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Orange to launch Handspring Treo 600 next week

Network operator will brand the device as its own

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Orange is to re-brand Handspring's next-generation smartphone, the Treo 600, as the Orange Treo 600, The Register has learned. The launch of the device is imminent - possibly as early as next week.

Orange and Handspring announced last April that they were partnering to develop "future smartphones". In June, Orange reiterated that it was planning to offer a smartphone based on the Palm OS, to provide its customers with a choice of operating system.

Right now, consumers and business users can buy Microsoft PocketPC-based smartphones, the Orange SPV family, from the network operator and the Sony Ericsson P800, though that's not an Orange-branded device.

Orange's relationship with Handspring goes back more than 18 months to when the network's Swiss operation agreed to offer Handspring's early Treo 180 smartphones. So did O2, then known as Celnet, but later dropped the Treo in favour of its own-brand XDA PocketPC device. Today, no UK network offers a Treo, though it can be bought unsubsidised.

The arrival of the Treo 600 will see Handspring's product rolled out across the Orange network. To date, neither company has admitted they are partnering on the 600, though it's always been likely that they would given the April statement of intent. A couple of months back, after the 600's launch, Handspring co-founder Jeff Hawkins was said to have been seen with an Orange-branded 600.

The 144MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 310-based Treo 600 runs Palm OS 5.2.1 and features a 160 x 160 16-bit colour display, integrated 640 x 480 digicam and QWERTY micro-keyboard. The handset also sports a five-way navigation control. The handset contains 32MB of RAM, which can be added to using the handset's SD card slot - though we have seen specs. listing just 16MB of RAM, so Orange may be offering a lower-specced version of the device. The GSM version to be used by Orange is thinner than the CDMA version which Sprint will offer this autumn in the US.

A rechargeable Lithium Ion battery offers for up to six hours' talk time about two weeks PDA use.

The Treo 600 will be the last device to be shipped by Handspring as an independent company. It will soon become part of PalmOne, what's left of Palm after the OS division, PalmSource, is finally spun off. ®

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