Orange UK launches smart phones

M500 for business, C550 for pleasure

Mobile phone network Orange this week launched its much-anticipated SPV C550 and SPV M500 smart phones, a week after the company posted details of the handsets on its website.

The C550 will be promoted under Orange's Great for Music label - no surprise given the HTC-developed handset's focus on music playback, with separate Play/Pause and track-skip controls.

The phone comes pre-loaded with Orange's own Music Player application, which links through to the network's 300,000-track music download store, part of its Orange World WAP portal. The songs are encoded in the iTunes-like but more efficient AAC Plus format, but the C550 can also play MP3 and WAV tracks, along with MPEG 4 video.

The device contains a 1.3 megapixel digicam with 4x digital zoom. The screen is a 64,000-colour job. Orange is bundling a 128MB MiniSD card for extra data storage - the phone contains 32MB of RAM. It also offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and is a tri-band (900/1800/1900) GSM/GPRS device.

The M500 uses the same camera, but ships with 64MB of RAM. In place of the C550's candybar phone form-factor, the M500 is styled like a compact PDA - it's HTC's 'Magician' device - with a 2.8in, 240 x 320, 64,000-colour display.

It too is a tri-band product, and incorporates Bluetooth. It runs Windows Mobile 2003 on a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor.

The C550 goes on sale later this month, though Orange is already taking orders for the product. It's free of charge on a monthly subscription tariff, Orange said. The company did not announce pricing or availability for the M500, which remains listed as "coming soon" on the Orange website. ®

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