Samsung Rolls Out Android Phone

Samsung's first Android-powered handset has Wi-Fi, 3G, an AMOLED touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and deep integration with Google's Web services.
Samsung I7500 Android smartphone
(click image for larger view)
Samsung I7500 Android smartphone

Samsung has officially announced a smartphone that will be powered by the Linux-based Android operating system.

The I7500 has a 3.2-inch AMOLED touch screen, which means it will come with the "Cupcake" firmware update that adds a virtual keyboard, stereo Bluetooth, and video recording. The smartphone's face is dominated by the touch screen, but there are also a few tactile keys on the face and sides of the handset.

Like the T-Mobile G1, Samsung's smartphone will have deep integration with Google's Web services, including Google Maps, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Talk. To stay connected, the I7500 comes with Wi-Fi, EDGE, and 3G capabilities that can get up to 7.2-Mbps downlink speed.

User will be able to augment the handset with applications from the Android Market, which is similar to Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Google said the Android app store is more open than its rivals, but the search company will still yank programs if they violate a carrier's terms of service.

"Samsung is among the earliest members of the Open Handset Alliance and has been actively moving forward to introduce the most innovative Android mobile phone," said J.K. Shin, executive VP of Samsung's mobile division, in a statement.

The I7500 also will be a capable multimedia player, as it can use multiple audio and video codecs. It comes packed with 8 GB of onboard storage, and the memory can be expanded up to 32 GB via a microSD slot. Samsung's Android-powered handset also has a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash.

Samsung said the I7500 would be released in major European markets in June, but it did not specify a price. There was no word if the smartphone will be coming to the U.S. market, but it does support the 1,700-MHz band, which indicates it may come to T-Mobile USA.

Samsung's announcement gives the open source OS some much-needed momentum, as Android fans have been craving a new handset. The G1 has sold well, but not everyone was enamored with its design. Additionally, the second Android-powered handset, the HTC Magic, is essentially a G1 without a physical keyboard.

InformationWeek has published a 360-degree analysis of the first Android-based smartphone. Download the report here (registration required).