Microsoft Kin Smartphones Hit the Market Yhis Spring

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This month, Microsoft unveiled its new Kin smartphones, aimed at the younger, social-media savvy market. The hardware is made by Sharp, and should go on sale through the Verizon service provider starting in May. Here is a rundown of the Kin One and Kin Two specs.

Built for Social Networking

Both phones have a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, although the keyboard on the Kin Two is wider and more convenient for two-handed texting. The Kin Two may be more useful for the Facebook or Myspace user, who tends to require more words for posts and comments. The Kin One keyboard is built for quick texters and would be more popular for Twitter users, who can type quick and easy sentences with one hand.

The camera on the Kin Two is an 8 megapixel with built-in flash and HD video. Quick uploads to Facebook or Twitpic are easy with this unit. On the Kin One is a 5 megapixel with SD video capabilities. Both cameras work great in low light, and each cameras offers touch-screen editing and uploading.

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other popular social networking apps are instantly available when the phones are unlocked. A unique features of these two Windows Phones is the ability to share interesting news from one network to another. This function, labeled “Kin-Spot” allows users to click and drag news items from Twitter into Facebook, and vice versa, for instantaneous updating.

Not a Practical Business Phone

Microsoft explicitly markets the Kin One and Kin Two as “an experience for the social generation.” Therefore, neither phone is as practical or useful in business as the more popular smart phones, such as Apple iPhone or Motorola Droid. Although features like calendar, mail, and weather are built into the Kin phones, it requires a few extra screen taps to get to these functions. The iPhone and Droid have these applications readily available on the main screen.

According to a recent study by Pew Internet, three quarters of US teens aged 12-17 use cellphones, and half of them text on a daily basis, some sending more than 100 texts per day. This social teenage market is Kin’s Target, which is why the Kin Studio feature – which syncs up many of the internet’s most popular social media tools and docs in one easy-to-use timeline – is available almost immediately when the Kin is powered on.

Kin Release Dates

Originally advertised to be released in late April, the dates were pushed further into the Spring for some last-minute software updates. Verizon is now projected to release the Kin in late May, just in time for kids to pick up these new phones for summer vacation.