PDA phone

A PDA phone is a combined cell phone and personal digital assistant. The first generation PDAs are now utterly obsolete, replaced by PDA phones that offer web-based email.

As of 2006-04, widespread rumours of the iphone device from Apple which would integrate its ipod capabilities, were spreading everywhere.


They ultimately will become very personal computers managing a wider range of personal data, including biometrics and medical monitoring. For these reasons the terms:
are all to be preferred to "mobile" or "photo phone" or PDA which all tend to describe only obsolete devices.

typical capabilities and UI

As of 2006-02, a typical PDA phone has capabilities of a pager and some also have phone cameras. Some may soon have also the ability to act as a cordless headset phone via DECT or PCS protocol.

They also increasingly support the Bluetooth protocol, which supports a very wide range of other worn devices, e.g. to scan barcodes, or a wireless headset.

A typical user interface for Email and schedule exploits the small screens - typically only capable of presenting 50 words via Blackberry or about 300 characters - to the maximum. A typical related issue list at openpolitics.ca itself should thus be kept to this limit.


Most PDAs cost under C$500 with monthly operating costs for typical use patterns often ranging from C$50 to C$120 for the highest functioning services.


There are five major players in the market:

  • Changes in the handheld market
    2004 units 2005 units Percent change Market share
    RIM (BlackBerry) 405,000 711,000 +75.6 % 20.8 %
    PalmOne 835,591 614,750 -26.3 % 18 %
    Hewlett-Packard 575,853 601,352 +4.4 % 17.6 %
    Nokia 0 340,000 N/A 9.9 %
    Dell 163,000 217,000 +32.9 % 6.3 %
    Source: Gartner Research, based on first-quarter 2005 figures

BlackBerry is the best known, but Windows Mobile devices now have a slightly larger market share ( HP PDA phones and Dell PDA phones have become popular), and PalmOS and Nokia have established some niches and have some superior software characteristics and also a larger base of applications (as Nokia uses Python and PalmOS is by far the oldest and most established PDA OS). By contrast, all the newer Blackberry devices (four digit model numbers) use Java.


The main use of these devices is handheld e-mail. Basically this is web-based email designed for a small screen. See 50 words via BlackBerry for more on the implications of this small screen size.

Services for PDA phones are increasingly generic. All of the popular units support real-time over the air replication of contacts/email/calender/misc software push and poll. There are offerings "push and poll with corporate exchange blackberry server running for contacts" from notifycorp and other vendors.

tikiwiki/openpolitics.ca support

The HawHaw software framework, used by tikiwiki, also supports mobile devices including the PDA phones.