3GSM: HTC launches slate, combination QWERTY smartphone

Two of HTC's new Windows Mobile devices, the HTC Advantage X7500 and the HTC S710, also have brand new form factors.

The HTC Advantage X7500, unveiled at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona this week, is a slate with a five inch touch screen that also has a detachable magnetic QWERTY keyboard, which is held in place by a magnet allowing it to be used as either a keyboard or as a screen protector.

With the keyboard it's 20mm thick, similar to many ultra portable notebooks, but the 359g weight and eight hour battery life make it lighter and longer lasting than all but the smallest ultra mobile PCs.

The Advantage is an HSDPA device with quad band GPRS/EDGE, 802.11b/g and stereo Bluetooth, plus GPS navigation with TomTom 6. It has a 3 megapixel camera plus a VGA camera on the front for video calls, and a combined VGA and TV Out connector it can also be used for presentations with PowerPoint Mobile.

HTC's chief executive Peter Chou calls it "the ultimate mobile office experience; the professional user going on a business trip for two or three days doesn't actually have to have his laptop with him."

The Advantage will be available in March, initially on an exclusive deal with T-Mobile as the T Mobile Ameo. To get the device out more quickly, HTC will ship it with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 and offer upgrades to Windows Mobile 6 at a later date. Contract prices aren't yet available but an unlocked device will cost around 745 (1099 euros).

The HTC S710 looks like a candy bar smartphone with a numeric keyboard, a 2.4 inch QVGA screen and a 2 megapixel camera, but it has a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out at the side.

It's a quadband EDGE and Wi-Fi device running Windows Mobile 6. HTC's Chou suggests the combination of instant messaging and e-mail with a QWERTY keyboard in this style of phone will appeal to both business and home users. "We believe this is the segment that will be able to break into the consumer market. It's the ideal form factor for someone with high phone usage and messaging needs," he said.

According to Yves Maitre, vice president of devices at Orange, the S710 will be part of the Orange signature device range and will ship in the first half of the year as the SPV E650, with a customised Today screen.


Mary Branscombe

Mary is a freelance business technology journalist who has written for the likes of ITPro, CIO, ZDNet, TechRepublic, The New Stack, The Register, and many other online titles, as well as national publications like the Guardian and Financial Times. She has also held editor positions at AOL’s online technology channel, PC Plus, IT Expert, and Program Now. In her career spanning more than three decades, the Oxford University-educated journalist has seen and covered the development of the technology industry through many of its most significant stages.

Mary has experience in almost all areas of technology but specialises in all things Microsoft and has written two books on Windows 8. She also has extensive expertise in consumer hardware and cloud services - mobile phones to mainframes. Aside from reporting on the latest technology news and trends, and developing whitepapers for a range of industry clients, Mary also writes short technology mysteries and publishes them through Amazon.