Handset cavalcade: Motorola expands at Leap, Alltel

Despite continuing concerns over the future of its handset business, Motorola today managed to expand its distribution with two Tier 2 players. The firm released new messaging and touchscreen devices through regional carriers Alltel and Leap Wireless.

Motorola EvokeAlltel will sell Motorola's Evoke QA4 touchscreen device for $79.99, after a $100 mail-in rebate and with a two-year service plan. Unveiled earlier this year, the device features a 2-megapixel camera, expandable memory slot, stereo Bluetooth and both slide-out and touchscreen Qwerty keyboards.

Alltel currently serves 2.2 million customers, the subscribers Verizon Wireless was forced to divest as part of its now-completed $28.1 billion acquisition of the former Alltel.

Separately, Leap said it would sell Motorola's Hint QA30 for $249.99. The device, which supports Leap's newly launched 3G EV-DO network, features a Qwerty keypad, MP3 player and Bluetooth capability. The device is one of the first Qwerty phones for Leap.

Although the new releases prove struggling Motorola is still in the game (despite losing U.S. market share to Samsung), Current Analysis handset analyst Avi Greengart said Motorola remains focused on introducing Android devices in the second half of this year. Motorola's fate may well rest on the forthcoming smartphones, which the company hopes will renew its fortunes in the handset market.

In other handset news, T-Mobile USA announced a 3G version of its Sidekick line of devices. The carrier's new 3G Sidekick LX will go for $200 with a two-year contract and $50 mail-in rebate. T-Mobile will hold a launch event for the device in New York April 21.

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