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Samsung Spring Preview

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Mar 6, 2006, 2:47 AM   by Rich Brome

Preview of Samsung's spring U.S. lineup, including the T719, P857, D407, T609, X507, plus bonus galleries from 3GSM.

Intro 

Samsung had a pretty impressive array of phones on display at the 3GSM trade show last month. We showed you most of them in our event coverage at the time, but there were plenty of other models that we didn't have time to write about back then, that are still worth sharing.

We also stopped by the "Samsung Experience" showroom in New York City last week and got a peek at some new phones for the U.S. that the company is quietly starting to show off. If you're not lucky enough to attend a trade show like CES or CTIA, the Samsung Experience is usually your next-best bet for getting hands-on time with some of the latest new Samsung phones, including some cutting-edge Korean and European models, and a few U.S. models that aren't in stores yet. The Samsung Experience is located in the new Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle.

The following pages include highlights from both places, broken down by U.S.-bound and overseas models.

U.S.

T719 

At first glance, the new SGH-T719 looks like a prototype HSDPA phone that Samsung showed off at CES a couple of months ago. Although it's based on the same impressively slim and light form factor, the T719 is actually a very different phone. Although it's not 3G and strips out a few other features, the T719 adds a couple of very key features: BlackBerry push email and a SureType text keyboard.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

While several major manufacturers are now licensing RIM's BlackBerry back-end technology for delivering push email directly to phone inboxes, Samsung has apparently forged a deeper partnership with RIM by offering an actual BlackBerry email interface right on the phone, and licesning's RIM's SureType text keypad design as well.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

As you can see from the photos above, the T719 features the exact same key layout as the BlackBerry 7100-series, right down to the icons on the keys.

Other features of the T719 include Bluetooth, a rotating 1.3 megapixel camera, and speaker-independent voice control. Unfortunately it lacks a memory card slot, although the 25 MB of internal memory should be adequate for typical usage.

However the best feature of the T719 is its RAZR-like thin profile that makes it an extremely pocket-friendly alternative to other T-Mobile messaging phones like the BlackBerry 7105 and the Sidekick.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

P857 

Another exciting new Samsung phone we managed to snap photos of recently is the P857, a phone based on the P850 that was revealed at CeBIT last year, and the P858 that was recently approved by the FCC. As we reported a month ago, we expect the P857 to be a very similar high-end, multi-megapixel camera phone for the U.S.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

What's new is that the version shown in the photos above clearly has a Cingular logo on the keypad, confirming that this is the P857 version, and it's headed to Cingular.

As on other phones with a similar twisting hinge, the display can be folded facing out, making the photo-taking experience exactly like that of a standalone digital camera.

The European version of this phone - the P850 - has a 3 megapixel camera module. We assume the P857 will have a similar camera, although the megapixel count wasn't printed on the version we saw, and it's possible the U.S. version will have slightly different specs.

Still, this is a form factor Samsung is using worldwide for high-resolution camera phones. At 3GSM, we had a chance to play with the SCH-B380 - the new Korean version with a full 5 megapixel resolution:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

D407 

The D407 appears to be a replacement for the D357. Both are clamshell GSM phones with Push-To-Talk and Bluetooth for Cingular. Although we didn't have the opportunity to compare them side-by-side, the D407 seemed significantly smaller and lighter than the D357. Otherwise the phones are mostly similar, including monochrome outer displays and speaker-independent voice control. The D407 does add streaming video playback (presumably for MobiTV).

The D407 also adds a VGA camera, although a non-camera version - the D347 - will also be available.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

T609 

The T609 was announced back at CES in January, but unfortunately Samsung didn't have any prototypes to show us back then. That's changed, and we recently had a chance to check it out.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The T609 seems like a very well-rounded phone in more ways than one. With a 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, microSD memory card slot, EDGE, and quad-band GSM, it certainly has a solid feature set. The design is also fairly attractive and functional. It's small, light, and feels good in the hand.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Although it was announced as a "slim" clamshell phone, it's not nearly as thin as a RAZR. It's still a comfortably small phone, though. The T709 is a nice size, and the T609 is much smaller in a side-by-side comparison.

X507 

The SGH-X507 was also on display.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

It's clearly headed for Cingular, based on both the model number and the obvious orange logo on the keypad.

It's pretty similar to the D407. It lacks PTT and Bluetooth, although some might say the styling is sleeker. FCC documents indicate the X507 will be a quad-band model with EDGE data and a monochrome LCD outer display.

Overseas

P900 

The most hyped technology at 3GSM this year was definitely mobile TV. Specifically, the new dedicated broadcast technologies like DVB-H and DMB that facilitate affordable live TV instead of just the prerecorded clips that are typically offered on today's 3G networks.

As a Korean company, Samsung has been heavily involved in the launch of mobile TV service in Korea using DMB - Korea's home-grown TV technology. At CES, they were showing off the B4100, their latest flagship DMB phone for Korea. The B4100 is a very sexy little clamshell phone with a display that rotates to landscape mode for TV viewing.

