It doesn’t have a big screen, it’s not touch sensitive and it is even slow at times, but if it’s price you are concerned about, Helio’s Ocean 2, just unveiled by Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM), may offer some relief. Yesterday, Virgin Mobile USA unveiled the second-generation Helio device, the first Helio phone since the two companies merged last year. With the merger completed, Virgin Mobile now has the benefit of being able to offer a wide range of products. Before, they were focused on the low-end pre-paid market. With Helio, they’ll be able to offer higher-end, data-driven products — but in the same playful, youth-oriented manner. The Ocean 2 accomplishes that (every key tapped and button pushed results in a beep or chime). It’s not a polished and sleek iPhone, and it’s definitely not a workhorse Blackberry, but the phone makes it easy to monitor the favorite social networks, and offers a wide variety of content, including games, video, web surfing and messaging. Release.
The interesting part is that this phone is technically a feature phone because it doesn’t have an smartphone operating system, but it’s highly functional, and even beats the iPhone and T-Mobile G1 in some categories, while even having a couple of features that will be available in the soon to-be-released Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre. It’s not always a fast ride, but from the home screen, users can search the Web and pull up contacts (without even a search bar), and the social networks are integrated into the device with just one click. The Web browser is not a full browser, but it does a good job of rendering most sites, and allows you to have multiple pages open at the same time. It also allows you to sync with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) exchange and a slew of other email providers, it has GPS-enabled Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Maps, it has 3G and comes with 2 gigabytes of internal storage and a 2 megapixel camera capable of shooting video. The phone costs $149, and monthly plans start at $65, which includes 500 daytime minutes and unlimited messaging and data. That’s where it may beat out the iPhone, which costs $200, but is nearly $100 a month for even fewer minutes. For unlimited everything, the Ocean 2 maxes out at $99.
Here’s a video of some of the features mentioned above: