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Orange preps September smart phone splash

M3000 = M500 + keyboard

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Orange is already preparing an alternative version of the recently launched SPV C550 smart phone, and is gearing up to on a 3G-less version of its planned palmtop-style handset, the SPV M5000.

So claims French site Smartphone France, which has posted a set of grainy photocopies of the handsets for good measure.

The SPV C600 is essentially the same device as the C550, but drops the former's music control keys. As such, it's likely to take on a role once assumed the C550 would adopt: to be the replacement for the C500, which will be a year old by the time the C600 ships next September.

Like the C550 - aka the HTC 'Hurricane' - the C600 sports a 1.3 megapixel digicam, and a 240 x 320, 65,536-colour display. In addition, it supports EDGE networks for faster data transfer. It will provide four hours' talk time and run for up to seven days on stand-by, the French site claims.

The M3000, meanwhile, is around the same size (10.8 x 5.8 x 2.3cm) as the SPV M500 we reviewed last week, but features a slide-out, landscape-format QWERTY keyboard. The display is 320 x 240 and, again, there's a 1.3 megapixel camera built in - other sites have suggested it will be 2.1 megapixels. Smartphone France doesn't say so, but the M3000 - understood to be developed by Taiwanese handset maker HTC, as are all the SPV devices - is believed to have a 2.8in screen.

HTC calls the handset 'Wizard', by the way - so it's clearly aimed as the successor to 'Magician', on which the M500 is based.

The French site does note that the machine supports EDGE mobile phone network technology, and unlike the M500 supports Wi-Fi. There's Bluetooth too. The phone supports quad-band GSM/GPRS. It has a Texas Instruments OMAP processor - if true, it's the first time HTC has used a non-Intel CPU - and 64MB of RAM.

The SPV M5000, finally, is the Orange version of the long-awaited HTC 'Universal' clamshell 3G phone, also coming from T-Mobile, Vodafone and probably O2 too. Orange's decision to offer an SPV-branded Universal was revealed by The Register last February. In addition to 3G networking, the M5000 will support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and boast a 640 x 480 display.

Universal is based on Windows Mobile 5.0. It's not clear which OS the other two upcoming handsets will use. All three handsets are said to be scheduled to ship in September. ®

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