LG’s Voyager Takes on iPhone on Verizon

Verizon Wireless has announced a series of four new phones which will serve as the anchor products for the company’s 2007 end-of-year holiday buying season: the Samsung Juke, the LG Venus, the BlackBerry Pearl 8130, and the LG Voyager—the latter of which the company hopes will compete favorably with Apple’s iPhone. Of course, the phones all tie in to Verizon’s V Cast mobile music, video, and media offerings, although the company has yet to reveal pricing and availability information for the new handsets, although prices should range from $100 to $400 with contracts.

“We are excited about these devices,” said Verizon VP and chief marketing officer Mike Lanman, in a statement. “Whether customers are seeking a cool, hip, fashion-forward music phone, a device that will help them stay connected to the office, or an entertainment-rich device that can also function in a business setting, we will have it.”

First up, the Voyager features a large external touch-screen display, and, inside, Voyger users will find a full QWERTY keypad for their text-messaging and email needs. The phone ties into Verizon’s EVDO high speed data network—which offers higher bandwidth than the EDGE network afforded the iPhone by AT&ampT—and offers a full HTML browser and support for unprotected MP3, WMA, and AAC audio: users will be able to cart around their personal media library on microSD cards, which currently support up to 8 GB of storage. The Voyager also sports a 2 megapixel camera, and should be available by the end of November.

Verizon is hopeful the combination of high-speed data access, V Cast media access, and a dedicated QWERTY keypad may appeal to users considering the iPhone, but who are put off by reports of slow data access via EDGE (although the iPhone also offers Wi-Fi connectivity) and touchscreen-based keypad.

The BlackBerry Pearl 8130 is another iteration of the Pearl handset for folks who need to balance professional and personal mobile communications in one device. The 8130 sports a silver body (exclusive to Verizon), built-in GPS capabilities that ties into Verizon’s VZ Navigator service, and BlackBerry’s traditional email and Internet access capabilities.

Next up, the fashion-conscious LG Venus offers a video-capable two megapixel camera and an usual dual external display, the lower of which supports touch input and offers vibration feedback—just imagine tickling your phone. The Venus supports microSD storage and a music player that supports unprotected MP3, WMA, and AAC files. Look for the Venus in November in black and pink.

Finally, the Samsung Juke bills itself as the narrowest phone on the U.S. market, with 2 GB of internal storage, support for unprotected music (MP3, WMA, and AAC), a night-capable VGA resolution camera, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and a swivel design which enables users to “flick” open the phone to reveal a keypad. The Juke should be the least expensive of Verizon’s new offerings, and will land at Verizon stores in mid-October in dark blue, teal, and red varieties. The Juke clearly aims at fashion-forward youngsters who want camera and music capabilities, but may not see Internet or email access as essential elements of a phone.

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