The long-awaited Helio mobile phone carrier launched today with their first two phones and a raft of multimedia services aimed at the "lifestyle of young people," according to a statement by founder Sky Dayton.
I saw Helios two phones, the Kickflip and the Hero, at the CTIA trade show recently. Both are midrange phones from Korea, where SK Telecom, one of Helios two parent companies, is based. Both handsets have two-megapixel cameras and high-res screens, memory card slots, large phone books, and stereo sound. The swiveling Kickflip will cost $250 while the sliding Hero will cost $275, according to Helio.
Helios extremely youth-oriented content is crowned by an exclusive relationship with MySpace. A customized, WAP-based MySpace client comes on each Helio phone, letting users fully read and write to MySpace blogs, mail and profiles (though the phones wont display the embedded video on many MySpace pages).
Yahoo! is Helios primary messaging partner, and each phone comes with access to Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger, and various My Yahoo! services. Other content partners at launch, providing downloadable or streaming video, include CNN, IGN, Slate, The Onion, Comedy Central, and SpikeTV.
The "Helio On Top" feature looks to be quite like Motorolas Screen3 technology on Cingulars Motorola V557 phone: it will deliver headlines from partners like CNN, Fox Sports, MTV, and MySpace to Helio phones home screens. And Helios game deck, unlike other carriers, will include independent game ratings and reviews (from IGN.com) on the purchase screens. All games will cost $5.99 to buy, or 99 cents per week to rent.
While Helio isnt starting out with a wireless music store or support for stores like Yahoo! Music, Rhapsody, or iTunes, their two phones play both AAC and MP3 music formats, have 70MB of internal memory, and take MicroSD memory cards, so you can load on unprotected music from your PC music library.