It's been a long time coming, but the Ocean 2 has finally launched and should be reaching customers' hands this weekend. Along the way, network Helio has been acquired by Virgin Mobile, and we've seen devices like the iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1 and various high-end feature phones all crash the market. The stakes are undoubtedly higher, and the question is whether the Ocean 2 is too little, too late; we'll have the SlashGear review for you soon, but first off here's the video unboxing and some first impressions.
No great surprise, given the unboxing and the reviews, but Virgin Mobile USA have officially announced the launch of the Helio Ocean 2. Initially available in limited edition red, with black versions following on later in 2009, the Ocean 2 will go on sale come February 12th priced at $149. In addition, from the device's launch the carrier will be eliminating the $5 charge for unlimited mobile to mobile calling, together with starting Unlimited Nights & Weekend calling at 7pm, for all contract customers.
After its unboxing last Friday, the Virgin Mobile Helio Ocean 2 is back for a more meatier review. The dual-sliding QWERTY handset has taken some time to arrive, and it's finally dropped just in time for would-be users to ask if MySpace, chunky casings and 2GB of onboard storage is enough to tempt them in. Engadget Mobile have been comparing the Ocean 2 with its first-gen predecessor - together with the rest of the current feature-phone crowd - and have come back with mixed feelings.
Late, and still luminous orange, the handset formerly known as the Helio Ocean 2 and now as the Virgin Mobile Helio Ocean 2 has showed up for a pre-release unboxing. While a precise launch date for the dual-sliding smartphone is unclear, given the apparently production-ready state of the device and packaging pictured, plus Virgin Mobile's announcement that the phone will be going with Britney Spears on her Circus tour, it's expected by the time that kicks off in March at the latest.
Helio is said to be readying the launch of the Ocean 2 or OZ2 as some may call it. This new flagship smartphone is the successor to the Ocean that was launched back in 2007 around the same time of the iPhone. The phone is said to be ready to hit store shelves as early as next month.
We met with Virgin Mobile while at CTIA Wireless this week, and in-between taking a look at their first self-branded 3G handset, the Shuttle, had a chance to ask them about their plans for Helio. Virgin bought out the carrier, which also uses the Sprint network, earlier this year, and since then subscribers and analysts alike have been waiting for the official word on what exactly will happen to the company, its users and the devices it had planned. That of course includes the eagerly-anticipated Ocean 2 smartphone, and we're pleased to be able to confirm that yes, it's still coming.
Back when we reviewed Helio's dual-sliding Ocean smartphone in May one of our first criticisms of the device was the lack of Microsoft Exchange support - without business-standard push-email, calendar and contacts syncronisation it was tough recommending the handset to business users. Helio answered with a beta of their Exchange upgrade, and they've today released the full, freshly polished version. At the same time, they've launched the free Helio File Viewer to streamline how the cellphone manages attachments.