The Upstaged and Outdated iPhone

At a recent show in Florida (CTIA Wireless 2007), a newcomer cellphone called the “Ocean” by Helio apparently stole the show. So much so that The Economist explains how, “the $500 iPhone is as mouth-watering today as yesterday’s cold pizza… In many ways Helio has out-Appled Apple.”

Here’s why:

Helio’s Ocean will retail for a cool $295 and has been gaining recognition for its ingenious user interface that combines all the multimedia functions you come to expect from a cellphone nowadays: phone call dialing, text messaging, music listening, picture taking, video recording, game playing, and web surfing (did they miss anything?).

The Ocean’s screen slides both vertically and horizontally, one way revealing a number pad, the other way gives you a full keyboard. Some technical details: two-megapixel camera with flash, GPS, full HTML browser, 2.4-inch 260k color QVGA display, on-board stereo speakers, 200MB of internal memory and microSD for more than 2GB more, USB Mass Storage Mode with PC and Mac compatibility. Also, with a separate microprocessor to run the media player, the Helio Ocean claims 15 hours of playing time from a single charge.

But where it really upstages Apple is in the wireless technology: EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized). Apple decided to stick with Cingular’s EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution), which only provides data speeds of 75 kbps to 135 kbps (kilobits per second). That’s not much better than a dial-up Internet connection. In contrast, the EV-DO networks used by Helio boast a connection of 450 kbps to 800 kbps, speeds similar to DSL.

No matter how cool Apple is, the difference between dial-up and DSL speeds may likely be enough for even an Apple fanboy to be interested in the competition…

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