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2006 Holiday Pre-Preview

Samsung Sony Ericsson Jitterbug Wherifone LG Comments  36  

Sep 22, 2006, 2:17 AM   by Rich Brome

Hands-On with the new Samsung M500, D900, C417, Trace, Sony Ericsson W710, Jitterbug, Wherify Wherifone, and LG LX-150.

This week in New York City, the tech press was given a sneak peek at the new gadgets coming out this holiday season. Phone Scoop was there, and we spotted some neat new phones from Samsung, Sprint Nextel, Sony Ericsson, GreatCall, and Wherify.

The sleeper hit of the show for me was the Samsung M500 for Sprint. It's a phone that's been rumored for a while, but this week was my first chance to try it in person and see official specs.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

At first glance, it looks a little like the new C417 for Cingular, and almost exactly like the T619 for T-Mobile. The T619 and M500 are clearly based on the same design, which is also the same as the E380 for Europe. Looks are where the similarities end, however, since the M500 is significantly more feature-laden then its GSM cousins.

Features in common between the T619 and M500 include the same thin, light design, a megapixel camera, and stereo Bluetooth 2.0. Both also have a 176 x 220 main display, capable of 262,000 colors.

Where the M500 starts to look better is the EVDO high-speed data for streaming video and downloading music, and support for location-based services using GPS, both of which are increasingly common on CDMA phones. Where it stands out even further is with its all-important microSD memory card slot and music player. *

Really, the M500 is a more affordable replacement for the popular A900 model, that adds the memory card slot the A900 was so sorely missing. It's almost as thin, and smaller in the other dimensions:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The only downgrades are the lack of external media controls, and a step down in display resolution. But given that it should sell for about half the price of the A900, it seems like a fair trade-off.

The one advantage of the T619 is that you can buy it now. The M500 won't hit shelves until early November.

The M500 will come in both silver and a festive red color for the holidays.

Samsung is taking the same color approach with the somewhat similar - but decidedly lower-end - C417 for Cingular:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Red seems to be the color this season, or at least Samsung thinks so. It's not just a holiday color, though. I can see these red phones being appropriate for Valentine's Day as well.

A stripped-down phone like the C417 is a good example of the kind of phone that Samsung's carrier customers are asking for, even though Samsung would much prefer to show off its technical prowess by bringing us more advanced phones.

Which is exactly why Samsung has decided to take a page from Nokia's playbook and bring a true flagship phone directly to tech-savvy U.S. consumers, bypassing the usual carrier channels. Although they aren't opening up their own stores just yet, Samsung will start selling their impressive D900 flagship phone to US consumers via samsung.com by the end of the year.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The D900 was recently released in Europe, and is unquestionably their flagship GSM phone for this year. While Nokia and Sony Ericsson currently have flagship phones with 3 megapixel auto-focus cameras, only Samsung's D900 has that feature while also being about the size of a Motorola RAZR. The N73 and K790 don't even come close in size.

The D900 also has just about every other feature you can possibly imagine, and it has a remarkably light, yet high-quality feel to it.

The version specifically for the U.S. will carry the moniker "Black Carbon". Samsung suggested that Black Carbon might have a few tweaks compared to the stock D900 for Europe, although we got the impression it would mostly be the same phone.

Another remarkable engineering feat from Samsung is the T519 Trace, just launched by T-Mobile.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Despite being much, much thinner, it actually feels far more solid than its predecessor, the T509. The T509 had a distinct plastic-y feel.

Like the X820 for Europe upon which it is based, the Trace is just impossibly thin. It's the world's thinnest phone available today, although anyone who holds it in their hand doesn't have to be told that; it's so impossibly thin that it doesn't seem a phone could be any thinner.

While phones for the U.S. based on European models often lose a few features in translation, the Trace actually gained a memory card slot that the X820 lacks. The camera does step down to 1 megapixel from 2, but I imagine most users would rather have the memory card slot. EDGE data and Bluetooth round out the key features.

The Trace feels surprisingly solid for something so thin. Although the keys aren't the best, they are perfectly usable, providing adequate tactile feedback. The display is impressively large, bright, and colorful.

Last but not least, Samsung also has a stylish and unique pair of new stereo Bluetooth headphones to go with its lineup of stereo Bluetooth phones:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The SBH-170 has a wire loop that fits snugly behind the head when worn, and coils up neatly for tucking away when not in use.

* Corrected Sept. 24 in regard to external display type.

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Subject Author Date
Looking for smartphone compatible with verizon. johnsonrc5 Sep 22, 2006, 9:21 PM
The Jitterbug phone Wireless Buddy Sep 22, 2006, 5:13 PM
No mention of the MOTORAZR V3xx or Max??? HarryWild Oct 3, 2006, 9:48 PM
Yawn.. jerzeerican Sep 25, 2006, 3:12 AM
Other coming phones... Need info! monkeyracer Sep 28, 2006, 9:34 PM
LX150----LOVE THE PINK sweetpea0805 Sep 28, 2006, 11:37 AM
Pre-Preview? When is the holiday preview? monkeyracer Sep 22, 2006, 12:08 PM
LG LX-350 Etix Sep 23, 2006, 3:04 PM
  • Re: LG LX-350 by Etix   Sep 23, 2006, 3:06 PM
  • LX-150 by Rich Brome   Sep 23, 2006, 7:40 PM
Samsung status LEDs? tuolumne Sep 23, 2006, 2:56 PM
woo! one more question Rob deeoh1084 Sep 23, 2006, 12:28 PM
D900 which carrier? deeoh1084 Sep 22, 2006, 1:45 PM
1st time 1st thread opdaddy Sep 22, 2006, 7:12 AM
 
 
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