When we first saw the Cool BPhone at the beginning of the year shrouded in mystery, we questioned its product classification with its small size, full cellular phone capabilities, clamshell form factor, convertible swivelling 5-inch screen, and full QWERTY keyboard and trackball. It was a curious UMPC/smartphone hybrid. Other major questions surrounding the device included the unknown hardware and software, availability, and price.
Now out of the blue, all has been revealed with the BPhone being available for international order from Chinagrabber along with the release of the final specifications and new images.
Based on the early images, we originally thought the BPhone used Windows Mobile, but the final device actually uses ARM Linux 2.6, making things quite a bit more interesting. Other specifications include the swiveling 5-inch WVGA touch screen, a 624MHz Marvell PXA310 processor, 128MB RAM, 256MB NAND Flash storage, quad-band GSM for worldwide use, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, FM radio, and battery life figures of 400 hours standby and 4 hours talk time. The device also has a headphone out, mini USB port for file transfer and charging, support for 16GB of external storage via what I presume to be microSD cards, and weighs 10.27oz with dimensions of 5.7 x 3.74 x 0.96 inches.
The product description also states that the Linux OS includes full Java support and both English and Chinese languages, although the included Careland GPS application can only be used in China. The price from Chinagrabber is $569.99 for the unlocked BPhone, including free worldwide shipping.
I'm impressed by this very unique hybrid device, especially with its form factor, versatility, large screen, and full QWERTY keypad and trackpad. The Linux OS also looks promising although it's hard to comment on its performance without trying it out for myself. I also have some reservations regarding the hardware specifications with the slightly older CPU, amount of RAM, and lack of 3G connectivity sticking out. Hopefully we'll get more information on the actual user experience in the near future.
In the meantime, for those looking for a truly unique, versatile, hybrid UMPC/smartphone device, the BPhone may very well be a prime candidate! Let us know what you think of the BPhone and whether it has a place in your gadget collections.