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Samsung Showcase 2005

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Nov 11, 2005, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

Hands-on report from the Samsung launch event in New York City for their late-2005 / early-2006 lineup.


Samsung introduced a handful of major new phones this week at a low-key event in New York City. They included the company's first WCDMA phone for the U.S., first GSMM Push-To-Talk phone, a RAZR-like phone, and a new music phone.

Also on deck was the i830, a spinoff of the i730 Windows Mobile PDA-phone currently offered by Verizon. The i830 is exactly like the i730 spec-for-spec, except it adds GSM for world roaming, while removing Wi-Fi. The i830 is Samsung's 2nd CDMA+GSM hybrid world phone for the U.S., following the A790 currently offered by both Verizon and Sprint.

Actually, it could technically be their 3rd such phone, depending on release dates, since Samsung was also showing off the A795, which is simply an A790 without a camera.

There wasn't really any point in taking photos of the i830, since it looks identical to the i730.

There was another phone that wasn't announced or shown at the event, but was in the press kit they handed out.

The T709 is a new slide-style GSM phone for T-Mobile with Wi-Fi. It also has EDGE high-speed data, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and speakerphone. It will join several other GSM / Wi-Fi phones coming to the U.S. in the first quarter of next year, including Motorola's A910.

It's important not to confuse the T709 with the T809, which is a different Samsung slider coming to T-Mobile soon.


The MM-A900 is Samsung's answer to Motorola's RAZR. Normally a company like Samsung would vehemently deny "copying" or "following" a major competitor, but the RAZR has been such a resounding success that Samsung executives were quick to compare the A900 to the RAZR. And really, it's hard to deny the influence; there's simply no question what inspired the A900.

Samsung executives also tried to point out that Motorola didn't yet have a CDMA EVDO RAZR, and Samsung would be first with such a product. In fact, the CDMA EVDO RAZR had just been announced that very morning. The CDMA RAZR should hit the market with Verizon in a few weeks, about the same time the A900 will launch with Sprint, making this an interesting head-to-head battle.

Like the RAZR, the A900 employs a special ultra-flat keypad to achieve its thin profile. Like the RAZR, it does have tactile feedback - you can feel the keys "click" down when you press them - but like the RAZR, that feedback is not as good as on an average phone.

The flatness of the keypad doesn't allow for raised or contoured keys that would make them easier to feel apart from each other. On the RAZR, this is dealt with by adding raised rubber ridges between the keys. Unfortunately, the A900 has no equivalent feature, making it difficult to feel out each key without looking at the keypad. In fact, there is no physical separation at all between many of the keys, and the white horizontal lines between the number keys only help divide the keys visually, not ergonomically.

Samsung has another ultra-thin phone coming out soon: the T809 for T-Mobile. While the A900 is a clamshell, the T809 adopts the increasingly popular slider form factor. Both phones have a similar profile when closed.

The A900 has a slight size advantage, which is impressive given its extra display, although the T809 has the major advantage of a memory card slot, which the A900 unfortunately lacks.

more A900 

Both the T809 and A900 have great QVGA displays. The A900's is slightly larger, which is to be expected given the clamshell form factor. As a Korean Samsung executive recently pointed out, large display size is one of the major advantages of the "thin and wide" form factor of a phone like the A900 or RAZR. And the QVGA resolution is a major advantage of the A900 over the CDMA RAZR, which only has a 176 x 220 pixel display.

The A900 has an interesting feature that will display the U.S. state you're calling once you enter the phone number. I'm not quite sure how it works. It's not a simple zip-code lookup as you might expect, because I tried entering a Pennsylvania zip code with a Virgina exchange (the next three digits) and it said "Virginia"...

As an EVDO "Power Vision" phone for Sprint, the A900 includes "On Demand", an application that provides quick access to simple online information such as news, sports, weather, and maps. The blue hand logo on the screenshot above indicates that this application is, in fact, Pocket Express from Handmark. It might seem redundant since all of the same information is already available via WAP, but it's actually much faster than WAP, because, well - frankly - anything is faster than WAP.

As you can see from the other screenshots above, the A900 also sports Bluetooth, speaker-independent voice control, a megapixel camera, PictBridge direct photo printing, and two choices for the main menu style: list or grid.

