Helio Drift Touts Google Maps, Buddy Beacon

Youth-oriented mobile phone operator Helio has rolled out another Korean-birthed Samsung-made 3G slider phone, dubbed the Drift. Like Helio’s previous phone offerings—the Hero and the Kickflip—the Drift aims to put advanced 3G mobile services into the hands of today’s active young mobile phone users, and enable them to tap into the online services—like MySpace— and entertainment which play important roles in their lives.

“We’re staying true to our mission of bringing advanced wireless technologies from Korea to the U.S. so Helio members can experience an entirely new wireless world,” said Wonhee Sull, Helio President and COO, in a release. “Exceptional collaborators like Samsung and Google combined with Helio’s focus on constant innovation are making first-to-market devices like Drift and our specialized services a reality.”

The Drift is a CDMA/EVDO slider phone featuring a 2.12-inch LCD 320 by 240 pixel LCD display, 128 MB of internal memory (expandable with microSD cards), and a 2 megapixel video-capable camera with a 4× digital zoom. The Drift also offers built-in media playing capabilities (MP3 plus MPEG4), stereo Bluetooth for wireless music headsets, speakerphone, and GPS capability. And, like it’s predecessors, the Drift enables blogging and photo uploading (with direct support for MySpace), along with support for 3D games and a variety of messaging technologies.

Some of the Drift’s defining features related to the GPS receiver. The Drift includes built-in support for Google Maps, including directions and route-finding, real-time traffic data for over 30 major U.S. metropolitan areas, search results which provide information on local businesses, plus satellite imagery for an overhead view of locations.

Drift also uses its GPS technology for Buddy Beacon: instead of calling or sending text messages to friends to tell them about an event or to turn up at a certain place and time, Drift users have merely to turn on their Buddy Beacon, and their Buddy List friends will be able to see a map with their current location and address. Buddy Beacon supports up to 25 of your closest friends. Buddy Beacon can also send SMS messages asking friends to turn on their Buddy Beacons, and enables buddies to directly call nearby friends.

“Helio is engineered for connected consumers who want a mobile experience built exclusively for them,” said Helio CEO Sky Dayton. “With Drift we’re introducing another beautifully crafted device to our portfolio, and we’re debuting GPS-enabled services like Google Maps for mobile and Buddy Beacon. Now, Helio members can spend less time searching and more time hanging out.”

The Helio Drift is available now in white and gunmetal black for $225; Buddy Beacon and Google Maps service are free with Helio’s All-In memberships, and are available with data charges for A La Carte members.

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