NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Are we looking at Samsung as the new smartphone giant? Maybe so.
As if buying a cell phone is not complex enough, Korean conglomerate Samsung is betting that a "more is better" strategy is well, better when it comes to phones. The company is releasing not one, but four (!) versions of its so-called Galaxy S Google Android-powered touch-based smartphone. Branded as the Captivate, Vibrant, Epic 4G and Fascinate, each will be sold in slightly different configurations by
, respectively. Yes, there will be a quiz.
And Samsung has maxed out the techno boosters to get to this Galaxy. The unit sports a dazzling screen technology called a super active matrix organic light emitting diode -- dubbed Super AMOLED here in the geek trade. And it packs an
iPad-equivalent 1 gigabyte Hummingbird processor that fully supports the latest versions of the Android OS.
So the question becomes: Do these tech chops translate to the bottom line? AT&T sent over a demo
($199) last week, and I have been giving it the small-business once-over.
What you get:
The Galaxy is a bright, powerful, touch-based smartphone. Duh.
Samsung clearly knows its tech: The unit simply vanquishes the bulk problem that plagues such smartphone monsters as the Sprint HTC EVO. And the fast processor is further juiced by a full 16 gigabytes of onboard storage, which rids the unit of most of the multitasking issues that clogged previous Androids. Web browsing is brisk, as is the nice mobile banking app. I liked an integrated messaging client called Write and Go that makes mobile messaging a bit more business ready. Voice search, while still flawed, was more stable than in previous Android phones. And you can expect business apps such as mail, docs and calendar tools to run great.
But the news here really is the screen. The Captivate presents information clearly. Detail is excellent. And this sucker is bright -- like perfectly clear, driving-on-the-Garden State Parkway-at-noon-on-the-way-to-a-job bright. This is a heck of a display.
In all, the Galaxy is a fast, flexible small-biz device that can handle most on-the-go work tasks.
What you don't get:
This Galaxy lacks the design cohesion found in other first-rate business smartphones.
Samsung seems content to cobble together designs it finds in other phones, and that kind of stinks. The application layout page, for example, is a direct lift from the iPhone. The overall OS layout borrows heavily from
designs. And the form factor, while attractive enough, is indistinguishable from dozens of other phones at this price.
And AT&T struggles with the business add-on apps that ship with this phone, the AT&T Navigator and YPmobile. They simply do not distinguish themselves.
Considering how developed the smartphone market is, this lack of design purpose mars the overall experience, particularly for business users.
Without question, at least consider the Galaxy -- if nothing else, for the screen. It's that impressive. AT&T business subscribers in particular will find the phone a solid option. But as an overall work tool, it's still a step away from such units as the Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G or even the Apple iPhone 4, and that factors in the goobers hidden in each of these devices.
But stay tuned, Samsung has made a statement that it is a first-tier smartphone player. It's a just a matter time before its fields its ultimate smartphone winner.
Samsung's phone galaxy is only beginning to grow.
-- Reported by Jonathan Blum in New York.
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Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on Fox News and The WB.