Dell Dullephone Sighted in China

Published on August 17, 2009
by John Paczkowski

dellephoneNo wonder cellular carriers rejected Dell’s first smartphone offering for its “lack of differentiation.” It looks like the chimerical offspring of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and the Palm (PALM) Pre, but lacks some of their more powerful features.

Unveiled in China this morning, Dell’s (DELL) new handset, reportedly known as the mini3i, runs on China’s Open Mobile System variant of Google’s (GOOG) Android OS and sports a 3.5-inch, 640×360 capacitive touchscreen and a three-megapixel camera. It also features an iPhone-esque GUI and will support applications from China Mobile’s online store, which peddles music and videos as well as games and other apps.

But sadly, the mini3i lacks WiFi and 3G support. It’s strictly a 2G device. Odd, considering China Mobile does offer TD-SCDMA, China’s locally developed 3G standard.

That said, China’s smartphone market is wide open. With mobile phone sales in the country predicted to hit 192 million units, up from 180 million this year, according to Gartner (IT), a cheap smartphone like this could find quite a niche in the lower end of the market, assuming it’s well-priced.

News of the mini3i’s debut comes as Apple works to bring the iPhone to China via China Unicom.

On Friday, China Unicom denied a report by China Business News that the company had inked a three-year exclusive iPhone deal and agreed to purchase five million of the devices. “The report is not true,” a spokesperson said. “Talks between us and Apple have been going on for some time, but no agreement has been reached yet. There are all kinds of possibilities. There is no particular timetable for the talks.”

UPDATE: Dell claims the device displayed in China is a “proof of concept.”

“The only thing that we’re confirming is that we’re in product development with China Mobile,” he told PCMag. “We haven’t named any products, and we’re not confirming anything. We were there showing a proof of concept.


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