You can also see that the A900 has less than 30 MB of memory for content. The A900 is supposed to be a music phone, as indicated by the external media controls and the "Music" option in the main menu. But 30 MB is only enough for less than 10 songs, and given the lack of a memory card slot, it's not clear how useful the A900 will actually be for playing music.


The SGH-ZX10 will be Samsung's first WCDMA phone for the U.S. Since Cingular is the only U.S. carrier launching WCDMA any time soon, they are quite obviously the intended carrier. That's why the ZX10 was one of the few phones in the room where Samsung didn't try to cover up the carrier logo.

With no advanced features like Bluetooth, only a 1 megapixel camera, a stub antenna, and a monochrome external display, it hardly looks like the gee-whiz technology marvel most people might expect from a 3G phone. It's not even HSDPA - just plain old WCDMA. We also couldn't find any support for video calling, although the Samsung reps on hand couldn't confirm it wouldn't have it.

Most of the ergonomics are good, but the two shortcut keys right above the d-pad are in a very unfortunate location. Because they are immediately below the display, it is natural to mistake them for softkeys. I found myself making that mistake repeatedly while using the ZX10, and I imagine others will, as well.

But it does have a few things going for it, such as the microSD memory card slot and music player, and the size:

For a WCDMA phone, the ZX10 is impressively small and light. It's no larger than a typical GSM-only phone, and in fact, smaller than many.

Below are some screenshots from the ZX10:

The ZX10 has a fairly typical user interface (UI), but it does have one unique feature. It's one of the shortcut keys mentioned earlier, which brings up a small shortcut menu from anywhere in the interface. It seems like it was designed to be some kind of multi-tasking control, but in actuality all it seems to do is provide a few shortcuts to make certain features easier to access.

Samsung is already planning a ZX20, which several reps mentioned briefly, although of course they wouldn't go into detail. Bluetooth and HSDPA were two key features of the ZX20 that they mentioned, however.


The A920 is pretty simple to describe: it's basically Sprint's version of the A950, which is already out for Verizon. Although the A950 is clearly designed to be a music phone, Verizon has yet to launch a real music service. Even though A920 will come out well after the A950, it will support Sprint's already-launched Music Store from day one, making a bit more useful as a music phone.

Unfortunately, the A920 on display wasn't activated. That meant we couldn't try the music features since they are all handled by a Java application that - for some reason - requires active service.

Other than the color and the software, the main difference between the A950 and A920 is the external controls. When I first heard about the A950 and A920, I was disappointed that the A920 wouldn't have the nifty scroll wheel like the A950. But after trying the A950's scroll wheel in person, I have to say I much prefer the controls on the A920. The A950's scroll wheel has terrible ergonomics that make its a pain to use. Mostly at fault is the strange raised plastic around the wheel. I imagine it's designed to prevent accidental presses, but actually it just makes it very difficult to use.

It would have been neat if the A920 had a touch-scrolling feature instead, like an iPod. The surface does look like it does that, but unfortunately I was told it's simply a group of five buttons. Since I couldn't start the music application, I couldn't test it out.

The rest of the A920 is just like the A950, including stereo speakers, a microSD memory card slot, Bluetooth, a megapixel camera, dual color displays, speakerphone, and PictBridge. It's also a Sprint Power Vision phone with EVDO like the A900, so you can expect high-quality streaming video as well. The A920 also has full voice recognition technology like the A800, so you can actually dictate text messages with your voice.

One final note on the A920: on the one I tried, the hinge was very "soft"; it didn't open all the way when I tried opening it with one hand, and pushing it open further, I wasn't quite sure where it was supposed to stop. It didn't feel weak like it would break, I just prefer when a phone "clicks" open in a solid way.

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Nov 29, 2005, 9:58 AM


Comp USA a computer store in the Philadelphia area ran an ad in the Sunday Paper and has the SPH-A920 for $ 149.99 with a 2 year contract and expects stock units by 11/30/05. This looks like one nice phone.

