Samsung opens CommunicAsia bidding with first 800MHz smartphone

by Caroline Gabriel, ReThink Wireless

After the US focus of last week’s Palm versus Apple stand off, the handset headlines have shifted to Asia, with Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson launching their latest smartphones at the CommunicAsia show in Singapore.

Samsung opened the bidding with the unveiling of the Jet, the fastest full-touch phone on the market (with an 800MHz processor, rather than the 600MHz of most top end devices), which once again demonstrated the importance of innovative user interfaces in the Korean vendors’ challenge for the top spot.

Samsung remained cautious about prospects for the phone market in 2009 however, demonstrating a less optimistic outlook than archrival Nokia. Though not participating directly in the event, the giant Finn unveiled a range of new handsets yesterday, and said it saw the Asian market stabilising earlier than it had expected.

The Samsung Jet’s positioning is all about making a high end mobile web experience more intuitive and intelligent, with ‘smarter than a smartphone’ as the slogan. The world’s second phone maker has been putting intense effort into its user experience on recent launches like the Omnia HD, and with its TouchWiz widgets-based platform (which extends down to midrange models like Instinct).

The latest additions for Jet include the Dolfin browser, which allows users to view up to five pages at once and bookmark favourite sites as homescreen widgets. It also includes a built-in advert blocker, multiple downloading and background downloading feature, multi purpose address field, and one-finger zoom. All this is impressive, and will help test whether proprietary operating systems can still attract carriers if the user experience is sufficiently alluring.

On the hardware side, Samsung’s current key competitive points across its high end range are camera and screen technology, and like Omnia HD, the Jet has a 3.1 inch WVGA AMOLED display, with resolution that is four times that of standard WVGA.

Other features include a multitask manager and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. It offers a five megapixel camera, A-GPS, DNSe and SRS Sound Effect technology plus FM radio, Bluetooth and WiFi, 8Gb of memory, and DivX and XviD video support, which suggests Samsung will soon offer its new full length movie store on this phone.

As usual, pricing, launch dates and carrier deals are yet to be divulged, though it will reach western Europe and key Asian markets in time for the holiday buying season, and no doubt Samsung will be pitching it at AT&T’s HSPA network too.

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