Samsung has also been pushing to get DMB adopted in Europe and other parts of the world. To that end, they've developed a GSM version of the B4100, called the SGH-P900.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Although Samsung would love to see DMB adopted in Europe, DVB-H is the frontrunner mobile live TV technology in that region, thanks to heavy backing from Nokia. Therefore Samsung is hedging its bets by also offering a DVB-H version of the same phone: the SGH-P910.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Both phones have an impressive QVGA display.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The interface for mobile TV is no more complicated than it needs to be - there's a list of channels to choose from and that's about it.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Hands-on with the Samsung P900 and P910 at 3GSM, the video quality varied considerably depending on the phone unit and channel we tried. There were impressive examples of video quality for both technologies. It was all prototype gear though, and transmission quality seemed to vary by the hour, so unfortunately it didn't seem like a fair occasion to judge video quality.

DMB doesn't seem to have any traction in the U.S., but Nokia and Crown Castle are pushing hard to launch DVB-H in the U.S. with a major carrier, although they've already suffered two defeats with the news that both Verizon and Sprint are planning to use other technologies for live TV. It looks like we'll only see DVB-H here if either Cingular or T-Mobile sign up for Nokia's new network.

Z560 

In a typical display of "Europe always gets the cooler phones", Samsung was showing off its first two HSDPA phones side-by-side in a special part of their booth. The ZX20 is the one for the U.S., while the Z560 is the one for Europe.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The Z560 is a very thin, sleek phone with a 2 megapixel camera, huge, gorgeous main display, great full-color OLED outer display, and slick touch controls on the outside for controlling music.

The ZX20, on the other hand, is pretty much just an HSDPA version of the ZX10, a very unremarkable - almost low-end - 3G phone that Cingular is expected to launch this month. The ZX20 is a bit thick, and has an annoying stub antenna.

It's great to see the U.S. finally get ahead on something with Cingular being first in the world to launch an HSDPA network. But it's also very frustrating to have such relatively crappy phones available for it. It's puzzling why Cingular doesn't seem to want spiffy phones like the Z560 to showcase what its new HSDPA network can do.

Z710 

The most impressive phone in the Samsung booth at 3GSM was definitely the SGH-Z710. This baby packs every feature you could imagine into a remarkably small, light, and sleek package.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Compared to the rest of Samsung's 3G lineup for Europe, the focus of the Z710 is definitely on the camera. The Z710 sports an impressive 3.2 megapixel auto-focus camera module. In addition to being high-resolution, the display twists just like on the P857, so that you can hold the phone sideways like a standalone digital camera, and the display will cover nearly the whole side of the phone facing you, to serve as a giant viewfinder.

The Z710 had impressive camera performance. Like most auto-focus camera phones, it unfortunately took a second or two to focus, but once it took a shot, it was ready to take another almost instantly (less than a second). It has enough buffer memory to take up to nine photos in a row, with almost no waiting between shots. The "saving..." screen that most camera phones have after you take a photo simply doesn't exist on the Z710. That's great of course, although it does take some getting used to... it means it can be hard to tell if it's taken the photo or not, which may lead to missed, blurry, or extra shots if you're not paying attention.

The Z710 is very similar to Sharp's 903 for Vodafone. Both are 3G phones with 3 megapixel cameras and twisting displays. However the Samsung wins on form factor. The Z710 is just amazingly small and light for everything it packs in, the hinge seems better, and the controls feel better.

X810 

The X810 is one of several Samsung music phones with an iPod-esque spinning scroll wheel.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The X810 is also notable for its amazingly small size. It's a bit thick, but its narrow width makes it still quite a small phone. Unfortunately that makes the display a bit small and cramped. It's still an engineering marvel, though, especially since it sports built-in stereo speakers and and a unique swivel part that houses both the camera and ear speaker.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The X810 has a solid feel to it, which is only enhanced by the spring-assisted mechanisms for both the slide and the rotating camera.

Unfortunately the X810 is only available in limited distribution; France is one of the few countries where it's for sale so far.

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Subject Author Date
t719 and Blackberry-Connect blsgalant97 Sep 23, 2006, 11:04 PM
Where are the CDMA Sammys? djdelay Mar 7, 2006, 9:32 PM
Carriers iatangan Mar 9, 2006, 12:36 AM
hey rich or eric is the P857 3g? sowhatsowhat10 Mar 8, 2006, 11:35 AM
No UMA??? jnoel Mar 7, 2006, 2:18 PM
SGH-T509 9.8mm SLIM Candybar tuolumne Mar 6, 2006, 8:33 PM
T609 - FM reciever? A2DP? When? fonCall Mar 6, 2006, 7:20 PM
Question about cingular's 3G Elnegro54 Mar 6, 2006, 10:46 AM
t719 muchdrama Mar 6, 2006, 1:07 PM
where's the WOW factor? windex Mar 6, 2006, 5:37 AM
 
 
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