Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Verizon Adding More Droid Phones

Motorola Droid Phones
Verizon Wireless is rumored to be planning two more smartphones for its Android-powered Droid line. If true, the Droid 2 and the Droid Mini could join Verizon's smartphone line with slide-out keyboards. The original Droid has the slide-out keyboard, but not the Droid X or the Droid Incredible. Existing phones are expected to get an Android update.

With three Droid smartphones on the shelves (and, in some cases, in short supply), Verizon Wireless may be ready to add two more to take advantage of the popularity of the Android operating system.

Openly intended as an alternative to Apple's iPhone -- a recent Verizon ad even mocked the iPhone 4's antenna problems -- the original Droid launched with much fanfare last November is widely believed to have two new siblings in the making. They are the Droid 2 and the Droid Mini, both of which would have a slide-out QWERTY keyboard featured on the original Motorola Droid but not the Droid X or HTC-made Droid Incredible. The iPhone has never had a slide-out keyboard.

A Mini-Me for Droid?

Tech blogs in recent days have displayed photos of the Droid 2 running Android 2.2 or Froyo (for frozen yogurt) and packaging one blog says will be used for the device.

A Korean web site,, has displayed what it says is the Droid Mini, a scaled-down, possibly cheaper version of the Droid. A blurry image shows the trademark red eye on its screen reminiscent of the cyborg eye sported by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies.

Verizon won't confirm or deny that it has commissioned the devices. "We don't comment on speculation or rumors," spokesperson Howard Waterman told us in an e-mail. "We have the original Droid, the Droid Incredible, Droid X, plus the LG Ally that has the Android OS, all available now."

Android 2.2 Coming

Consumer devices researcher Avi Greengart of Current Analysis declined to speculate on whether the devices will be released. But he said the series is working out well.

"What I can say is that Verizon Wireless has done an excellent job building its own sub-brand around Android, and that we're definitely seeing the Android ecosystem fill out with different vendors, form factors, carriers and software capabilities," he said.

The new device rumors come as the Droid X, which sold out in some locations and is back-ordered online through Friday, is expected to receive an over-the-air update to Android 2.2. Google says the update will operate up to five times faster than its predecessor and will support Adobe Flash 10.1 graphics. Apple has refused to support Flash on the iPhone. The update is rumored to be only weeks away, but Verizon would not specify a date for us.

Android 2.2 will allow phones to operate as a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot so other devices can connect to the Internet. It will also allow over-the-air downloading and updating without the need to attach to a computer.

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