Having WiFi On A Cell Phone means that when you want to talk on the phone you can use the cell phone network. When you want to access the Ineternet you can do so via a WiFi hotspot or use the phones cellular data capabilities.
InStat writes the Wi-Fi-enabled Audiovox PPC-6700 Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone from Sprint, s very cleverly designed. It’s not that large or clunky, though a little thick, and the keyboard is extremely well done. The keyboard runs along the side rather than the bottom of the phone, and once the user hits the slider to pop out the keyboard, the screen automatically adjusts to landscape view. The landscape view makes surfing the Internet a much more enjoyable experience, compared to awkwardly viewing web pages on a narrower portrait screen. Also, since the keyboard runs horizontally, the keys are bigger and more spaced-out than the standard vertical keyboards on other smart phones.
The PPC-6700 is a CDMA phone that runs only on Sprint’s network in the US. It supports both the PCS (1900 MHz) and cellular (800 MHz) bands, and supports both 1xRTT and EVDO for data. Users pay an added $15/month for the Sprint PCS Vision plan to access data on the phones (including EVDO access in covered areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area). Mobile versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook are standard on this device, as they are on most Windows Mobile devices. The device also includes support for Bluetooth, offers one mini-SD card slot for capacity expansion, and includes a decent camera.
The PPC-6700 includes embedded 802.11b. This device uses Wi-Fi like a laptop PC uses Wi-Fi, namely for data applications. The Wi-Fi can be turned “on” or “off,” so the user can save on battery power and turn the Wi-Fi “off” when he/she is not actively trying to find a Wi-Fi access point. The device emits a beeping sound when it sees a Wi-Fi network. In fact, when my husband and I were driving around in our neighborhood with the phone, it started beeping frequently as we passed various Wi-Fi networks.
So although the device does not offer the ability to use Wi-Fi as a wireless VoIP technology, the benefits that Wi-Fi brings as a data technology are quite great to this type of smart phone. Anywhere a user can access a Wi-Fi network, he/she can use Wi-Fi to access email and surf the Internet, rather than using the much slower Sprint Vision or EVDO data access services. My husband no longer boots up his laptop when he wants to sit in front of the TV and do work in the evening. Instead, he just uses his new Wi-Fi-enabled PPC-6700 to tap into our home Wi-Fi network.
n conclusion, the PPC-6700 is a good sign of things to come for embedded Wi-Fi in cellular handsets overall. Even as a data access technology, Wi-Fi brings much value to a smart phone device. But at a street price of approximately $700 in the US, this type of device is still quite limited in its audience.
In-Stat expects that the embedding of Wi-Fi into cellular handsets will be a slow uptake, with penetration into the hundreds of millions not expected until the 2008-2009 time frame. For standard cellular handsets to offer embedded Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi chipsets will need to keep falling in price, and continuing chipset integration will need to occur. This is something that is definitely happening in the Wi-Fi IC market currently, with Wi-Fi chipset vendors really starting to focus on meeting the specific demands of the cellular segment.
For more information on the Wi-Fi IC market, including the cellular segment, please check out In-Stat’s upcoming overview of the Wi-Fi IC market, to be released in November within In-Stat’s WLAN Service. This report will be available onlinehere
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