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3GSM 2006

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Samsung i320 Samsung Z600 Pantech 8300 *  

Seemingly not one to take sides in the smartphone wars, Samsung also announced a new S60 (formerly Series 60) smartphone at the show, the SGH-Z600. This is Samsung's first 3G Symbian phone.


Samsung has a long and sordid history of developing and announcing S60 phones. The phones are usually quite impressive and make for great demos. For S60 devotees, they're also a nice alternative from the usual Nokia fare. At least in theory... that is, if they would ever actually ship any of them.

The tale starts three years ago with the D700, a futuristic (for the time) twist-and-flip smartphone when Samsung had just agreed to license Series 60 from Nokia. But that never saw the light of day. Then there was the D710 a year later, which basically put the same phone in a slider form (when sliders were still new and rare). But again, it never shipped. Then last year saw the announcement of the D720, which just gave the D710 a face-lift, and the D730, which put the same phone in a clamshell body. Samsung recently announced that the D720 and D730 are shipping in Germany, but the D720 is only shipping in very limited distribution, and by all accounts the D730 is still pure vaporware.

So here we are again - another year, another Samsung S60 phone. At least this year they actually added new features - like 3G, video calling, and a 2 megapixel camera. But the question is: will it actually ship?

It's not cheap to develop phones like the D7x0 series and Z600, so to have the phones never reach the market - year after year - makes their whole S60 department just a financial black hole within the company. Therefore, given the history, I'm starting to think Samsung develops Symbian phones purely as a strategic ploy for leverage against Microsoft when negotiating licensing terms for Windows Mobile. That's really the only way their actions make any sense.

Whether it ships or not, the Z600 is still a nice phone to ogle. It's quite stylish, both physically and in software.


The Z600 has a special Samsung UI theme that's very Korean-looking, complete with animated pixie dust when you select an icon in the main menu. The Z600 also has VoiceSignal voice control, and of course a Picsel document viewer (quickly becoming standard on higher-end Samsungs).

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