[Exclusive] Hunting Down a Unicorn: The VPhone

PhoneCan has been trying to hunt down one of the mythical unicorns of the wireless industry.  No, it’s not the Verizon iPhone.  That’s referred to as the Magical Unicorn Pegasus iPhone.  This is something else, entirely.

No, what we’re referring to is the Saygus VPhone.  For those familiar with the model, they will immediately recognize a phone that has never truly materialized.  For those unfamiliar with the phone, we will help you understand what the phone was specified to have when it was “announced.”  We will show you how it’s popped up from time to time across the Internet.  And, we will tell you why we think you’ll never actually get to hold one.

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What is the VPhone?

The VPhone is an Android-based device built for use on Verizon Wireless’ 3G network.  It was created with the intention of utilizing Verizon Wireless’ Open Access program, which was announced in November of 2007.  The program was intended to allow authorized, non-Verizon supplied devices on it’s network.

Saygus, who makes the VPhone, would have to work through Verizon Wireless’s Open Access lab to gain approval for the device on the network.

The phone’s specifications:

Processor Marvell PXA 310, 806 MHz
Operating System Android
Memory Flash: 512 MB
SDRAM: 256 MB
Mass Storage up to 16GB SDHC
Dimensions (LxWxT) 116.5 mm x 59.5 mm x 20.3 mm
(4.58 in x 2.34 in x 0.79 in)
Display 3.5-inch capacitive touch-sensitive screen
800 x 480 (WVGA) resolution
Network CDMA2000 EV-DO REV A

Productivity Applications

Video Calling, Document viewer, File System Explorer, Web Browser, Calculator, Email, Instant Messenger, Image Browser, Voice Recording, Alarm, Calendar, etc.
Keyboard Slide-out 4-row QWERTY keyboard
Connectivity WiFi 802.11b/g (MicroAP, Infrastructure, Ad-Hoc)
Bluetooth v2.0+EDR
Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP)
CDMA 800 Mhz - 1900 Mhz
Camera 5 MP main camera with auto focus and flash
VGA forward facing camera
Audio Built-in microphone and speaker
Audio formats MP3, MIDI, AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB
Video formats MPEG2, MPEG4, H.263, H.264
Battery Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer battery
Capacity: 1500 mAh
Talk time up to 7 hours
Standby time up to 250 hours
Music playback time up to 8 hours
Video-talk time up to 4 hours
Expansion Slot MicroSD™ memory card supports current 16GB and 32GB when available
Special Features Video Telephony - Two-Way Video Calling
GPS / A-GPS E911
3D Accelerometer (G-sensor)
Digital Compass
USB 2.0 OTG / USB Mass Storage / USB Charging
FM Radio

We will discuss some of these specifications later in the article.

Origins of the VPhone

The first muttering of an open access Android phone came among the rumors of Verizon launching a Motorola-brand Android phone in third quarter 2009.  That Motorola-brand Android phone is what we now know as the original Motorola DROID.

In October of 2009, Unstrung.com (now LightReading.com) reported some of the details, but didn’t have any details, including a manufacturer and specifications.  Rumors of the phone came out of the CTIA Fall show of 2009.

By November, just days before the launch of Verizon’s first Android phones (DROID and DROID Eris), a picture of the mystery phone hit the FCC web site during it’s device approval process.  This was our first glimpse of the phone.  And on top of that, we finally found some specifications - not to mention the brand and model: Saygus VPhone.

Little was really known about the device until the following week, in the wake of the DROID launch, when the phone started making it’s rounds among some of the cell phone web sites.

By the following January, the phone made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show, thanks to the Saygus booth.  Many more people (other than the phone news sites) were able to get their hands on the device.

Next, the VPhone seems to disappear.  Also, where the device stands today, and why we think you may never see this phone in anyone’s hands.

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