an Americanized version of the Mini 3i and uses a custom interface designed between AT&T and Dell. It shares the same 640x360 touchscreen, 3-megapixel camera and other core features. Even less is known about the device as it has neither a release date nor a price.
All three launches carry significance for the field. For Palm, the release marks a return to AT&T since the end of its PalmOS and Windows Mobile devices, and could be critical for recovering from a disastrous winter quarter where Palm's shipments far exceeded its ability to sell to Sprint and Verizon. A spring release may also help preempt any upcoming iPhone release and give Palm valuable attention on the same network.
Dell in turn is launching its first ever US smartphone and heralding its first return to handhelds in the country: its last pocketable smart device was the Axim, which was canceled in 2007 after smartphones made the PDA category obsolete.