Samsung's Hennessy, sporting an unusual flip-phone design, targets users who prefer traditional buttons and dial pads.
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Samsung Wednesday announced the SCH-W789 Hennessy, an Android smartphone notable for its two-screen design and flip-phone form factor. The device looks like a feature phone from 2005, but it has two touchscreens paired with a standard numerical dial pad.
Each screen measures 3.3 inches across the diagonal and includes 480 x 320 pixels. There are capacitive buttons below the screen on the front for interacting with the Android operating system. When the Hennessy is closed, one screen is visible on the front, and the second is visible when the Hennessy is flipped open. The numerical dial pad lets users dial numbers old-school as well as use triple-tapping or T9 for text entry.
The Hennessy is powered by a quad-core 1.2-GHz processor, which is paired with 1 GB of RAM. There is a microSD slot for storage, and the phone includes a 5-megapixel camera for imaging. Other hardware features include a 1,500mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and USB 2.0.
The Hennessy is aimed at users in China and thus supports both GSM and CDMA wireless networks. This means the device can be used with China Telecom, Unicom, and China Mobile. There's no word from Samsung if the Hennessy will be sold in the U.S. or other regions aside from China.
The smartphone ships with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and comes with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. TouchWiz carries a number of features seen on Samsung's Galaxy-branded devices, such as ChatOn for messaging.
Pricing and availability of the Hennessy was not provided by Samsung.
The vast bulk of modern smartphones adopt the slab form factor, which means they have a flat-rectangular shape. The Hennessy defiantly breaks this mold in an attempt to marry the popular flip form factor with the smartphone. Similar attempts to do this by other companies have not proven successful.
The Kyocera Echo, for example, was a miserable failure. Sold by Sprint in the U.S., the device sported two displays that could be positioned side-by-side -- a novel idea, but poorly executed. The Echo was bulky and power-hungry.
Pantech is another company that attempted to break the current smartphone mold. It debuted the Pocket with AT&T several years ago. The Pocket was an Android smartphone with an extra-wide display. It was a joy to type on, but its odd size and shape made the device difficult to carry around comfortably.
Samsung was one of the masters of the flip phone form factor throughout the 2000's. It vied with LG for flip phone dominancy in the U.S. and produced dozens of models sold by U.S. carriers. With any luck, the company will be able to capitalize on its successful past with the Hennessy. History shows that taking chances with the smartphone form factor often draws jeers, not cheers – but perhaps the Hennessy will be an exception.
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