Samsung announced Monday the impending European launch of its I7500 touchscreen mobile phone, the third major device to run on Google’s open source Android mobile operating system.
Although a piece in PC Magazine implied the I7500 could be available from T-Mobile in the US market later this year, Samsung’s announcement indicated only that the phone would be available “in major European countries” in June 2009.
The I7500 will feature a 3.2-inch, 320-by-480 AMOLED touch screen, Wi-Fi, a 5-megapixel camera, and 8GB of internal memory. It also has a memory card slot, a large 1500 mAh battery, and a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack. For many, the headphone jack alone will immediately vault the I7500 past the first Android phone in release – T-Mobile’s G1, which requires a headset connection supporting USB. The other major Android release so far, the HTC Dream, available exclusively from Vodaphone in Europe, also requires a USB headphone connection.
For others, the I7500’s lack of a QWERTY keyboard will no doubt be seen as a negative, given the complaints leveled at the virtual keyboard on the world’s best-selling touchscreen smartphone, Apple’s iPhone. The feel and responsiveness of the I7500’s touchscreen interface will be all-important in overcoming objections to its virtual keyboard.
Whether T-Mobile decides to offer the I7500 in the US market – the company has yet to commit – Android is off to a very slow start in the competition with Apple for US marketshare. The G1 has so far sold only a little more than a million units, while the iPhone sold nearly four times that many in the most recent quarter alone.