Motorola takes Android to Korea, will it make ‘Nexus Two’?

by Caroline Gabriel, Rethink Wireless

Korea is where it likes to be this week, in the center of the smartphone industry buzz. Not only are there rumors that Apple will launch its fourth generation iPhone there, but now Motorola has unveiled its first Android device for the market. Also forthcoming from Motorola seems to be another Android smartphone, the Shadow, which some analysts believe could even be the ‘Nexus Two’ for Google.

The Korean phone, the Motoroi, improves on the firm’s current high end, the Droid or Milestone, in several ways, so its features may well be emulated in the Shadow. Korea, because of its citizens’ advanced use of mobile broadband, is a valuable testbed for new gadgets. For the past few years, though, many western vendors were deterred by the government’s mandating of support for its own mobile internet platform, WIPI. Since that rule was reversed late last year, several smartphone suppliers have re-entered the market.

The Motoroi is a 3.7-inch full touch device with WVGA display, 8-megapixel camera, 720p camcorder, HDMI port and mobile TV. It has pinch-and-zoom support and other specs that put it one step ahead of the Droid. It will be priced at KRW900,000 ($800), the same as the iPhone and more than most Samsung and LG smartphones, which tend to be around KRW600,000 to KRW800,000. The local vendors’ high end models have more powerful multimedia features but only a handful, so far, have run open operating systems.

As for the Shadow – also codenamed Phantom or Mirage – it appears to be heavily geared to business users, with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard. This may have led to the talk that it will also be tweaked to Google’s specifications, to be rebadged as the Nexus Two – if the search giant persists with its own-brand strategy, given its problems in China and the poor sales of Nexus One so far. But Google has hinted that it would add an enterprise phone to its portfolio, and it would be logical to turn to Motorola. Though the US firm was left in the cold by the launch of Nexus One, made by HTC, MOT’s co-CEO Sanjay Jha still graciously turned up to the unveiling.

The Shadow, if that proves to be its name, has a large 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen with 854 x 480 pixel resolution, according to leaked details. It looks very slim, despite its pull-out keyboard, and should have an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture.

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