AT&T requiring smartphone data plans Sept. 6

The bad news: AT&T is going to mandate that all smartphone users have actual, honest-to-goodness data plans starting Sept. 6. Buy a smartphone from AT&T after that date and you'll have to shell out some more money for data services. [via BGR]

The good news: If you currently have a smartphone and but still have one of the old MediaNet plans, you'll be grandfathered in and keep your old plan.

The even better news: This is GSM, people! Unless you're just dying to buy a phone subsidized from AT&T, all you have to do is buy one somewhere else and slap in your SIM card.

That said, this would be much easier to swallow if we weren't still seeing headlines about certain data-heavy apps being disallowed on AT&T's 3G network. (And remember, we're not just talking iPhone here. ToS is ToS.) If any carrier wanted to charge me, say, $100 a month to serve up the mythical dumb pipe, I'd glady pay it.

That's it for me. Get your rant on in the comments.

Dell rumor du jour: Smartphone back on

This is how we love starting off our day — more he said/she said Dell news! So the other day investment analyst Shaw Wu (who gets no love from Daring Fireball) said that Dell shopped two smartphones around to carriers — one a Windows Mobile phone, the other Android. The carriers promptly turned their noses up and sent Dell back to the drawing board.

Today, DigiTimes reports that's just not so.

Dell will not delay the launch of its new smartphone lineup and is on schedule to release devices in line with its internal roadmap, company CEO Michael Dell said recently in Taipei. However Dell did not publicly divulge any details indicating when products are scheduled for release.

Whom to believe? It's anyone's guess. But since everyone seems to know what Dell's up to in the smartphone market, we'll throw our guess into the ring as well. And we're pretty sure you can take it to the bank:

Dell will release some sort of technology in the next few months. It will involve circuit boards, memory chips, a button or two, and more than likely will be painted black. It might make phone calls. It might not.

You heard it here first, folks.

Dude, we're not getting a Dell

Oh, Dell, what are we going to do with you? For months and months and months (and months) we're teased by rumors that you might be getting back into the smartphone business. And time and time again, we see nothing.

Now comes word from Barrons [via Giz] that Dell's been shot down by the carriers for producing a couple of prototypes that were too "Dell-like."

(Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw) Wu says that he understands that Dell built prototypes using both Windows Mobile and Android, but that the carriers knocked the offerings for “lack of differentiation” versus current and coming products from HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola and others. He adds that the unveiling of the Palm Pre didn’t help, “generating interest from carriers as a viable competitor.”

Wu says that Dell's going back to the drawing board and could well be making acquitisions to try to get the job done.

Hey, it's touch to top what HTC's doing these days. And there's certainly tons of excitement surrounding the Pre. But shouldn't Dell have a little more to show by now?

Acer to show ... something ... at MWC

Just what *is* that? Is it a phone? Is it a Mobile Internet Device? Is it some sort of crazy communications module left behind by the alien invasion? Nobody's quite sure. But what the Boy Genius reportedly does know is that this is some device that Acer is going to show off in a couple of weeks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

At this point, your guess is as good as ours as to whether this thing will run Windows Mobile, Android, or something else entirely. We keep squinting at that crazy keyboard to try to find some WinMo telltale, but all we keep seeing is a sailboat. Is that really some weird swiveling screen? Or is it detachable? Feel free to speculate on your own in the comments.

Dell (again) rumored to have a smartphone

It's been rumored, sqaushed, rumored and rumored some more, but the Wall Street Journal (pay site) says it has confirmed that Dell is getting back into the smartphone business.

Dell Inc., aiming to rev up sales as its mainstay personal computer business struggles in the recession, is preparing a move into cellphones as early as next month, said people familiar with the matter.

The Round Rock, Texas, company has had a group of engineers working on the phones for more than a year from an office in the Chicago area, these people said. They produced prototypes built on Google Inc.'s Android operating system and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile software, these people said.

