Much to the chagrin of high-end phone users, Alltel today confirmed that it is deploying the Celltop user interface. Similar to BREW UI on Verizon Wireless, the user interface is an additional overlay that takes over the look-and-feel of the phone, suppressing the Manufacturer UI. Alltel confirmed to Reuters that they hope to have all phones released by the end of the year on the Celltop platform, and that it will be pushed down to the Samsung U520, already shipping.
Alltel’s phones and flashes are popular by informed wireless users for their largely untouched firmware. Hackers have consistently released Alltel firmware for Verizon Wireless phones in order to remove the VZW UI from Verizon versions of devices also sold on Alltel.
Both Verizon and Alltel are using UI Overlays, a process of forcing the phone to load an additional application that slows the overall performance of the device. Sprint uses uiOne, a Qualcomm-designed protocol that augments the Manufacturer UI and when properly implemented, does not inhibit performance.
Update: Alltel has provided more details about Celltop. Celltop is Alltel’s proprietary implementation of Qualcomm’s uiOne, and integrated with the home screen (similar to Cingular’s Active Home Screen, but using proprietary BREW applications). Alltel refers to home screen addons as “similar to widgets” (which they call Cells) that can be selected and purchased (in addition to bundled free cells).
However, Alltel will take a tact similar to Sprint and only use uiOne to augment the user interface, rather than replace it completely. Read more for the first image of Celltop from Alltel.