updated 10:55 am EST, Thu February 23, 2012
ATT preps tough Android and new tools
AT&T used the lead-in to Mobile World Congress to bring out a new phone and a pair of new services for users. The just recently spotted Samsung Rugby Smart both upgrades the Rugby line from its basic feature phone roots and gives AT&T a toughened Android option. It can survive the US military's 810F standards for dust, shock, and temperature, as well as splashes or full immersion in up to a meter of water for half an hour.
As a phone, it occupies the mid-range. AT&T hasn't named the processor, but it has a 3.7-inch, 480x800 Super AMOLED screen as well as a five-megapixel rear camera, a 1.3-megapixel front camera, and HSPA+ for data. A 1,650mAh battery is good for eight hours of talk, and it carries 4GB of built-in storage with a microSDHC slot for more. Android 2.3 ships with TouchWiz layered on top.
The Rugby Smart is due in stores on March 4 for $100 on a contract.
In sync with the phone, AT&T has promised a new eco-rating system to illustrate the environmental impact of a phone. The BSR co-developed system will put labels on phone boxes explaining what green materials they're using, how efficient the devices are, and what kind of steps are taken to improve the eco-friendliness of manufacturing and disposal. Boxes should carry the ratings in the next few months.
A new home automation system, Digital Life, is also coming. The IP-based system will let providers worldwide, not just AT&T, both control and monitor their homes through a browser with a developer kit. These could include anything from cameras and motion sensors to lighting and water, AT&T said.
Digital Life has an undetermined launch sometime in 2012, but it will be on show at Mobile World Congress next week. AT&T has promised that users will have the option of installing it themselves.