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Sprint launches first hybrid cell phone

The new Motorola ic502 works on both iDEN and CDMA networks

Sprint Nextel

Sprint today formally launched the Motorola ic502, the first dual-mode CDMA/iDEN cell phone. As we told you two weeks ago, the iC502 will operate on Sprint's CDMA network for voice calls, then switch to Nextel's iDEN network for push-to-talk (PTT) conversations. The feature set includes all the normal Nextel offerings including integrated GPS, Direct Talk and Direct Send support, a speakerphone, and compatibility for Java applications. Bluetooth is conspicuously absent, however, and with no camera or EV-DO support, the ic502 promises to be all work and no play. From the Sprint side, the handset will support the carrier's PCS Vision services for wireless Web access and e-mail.

From a design standpoint the iC503 is thoroughly Nextel. In addition to having a rugged form factor, it adheres to Military Specification 810 F for dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, solar radiation, and low pressure.

At present the iC502 will not launch nationwide and will be restricted to select urban areas such as Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. The full retail price is $249, but it will run as low as $59 with a two-year contract.