T-Mobile USA Makes a Dash for 3G

The Dash 3G offers no touch-screen but the HTC-designed smartphone does include a full-QWERTY keyboard and is powered by Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 OS.

Operator T-Mobile USA announced its latest entry into the crowded smartphone market with the Dash 3G, a 3G-enabled handset, designed by HTC and powered by Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1. T-Mobile said the Dash 3G would be available nationwide in July.

The device features a full QWERTY keyboard and trackball. T-Mobile's latest version of the Dash (also known as the HTC Excalibur) offers features such as messaging, support for personal and business e-mail, GPS for location-based services, and synchronization with Microsoft Outlook. The Dash 3G is also comparable to the HTC Snap, which is available on Sprint and Verizon.

Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America, said HTC is designing products such as the Dash 3G to appeal to the ever-growing number of customers who are using the features of smartphones to benefit their hectic lives. "HTC is pleased to continue its long history of working closely with T-Mobile as we today introduce the next generation of the popular T-Mobile Dash."

The Dash lacks a touch-screen interface, a feature increasingly desirable, and increasingly common, in the mobile phone market. Competitors such as Apple's iPhone, Palm's Pre the BlackBerry Storm and other smartphones offer touch-screen capability and retail for under $200. Google's open-source Android phone, the G1 (also available through T-Mobile) retails for $149 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile did not include pricing information with the Dash's release announcement.

While there are plenty of flashy, feature-packed smartphones hitting the market this summer, including high-end handsets from Nokia (the $700 N97 comes to mind) and others, the market seems likely to expand further in the coming months. According to a report published by research firm Yankee Group earlier this month, 41 percent of consumers are likely to choose a smartphone as their next mobile device. Yankee Group predicted smartphone volumes would grow to 38 percent of all handsets by 2013.
"As millions of families prepare to hit the road this summer, T-Mobile is offering our first 3G-enabled Windows Mobile smartphone to help customers stay connected, organized and traveling in the right direction," said T-Mobile USA's director of product marketing Travis Warren. "We're excited to offer the power and style of the T-Mobile Dash 3G with high-speed Internet access thanks to T-Mobile's rapidly expanding 3G network."
The company added that it is continuing to expand its high-speed 3G network in 2009, in order to cover approximately 200 million people across the United States by the end of the year. At the end of 2008, T-Mobile USA's 3G network reached more than 100 million people in more than 130 U.S. cities.
T-Mobile's announcement comes amid growing speculation that the company will announce the availability of its second Android-powered smartphone, the myTouch 3G. A report from the Wall Street Journal described the myTouch 3G as slicker and thinner than the G1. The paper also reported the smartphone would include a 3.2-inch touch-screen (the handset is reportedly smaller than the iPhone) as well as a voice-activated search function and video recording.