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Velocity Mobile breaks into the smartphone biz

At CTIA 2008, Velocity Mobile announces its entry into the Windows Mobile smartphone space.

Velocity 103
Velocity 103 Velocity Mobile

Call me jaded, but it's been a while since a new smartphone has knocked my socks off. I mean, of course, I get excited when a new product comes out, but (iPhone aside) it's usually pretty much the same innards in a slightly different package. So perhaps that's why I'm stoked on a new company called Velocity Mobile, which debuted at CTIA.

Velocity Mobile is a collaboration between Inventec and a team of industry veterans (including some from the Microsoft Windows Mobile camp). It's not so much the hardware that wows me, but it's the company's approach to smartphones. To start, it will launch with two devices: the Velocity 103 and Velocity 111. Both will run Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition (according to Velocity Mobile, all Velocity products will run Windows Mobile).

Velocity 111
Velocity 111 Velocity Mobile

Velocity recognizes that Windows Mobile isn't exactly the easiest mobile operating system to master, which turns off a lot of potential buyers--particularly consumers--and the company gave props to Apple and called the iPhone an "example of clarity." To provide that kind of experience on a Windows device, Velocity Mobile tweaked the interface to include more familiar icons (similar to the ones you'd see on your PC) so the smartphone is easier to use and understand right out of the box. The interaction will also be different as there are sliding panels (again, think iPhone or TouchFLO a la the HTC Touch), and it's customizable to suit your lifestyle, whether you're a mobile professional, multimedia junkie, or traveler. It seems pretty cool and we wish we could have seen a working demo, but unfortunately, Velocity's CEO David Hayes, who had possession of the only working models, got stuck on the monorail on his way to the Las Vegas Convention Center for our briefing. Foiled!

Velocity Mobile

We did get to see the final hardware, and the Velocity 103 particularly caught my eye with it's slender frame and 2.8-inch 262,000-color VGA touch screen. The Velocity 111 wasn't bad either, but I thought the QWERTY keyboard was stiff and difficult to use. Both are certainly well stocked with features. They are quadband (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA) smartphones with Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. They also have 2-megapixel cameras, 256MB ROM, 128MB RAM, and microSD slots. The 103 is expected to ship in Q2 while the 111 will be available in Q3. No word on pricing yet and it looks as if the smartphones will initially be sold unlocked without a specific carrier.

So what do you think? Does Velocity Mobile have something here? Will it be able to compete with the HTCs and Samsungs of the world? I think it looks pretty promising or maybe I'm just excited to see a new face in the crowd. I'd love to hear you thoughts. Let us know what you think in the comments.