AT&T unveils Brew MP-based HTC Freestyle phone

Low-end mobile phone aimed at users not interested in more expensive smartphones, AT&T exec says

LAS VEGAS -- AT&T Wednesday announced that in February, it will start selling a version of the HTC Freestyle phone running Brew MP, an open-platform OS for phones that are smaller, less powerful and less expensive than smartphones.

Brew is a year-old creation of Qualcomm, a major wireless device chip-maker known mainly for its developer of ARM-based processors for smartphones. Such chips run nearly 80% of all Android phones.

The HTC Freestyle phone runs the Brew MP open-platform OS for phones that are smaller and less powerful than smartphones.

Verizon has sold some Brew MP, or Mobile Platform, based phones, but the HTC Freestyle will be the first that AT&T sells that run the operating system, Jason Kenagy, vice president of product management for Brew MP at Qualcomm said at the AT&T Developer Conference here.

Kenagy showed off one of the Freestyle devices, with a 3.2 -inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen and aluminum body. The AT&T marketed device will run all applications natively in Brew on a 500 Mhz processor, he explained.

Many smartphones now include 1 GHz processors. AT&T and Motorola today also announced the Atrix 4G smartphone with a dual core processor offering up to 2 GHz of processing speed.

Kenagy said it is likely AT&T will keep the network connectivity for the Freestyle on its current GSM and EVDO networks ( also known as 3G), but he said upgrades to new HSPA+ and LTE networks are possible.

AT&T also plans to offer W-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth capabilities.

AT&T didn't announce pricing for the Freestyle but Kenagy said similar Brew MP-based phones are sold for $US50 even less, giving carriers the ability to sell to customers not interested in buying a more expensive smartphone. Web browsing, application downloads and even some video downloading are possible with the Freestyle, Kenagy said.

AT&T calls the category of phones that include the Freestyle its "Quick Messaging Phones," while Qualcomm refers to them as "Smart Everyday Devices," Kenagy said.

Qualcomm has also announced an application store for Brew MP devices in China, called Sina. Kenagy said Qualcomm hasn't revealed any details for a similar Brew application marketplace in the U.S.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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