ORLANDO, Fla. — Sprint Nextel and Samsung are announcing a new music phone today during a press conference with live thumping music heard from across the Peabody Hotel from French Kicks.
The reason for Sprint’s press conference was to unveil the phone “UpStage,” which Sprint and Samsung are calling the first U.S. wireless phone designed with a revolutionary form factor that optimizes music capabilities with the look of a phone on one side and an MP3 player on the other.
That means on one side it looks like an iPod with a big screen and a navigation pad similar to iPod scroll wheel. On the other side, you get the look and feel of a regular phone.
Sprint thinks it has solved the three critical things have prevented music phone adoption:
1. Improved battery life . With a battery wallet, which is sort of a calm shell that goes around the phone, users are supposed to get 6.3 hours of talk time and 16 hours of music.
2. You can use normal music earphones. The jack for industry standard headsets don’t fit into mobile phones because the devices are thinner than the connector. Included in the box is an adapter, which has a microphone built in so your traditional headsets can be used to talk on the phone.
3. People have ripped tons of music to their PC. How do you get the music on the phone? Typically, that taken place by plugging the phone into the computer with a cord, and “sideloading” it. Sprint wants to solve this by offering songs for download over the air at 99 cents a piece — the standard online. Until now, over- the-air songs from mobile carriers have cost $2.99.
“We feel we are going to upstage our competition,” said a Sprint executive.
And, finally, Sprint said because $400 phones usually reach less than 1 percent of the population, the phone will be priced at $150 with a two-year contract. It will be available starting the first week of April.
A note on another subject: Just to let you know, I’m shooting photos you see on the blog with a Red BlackBerry Pearl that has a 1.3 megapixel camera.