Motorola goes rugged with new smartphone

The ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant has features for workers in the field

Motorola on Thursday announced a smartphone for the enterprise market that combines aesthetics with business functionality.

The ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant is targeted at users looking to remotely access applications, take inventory or complete transactions, said Eduardo Conrado, chief marketing officer at Motorola, during a press event in New York. The phone has a 3-inch touch-screen display and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

The smartphone fits inside a pocket, but has the rugged features needed by field workers such as salespeople, the company said. It can withstand drops of 4 feet (1.22 meters) and exposure to dust, moisture and rain, according to Motorola.

It runs on the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, which will be upgradeable in the future, Motorola officials said. It will be sold through the Sprint sales channel. Motorola did not provide information about availability or pricing.

Corporate users have specific smartphone needs both in terms of how they use phones and regarding security. So Motorola aims to differentiate the ES400 from smartphones that are not specifically designed for enterprise use, according to Bob Sanders, senior vice president of enterprise solutions and wireless network solutions at Motorola.

In one example of corporate use, an insurance adjustor could use the ES400 to photograph an auto accident in the field and annotate images with notes. The device also comes with a stylus to record signatures, and the digital camera can scan barcodes.

It also includes security features like a biometric fingerprint scanner to secure transactions or access to documents. IT managers will be able to remotely manage pools of ES400s being used by the workforce.

The ES400 includes a QWERTY keyboard and runs on an Arm processor, which operates at a clock speed of 600MHz. It offers 250 hours of standby time and six hours of WAN (wide area network) talk time. It will connect to multiple 3G wireless networks, including HSPA (high-speed packet access) and EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized).

Motorola's competitors include Intermec Technologies, which later this year will announce a new rugged handheld computer. The handheld will be "roughly the size of an iPhone," and includes a dedicated 2D barcode scanner, according to an Intermec spokesman.

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