has three new cellular handsets: the HighNote, Lotus and Rant. One is made by
(the Rant) and the other two are made by
. Three different designs but with one, common thread, they all sport Sprint's brand new "One Click" interface.
Here's what you need to know about each new phone:
The High Note is a slider phone designed for people who use their cell phone as music players and also want to watch the Sprint TV service, too. The screen slides up to reveal a standard cellular keypad. It also slides down to reveal high-powered stereo speakers. Storage is handled by microSD cards (now up to 16GB in size.) The High Note sells for $99.99 with a two-year contract (after a $180 discount and a $50 mail-in rebate).
var config = new Array(); config<BRACKET>"videoId"</BRACKET> = 1873851049; config<BRACKET>"playerTag"</BRACKET> = "TSCM Embedded Video Player"; config<BRACKET>"autoStart"</BRACKET> = false; config<BRACKET>"preloadBackColor"</BRACKET> = "#FFFFFF"; config<BRACKET>"useOverlayMenu"</BRACKET> = "false"; config<BRACKET>"width"</BRACKET> = 265; config<BRACKET>"height"</BRACKET> = 255; config<BRACKET>"playerId"</BRACKET> = 1243645856; createExperience(config, 8);
The Rant is also a slider phone design but in this case the outer screen and keypad slide to the right to reveal a wide QWERTY keyboard underneath. Think of this handset as a texting/e-mailing machine. The Samsung design also comes with a music player, Sprint TV and a microSD storage card slot. It retails for $49.95 with a two-year contract, $200 discount and that $50 mail-in rebate.
LG's Lotus is the most unusual design of the three. It is shaped like a woman's make-up compact -- basically a square, flat clamshell phone. Inside is a small screen and even smaller QWERTY keyboard. There is also a tiny screen on the outside of the case. Lotus comes in black or purple and the Sprint people want you to know that they think the Lotus could be considered a fashion icon. They're even marketing it that way. The striking design sells for $149.99 with a two-year contract and their $150 instant rebate.
There are all sorts of features that I'm not detailing for you, things like NFL Mobile Live Access, Speakerphone, Voice Dialing, Bluetooth and lots of other stuff vary with each design. I think there is something more important to tell you about.
The common denominator here is Sprint's new "One Click" phone interface. They believe it makes it easier than other designs to help users find and utilize the most important features on the phone such as call logs, texting, Web browsing, Google search and GPS navigation. This is accomplished by a horizontal "carousel" of icons on each of these phones.
As Sprint explains:
You add your favorite items to the carousel, which is a row of tiles along the bottom of your phone's home screen. The carousel can hold up to 15 tiles, which you can add, remove and rearrange to suit your needs.Highlight a tile to reveal its menu on your home screen.Add up to 8 "bubbles" -- at-a-glance items that display on your home screen, like the weather or your daily horoscope.Browse and download new tiles from your phone's "Personalize Home Screen" tile. New tiles are available every two weeks.Press your navigation left or right key to select a tile; up or down to select a bubble or menu item.The "Home" tile always stays put, so you can easily get back to your default display.
Follow that? Actually, it's a lot easier to use than to read about. The interface is clean and easy to master. Kudos to Sprint for trying to reinvent the cell-phone navigation experience. Once you know how to deal with any one of these new phones, you also know how to work the other two. Hopefully Sprint will extend this feature to most of its other phones.
The majority of cell-phone buyers who get regular cell phones (not
Research in Motion's
smartphones) and base their purchases on low prices and the most important features should make sure that check out these three new designs.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.