Unwiredview dives a little deeper:

Dell has not committed themselves to launching a smartphone yet and may abandon their efforts anytime. But, according to WSJ, Michael Dell has been looking into a smartphone opportunity ever since his return in 2007.

Also, according to WSJ, Dell smartphone development team spent much of last year meeting with suppliers of phone components, several phone software companies, and Asian manufacturers of phones.

Dell smartphones? As early as next month, eh? Don't sound so surprised. We know they've played a part in the Pharos line. That said, the WSJ is quoting unnamed sources, so anything can happen. But might we see some sort of announcment at Mobile World Congress?

Microsoft considering turning your phone into a full-fledged PC

Microsoft has applied for a patent for a device that could well turn your future smartphone into your next desktop PC.

Unwired View tracked down the documents for a "Smart Interface System for Mobile Commications Devices."

A universal smart interface and peripheral management system for portable devices such as mobile phones. The smart system includes a connector interface that connects peripherals to a phone and/or personal digital assistant (PDA), through the smart system. The smart system includes a cradle for receiving a cell phone and interfacing the phone to external systems such as peripherals, networks and other systems through a USB hub and other suitable connector interfaces. The peripheral devices to which the smart system can interface include, but are not limited to, large displays (e.g., television), external monitors, input devices such as mice and keyboards, external storage devices, and networks (wired and/or wireless). The smart system also facilitates connectivity to large display systems such as TVs, computer displays and monitors.

The "Smart System" would have its own operating system, CPU and RAM and would work inconjunction with your phone, unlike mobile companions such as the Celio Redfly, which rely solely on your phone for processing power.

Undoubtedly this would still be a long ways off. But with the advent of Tegra processors and graphics power, this coiuld well be more than vaporware.

Get the lowdown on the patent here.

Smartphone Round Robin Extended!

No doubt you've heard from our sister sites, but if you haven't: we're continuing the tradition from last year's Smartphone Round Robin of not being able to get the whole sucker done in the allotted time. So we're extending the Round Robin and the Contest to Win a Fuze and Redfly.

So the new deadline for entering is January 10th. How do you enter? Simple -- every day you make a comment on a Round Robin post (including this one), you're entered for a chance to win. Comments on WMExperts enter you for that Fuze. Naturally, there are plenty of posts already for you to check out, find the full list here.

Yeah, we're the late ones for our G1 full review, but it'll be here on New Year's day, fret not.

Smartphone Round Robin Roundtable!

Join us for the first of two special Smartphone Round Robin Roundtables! This week, Casey, Kevin, Rene, Jennifer, and Dieter all come together to discuss three of the Smartphone Round Robin devices: The iPhone 3G, the Treo Pro, and the BlackBerry Bold!

Music: Our Slanted Voices by DoKashiteru

Update: Of course this is an official Smartphone Round Robin contest post -- chat us up here for a chance to win!

Round Robin Update: TreoCentral on the Fuze, Android Central has it Now

Over at TreoCentral, Jennifer Chappell has posted up her final review of the HTC Fuze, definitely head over there and give it a read. You can comment over on the related thread for a chance at a Treo Pro. Or you can comment here for a chance at the Fuze. Or heck: do both, we don't mind.

Meanwhile, the Fuze has moved on in our merry little chain and is now in the hands of Casey Chan of Android Central. He's brand new to Windows Mobile and, well, we all know that WM can be a little overwhelimg to new users. So head on over to his thread in our Fuze forums and show him the way.

Lastly, you might also be interested in what's coming next for WMExperts. You can check the Round Robin update page and see from our handy-dandy grid that, yes, we're rocking the iPhone. Feel free to hit up the TiPb Forum thread on that very subject.

One last programming note while we're on the subject: our very own WMExperts podcast is going up tomorrow, then will have a bit of a hiatus because of the Thanksgiving holiday. to make up for it, though, we'll be recoding two Smartphone Round Robin podcasts in the month of December and slapping them into all of our SPE podcasts feeds, so stay tuned!

