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Motorola phone launch makes play for high end and low

Pushes cameras, MP3 ringtone support

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Motorola launched four handsets for the European market today in a bid to tap into massive consumer demand for cameraphones and to show it can do handset design as well as Nokia and Siemens.

Take the V80 Communicator, Motorola's latest swivel-phone. This "convention defying" tri-band handset sports not only a shiny black carapace, but a built-in VGA digicam and a 220 x 176 16-bit colour LCD. The swivel has two positions: 180 degrees and 90 degrees. The latter enables the digicam to take landscape-oriented shots. The display automatically adjusts itself to either orientation. Photos can be cropped, scaled and resized on the handset. Captions can be added, too.

The handset uses MP3 files, so you can set it to play your favourite song when someone calls. It also supports 24-voice polyphonic ringtones.

The V80 includes Bluetooth, which it uses as the basis for its two-player Java gaming feature.

The V220 offers a more prosaic, clamshell design that, like the V80, integrates a VGA digicam. The tri-band handset also features MP3 ringtone-support, but offers MIDI ringtones too, and contains software for mixing your own tones.

It also ships with on-board instant messaging software.

The "mass-market" V180 also offers MP3 and MIDI ringtones, plus instant messaging. Unlike the V220, it has no digicam.

The V80, V180 and V220 are all new handsets. Motorola also announced today a limited edition version of its already launched V600 phone, kitted out like the V80, in black. It features an "enhanced" digicam, and both polyphonic and MP3 ringtones.

All four handsets will ship next quarter. Motorola offered little in the way of hard details about each phone, and that includes pricing. Precise availability and prices will largely depend on local networks.

US availability is expected to follow the European release, with the V80 due Q2 2004, and the V220 and V180 following "summer 2004". ®

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