Photon smartphone heads list of 10 Motorola devices coming to Sprint

Photon runs dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2

Sprint's renewed partnership with Motorola, announced today, will result in more than 10 smartphones and tablets for sale in 2011, including Motorola's first WiMax phone for Sprint, the Photon 4G.

The Motorola Photon smartphone

The Photon, available this summer, will have a 4.3-in. touch screen and will run the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) mobile operating system. Sprint described the smartphone as satisfying both business and personal needs with a powerful 1 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. Pricing was not announced.

Nvidia blogged and produced a YouTube video about the Tegra 2's "superphone" capabilities, giving the Photon game controller capabilities.

The device also includes dual cameras, including a rear-facing 8 megapixel camera, for video chat. Sprint called the Photon enterprise-ready, citing its integration ease, management and data security.

Analysts said the Photon and other Motorola devices developed for Sprint show that the two companies need each other.

"Motorola sees WiMax on Sprint as a way to show off its capabilities on phones, especially since the Atrix and Xoom tablet from Motorola have not met its expectations," said analyst Jack Gold.

By contrast, he said, "Sprint wants in on the Android momentum and has not been as successful there as Verizon Wireless and AT&T."

Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, said the Photon seems to have all the characteristics and features of so-called "superphones" that are needed to stay competitive in the crowded smartphone space. Smartphone makers are beginning to refer to superphones as those with large processors, generally above a 1 GHz, and high-resolution VGA displays.

"The hardware features of Photon are what I expected to see on any other smartphone, but the difference will be in the user experience with Motoblur," an Android interface add-on, Llamas noted.

Llamas also said that Motorola devices will help Sprint expanding its portfolio of pre-paid phones through Sprint's Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile brands.

The Motorola Triumph smartphone

Sprint today also announced the Motorola Triumph smartphone that Virgin Mobile will sell in late July. Llamas noted that it has some high-end features not commonly seen on pre-paid phones, such as a 4.1-in. screen and a 1 GHz processor.

On Sunday, Sprint and Motorola partnered to begin sales of the $129.99 Motorola XPRT, a 3.1-in. display smartphone focused on business users with support for Exchange and international roaming over CDMA and GSM networks.

Llamas said the fact that Motorola and Sprint plan more than 10 devices together in 2011 is "really astounding."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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