Palm debuts its Pixi smartphone, its second using WebOS

Pricing not announced, but it should be on sale before Christmas

Palm Inc. and Sprint Nextel Inc. formally announced the second WebOS smartphone today, the Palm Pixi, and said it will be available in the US from Sprint before the Christmas holidays.

The price was not disclosed but it is expected to be in the range of $US99, half the original $US200 cost of the Palm Pre, the first WebOS smartphone, after rebates.

The companies also confirmed today that the Pre will now be available for the reduced price of $US150, after rebates. Yesterday, Sprint revoked a $US100 service credit for new Palm Pre buyers just hours after it made the credit available.

Earlier reports had speculated the phone might be called the Palm Eos , with an internal code-name of Pixie with an "e" in the spelling.

Palm, in a statement , emphasized that the phone is Palm s thinnest yet at .43 inches thick. It is 4.37 inches x 2.17 inches in size and weighs 3.51 ounces.

While the Pre has a slider function which some users have criticised for being wobbly, the Pixi has a QWERTY keyboard below its 2.63-inch touch screen, more akin to Palm s Centro smartphone, which runs the Palm OS.

The Pixi also includes a gesture function for navigation with the multi-touch screen, a feature also provided in the Pre. It has 8GB of storage and a removeable, rechargeable battery.

Palm said the Pixi is also the first cell phone to launch with a Qualcomm high-performance chipset called the MSM7627.

Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein categorized the Pixi as a more intuitive smartphone experience defined by unmatched simplicity and usefulness, which would bring the capabilities to a broader range of users who want messaging and social networking with design that focuses on personal style.

Many mobile phones are marketed to buyers as fashion items, and Palm will be showcasing the Pixi with what it calls its Artist Series phone covers at the annual Fashion Week in New York starting tomorrow.

Palm is yet to release the Pre or the Pixie in Australia, though rumours suggest the Pre will make its debut down under in early 2010.

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Matt Hamblen

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