Smartphone pool may be getting more crowded

Samsung does it. Palm does it. Motorola still (barely) has its head above water. HTC is doing better than just about everyone else. HP. Velocity. Toshiba. MWg. The list goes on.

Now, according to Digitimes [via], Acer is set to launch its own brand of smartphones in Q1 of 2009. The first devices would be released in Western Europe and Russia.

Windows Mobile isn't specifically mentioned, though it's a pretty good bet, considering the source.

And it's been a couple of months since we've reported any rumors of Dell getting back into the smartphone game, so here goes:

Michael Dell recently told Engadget Mobile that they eventually could be producing "smaller and smaller devices that have capabilities of the [iPhone]."

There. Feel better? Us, too.

Weekly Software Wrangle - Week 13

Howdy, partners. Welcome back for the Weekly Software Wrangle, lucky #13! This week the featured new software for WM Standard is Mobiola Remote Phone Control and Insaniquarium Deluxe for Smartphone. Updated software includes Pocket Tunes Deluxe for Windows Mobile and Mobiola Screen Capture. Free software is EdgeWay SmartPhone Utils.

WM Professional new software is Hinavigator - Touch To Go and VirtuaMouse One-Hand. Updated software includes EasyHelper SMS Security and Sniffi. Freeware is Phonetracker4Free v2.0.33.

It's time to dig in your spurs for Weekly Software Wrangle 13!

WM Standard: New

The first new WM Standard app is Mobiola Remote Phone Control v1.0.8 by SHAPE Services.

Get control of your smartphone from your PC. This app shows your phone screen on your PC so you can zoom in/out, take a snapshot, video recording, works via WiFi (NEW!), Bluetooth or USB, and demo your phone through Skype Video and record YouTube video presentations directly to YouTube using webcam driver functionality.

Note: Trial version limits single connections to 5 minutes and has 7 days evaluation period.

Features: * Shows your phone screen on your PC * zoom in/out * full screen regime * snapshot * video recording * Works via WiFi(NEW!), Bluetooth or USB * Demo your phone through Skype Video and record YouTube video presentations directly to YouTube using webcam driver functionality

Get Mobiola Remote Phone Control v1.0.8 for $34.95 here.

The next new WM Standard app is Insaniquarium Deluxe for Smartphone v1.00 by Astraware.

Insaniquarium Deluxe

Take your smartphone for a swim, if you dare

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Monty Python fans, help us out here. If the iPhone floats, it's a witch, and it should be burned at the stake, right?

OK, OK. Maybe that's a bit harsh.

Making the rounds is the Golden Shellback splash-proof (or dunk-proof, apparently) coating, which appears to protect your device not just from the occasional spill, but from total immersion in water.

It appears to work just fine in these demonstrations, though it's not yet available to to the public. Don't believe us? Just watch the unholy iPhone work under water in the video above. And check out a demonstration from Thursday morning's "Today Show" after the jump.

And in the meantime, why don't you try out one of the great weatherproof cases in the WM Experts store (nudge nudge, wink wink).

All kidding aside, this could totally open up a new market to pirates, SCUBA divers, and those crazy dudes crab fishing in the Bering Sea. Because if it's on TV and the Internets, it's gotta be true.


Michael Dell drops vague hint at smartphone

Never one to be left out of the smartphone rumor mill, Dell now is rumored to be possibly working on a smartphone.


In an interview with Om Malik, founder Michael Dell drops the following bombshell:

"We are certainly looking at the whole smartphone category, but I wouldn’t expect anything anytime soon."

There you have it, folks.

OK, he did talk about five opportunities that Dell is looking into - consumer business, mobile computers, emerging nations, enterprise and medium/small businesses. And he did note that he's not ready to go public on any plans to work with Android or Symbian.

So that's more than enough to get things going. Let the speculation begin!

Read the GigaOM interview (via Engadget Mobile)