Dell Android Mobile Device Trio: Thunder, Flash, Smoke Smartphones

Dell's first attempt at an Android smartphone never made it out of the gate, according to one analyst, after the phones failed to impress the wireless carriers. But the second time may prove the charm as Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) has some stylish new Android phones in the works.

Several months ago Dell announced its first Android smartphone, the Mini 3, but it was only intended for the Chinese market. Since then, the company has only made one other announcement, the Aero, which will be carried by AT&T when it ships later this year.

Now, following up a leak of details related to the "Lightning" Windows 7 smartphone comes word via gadget blog Engadget of three similar Android phones with equally bombastic names: "Thunder," "Flash" and "Smoke."

Engadget claims its source is leaked Dell documentation on the phones and, as it did with Lightning, it posted scans of the source documents. When asked for comment, a Dell spokesperson told InternetNews.com by e-mail: "Dell continually develops and tests new products that extend the mobile experience. We have not made any product announcements and do not comment on speculation, rumor or unannounced products."

Like Dell's recent Adamo and other laptops, the new handsets reflect Dell's recent emphasis on style and aesthetics. They are all slim, sleek and shiny, with rounded edges and chrome/metal backings.

Thunder is a high-end Android device with a 4.1-inch WVGA OLED display and 8 megapixel camera. Its screen resolution was not listed. It will run Android 2.1 and a custom UI called "Stage," which looks similar to the Streak UI on Dell's netbooks. It has ties to Facebook and Twitter and supports Flash 10.1, along with an "integrated Web video Hulu app."

Dell said it will support 7.2 megabit HSPDA when it ships in the fourth quarter of this year, and an LTE model will follow near the end of 2011.

"Flash," not to be confused with the Adobe product, is an ultra-thin, all silver metal design with a 3.5-inch WVGA display and 5-megapixel autofocus camera. Its emphasis is on speed supporting 850 / 1900 / 2100MHz HSPA topping out at 14.4Mbps down and 5.6Mbps "or better" upstream. That would make it the fastest 3G phone on the market. It also has 512MB of RAM and ROM with microSD expansion supporting up to 64GB of storage. It's planned for release in the first quarter of 2011.

Then there's "Smoke," which bears quite a resemblance to the Palm Pixi and the Samsung BlackJack. It's a long-thin design with a hard QWERTY keyboard at the bottom. The display will measure 2.8 inches. It will share a few Flash features, like the high speed throughput and 5 megapixel autofocus camera. It will come with 32GB of microSD expansion, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and dual-mic noise canceling technology. It's not due until the second quarter of 2011.

Avi Greengart, research director for mobile devices at Current Analysis, would not discuss the specifics of rumored devices, but did say that Dell needs to get off the sidelines on smartphones.

"What is clear is the market is moving in the direction that if you are a PC vendor or make personal portable computing products, you need to be in this space. In developing countries, in many cases this will be the first computing experience for those people, and in developed markets, that's where the growth is," he told InternetNews.com, adding that in the most recent quarter, Apple's iPhone business did better than its long-established Mac business.


Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, Dell, smartphone, Windows 7, AT&T