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“PDA phone” runs Linux

Jun 27, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

[Updated Jul. 2] — Motorola has quietly started shipping a new Linux-based “PDA” phone. Available now in China, and also approved by the FCC for use in the U.S., the MotoMing A1600 builds on the popular A1200, long a top-selling smartphone, especially in China.

(Click for larger view of the MotoMing PDA A1600)

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The new A1600 is one of three recently announced MotoMing PDA phones. The others include a low-end A810 unit with a candybar design, and a high-end A1800 model that appears to use the same clamshell hardware as the A1600, but with a different OS (possibly UIQ?) and dual GSM and CDMA radios.

MotoMing PDA a810 (Source: Federal Communications Commission)
(Click to enlarge)

Ming a1200
(Click for details)

The new Ming phones succeed Motorola's highly popular Ming a1200 (pictured at right), which sold a million units in Q2 2006 alone, according to a Canalys study. Although officially distributed only in Asian markets, unlocked A1200s have been a staple on eBay and Amazon with U.S. buyers for years, due to their richer smartphone feature package than Mot used to offer in its Linux phones for the U.S. market.

The new MotoMing A1600 (and the A1800) support GSM/GPRS phone service (850/900/1800/1900MHz), with EDGE class 10/12 and GPRS class 10. There is no 3G support, however, nor is there built-in WiFi. As with the Ming A1200, the A1600 is primarily targeted at China, but is also said to be aimed at South East Asia, India, and EMEA.

The A1600 clamshell design measures 3.8 x 2.0 x 0.7 inches and weighs a little over four ounces, according to Motorola. The 2.4-inch display offers 240 x 320 resolution, with 262K colors, and includes handwriting optical character recognition (OCR), along with a business card reader. The 3-megapixel camera includes an 8x digital zoom mode.

To support the AGPS/GPS component, Motorola includes a “turn by turn navigation application,” as well as one or two city maps that can be loaded from a CD via a computer and the phone's built-in micro-USB port. The Java ME-based phones are said to be compliant with CLDC (connected limited device configuration) and MIDP (mobile information device profile).

Features for the MotoMing A1600 (and A1800) are listed as follows:

  • Display — 2.4-inch TFT; 262K colors; 240 x 240 normal resolution; 240 x 320 full-screen
  • Multimedia — video capture at about 15fps; playback of MPEG4/H.263 at 39fps; video streaming/program download
  • Web browser — Opera browser, supporting SMS, MMS, and EMS/WAP 2.0
  • MicroSD — 1 x slot, up to 4GB storage
  • USB — 1 x micro-USB connector
  • Bluetooth — Class 2; supports A2DP profile
  • GPS — AGPS/GPS with mapping app
  • Camera — 3-megapixels with 8x zoom; CMOS AF with macro capacity; LED flash
  • OCR — handwriting recognition and onboard camera scans; business card
  • Other features — FM radio; talking dictionary; MotoSync for contacts/calendar; alarm clock, calculator, Java ME games
  • Dimensions — 3.8 x 2.0 x 0.7 inches (95.5 x 52.3 x 17.5mm); 82 cc
  • Weight — 4.2 oz. (120g)
  • Software — Java ME; CLDC 1.1 and MIDP 2.0 compliant
  • Operating system — Linux


The MotoMing PDA a810, MotoMing PDA a1600, and MotoMing PDA a1800 are shipping now in China at an undisclosed price, says Motorola. More information on the a1600 may be found here.

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