Mobile Tech

Leaked Docs Suggest Dell’s Plotting a Mobile Blitzkrieg

Dell has plans to release five smartphones and two tablet-style PC devices, according to detailed specs and photos of the products that have been leaked to Engadget.

The specs for the devices are thrilling the industry in a way that Dell’s endeavors thus far — primarily its Android-based Dell Mini 3 — have yet to manage. That excitement, of course, is based on the assumption that they’re accurate.

The devices sport such features as a portrait slider, FM radio, and support for Microsoft ActiveSync and Exchange. Developed variously on Windows Phone 7, Android 2.1 or Android 2.2 (FroYo), some of the devices also come equipped with Qualcomm’s next-gen midrange processsor, MSM7230. There is mention of carrier capability — mainly AT&T and T-Mobile — in the specs as well, but little insight into whether these devices will be subsidized or offered unlocked.

Controlled Leak?

The level of detail and slides leaked to Engadget strongly suggest that this is a controlled or strategic leak on the part of Dell, said Jack Vonder Heide, president of Technology Briefing Centers.

“It would make sense if you were developing several products that could compete with the iPhone or the iPad but weren’t ready yet,” he told TechNewsWorld. “By ‘leaking’ the products they can get the benefit of having created some buzz and expectation, as well as possibly stave off purchases of the competing products by consumers who would be willing to wait for Dell.”

Engadget mobile editor Chris Ziegler told TechNewsWorld that while there has been a lot of speculation that this was a strategic leak, the publication has no reason to believe that is the case.

“We can’t reveal anything about the tipster, obviously, but we definitely don’t think this was a controlled leak on Dell’s part,” Ziegler said.

Dell did not return TechNewsWorld’s call requesting comment in time for publication.

Major Player

The devices are fantastic, according to Ziegler.

This is Dell’s strongest indication so far, he said, that it wants to be a serious player in the smartphone and mobile PC space.

The Qualcomm chip is one component that could help Dell achieve top tier smartphone OEM status, Ziegler noted.

“We are going to see a lot of smartphones in 2011 pushing horsepower that today’s high-end phones are pushing,” he remarked.

The number of smartphones — not to mention two tablet-style devices — is also striking, Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence told TechNewsWorld.

“It seems as though Dell is going to explode onto the scene as a major mobile OEM,” he said.

It has to if it wants to continue to thrive — if not survive, added Sterling. “As more consumers access the Internet using mobile devices, that threatens the continued profitability of PC hardware lines. Dell sees the direction the market is going. If they didn’t make a push like this, they would be left behind.”

The Rundown

According to the leaked documents, Dell will be releasing the following products:

  • The Lightning. The best of the lot, in Engadget’s view, is the Lightning, a Windows Phone 7 portrait slider. It has a 1-GHz QSD8250 Snapdragon processor, WVGA 4.1-inch OLED display, AT&T and T-Mobile 3G, five megapixel autofocus camera, 1 GB of flash with 512 MB RAM plus 8 GB of storage on a MicroSD card, GPS, accelerometer, compass, FM radio, and full Flash support including video playback.

    The ship date is Q4.

  • Dell Lightening

    The Lightning, courtesy of Engadget
  • The Thunder. Built on Android 2.1, the Thunder has a 4.1-inch WVGA OLED screen and a customized Dell user interface. It ties into Facebook and Twitter for social networking. It also has Flash 10.1 for watching Web videos and an “integrated Web video Hulu app.”
  • Dell Thunder

    The Dell Thunder, courtesy of Engadget
  • The Aero. Expected in Q2, the Aero is the simplest device of the group. It runs on a relatively slow 624 MHz Marvell processor and has a 3.5-inch multitouch screen. It does support Microsoft ActiveSync and Exchange.
  • The Streak. A Mini 5 tablet based on Android 2.1, the Streak will be out some time in the summer.
  • Dell Streak

    The Dell Streak, courtesy of Engadget
  • The Looking Glass. A larger, 7-inch tablet, the Looking Glass is due in November. It runs Android 2.1 on a Tegra 2 processor, with an optional TV tuner module and 800×480 display.
  • Dell Looking Glass

    The Dell Looking Glass, courtesy of Engadget
  • The Smoke. The Smoke smartphone will run on Android 2.2 (FroYo) atop a 2.8-inch QVGA display in a style Engadget calls “drop-dead gorgeous.” It supposedly is aimed at a corporate user base — hence, the portrait QWERTY keyboard. It also comes with Qualcomm’s next-gen MSM7230 processor at 800 MHz, a 5 megapixel autofocus cam, 14.4 Mbps HSPA, microSD expansion to 32 GB, WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
  • The Flash. Another Android device, but carved out of a piece of “curved glass,” the Flash sports a 3.5-inch WVGA LCD, 850/1900/2100 MHz HSPA, a 5 megapixel autofocus cam, 512 MB of RAM and ROM, WiFi, TV-out, 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth 3.0, and the Qualcomm MSM7230 core processor at 800 MHz.

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