Nov 18, 2005, 11:56 PM

services on Sprint handsets

Does Sprint disable their handsets services like VZW does???
For instance would a BT Sprint phone have FULL BT or just BT for headset and no OBES or DUN?
thanks again.
Not anymore! Both the a900 and the a920 have FULL bluetooth capabilities, OBEX, DUN, headset (of course). I have been able to play around with both of these handsets and according to the samsung rep I spoke with and my personal tests with the handsets...

Nov 28, 2005, 1:43 PM

A929 release

Very Happy this phone was release and is availble in most sprint stores nationwide, go pick up yours

Nov 17, 2005, 11:19 AM


An e-mail to Sprint this week indicated that the A920 will be avaliable on-line and at stores before the end of November. Looks like a nice product.
Release dates are 11/20 for the a920 and 12/1 for the a900

Very Happy

Nov 15, 2005, 10:18 PM

Internal Memory Allocation (A900)

What is that screen shot showing? Is that the allocated table for downloads? For photos? Or the total available memory systemwide?
Nonetheless, on the A800, you can have that very same screen.

Menu> downloads> options> memory status

Only difference is the A800 is allocated for 6MBs of download space, which is not it's total onboard memory. Is this how you got to the menu it...
I honestly don't recall, although I think it was from the Photo/Video menus.

It certainly is frustrating that Samsung still doesn't have true shared memory in most of its phones.
These are the specs for the memory on the A900:

64MBytes RAM; 128MBytes ROM; 52 Mbyte total download capacity

I have no idea what that means so if anyone does please enlighten me Smile
A user on SprintUsers with a test A900 said the total space on the handset registers at just under 70Mbs.

A quick visit to and a search for the A900 quickly yeilds it's respective PC sync program. Looks like it will be able to be us...

Nov 11, 2005, 4:27 PM

voice to text

will the a900 have voice to text capabilities for text messaging?

and will it support bluetooth DUN?
I think so on both counts, although I can't specifically confirm either one.

Nov 16, 2005, 6:47 PM

In a good spot.. where from here???

Hello phonescoopers, my name is James and I ahve some questions for all forums crawlers out there about cell phones carriers and manufactuerers. Right now I'm am going month to month with Sprint because my contract ran out in July, with that and the approaching holidays in mind, I was wondering what some of you thought about changin carriers or staying with Sprint. J.D. Power says taht where I live (MA) Verizon or T-Mobile would be the best for call quality which is what is most important. I know Sprint is going through a merger and have teamed up with some big-name companies to provide lots of extras with their service. My question is which do phonescoopers find the best. keep in mind i would probbly not be using any of the extra download s...
to go to a retail store...

Nov 11, 2005, 1:19 PM


I like the A900! Smile
I agree despite the lack of the memory card slot. Phones are phones, MP3 players are MP3 players and digital cameras are digital cameras. I'm not going to McDonalds to go grocery shopping, rent a movie and get fast food just like I'm not using my ph...

Nov 13, 2005, 2:28 PM

Sprint / Samsung MM - A940 ?

I am curious why the Samsung MM - A940 was not included. I would be interested in this one because it has a fully enabled BlueTooth with OBEX. Is it an older phone? -Lorna
It's already been announced and is already on sale. It was at the event, but we focused on the new phones that were being announced and shown in public for the first time.

Nov 16, 2005, 12:09 PM

709 vs 809

Do we know how the T809 and the T709 will compare? What are the differences and what are the similarities. It seems the 809 is going to be much thinner but what about features?
The T709 has Wi-Fi, EDGE, a 1.3 megapixel camera, MP3 player, and speakerphone. It might have a memory card slot, although I'm not sure. It might have Bluetooth, although I doubt it.

The T809 has everything the T709 has except Wi-Fi. It's also thin...

Nov 12, 2005, 12:50 AM

Samsung T709 features?

Rich Brome!
Does Samsung T709 has Quad-band and Bluetooth?
cause I will wait for T709 if it does has same features like T809 and wifi.

Nov 11, 2005, 1:37 PM

Specs of Samsung T709?

Where can I find the specs for Samsung T709?
I like T809, but I would like to compare with T709. T709 looks smaller and has a better looking. Also Wifi is a huge feature. At least I would not buy another phone in awhile.
Does anyone know?
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