'Second Life' enters the world of mobile phones

A free, open beta test version of Second Life Mobile enables Linden Lab's popular virtual world to leap onto 40 cell phones with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

'Second Life' logo

Demanding a better-than-average processor, a 1024x768 screen resolution, a boatload of RAM, and a strong video card just to take part, it's hard to believe that Second Life, the virtual world developed by Linden Lab (download for Windows and Mac), could ever survive on a mobile phone.

Yet on Tuesday, Vollee, a 3G streaming services provider, began offering the free, open beta version of Second Life for 40 Wi-Fi-enabled and 3G cell phones with more handset compatibility coming soon. That means you, iPhone.

'Second Life' avatars can fly and teleport from 40 mobile phones. (Credit: Vollee)

In Second Life Mobile, users will be able to fly and teleport all over the virtual world, and chat when other friends are online.

Talk about porting Second Life to cell phones began in February, and a private beta program of Second Life Mobile appeared shortly after.

How does Vollee accomplish the gargantuan, scoffed-at task of hosting a huge, graphics-hungry PC game on such compact devices? They won't spill much, except to say that Second Life Mobile is a thin client downloaded to the high-end cell phone that communicates with the full, unmodified game that's hosted on Vollee's servers. All the adaptation happens on Vollee's end, with the mobile-friendly results streaming to each individual handset.

We haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but we will soon. Watch this space for our first take of gameplay.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.