For Sprint, maintaining their aging iDEN network is proving to be more of a headache than it’s worth. Even though their Nextel Direct Connect service still has footholds in certain markets (construction immediately springs to mind), their financial statements report a loss of 367,000 iDEN subscribers this past quarter. In spite of otherwise strong figures, it seems clear that iDEN is becoming more and more of a liability.
That would certainly explain their move to a new Sprint Direct Connect service running on CDMA that is poised to launch in Q4 of this year. It’s touted as offering a significant boost in coverage and you’ll finally be able to get some worthwhile performance and data speeds on a Sprint Direct Connect device. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a launch without some star-studded handsets, and Sprint aims to please! With, you know… rugged flip phones.
The Kyocera DuraMax and the Kyocera DuraCore are slated to be the first devices to take advantage of Sprint Direct Connect. While both are built to MIL-STD-810G standards, the higher-end DuraMax classes things up a bit with a 3.2 MP shooter, a stereo Bluetooth radio, and support for up to 32 GB of expandable memory. Meanwhile, the DuraCore has been designated the entry-level model and makes do with such advanced features as a speakerphone. Still, they’re nothing if not utilitarian, and they’ll certainly find their niche in the workforce. Interestingly, a Motorola smartphone is in the works, but details will be sparse until we inch closer to launch.