on Tuesday announced three new phones, including the company's first
phone made of recycled plastic, a ruggedized phone for AT&T, and a
Web-optimized slab phone primarily for Asian markets.
Moto's most innovative new phone is the W233 Renew. Destined for
T-Mobile, the Renew is a simple, bar-style voice phone with green
accents. All the plastic used to make the Renew is recycled from the
sort of large water bottles used in office water coolers, said Melissa
Gardner, Motorola's vice president of global franchise marketing.
"We've had a lot of input from consumers who are interested in more eco-responsible mobile products," Gardner said.
The W233 doesn't use PVC, a chemical targeted for elimination by
environmental groups. Motorola will eliminate PVC and another toxic
chemical group, brominated flame retardants, from all of their products
by 2010, Gardner said. The Renew also has recyclable packaging and
comes with a postage-paid recycling envelope for a user's previous
Motorola is also contributing to carbonfund.org, a "carbon offsetting"
organization, for every Renew sold. Carbon (dioxide) offset groups
plant trees and do other pro-environmental work on the principle that
such work will help mitigate environmental damage caused by
manufacturing or transportation. Confusingly, Motorola says this makes
the phone "carbon free," which is wrong in two ways: the company means
carbon dioxide, not elemental carbon, and manufacturing still releases
carbon dioxide. Motorola is just planting trees to try to make up for
Spec-wise, the W233 is a basic dual-band U.S. GSM phone with a small,
1.6-inch 128x128 color screen, 9 hours of talk time, and support for a
2-Gbyte MicroSD memory card. The phone includes a music player and uses
Motorola's CrystalTalk noise reduction scheme for phone calls. The W233
measures 1.8 inches x 4.4 inches x 0.6 inches, and weighs three ounces.
T-Mobile will put it on sale by the end of February.
Motorola's second new phone for the U.S., the Tundra VA76r, is a
ruggedized flip phone with push-to-talk capability that takes some of
its heritage from Motorola's line of iDen products for Nextel, Gardner
The Tundra is the first 3G phone we've seen running Motorola's
Linux-based MOTOMAGX platform, which Motorola chief executive Sanjay
Jha has targeted for elimination. The Tundra is also the first phone
with CrystalTalk Plus, which takes Motorola's noise-cancellation
software to a new level. CrystalTalk Plus uses dual microphones to
knock out noise being transmitted to the other end of a call; Gardner
said it even works "if you have five stereo speakers around your head,
all blaring rock music."
The Tundra looks a lot like AT&T's existing, ruggedized Samsung
Rugby. The phone has a 2-megapixel camera on the outside of the flip,
100 Mbytes of internal memory, a microSD memory card slot that supports
cards up to 4 GB, GPS, and stereo Bluetooth support. The phone is
ruggedized to military spec, which means it's resistant to heat, cold,
and splashing liquids, but can't be submerged in water for long periods
The Tundra will be available for $199.99 with a two-year contract and a $50 rebate from AT&T on January 13.
Finally, the Motosurf A3100 is a slab-style Windows Mobile handset that
may never see the light of day in the U.S.; it's destined for Asia
first, Gardner said. Oddly, it'll work just fine on AT&T, as it's a
quad-band EDGE and tri-band HSDPA phone that supports both AT&T's
850/1900 network and the foreign 2,100-MHz 3G bands.
Motorola calls the A3100 a "touch tablet," but it's just a Windows
Mobile 6.1 Professional phone, with a 2.8-inch 320x240 resistive touch
screen, a 400-MHz Qualcomm processor, dual cameras (3 megapixels on the
back, VGA on the front), GPS, a microSD card slot and stereo Bluetooth.
To connect to the Internet, the A3100 has HSDPA 7.2, HSUPA and Wi-Fi
Like HTC with its TouchFLO and Samsung with its TouchWIZ,
Motorola has finally gone ahead and customized Windows Mobile with the
company's own home screen designed to make the operating system more
touch-friendly. Moto's custom home screen has a carousel-style icon
menu along the bottom of the screen that can be swiped to pick a
favorite task. There are custom Facebook, YouTube and Shozu apps that
are all touch friendly, and Motorola used a touch-friendly version of
the Opera Web browser on the phone, Gardner said.
None of these releases are the kind of flagship products Motorola
would need to arrest its decline over the past two years. Under the
company's new chief executive, Sanjay Jha, the formerly global
number-two phone maker has slashed its staff and said it will reduce the number of software platforms the company works with.
Motorola representatives wouldn't comment on their larger
organizational issues, saying that the company is in a quiet period
involving regulatory filings. But they did commit to releasing a steady
stream of new phones throughout the year, though.
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